Yesterday I watched former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on CNN dutifully repeating the usual claim that Hamas is using Gaza civilians as human shield. She was giving the usual bi-partisan spiel, or spin, about the newest Gaza war. But then that is the exact opposite of the spin or spiel we get from Hamas and its supporters.
Usually whatever Mr. Netnayahu claims is initially accepted, before the other side starts its own PR machine. It is taken for granted to be true in most media here, unless otherwise claimed or proven. Apparently Hamas has learned this lesson, a fact that caused a frustrated Netanyahu to grumble recently about “telegenically dead Palestinians“.
I am not sure about the claim that Hamas is deliberately placing rocket launchers amid civilian areas. I doubt it. But it is telling that nobody, not even Arabs, believe that Israel is using its civilians as human shield. That tells me something about certain national perceptions.
So, we are to believe that Palestinians don’t love their own people, their children, and use them as human shield, and that Israelis love their people and don’t use them as human shield.
But hasn’t this same ‘human shield’ story been used against other countries as well? Or the similar idea that some regime, Cuba or Iran, is impoverishing its own people, holding them as human shield, because it invites a Western economic blockade by not succumbing to the will of Western powers? The idea that the countries of an Axis of Evil would use their people as cheap fodder while the Axis of Goodness would not. Some might say that the numbers of war veterans wounded in Afghanistan and Iraq and then neglected by their own countries would refute that.
This “human shield” charge is largely based on Western notions that other peoples do not care for their citizens as much, that human life is cheaper in Palestine than it is, say, on the streets of Chicago on a Saturday night, or in Compton (Calif), or in parts of the Bronx or in Detroit on any night. Which is obviously untrue.
During WWII, the Germans could have claimed that Churchill was using civilians as human shields. And vice versa. And while we are talking old wars and human shields, think of Stalingrad and London under the Blitz.
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum