Thursday, 2 September 2010

Christian spokesman gives partial response to Hebron killings

As a kind of footnote to the last post: I see that Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council of Churches, has condemned the killing of four Israeli civilians (the report says 'settlers' but some accounts use the term as a way of dehumanising or diminishing the innocence of the victims) near Hebron. 'At a time when Palestinian and Israeli leaders are beginning negotiations, the extremists who encourage and legitimize violence must not be allowed to succeed', said Rev. Tveit.

All well and good, but Tveit is also reported to have said that he 'rejects any use of violence as a means to gain the much-desired and needed peace for this region'. The implication seems to be that the murderous means employed by the gunman who shot to death two men and two women, one of them pregnant, may have been questionable, but his purpose ('peace') was probably worthy.

However, it's clear that the nature and timing of the attack were designed to derail any chance of a peace settlement between Israelis and Palestinians, brokered by the Americans. Hamas, which first condoned and then accepted responsibility for the killings, wants the peace talks to fail, because they would legitimise the 'moderate' Palestinian Authority and undermine its own Islamist agenda. In other words, 'peace' couldn't be further from the minds of Gaza's fundamentalist leaders.

The remainder of Rev. Tveit's comments also failed to show a balanced understanding of the reasons for continuing friction in the Middle East. He stated that 'to bring security to both Israelis and Palestinians, the negotiations must stop the occupation and all the injustices that ordinary Palestinians experience every day.' Fair enough, but Tveit signally failed to make any equivalent demands of the Palestinians and their allies. 'Security' will surely only be achieved when Palestinians, particularly in Hamas-controlled Gaza, desist from rocket and suicide bomb attacks that target innocent civilians, and recognise Israel's right to exist, and when Iran ceases to provide the campaign to 'wipe Israel from the map' (in Ahmadinejad's memorable phrase) with moral and material assistance.

Incidentally, will those Western apologists who argued that we should 'do business' with Hamas as the 'legitimate' government of Gaza now condemn its deliberate targeting of civilians, and perhaps call for an international inquiry? And will they tell us what they make of these pictures, which appear to show Palestinians in Gaza openly celebrating the Hebron murders? Partners for 'peace'....?

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