This image was posted on Google+ last night by Forever Palestine. I have no context for it. I assume it is a father kissing his dead daughter before he buries her. It is a heartbreaking image.
As anyone who reads this blog knows, I’m highly sympathetic toward the Palestinians. But I don’t particularly take sides in the Israel-Palestine conflict. It is a mess. I think lowly of the belligerents on both sides. But it is the Palestinians who are dying in such large numbers. And I don’t think that takes away from what Israeli civilians are going through. The random rocket fire does create terror, and for the people harmed or killed, it doesn’t matter what the numbers are.
But this image reminds me of Benjamin Netanyahu’s comment on CNN that Hamas “use telegenically dead Palestinians for their cause. They want the more dead, the better.” Undoubtedly, the corpses do have a PR value. But the statement is entirely typical of war propaganda: dehumanize the enemy. I think you can say that Hamas’ actions are shortsighted. (You can say the same thing about Israel’s actions.) But you can’t say that Hamas doesn’t love its children.
Another problem is that Americans tend to make assumptions about Hamas that are not valid. While the group does use terrorism as a tactic, the group is a lot more than that. Treating the group as a monolith is a mistake. Another false assumption is to equate Hamas with the people of Gaza. And blanket statements like Netanyahu’s only reinforce these false assumptions, which is probably why they are made.
Would it be so hard for us all to agree that all the peoples of the world value life? Or at least that we all love our children? This seems the very least we can do. But the dehumanization of the enemy is very important in allowing the killing to continue. And I don’t expect either side to acknowledge the humanity of the other any time soon. Meanwhile, the anguished man in the photograph is real. The child is dead. And regardless of PR or ideology or property right, this is wrong.