Does the Independent think Israel’s response to Hamas is ‘un-Jewish’?

What would be the appropriate UK response to thousands of rockets raining down on London, fired by an extremist movement dedicated to the country’s destruction, and one which forced thousands of Brits to take cover in bomb shelters?  

Do you think it’s safe to say that the British government would give its military leaders explicit orders to stop the rocket fire? Further, considering such a hypothetical scenario, is there any question that ‘enlightened’ voices in the media would support the government while it engaged in such a basic act of self-defense?

Of course, over the past couple of days, the nation responding to such a real threat hasn’t been the UK, but Israel.

So, naturally, after two days of anti-terror operations against Hamas to stop the rocket fire terrorizing its citizens, the Independent published a cartoon not only suggesting that Israel’s response has been ‘disproportionate’, but also seeming to imply that the response is un-Jewish.

Here’s the cartoon published yesterday in the Indy by Dave Brown, a cartoonist who (as Eylon Aslan-Levy writing at Tablet on the cartoon reminded us) drew the infamous cartoon during the 2nd Intifada of Ariel Sharon devouring Palestinian babies.

cartoonPay close attention to the text at the bottom of the graphic, which evokes the following Hebrew Bible verse (from Leviticus):

fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. Just as he inflicted an injury upon a person, so shall it be inflicted upon him.

The Indy cartoon’s revision of these words to “an eye for a tooth…a hand for an eye…a life for a hand…a people for a life” not only accuses Israel of responding disproportionately, and arguably (with the words ‘a life for a people’) engaging in something akin to ethnic cleansing, but that Israel has forgotten its own Jewish ethical tradition.

First, regarding Brown’s use of the Bible verse:

It should be noted that the Jewish oral tradition (as codified in the Talmud) is explicit that this verse ‘an eye for an eye’ has a far more narrow meaning than most suppose. It doesn’t literally mean that if someone pokes out another’s eye, the punishment meted out should similarly consist of poking out the attacker’s eye. It is understood as a commandment simply that justice must be proportional.

So, has the IDF military response – a campaign initiated only as a last resort after cease-fire talks failed to stop the rockets – been proportional? 

Well, first we must remember that army has been narrowly targeting the instruments of Hamas terror – bombing concealed rocket launchers, launching infrastructures, training bases, terror tunnels and other military targets.

Further, any serious observer of the conflict would have acknowledge Israel’s strenuous efforts to avoid harming Palestinian civilians – despite the complication caused by Hamas purposely placing their instruments of war in civilian areas.

The IDF has routinely been warning Gaza civilians of intending attacks in order to limit casualties. This includes dropping leaflets and sending text messages to Palestinians who may be in harm’s way, phone calls to homes (used as hubs for terror activities) that are about to be bombed, and the ‘knock on the roof’ tactic where Israel deploys a ‘scare’ bomb which uses a loud noise to influence civilians to leave the targeted area. 

Again, ask yourself, would the UK go to such measures to warn their enemies of impending attacks if they were facing a similar threat? 

Moreover, it’s remarkable that such political cartoonists have once again failed to focus their righteous outrage and creative energies towards the Islamist extremist group in Gaza.  There are of course no cartoons taking aim at Hamas’s racist ideology, or their callous disregard for human life – not just Jewish life but Palestinian life as well. Hamas after all is an Islamic movement which regards the Hebrew Bible as a sacred text, and so would similarly seem bound by its ethical commandment to engage in proportionate justice, and, most importantly, to value life, first and foremost.  

Given Hamas’s religious tradition, how then are we to explain their recent acknowledgement that they’re targeting all Israelis civilians, their new warnings that they’ll once again begin launching waves of suicide bombings “on every bus, café and street”, and their leaders’ explicit support for the use of Palestinian human shields.

Would Indy editors ever sanction an op-ed or cartoon vilifying such blatant Palestinian disregard for the sanctity of human life as ‘un-Islamic’? 

No, of course they wouldn’t – any more than they would castigate US and British leaders for behaving in an ‘un-Christian’ manner for the huge civilian toll over the years of targeting Islamist fighters in Iraq, Afghanistan or Pakistan.

Well, at least if fairness and moral consistency represent professional values Indy editors aspire to, then perhaps they should consider avoiding such imperious, sanctimonious and hypocritical sermons to Jews as well.   

68 replies »

  1. What would be un-Islamic? Peace? Considering that Mohammed personally beheaded 400 people and his life is an example for the Moslems to follow they have quite a bit of leeway.

    • Jesus didn’t kill a single person.
      His life and legacy is an example to Christians to follow.

      Yet Christians managed to slughter countless of people throughout history and even in modern times.

    • And David descreated the bodies of a couple of hundred Philistines before offering the foreskins as a dowry. Plus his unpleasant treatment of Uriah. David was punished by God – but remains a major hero, right?
      Then there’s God ordering Joshua to kill every man, woman and child in Jericho.

      • pretzelberg writes:

        “And David descreated the bodies of a couple of hundred Philistines etc. etc.”

        A person who could make a comparison between the genocidal anti-Semitism of Christians – an anti-Semitism that culminated in the gas chambers of Auschwitz – and those biblical references is either profoundly anti-Semitic or deeply stupid. Take your pick.

        • You appear to be on the wrong thread. I made no such comparison! And if anyone here’s a bigot, it’s you.

        • The point Pretzel is making is clearly that, if you are going to accuse Islams of considering peace as alien and base that on something from the Koran, you have to apply the same standards to Judaism. i.e. neither is helpful.

          Of course, what is much more pertinent is to point out that many Muslims seem to ACT on that precedent in the 21st century, whereas almost no Jews would advocate the sort of actions taken by David HaMelech or Joshua in biblical times.

  2. “So, has the IDF military response – a campaign initiated only as a last resort after cease-fire talks failed to stop the rockets – been proportional?”

    Hamas clearly wants a ceasefire. Six days ago they said so. Two days ago they proposed the following conditions:

    • The end of Israeli aggression in the West Bank and Jerusalem.
    • The halt of fire on Gaza and the return to the understanding reached after the 2012 Operation Pillar of Defense.
    • The release of all Shalit deal prisoners who were arrested again during Operation Brother’s Keeper.
    • Israel must stop sabotaging the intra-Palestinian reconciliation

    Unfortunately Israel is unlikely to agree to anything like these terms. Even when cease fires have been ‘agreed’ previously Isreal has broken them on a massive scale. Typical is the period immediately following the November 2012 cease fire. The three months to February 2012 saw over 800 Israeli violations while just two mortar shells were fired from Gaza.

    • “Hamas clearly wants a ceasefire. ”

      Lies, lies and more lies.
      Hamas “angelic” leader, Mr. Mash’al, incited to kidnap more Israelis by every mean.
      This speech resulted directly in the abduction and murder of 3 Israeli teens.

      Had Hamas wanted to stop hostilities their leaders would had to do a U turn on their current political ambitions and revise their manifest, flags, education program while they’re at it.

      • Hamas’ record on keeping cease fires is actually rather good. The 2008 cease fire held successfully until Israel broke it by killing 6 Hamas members. The 2012 cease fire held on the Hamas side for several months – as I pointed out above – though Israel violated it many times.

        Hamas stated they wanted a ceasefire twice within the last week. Netanyahu’s latest says it isn’t even on the agenda…..

        • Hamas announces that the Shalit:1000 prisoner exchange is a success, so Hamas announces they will conduct more kidnappings.

          3 Israeli teens get kidnapped, and Hamas declares neither denial nor confirmation of their involvement.

          The day the boys are buried, Hamas calls for more kidnappings.

          Sencar tells me that Hamas really believes in cease fires, and that Israel needs to stop responding to hundreds of missiles shot at Israel in order for a supposed cease fire to begin.

          Hey, Sencar, you’re a fucking idiot.

          • koufaxmitzvah, of course Hamas believes in ceasefires.

            Hamas wants peace for Israel, and Jews everywhere.
            The peace of the graveyard.

          • sencar is a post modern anti-Semite speaking from what unfortunately and most embarrassingly must be acknowledged as the hub of 21st century western anti-Semitism.

        • Hamas’ record on keeping cease fires is actually rather good? If you count building terror tunnels into Israle for the purpose of terror act or kidnapping soldiers like Shalit as keeping cease fires than I guess you are right.

          • …and not even then. They break ceasefires. They launch rockets at civilian targets and brag about it. They’ve declared a war for the destruction of a UN member state. But they’re good at ceasefires? That’s the claim to fame? Who cares?
            Did I forget to mention that sencar is an idiot?

        • [Hamas stated they wanted a ceasefire twice within the last week. Netanyahu’s latest says it isn’t even on the agenda…..]

          Not according to Gerson Baskin

          Veteran dove, Sima Kadmon, also says Netanyahu has acted with great restraint:


          These are both people who heavily criticized Israeli attacks on Gaza in the past.

        • [though Israel violated it many times.]

          Read Conor Cruse O’Brien on ‘cease fires’. All parties push it as far as it can go, nudging it here and there, testing the boundaries. That way they can both claim the other side violated it, if need be.

  3. ‘I trust that any British Jews who still buy The Independent will now stop.’

    Practically nobody of any background still buys it, I thought.

  4. On the one hand, I think you’re reading too much into the cartoon. The “eye for an eye” concept (considered simply biblical/archaic, not specifically/exclusively Jewish) is widely applied to the general I/P conflict (i.e. both sides) – or indeed to the broader region. You can’t assume the cartoonist is suggesting Israel’s actions are un-Jewish.
    What I certainly would take issue with, however, is the “a people for a life” conclusion – because that backs up Abbas’ ridiculous accusations of a genocide being currently perpetrated with the aerial attacks on Gaza.

      • Sasha, I had the same thoughts as Pretzelberg had with regards to this cartoon and also noted that the last sentence is what is wrong with the whole scenario.
        I most certainly do not feel that an eye for an eye is in any way Jewish in an exclusive way.

        If anything, taking it literaly, it is very much salafi Islamic.

        • I don’t think you’ve quite taken in the image of that cartoon. This is an image of fighter jets and helicopters coming out of the desert, a wasteland of death (foreground) to attack an island of civilization (background).

          Adam’s questions are really quite apt. Do any of us really need such “moral” lessons via the Independent and Dave Brown?
          The cartoon is a vituperative exercise in vilification which seeks (as Dave Brown’s earlier “award winning” cartoon) to represent Israel as a wanton destroyer. It is grotesque.

    • Come on, Pretzel. Of course Brown is linking the Old Testament with the Jewish state. He’s saying Israel is +worse+ than the (already widely regarded as savagely pre- and un-Christian) lex talionis. Brown certainly doesn’t subscribe to the lex talionis.

    • [What I certainly would take issue with, however, is the “a people for a life” conclusion – because that backs up Abbas’ ridiculous accusations of a genocide being currently perpetrated with the aerial attacks on Gaza.]

      Yes, that is an accusation of genocide, and linked as it is with the Old Testament, one cannot help but suspect there is a hint of the Israelite genocide of the Canaanites. It is more than a little dodgy, all told, and very Dave Brown, who doubtless thinks he’s being cutting edge and daring.

      He’s actually being an antisemite, imo, just as he was with his infanticidal and paedophagous Sharon, his use of classical mythology simply covering what was in origin a Hellenistic anti-Jewish trope from antiquity.

  5. If Israel’s response to rockets were; every time Hamas fires a rocket a an Israeli city, the IDF fires a rocket of the exact same size at a city in Gaza. Would the Independent say that was proportional, or accuse Israel of a war crime?


    • Stan of course the Independent would because you know how much Hamas care about the safety of its people. Just like they do now begging their people to stay in their home and not listen to idf calling them to leave before they bomb it.

  6. In the traditional European way of thinking, it is ‘un-Jewish’ for Jews to protect themselves from indiscriminate murder. The ‘indy’, in it’s infallible progressive wisdom, wants the Jews to be just the way they should be, emasculated victims of other people’s murderous malice.

    • It’s also how Jews were fondly remembered as meek creatures who could be attacked and bullied when it pleased the good townspeople. I’m sure there are some who ask why the Jews don’t board the trains like in the good old days.

    • Why did you not just go and see the Prime Minister and tell him to responmd to the HAMAS offer for cessation of hostilities. Israel has been blockading Gaza for over a decade. Why did he not go to the Zionist regime in Tel-Aviv and tell them to agree to end the blockade. Tell lies but do not accept others will take them at face value. Hasbara does not improve with age like wine. Hasbara is getting stale.

      • Jane Mardell: “The Zionist regime”.

        Everyone knows that the ‘Zionist regime’ is as an illegitimate, criminal usurper. Why would you be so naive as to think that peaceful negotiations could lead to your desired outcome?

        Your choice of words reveal your dogmatic, violent hostility to the democratic state of Israel. You are a racist warmonger and Jew-baiter, an apologist for fascists and anti-Semites.

        • Democratic but only for the chosen for the rest hell on earth. I hope you are having a groovy time here but at the end is the Day of Judgement.

          • You said below your war was not a religious war, yet you here hail ‘the Day of Judgment’.

          • You’re a crusader, who hates the ‘Zionists’ more than she loves Palestinian Muslims and Christians, You love to hate, and that’s it.

          • And yet Palestinian Christians and Muslims have more rights in Israel than they ever accorded to Jews, while Christians and Muslims have more democratic rights in the Jewish state than any Jew, and probably most other minorities, in any Arab Islamic state or society.

          • Oh, Christ on a bike. Or in your case, perhaps, the forgotten 5th horseman of your much heralded apocalypse – the one who bringing not pestilence, war, famine, and death but unholy verbal drivel. Plus he overslept. And lost his map.

      • Why did he not go to the Zionist regime in Tel-Aviv and tell them to agree to end the blockade?

        who is this zionisnt regime in Tel Aviv?
        if you mean the elected Israeli goverment than it is in jerusalem not in TA. Why should Israel end the blockade ? Did Hamas stop trying to smuggle weapons into Gaza.? If the Egyptian don’t stop the blockade why should Israel.

  7. Anyway these Zionists have a standard response everything is a lie if it is than it is anti-semetic. Anyway difficult to argue against such statements because the Zionist refuses to listen to reason. What I really want to know, based on this idea of eye for an eye would the Palestinians be right to make 750,000 Israelis refugees and can they take their houses? Or am I lying or being anti-semitic. Zionist will soon respond I am sure.


    • What I really want to know, based on this idea of eye for an eye would the Palestinians be right to make 750,000 Israelis refugees and can they take their houses?
      Exactly what the majority of the Palestinians want to happen. Sadly for them they are very slow learners and didn’t realize yet that their bloodthirsty delusions are exactly that – bloodthirsty delusions.
      Or am I lying or being anti-semitic.
      Not only lying and being antisemitic Jane, this would be normal, millions of antisemitic liars are polluting the Earth, you are much more than the field version – you are so exceptionally clueless, ignorant and moronic that even among your reference population (the antisemitic liars) you must be considered an exaggeration – some bizarre mutant.

      • I hope you have kept yor Hangarian papers current. You might need them one day. You obviously have a right to return. Please exercise it.

        • Wow, an openly pro-Palestinian Muslim and Christian nationalist, anti-Jewish expulsionist. I suggest no one respond to this creature henceforth.

        • The usual crap from Jane. So the Jews should “go back to where they came from” (i.e. Peter should return to Hungary)? Funny, because Hungary will welcome Peter back with open arms? Need I remind you that over 20% of Hungarians voted for the anti-semitic Jobbik party in this year’s general election?

          Funny, but effectively, they are saying exactly the same thing as did the Nazis before them – that Jews should fuck off out of Hungary and “go back to Palestine”.

          Oh dear, what is a Jew to do?

        • Of course I have a right to return Jane but you are a bit late with your calling me to exercise it. I did this already decades ago by returning to Israel. Regarding the need using my Hungarian papers – don’t worry I don’t intend to visit those shitholes (called officially Muslim countries) where entry for Israelis/Jews is forbidden.

        • I hope your friends kept their paper from Egypt Saudia Syria Lebaon Iraq, Jordan . They might need them one day . they obviouslt have a right to return.

      • Peter, sorry, you are wrong. Jane says that there should be 750,000 Israeli refugees whose homes have been taken. I presume she means to compensate for the 750,000 Arabs who became refugees as a result of the murderous attempt by their brethren to destroy the nascent State of Israel and massacre its Jewish inhabitants in 1947-8.

        Jane forgets the circa 800,000 Jews who were effectively made refugees by the many Arab/Muslim states who forced them to flee to the new State (and elsewhere) at around the same time.

        So, if you want the “eye for an eye” with regard to the refugees, you need not look to the future. That “debt” is already more than paid. Thanks.

    • The “Palestinian” want to make 6 million Israeli jews refugee or better still want to kill all of them and take their houses and country. They allways did even before they invented themselves in 1964. You are not lying about that as for antisemitic, for the like of you killing 6 millon Israeli jews is not about hating jews just hating zionist.

    • [What I really want to know, based on this idea of eye for an eye would the Palestinians be right to make 750,000 Israelis refugees and can they take their houses?]

      Dear Jane,

      for 2000 years, most European, North African and, above all, Palestinian Christians and Muslims said that exiled and dispossession was nothing less than what Jews had deserved for rejecting just one man, Jesus.

      When Jews began slipping through the cracks of the crumbling Ottoman empire from the late 19th century onwards the nascent Palestinian Christian and Muslim national movement sought first to resist Jews living in Palestine in above the tiny numbers imperial Christian and Islamic apartheid decreed, then, sadly, to seeking to expel or eliminate Palestinian or Israeli Jews, even siding with the persecutors of Jews in the diaspora.

      Zionist Jews did indeed commit acts of ethnic cleansing, imo, but Palestinian and other Arab Muslims and Christians not only threatened the same or worse against Palestinian then Israeli Jews, they were first to execute it e.g. against the Jews of Hebron in 1929 and east Jerusalem in the 1930s.

      The 1947-49 war was like other civil conflicts in which all parties threatened and did bad things to the other side. The clock cannot go back. The solution is

      2 states, for 2 peoples, with 2 rights of return, division of Jerusalem old and new, borders on the 1967 lines for with 1:1 territorial compensation, as Ehud Olmud offered Mahmoud Abbas in 2008 and which John Kerry tried to get both sides to agree to more recently.

      It is a conflict entirely solvable and its broad outlines have already been worked out in detail bilaterally in documents like the Geneva Accord.

      However crusaders like you, engaged in a holy war to extinguish Zionism, Jewish nationalism and the Jewish state it bore as mandated by UNGR 181, have no such interest in an achievable peace deal.

      • This is not a religious war but a just war in which the Palestinians are fighting for their rights. No religious script entitles anyone of a home in somebody else’s home. Today the Palestinians are fighting to preserve themselves against those dedicated to exterminate them. Hope humanity would have the strength to stand up to an attempt to eliminate Palestinian as people.

        • 2 states, for 2 peoples with 2 rights of return, division of Jerusalem, old and new, borders on the 67 lines, or with 1:1 territorial compensation.

          It is you who are embarked on a holy, religious war, a war of faith to exterminate the Jewish state.

          We are prepared to accept a just political solution, based upon division of the land, premised upon international law.

          It is you who is lost in a nightmarish fairy tale of absolute Jewish nationalist evil versus absolute Palestinian Christian and Muslim national good.

          • ’67 lines preclude settlement building – It needs to be one contiguous border, no apartheid roads in the Middle. …

            And sadly, ‘we’ don’t appear to be prepared to accept this, although i wish they were.

        • If this was not a relgious war than explain Hamas charter. Why do children on PA and Hamas official tv learn that it is their duty to kill Jews in the name of Allah. Why do a “Palestinian” who is attacking Israelis cry allah the great. Why don;t muslim coutries (not arabs) who have no border issue with Israel refuse to have relations with Israel?

    • Mardell, you are anti-Semitic. Completely obsessed with Jewish criminality, like all the anti-Semites before you. It consumes you.