By Alan Dershowitz
The media has obsessively counted every dead body in the conflict between Hamas and Israel. They rarely explain why so many more Palestinians than Israelis have been killed: Hamas does not allow Palestinian civilians into their shelters, while using civilian areas from which to fire their rockets; Israel, on the other hand, devotes its resources to building shelters and Iron Dome protection. Put another way, while Israel uses shelters and Iron Dome to protect its civilians, Hamas uses its civilians to protect its rockets and its terrorists. A widely circulated cartoon, posted above, makes this point effectively.
Recently, supporters of Hamas have argued that to say that Hamas uses civilians as human shields is a manifestation of racism and an attempt to dehumanize Palestinians. But it is Hamas’ own leaders who have long boasted of this tragic reality. Listen to Fathi Hammad, a Hamas member of the Palestinian Legislative Council:
“For the Palestinian people, death has become an industry, at which women excel, and so do all the people living on this land. The elderly excel at this, and so do the mujahideen and the children. This is why they have formed human shields of the women, the children, the elderly, and the mujahideen, in order to challenge the Zionist bombing machine. It is as if they were saying to the Zionist enemy: ‘We desire death like you desire life.'”
Ban-Ki Moon-who is not known for a pro-Israel bias-recently confirmed what every objective observer knows to be true: that Hamas uses hospitals and schools as shields from which to launch rocket attacks against Israeli civilians-a double war crime. Here are his words:
“We condemn the use of civilian sites – schools, hospitals and other civilian facilities – for military purposes.”
He was referring, of course, to Hamas, since Israel does not use such civilian facilities to fire rockets. That is why more Palestinians than Israelis have died in recent weeks.
During a two day period this past week while dozens of Palestinians and several Israelis were killed, the media failed to report that in neighboring Syria, 700 Arabs and Muslims were killed in just two days of fighting. This constitutes only a tiny fraction of the 160,000 people killed in Syria during the ongoing civil war. According to the Britain-Based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, 53,978 civilians have been killed including 8,607 children and 5,586 women. Many if not most of these deaths were deliberate-part of calculated efforts on both sides of the conflict to maximize civilian casualties.
Yet this body count has received little notice compared to the far smaller body count in Israel and Gaza. Why is this? Is it because when Arabs and Muslims deliberately kill other Arabs and Muslims, that deserves less attention than when Israelis kill Arabs and Muslims, even in self-defense and in an effort to prevent the murder of their own civilians? If so, this is racism pure and simple and the application of a noxious double standard. The lives of all human beings have worth, and the death of Arabs and Muslims at the hands of other Arabs and Muslims deserve as much media coverage as the deaths of Arabs and Muslims that are caused by Israel’s efforts to protect its own civilians.
The media’s exclusive focus on the death toll in Gaza-without explaining that it is largely Hamas’ fault and part of its media strategy-incites hatred and anti-Semitism around the world. It has incited violence against Jews and Jewish institutions in many cities. Much of this violence comes from radicals on the hard left and from radical Islamists. But a recent incident in Italy shows that bigoted hate can come from the mouths of intellectuals as well as the fists of rabble rousers. Gianni Vattimo, who has been called Italy’s most famous philosopher, recently announced that he would personally, “like to shoot those bastard Zionists,” calling them “a bit worse than the Nazis”. He said he was planning to launch a fundraising campaign to buy better rockets for Hamas so that this Jew-hating group can kill more Zionists, by which he means Jewish Israelis. He urged European volunteers to join Hamas and fight alongside of them against Israel, as volunteers fought against Franco during the Spanish Civil War.
If Vattimo is indeed Italy’s most famous philosopher, I cry for the current state of philosophy in a nation that has contributed so much to that field over the millennia. Vattimo reminds me of the intellectual thugs-some of them “eminent” philosophers who provided academic cover and justification for the fascist abuses of Hitler and Mussolini. It is interesting, and perhaps relevant, thatVattimo is a follower of Martin Heidegger, a philosopher who joined the Nazi Party and provided cover for its anti-Semitic policies. Hamas, after all, is an outgrowth of the Muslim Brotherhood, which actively supported Hitler during World War II. It is also interesting that Vattimo, who vociferously supports gay rights, would have such hatred for the one country in the Middle East that accords equal rights to gays and be so supportive of Hamas which punishes gays by torture and execution. Obviously his hatred for the nation state of the Jewish people runs deeper than his support for gay rights.
It is a crime under the law of the United States and several European countries to provide material support to designated terrorist groups, of which Hamas is one. Vottimo has committed this crime and might well be banned from travel to the United States and other countries or arrested if he travels to countries that have such laws.
The media has a moral obligation to tell the whole truth when it shows the pictures of the dead and counts the bodies on each side. If it fails in this obligation, it becomes complicit in the sins and crimes of bigots such as Vottimo and in the war crimes of Hamas.