Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, like so many others in the West, is seemingly incapable of discerning a genuine difference between terrorism and self-defense. Anglican Ink has his statement in full, but here’s the meat of it:
For all sides to persist with their current strategy, be it threatening security by the indiscriminate firing of rockets at civilian areas or aerial bombing which increasingly fails to distinguish between combatants and non-combatants, is self-defeating. The bombing of civilian areas, and their use to shelter rocket launches, are both breaches of age old customs for the conduct of war. Further political impasse, acts of terror, economic blockades or sanctions and clashes over land and settlements, all increase the alienation of those affected. Populations condemned to hopelessness or living under fear will be violent. Such actions create more conflict, more deaths and will in the end lead to an even greater disaster than the one being faced today. The road to reconciliation is hard, but ultimately the only route to security. It is the responsibility of all leaders to protect the innocent, not only in the conduct of war but in setting the circumstances for a just and sustainable peace.
What is it about so many highly placed Western leaders (Christian and political) that they are unable to make meaningful moral distinctions?
To say that Israel may not under any circumstances bomb civilian areas–even after warning the residents and urging them to evacuate–when Hamas uses those areas for command and control, staging, rocket firing and storage, and sheltering soldiers is in essence to tell Israel it may not defend itself. According to the Church of England press release, Welby “fully accepts that Israel has the same legitimate rights to peace and security as any other state and to self-defence within humanitarian law when faced with an external threat.” But that statement is meaningless when you essentially rule out the possibility of striking back at aggressors who happen to use methods that are contrary to the Geneva Conventions. It’s as if in World War II the Allies had refused to invade Germany because millions of civilians lived there, and so left the Nazi regime intact and capable of re-arming.
In fact, that’s just what Welby and other Western leaders are advocating. They would have Israel immediately stop, before achieving its objectives, giving Hamas the opportunity to re-arm before undertaking the next round of Jew-killing. They would do that to prevent casualties among the population that, you’ll recall, democratically elected a regime advocating genocide, and that continues to support the aims, if not the methods, of that regime.
I’m not advocating killing Gazan civilians because they support Hamas. What I’m suggesting is that the people of Gaza have no problem with what Hamas is doing–they knew when they elected the thugs what they were and how they operated–and so if the result is that, despite Israel’s best efforts, some are killed or wounded in the course of the battle, it is something that they have brought on themselves. Certainly Israel is showing more concern, and offering more assistance, to Gaza’s civilians than Hamas would ever show to Israel’s.
In that regard, please note that Welby’s statement (and for that matter, much of the reporting by the mainstream press) ignores the matter of the tunnels. One gets the feeling that Western leaders and journalists consider the tunnels to be a sideshow, an excuse for Israel to invade. They are not. They are, in fact, the heart of the issue. The daily rocket strikes are dangerous and meant to kill civilians, and as such are a war crime that the world doesn’t care about. They are not very effective, however, in part because of Israel’s anti-missile system called Iron Dome.
The tunnels are another matter.
Hamas has diverted hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign aid meant for the building of the Gazan economy and infrastructure to build hardened tunnels, not just under Gaza, but into Israel. (Child labor was used to do so, resulting in more than 150 deaths to which the world is oblivious.) The plan was to use them to ferry hundreds of Hamas fighters into towns and cities in Israel for the purpose of killing, if possible, thousands of civilians. It would be Mumbai writ large. There 164 people died, and hundreds were injured, when ten Islamic terrorists attacked civilian targets in the Indian city. Multiply that by ten or twenty at least, and you get an idea of what Hamas was planning. It was to be the Israeli 9/11, inflicted on a population less than 3% the size of the United States.
Israel’s offensive in Gaza is meant to stop that. Justin Welby and others in the hand-wringing community want Israel to halt its efforts to prevent a bloodbath that would make London’s 7/7 attacks look like a stroll in the park. He and they should be ashamed of themselves.