BBC Middle East Editor, Jeremy Bowen, keeps a blog in relation to his reportage. His 13 January 2009 entry is a response to an article by Ethan Bonner, published in the International Herald Tribute (“Israelis are united on war in Gaza as censure rises abroad“). In Bowen’s posting, he makes his comparison with Northern Ireland, with confessed reservation.
To answer Bowen’s query, it is not true that “any” country would respond to insurgent/terrorist attacks the way Israel is doing. Any country can do so, of course, but whether it would reflects strategic decisions. To say any would certainly respond in this way is reductionist and an outright frightening proposition.Also, with so many children being killed, this “punishment” is hardly likely to encourage any sense of moderation by Hamas or the overall population in Gaza, as well outlined by Isabel Kershner (“War on Hamas saps Palestinian leaders“). It is more assuredly likely to encourage victimhood, which will serve the militants well (plenty of global examples). With the caveat of obvious differences, imagine such an all-out affront by British armed forces against IRA “assets” (Sinn Fein-used council offices, schools, residential tower blocks). Not reasonable to expect the wider Irish nationalist population in Northern Ireland to respond, “Oh yes, we must now support the moderate SDLP because the Brits won’t bomb us then!” The idea that the Palestinian Authority is going to benefit from Israeli bombardment is ludicrous. Indeed, last night the BBC broadcast another piece by Bowen, on how radicalisation of the Gaza situation poses its own challenges to the more secular, neighbouring regimes. He exemplified this via an interview with the President of Syria, Bashar al-Assad. Excellent journalism: putting events in a wider context for an improved analysis.