Saturday, January 3, 2009

Robert Fisk Poses A Northern Ireland-Gaza Analogy

Longtime Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk (left), writing in The Independent, compared the way the British responded to the IRA to the way the Israelis are responding to Hamas in Gaza:

We hear the usual Israeli line. General Yaakov Amidror, the former head of the Israeli army's "research and assessment division" announced that "no country in the world would allow its citizens to be made the target of rocket attacks without taking vigorous steps to defend them." Quite so. But when the IRA were firing mortars over the border into Northern Ireland, when their guerrillas were crossing from the Republic to attack police stations and Protestants, did Britain unleash the RAF on the Irish Republic? Did the RAF bomb churches and tankers and police stations and zap 300 civilians to teach the Irish a lesson? No, it did not. Because the world would have seen it as criminal behaviour. We didn't want to lower ourselves to the IRA's level.

Like the British in confronting the IRA, the Israelis must have a military option in dealing with Hamas. But the British never resorted to bombing raids over primarily civilian populations. Ultimately the British forged a political rather than a military solution, just as Israel must do. We can only speculate as to whether such a solution would have been made more difficult had the British resorted to bombings. Nevertheless, the overall comparison is worth pondering. Is Robert Fisk's analogy valid?

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