Hateful Filibustering in The Scotsman

Hugh Reilly

scotsmanlogoHugh Reilly is, according to The Scotsman, “a former member of the Scottish Friends of Palestine” and has been given space in the newspaper entitled “Stop Israeli filibustering over Gaza.”

According to Reilly:

Israel is conducting a colonial war, empire-building in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, contrary to international law

and:

Under Benjamin Netanyahu’s gaze, the dream of a Greater Israel continues.

The reference to a “colonial war” and “empire-building” is to portray Jews and Israelis as interlopers in the region with no legitimate rights to their homeland. As for the “dream of a Greater Israel,” this is no longer regarded by mainstream Israelis as anything other than a fringe view on the margins of Israeli politics.

Reilly states:

It puzzles me why we are constantly informed that Israel’s security needs are of paramount importance when even a cursory glance at the conflict’s casualty figures suggests that the Palestinians’ need for security is somewhat more pressing.

The use of casualty figures (more Palestinians than Israelis have died over recent years) is a simplistic method of painting the conflict in black and white terms and ignores the reality. Reilly does not consider how many of those Palestinian casualties were involved in terror activities. In addition, the reason that there are less Israeli casualties is down to Israeli measures to protect its population from Palestinian terrorism.

Would Reilly consider it fairer if Palestinian rockets from Gaza were allowed to hit Israeli schools and kindergartens? In dismissing legitimate Israeli security needs, Reilly also dismisses the threat of Palestinian terrorism and the fact that Israeli actions that have led to Palestinian deaths are a result of countermeasures in the defense of Israeli civilians.

Reilly goes on to claim:

Supporters of Israel’s West Bank squatting never tire of repeating the canard that Israel departed Gaza in 2006. By any measure, including international law, Gaza is still occupied as Israel controls that finger of land’s borders, airspace and coast. The blockade of Gaza persists.

Reilly conveniently ignores the fact that Egypt also maintains control over one of Gaza’s borders and is currently exerting enormous pressure on the Hamas government in Gaza. That Israel departed Gaza in 2006 is certainly no “canard” and Israel is legally entitled to enforce border controls and a naval blockade against a hostile entity.

Reilly continues:

For years, Israel fed the line that there was no humanitarian crisis in Gaza, that only dangerous or dual-purpose materials were prohibited. However, as the Huffington Post revealed in 2010, the list of banned imports to that enclave proved to be a riveting read: A4 paper; books; pasta; crisps; shampoo and musical instruments – to name just six of the 81 prohibited items.

In fact, as of October 2012, the State of Israel updated and expanded the civil policy regarding imports to the Gaza Strip. The list of restricted materials was revised and shortened as part of the ongoing Israeli efforts to relax restrictions on civilian goods entering Gaza. Items and materials that remain on the restricted list are all weapons, military materials, and dual-use items. Reilly’s reference to “81 prohibited items” is no longer relevant.

But just to make sure to delegitimize the right of anyone to criticize his article, Reilly claims:

It is an unfortunate fact that any writer who dares to criticise the Israeli government’s actions in the occupied territories invariably excites cries of anti-Semitism from some quarters.

This is simply false. Criticism of Israel is not automatically treated as anti-Semitic by Israel’s supporters who rightly recognize that Israel is not beyond legitimate criticism. This charge by Reilly is not only untrue but actually demonstrates the refusal of Israel’s critics to engage in the possibility that some criticism does cross the line.

According to Reilly:

Shooting the messenger, or even just smearing him, helps maintain the Middle-East problem as something of a taboo subject.

Critics of Israel are able to get op-ed space in many mainstream media publications. Discussion is certainly not a “taboo subject” and Reilly’s claim is meant to portray him as some sort of persecuted martyr for engaging in criticism of Israel.

If Reilly is a victim of anything, it is of his own prejudices and blind hatred of Israel.

Send your considered comments to The Scotsman through its contact form - http://members.scotsman.com/contact.cfm – remembering to select “The Scotsman letters to the editor” from the drop-down menu and including your full postal address to be considered for publication.


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