Sunday, 20 Oct 2019 - 21 of Tishri, 5780

Proportionality

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Proportionality. I have come to loathe this word. It’s so sterile. It’s devoid of emotion, it’s not human. How many arguments do you have, or conversations where the dialogue is entirely ‘proportional’? Most of all who gets to decide? Who gets to sit in the armchair and say that, well Alex, your response to your colleague, wife, aggressor was not proportionate?

The amount of arguments I’ve had with Israel haters in the past when it comes to Gaza. The times I’ve had put up with this utterly bullshit word. Then you have the various political Institutions: statements, emergency sessions, condemnatory resolutions, commissions of inquiry…Israel acted with disproportionality.

Yesterday, on the back of one dead Hamas commander over 400 rockets were fired – completely indiscriminately – towards Israel civilian centres. As I write, there are 67 casualties on the Israeli side, one dead soldier, a bus hit, and one dead Arab migrant who was trying to protect his home. And I’m still trying to get the various sounds of screaming kids and terrified parents running for shelter that I was sent last night by friends and families, out of my head.

Is that proportional? I’ve been met with stony silence from the Israel haters and Palestinian lovers. Yep, those same people, those same political institutions with their commissions, statements and press releases, are silent.

I can almost already hear the keyboards typing their anodyne statements from here, ”we condemn the escalation of tensions and urge a ceasefire. We urge both sides to use restraint and work towards a de-escalation.”

Puke. ‘Restraint’ is almost as bad as proportionality in the pantheon of banal vocabulary. Kick me where it hurts repeatedly, target my daughter and my wife, my brother, sister, nephews and nieces, my best friend and I can assure you, restraint will be the last word on my mind, well maybe not the last, top spot goes to ‘proportional’.

But let me tell you about restraint. Restraint is knowing that in two minutes you could turn every Hamas home into a car park, but you don’t. Restraint is taking the repeated kicks and not lashing out in righteous fury as your family narrowly walk the thin line between life and death as a result of some coward hiding in the bushes. The coward who invokes g-d as he launches a rocket that he hopes will kill (who? it doesn’t matter, its one dead Jew!), then will gloat and cheer, and be lifted on shoulders, called a hero while someone random in Israel, maybe an accountant, or a supermarket worker, maybe a teacher or a schoolkid, lies bleeding, dismembered or dead. Israelis know all this. But those calling for restraint and proportionality don’t.

But if it was Amiens instead of Ashkelon? if it was Prague not Petah-Tikvah? or Nuremberg instead of Netivot? If, while they and their family were a home, and  they had seconds to take shelter at the sheer randomness of a rain of rockets, would they feel restraint? Would they ask themselves, are my feelings proportional to the threat? I mean maybe that rocket wasn’t meant for me? What made the poor man want to fire it in the first place? Maybe he’s having a tough time? Of course they bloody well wouldn’t!

And yet this is the kind of self-effacing language and acts that are expected of nobody else in the world except for Israel when it comes to dealing with Gaza. We feel your pain but restrain yourselves, your life is a living hell but hey, put it into proportion.

My esteemed colleague asked me why today, what’s so different about this barrage, to the recent ones. Why am I angry today? Because today I’ve had enough. I’ve had enough of restraining my language to please the target audience and their commissions of inquiry and press releases. I’ve had enough of the silence of the pro-Hamas human rights activists who pick and choose what proportional is, what it means and who preach restraint but act differently when it comes to Palestinian terror. There’s a line in a movie that I’m going to paraphrase: “For every action, there’s a reaction. And an Israeli reaction is quite a (expletive) thing.”

Now is the time for such a reaction. To the one-sided Institutions, to the haters, the Palestinian activists I say this: Today you can keep your proportionality and restraint.

And if I have to take your outrage and finger wagging knowing that my friends, families and fellow Jews (and indeed Israeli arabs) are safe in their houses, I will gladly do so.

How can I respect any self-righteous position taken by you from the comfort of your impersonal gilded office armchairs? Where those two vomit-inducing words flow so easily because you don’t know any friends or family who live there?

I have no idea what proportional means to you. And right now, at this precise moment, I really don’t care. Because through your silence, or your sterile words, you show you don’t care about me, about the people I care about it, or the country I love.

Alex Benjamin, Director of Europe Israel Public Affairs, a Brussels-based advocacy group.

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