Now that the Gaza ceasefire seems to be holding up, post-mortems are the order of the day (no pun intended).
The Israelis credibly claim they’ve achieved their military objectives: destroying the tunnels out of which terrorists crawl like deadly rats, wiping out rocket launchers, killing high-ranking murderers and in general teaching Hamas a lesson that may take some time to unlearn.
Hamas, on the other hand, claims a moral victory, meaning a PR one (morality is these days measured in mass appeal).
True enough, the world’s media performed a neat trick of closing the vicious circle. First they saturated their pages and TV transmissions with pictures of dead or crippled Palestinians. Then they asked the survivors how they felt about it, all that slaughter of the innocents.
Basking in the limelight, the survivors would deliver the requisite amount of weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. The media expressed all the sympathy they could muster on such short notice, leaving their audience in no doubt who was the villain of the show.
The media were the ones who not so much fought as staged the PR war. They were the ones in control of its outcome.
All that unfolded with technically accomplished pretence at even-handedness. Yes, went the histrionic lament, firing thousands of rockets at Israeli towns wasn’t nice. Also ill-advised were all those shrieks about annihilating Israel and everyone in it.
But such minor indiscretions paled in comparison with Israel’s ‘disproportionate response’, which became a universal catchphrase.
The Israelis shouldn’t have responded to violence with greater violence, killing 30 Palestinians for every dead Israeli. They should have grinned and borne the rockets raining on their heads, wrote Peter Hitchens.
That way they would have had a decent shot at winning the PR war, otherwise won by Hamas. Admittedly the victory would have been Pyrrhic, for many Israelis would have been buried under the rubble of their houses.
But we all know that geopolitical success is also measured in PR sound bytes. All those Israeli women and children would have died in good cause, while their Palestinian counterparts died in bad cause: a nation fighting back against terror.
I’m unsure which side has emerged the winner. Only one result of the conflict calls for an unreserved cheer: Baroness Warsi, the first and only Muslim cabinet member, has resigned from the government post she should never have occupied in the first place.
Ostensibly the cause for this action was her disagreement with Dave’s policy on the conflict, which she regarded as insufficiently pro-Palestinian. Specifically, she accused Dave of having stopped just short of branding Israel a criminal state, which by inference has no right to exist.
Actually, it’s Baroness Warsi who has no right to exist – not as Sayeeda Warsi, but as a Baroness.
She ascended to nobility largely because of her political ineptitude. In 2005 Sayeeda Warsi, as she then was, stood for an eminently winnable Tory seat of Dewsbury. However, she managed to lose the election, thus denying the Conservative parliamentary party the benefit of her unique qualifications.
Said qualifications nowadays consist of a few boxes an aspiring candidate has to tick. Empirical observation compels one to admit mournfully that the list contains no boxes for ability to govern, integrity, intelligence, oratorical skills or experience.
It does contain the boxes that Sayeeda ticked better than anyone else. Woman – tick. Muslim – tick, or rather two ticks. Working class – tick. Heavy regional accent, as opposed to the Etonian cadences of so many on Dave’s front bench – tick. Under 40 – tick.
As a lifelong champion of diversity, I welcome such selection criteria applied to those on whose our lives depend. However, as a lifelong champion of sanity, I have to hope that a member of our government should also have a few other qualities.
Moreover, given the choice, those other qualities should take precedence over the aforementioned talents that Sayeeda possesses in such unequalled abundance.
Dave obviously doesn’t share this unfashionable view. He wanted Sayeeda’s talents in his government, what with its gaping vacancy for a young, working-class Muslim woman with a multi-culti accent.
Ideally Sayeeda should also have been a lesbian and a cripple, but you can’t have everything in this life. Let’s face it: what she did have was already more than Dave could get from anyone else.
There was an annoying obstacle in the way to Sayeeda’s elevation though: Britain being a parliamentary democracy, only a member of Parliament can ascend to the cabinet, and Sayeeda had lost the only election in which she had stood.
Mercifully, the constitution doesn’t specify which House of Parliament the prospective minister should serve in. Many a prime minister has taken advantage of this loophole, so Dave knew exactly what to do.
Thus Sayeeda became a life peer. Thus she became a member of the House of Lords. Thus she became Co-Chairman of the Tory Party. Thus she helped Dave in his tireless efforts to run the party into the ground, reducing its membership to a third of its recent size.
That accomplished, Baroness Warsi was prudently moved on to a post specially created for her, that of Senior Minister of State, one in which Dave hoped her potential for doing harm would be curtailed.
Now she’s gone, amid rumours she’s about to defect to Labour. If true, this will be the greatest service she’ll ever have done the Conservative Party. The Tories’ loss will be their gain.
Everyone knows that Sayeeda’s grievance over Gaza was only a pretext. Her real reason for throwing a wobbly was that she didn’t get the Foreign Office in the recent reshuffle.
Nevertheless Boris Johnson, the Tories’ heir apparent, has supported Sayeeda, choosing to accept that the pretext for her departure was actually the reason.
He too feels that the Israeli military response was ‘disproportionate’: “I think it is ugly and it is tragic and I don’t think it will do Israel any good in the long run.”
Of course not. The only thing that’ll benefit Israel in the long run is abject surrender. Rather than losing a few citizens, she should assuage Boris’s and Sayeeda’s keen sense of proportion by losing a few million.
What Boris’s erstwhile journalistic colleagues aren’t reporting is that many denizens of Gaza are more honest than they are. They know that, rather than being ‘disproportionate’, Israel has displayed improbable restraint.
Consider the fact that during the on-going Afghan operation, the ratio of militant to civilian casualties is as low as 1:4 – something rarely seen in modern war, with its impersonal air raids.
Yet the Israelis, who uniquely warn civilians of impending strikes, have managed to achieve a miraculous ratio of 1:1, never seen anywhere before.
The blame for most of the remarkably few civilian casualties suffered by the Palestinians is squarely in Hamas’s court, and the Gazans know it.
They resent being used as a human shield, they hate seeing Hamas rocket launchers and command centres sited at, in or under their residences, schools and hospitals.
One such hospital is Al-Shifa, which has suffered several Israeli strikes. Secreted in its basement are Hamas command centres and caches of weapons, which is why the hospital and its surroundings have been hit hard.
When Hamas’s Press Secretary Abu-Zuhri arrived to offer his condolences, the locals, who knew what was what, beat him within an inch of his life. At the same time Hamas issued a ban on foreign journalists reporting the human-shield tactics.
Some journalists manage to get around Hamas, but the locals aren’t so lucky. On 29 July Izz ad-Din al-Qassam thugs massacred a demonstration of Beit Hanoun residents protesting against the use of their bodies in lieu of AA defences.
Ten dead, dozens wounded. Thirty more executed as ‘collaborators’ for the same crime. Hamas’s response to peaceful demonstrations may indeed be judged as disproportionate, among other things.
Yet neither Sayeeda nor Boris nor Miliband nor Clegg nor their likeminded spivs direct their flaming consciences at the true perpetrators of war crimes in the area: Hamas, Hezbollah, Isis and other terrorist organisations.
The spivs’ sense of proportion is in working order, which is more than one can say for their moral perspective. These are the people who govern us, ladies and gentlemen.