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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Unlawful killing

I’m not going to attempt to detract from the grief and anger aroused by what a London coroner’s court has decided was the unlawful killing of the International Solidarity Movement activist Tom Hurndall by an Israeli soldier. Such incidents do Israel no good at all, and underline how much the country needs for its own sake to find a way of bringing the occupation to an end.

Where the political capital that will be made out of this tragedy is concerned, I am not prepared to relax my vigilance, however. Two points stand out.

First, bearing in mind that the firer of the fatal shot is serving an 8-year prison sentence, let us not lose sight of the difference between Israel, with all its imperfections, and all the countries where a soldier who shoots a civilian in the line of duty runs no risk of prosecution. And especially not in the week in which Ken Livingstone visited Tienanmen Square and was less than outspoken in his remarks on its recent history (Martin Samuels in the Times is spot on).

Second, when we read that Mr Hurndall ‘was trying to lead children out of the line of fire’, let us not forget that it was no part of his mission to obstruct those who seek deliberately to kill Israeli children. Once again this is the asymmetrical pacifism that calls itself ‘peace activism’. Terrorist violence is a regrettable but understandable reaction to oppression - ‘a tragic weapon of those who have nothing else to fight with’ as ISM say on their FAQ page. Naturally Israeli violence is never made understandable by its context.


Anonymous said...

I don't disagree with you, Cyrus. But you're too generous by far to Hurndall, his family, and the ISM.

Oliver Kamm's comments in 2004 about Hurndall's death are still very relevant:

"I can understand Mrs Hurndall’s wish to map what she believes to have been her son’s personal qualities to his political convictions. There is, however, absolutely no reason that the rest of us should take her judgements seriously…
Tom Hurndall’s political affiliations were despicable. So far from being a ‘peace activist’, his favoured cause was hostility to Israel [through the ISM]…
This is the unworthy and mendacious organisation to which Tom Hurndall gave his allegiance. So far from being a humanitarian protecting Palestinian children from harm, Hurndall was a neophyte aggravating a tense and inflamed conflict by methods that exploited the essential decency of those he was protesting against. ‘Human shields’ do not operate against nihilists who have contempt for human life (the ISM has no record of shielding Israeli civilians from suicide-murderers by travelling on Jerusalem buses); the ISM’s rationale is rather to make it as difficult as possible for Israeli Defence Forces to carry out their work, on the correct presumption that the IDF will wish to avoid risking the life of anyone not directly connected with terrorism."

See the rest at:

Jonty Goodson

Cyrus said...

Jonty, I wouldn't take issue with O.K. except to say that I feel one does at least have to give these people credit for commitment and courage - it's their politics and ethics which stink.

"The best lack all conviction, while the worst/ Are full of passionate intensity..."