There are some political commentators – no doubt of all stripes – who conveniently ignore data which confounds their theory. For them, it just doesn’t exist, and when confronted with it, they literally have nothing to say.
The political thinker Owen Jones opposes Zionism, and declares his outrage at Israel’s targetted campaign in Gaza, Operation Pillar of Cloud. Very reluctantly, Israel was provoked into war following the deluge of rockets which cascaded down into the south of Israel for many months.
When Twitter used Alex Bjarsson explained this to Jones, Jones told Bjarsson to “get some humanity.” “Ryan D” then responded to both men, acknowledging the tragedy of recent Palestinian child deaths which occurred during the operation, whilst adding to Jones, “I didn’t see much humanity from yourself with regards to the hundreds of rockets targeting Israel”.
Owen Jones’ reply was quite staggering. With a swagger, he retorted:
Who are the Israeli civilians who have died for me to express humanity with?
Note that Ryan D drew Jones’ attention to rockets targetting Israel. Yet Jones was only concerned by the civilian deaths caused by any rockets targetting Israel.
Vexed, I chirped to Jones:
You need people to die before you can express humanity?
Jones in reply:
It is difficult to express horror at death unless people have been killed.
But on the 14th November, Owen Jones was not being asked to express horror at death. He was simply being asked to acknowledge the evil of sending rockets targetting Israel, which had killed 28 Israeli Jews and injured hundreds, forcing thousands of southern citizens into bomb shelters at a moment’s notice, without regard for practicalities or convenience, or the long-term psychological effects that these rocket attacks have upon their victims.
Owen Jones changed the goalposts. When it came to murdering Jews, intent was irrelevant, and only outcome mattered. Attempting to murder a Jew is not worthy of comment, unless a Jew should die, at which point Owen Jones would comfort, yes comfort the Jewish people by expressing his ‘horror at death’.
And so the conversation continued.
So you express horror if the rockets kill people, but not if they were “only” intended to kill?
I’ve expressed my horror at Israeli civilians being killed and will do so when it happens
My final comment did not even merit Jones’ public disdain:
Will you express your horror at people TRYING to kill Israeli civilians?
No reply. No big deal.
Herein we find the crux the matter. The Depraved like Owen Jones have reduced eternal questions of morality, just war and pacifism, to a morbid numbers game, which sees itself as the yin to the war game’s yan. Should Hamas lose the war game by killing less than Israel, it wins the Morbid Numbers Game of Sympathy for the Underdog, because the moral evil is found with he who manages to be more successful at killing. Even though the difference between murder and attempted murder, is luck and skill.
Forget the context of why the current conflict is taking place. The fact that Israel is only at war to protect her civilians and prevent further rocket fire becomes an irrelevant detail, as pertinent to the ethics of the current conflict as the colour of Napoleon’s hat.
In the same way, the fact that Hamas deliberately targets Israeli civilians is no matter – what matters is how many they kill. If Hamas don’t kill many, then this serves to shift moral responsibility onto the nation-state of those they target, who dare to respond with force.
The following day, three Israelis were killed by a lethal rocket from Gaza.
Suffice to say, Owen Jones has not since deigned to express his horror on Twitter about their deaths.
He has, however, found time to retweet Yasmin Qureshi’s argument that Hamas’ rockets are not lethal.
After all that.