American Israeli Bradley Burston, who, for some unknown reason, writes a blog for Haaretz, penned a particularly offensive piece recently entitled, "To win, all that Israel has to do, is survive." In that obnoxious air of superiority reserved for American Israelis who fancy themselves "centrist," he portrays the assassinated Hamas leader Nizar Ghayan as having surrounded himself with his family because "he knew" that Israel would not attack him.
Burston writes here
Knowing Israel (having listened to the Israeli far-right as it condemned the IDF as an army of pansies afraid to fight, and to the Israeli far-left as it sympathized only with Gaza casualties and not those in Sderot), Ghayan knew that he could surround himself with the human shields of four wives and 11 children and survive this war.
Knowing the UN and the international community, Ghayan knew that if he used mosques for Hamas armed wing headquarters and storage armories for longer-range rockets from Iran and China, Israeli military planners would not dare to attack them, fearing a grave diplomatic and public outcry.
Knowing that the Israeli Air Force (in his view, demonstrating the Jew's essential weakness) had begun warning Gazans of impending attacks, Ghayan refused to have his family take to the roof to cause Israel to call off the bombing. The human shield would suffice.
In a matter of 24 hours, two mosques serving as Hamas military bases were destroyed, and Ghayan and his family killed.
Burston claims to know a lot about Ghayan, but in fact he know zilch. Nor does he know the mind of any one willing to be die for a cause. And yet, it doesn't take a whole of imagination to realize what was going on in Ghayan's mind, especially since his son-in-law revealed it to the press.
Niyar Ghayan stayed with his family in his house because he was too proud to go into hiding, not because he counted on Israel's not bombing him with his family. He could scarcely have forgotten how Israel dropped a one ton bomb on Saleh Shehadeh killing him, his wife, nine children, and four others. Or how they Israel fired a missile at Abdel Rantisi's car, killing him and four other people, including a mother and a child. Israel has no moral qualms whatsoever of killing women, children, and babies, if they take can down a leader of Hamas at the same time. For them, it is not a manner of ticking bombs, but of bombing ticks. Their concern is only with one thing – how it will look in the world. And in that they act no different from any other state. As Burston said correctly, most of the world couldn't care less what happened to Ghayan, his four wives, or his children, especially not on New Years Day. What Burston didn't say was that the same world wouldn't have cared had a rocket landed on a school in Sderot, killing a hundred Jews. Who cares about whether the world cares or not? What is important is whether something is right or wrong.
In my opinion, Ghayan's brand of religion, and his willingness to endanger his family, is religiously offensive and morally wrong. He is a hardliner among hardliners (and speaks the way hardliners of any religion – including my own – speak.) If he wanted to commit suicide and become a shaheed fine, but why drag along his family?
Yet there is a difference between being a a martyr to a cause and being an idiot. Ghayan knew that Israel would kill him. And he prepared himself for death. That is what Burston, the liberal Jewish apologist for Israel's actions, doesn't get.
On the day that Ghayan was assassinated, Muhammad Bassiouny, an Egyptian member of parliament and former ambassador to Israel, taunted the Hamas leadership for hiding and abandoning the Gazans to their fate. Had Ghayan acted like them, had he acted responsibly and not put his fate into Allah's hands, he would be alive today, and would be still helping the Hamas resistance.
Israel has repeatedly committed war crimes and have been repeatedly condemned by human rights organizations. The fact that Hamas and Hizbollah also commit war crimes is irrelevant. The central difference between the sides is that Israel's war crimes kill and maim more people because their weaponry is more powerful.
As for Israel's moral posturing , that is a subject for another post. For most Israelis, firing rockets at a civilian area with a small probability of harming anybody is morally worse than knowingly and intentionally killing innocents when taking down a political leader of a hostile organization. Go figure.