I have only one thing to add to the endless news of Israel’s brutal, unrelenting onslaught in Gaza: and it’s at the very end of a live TV interview Chris Gunness did today. Gunness is the head of the UN’s Relief and Works Agency in Gaza. Israel bombed another of their schools today, killing children sleeping in a place they thought was safe. This seems to me to be the only human response:
I’m trying to restrain my emotions for the sake of intellectual clarity. In that spirit, a reader rightly noted how the US, in Afghanistan, has also killed children in collateral damage. That’s undeniable, and because we do not have video or photographs of the aftermath of drone strikes, we may be, in Gaza, seeing something that we too have done in counter-terrorism, and not fully owned. An independent study – at variance with official statistics – came to the following, harrowing conclusion:
“TBIJ reports that from June 2004 through mid-September 2012, available data indicate that drone strikes killed 2,562 – 3,325 people in Pakistan, of whom 474 – 881 were civilians, including 176 children. TBIJ reports that these strikes also injured an additional 1,228 – 1,362 individuals,” according to the Stanford/NYU study.
I cannot verify this – but I do not dispute the core point it makes. Singling out Israel for blame in atrocities is unfair when the US has done exactly the same – and when the level of sheer annihilation and misery in, say, Syria rivals and easily surpasses the gruesome toll and utter devastation in Gaza. But there are differences as well. The grimmest survey finds that the US killed 176 children over eight years; Israel has now killed over 250 children in a few weeks. And Syria is a full-scale civil war with evenly matched forces. Gaza is utterly at the mercy of Israel, whose Iron Dome has kept civilian Israeli deaths to a bare minimum. So this is truly a Goliath vs David moment in Gaza. And Goliath is still pounding David into the dust.
Finally, though I have had to speak at some length about sex, I want to make it as clear as I possibly can that the centre of Christian morality is not here. If anyone thinks that Christians regard unchastity as the supreme vice, he is quite wrong. The sins of the flesh are bad, but they are the least bad of all sins. All the worst pleasures are purely spiritual: the pleasure of putting other people in the wrong, of bossing and patronising and spoiling sport, and back-biting, the pleasures of power, of hatred. For there are two things inside me, competing with the human self which I must try to become. They are the Animal self, and the Diabolical self. The Diabolical self is the worse of the two. That is why a cold, self-righteous prig who goes regularly to church may be far nearer to hell than a prostitute.
The “pleasures of power” – what a wonderful phrase. How much more energy do today’s Christians expend excoriating the very human impulse to sex, and how little they spend warning against the entrapments of power?
Four other posts worth revisiting: the gathering punch of Obama’s calm sanctions against Russia; a new thread on whether all kids should get trophies; and why one great place to read is an empty pub – maybe with a talking Kindle Flare.
Many of today’s posts were updated with your emails – read them all here. You can always leave your unfiltered comments at our Facebook page and @sullydish. 24 more readers became subscribers today. You can join them here – and get access to all the readons and Deep Dish – for a little as $1.99 month. Gift subscriptions are available here. Dish t-shirts and polos are for sale here (full details here). A new subscriber writes:
Hi Andrew. I’m a regular Dish reader but seemed to have resistance to subscribing (to this and other blogs). But tonight I had to sign up, mainly to acknowledge your courageous and constant coverage of the war in Gaza. I am heartsick about this inhuman carnage and can think of nothing to do about it. At least you keep trying to show the pictures – and the excerpt from Tony Judt have been so prescient. Thank you.
See you in the morning.