Oryszczuk on Gaza

This is the post excerpt.


The Jewish News (free newspaper) of 17th July 2017, #1013, on centre-page 19 carries an opinion article by foreign editor Stephen Oryszczuk, “The silence gets louder as Gaza situation gets worse“.
It is a nasty dismissive impressionistic and polemic piece, giving the impression that British Jews do not care about people in Gaza.

(see #1013 at http://jewishnews.timesofisrael.com/supplement/latestjewishnews/ – an online-only edited version appears at http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/as-the-suffering-gets-worse-jewish-silence-gets-louder/, but most people read the paper version)

Silence” … “Or do they just not care?” … “a collective communal apathy” … “out of sight, out of mind

Some people like to lie about British Jews, accusing them (or the “community”) of being “silent” about conditions in Gaza, even though those conditions are regularly described in British Jewish media.
Oryszczuk’s whole piece is about this British Jewish “silence” on conditions in Gaza (it appears in the headline: “As the suffering gets worse, Jewish silence gets louder” and also in the last sentence: “And, as it gets worse, the silence *of the Jewish community* gets louder“)
[* The words “of the Jewish community” are omitted in the online version.]
Oryszczuk regards the existence of this Jewish “silence” as a given, that needs no justification, and no qualification.
Oryszczuk ignores the many reports on conditions in Gaza in the British Jewish media.
When Oryszczuk says “silence” he presumably really means “failure to criticise Israel” – so why doesn’t he say so?
Because he needs to immediately accuse British Jews of not caring (in his first paragraph) – and while not caring is a very plausible deduction from silence, it isn’t such a plausible deduction from regularly reading about it and then not criticising Israel for it.
Oryszczuk’s article does not anywhere explicitly say that Israel should be criticised, and certainly not that British Jews should do so – if it did, he would have to justify such criticism.
Oryszczuk feels that he cannot glibly claim (without argument) that Israel should be criticised, but he does feel he can glibly claim a Jewish “silence”, from which silence he can immediately deduce a lack of interest, and a lack of caring.
So “silence” it had to be.

… and Israelis celebrate killing, say, a Hamas commander

Oryszczuk is even-handed.
Oryszczuk feels the need to at least mention that Palestinians “glory in killing Israelis” … but he considers that even-handedness then requires him to mention something similar against Israelis.
When innocent Israelis are targeted and killed, Palestinians often celebrate in the streets, give sweets to children (so they will remember the sweet taste of the news), and generally praise the “martyrs” and their families – that presumably is what Oryszczuk means by “glorying”.
By contrast, when (rarely) innocent Palestinians are targeted and killed, Israelis almost universally condemn the killings,
And even when a non-innocent Palestinian is killed, there is no “glorying”. Satisfaction, perhaps. But nothing remotely similar to what Oryszczuk means by “glorying”.
(“Glorying”, like eg “running”, admittedly describes a spectrum – some people consider that justifies using it to describe things that are clearly off the spectrum – that is as dishonest as using “running” to describe walking.)
Oryszczuk dishonestly contrasts the killing of innocent Israelis with the killing of (“say”!) a Hamas commander, but even then his allegation of glorying the latter’s killing is false.
Oryszczuk has successfully taken the sting out of a very unfavourable comparison by even-handedly evening the comparison out.
Oryszczuk apparently has one meaning of “glorying” for Jews, and another for everyone else.

If someone hits you, hit them back 10 times harder

Palestinians regularly try to kill as many innocent civilians as possible.
Israelis respond by trying to kill as few innocent civilians as possible.
Oryszczuk knows this, but still tries to leave the reader with he impression that the Israelis have a “ten eyes for an eye” morality.

most of Gaza’s two million people never did anything wrong

The vast majority of Gaza adults voted for an openly racist and terrorist manifesto. There is no doubt they will do so again.
This statement is simply dishonest
(Though technically, I must admit that it’s defensible provided you obtusely define “most” as “over half” – over half of the two million are children, and therefore had no vote.)

no power, no fuel

Oryszczuk is simply lying. Why does he feel he has to? (Later he actaully accepts that everyone has electricity) Who knows?

as surely there will be, a humanitarian catastrophe unfolds

This is PRE-TRUTH.
Pre-truth is the domain of those who need to criticise Jews for things they haven’t done, and may never do.
Pre-truthers can’t afford to wait for Jews to do something bad – it may never happen, and then the opportunity to criticise would be wasted.
So pre-truthers criticise in advance.
There is no reason to believe in a future humanitarian catastrophe – food is allowed in without restriction, and always will be – water will doubtless be allowed in the same way if needed – medicine and power are restricted only by Palestinian Authority refusal to supply funds.

will Jews … be conspicuous by their absence?

(Note the elegant variation – “absence” instead of “silence” this time.)

to put it mildly, a collective communal apathy towards the mainly young Muslim people living (if one can call it that) in Gaza.”

Oryszczuk has simply made this up.
Oryszczuk uses only pre-truth criticism to give colour to an unsupported allegation of “communal apathy”.

living (if one can call it that)

Oryszczuk’s implication here is that, for young people, life in Gaza is pointless (or worse).
This is absurd. There is culture (though no concerts), sport, internet, University, etc much the same as anywhere else.
(Admittedly, job prospects are geographically limited – but that does not justify Oryszczuk’s “if one can call it that”).

“back to the stone ages”. Today, hideously, that phrase no longer seems metaphorical

Oryszczuk is simply lying.
To support this lie, he is now forced into another lie …

This is now a land of dust and rubble. Go online and see for yourself: there’s nothing left to bomb.**”

[**The online–only version is slightly different.]
Oryszczuk has gone beyond hyperbole into blatant lying.

a ‘prison’. What else is it when you can’t get out?

First, Gazans can get out.
Second, a prison is somewhere you don’t want to live. Most Gazans do want to live in Gaza – it’s their home!

To Israeli military planners, who like nothing more than a divided Arab world, this is great news

Oryszczuk has simply made this up.
Israel much prefers the present united Arab world – united (except for some Syrians) against Iran!
And Oryszczuk’s implication that Gazan suffering is “great news” to Israelis is disgusting.

Make the people turn on Hamas?

Oryszczuk puts this into his list of arguments that make “no sense”, and so need no reply. Yet the Palestinian Authority have the same idea (in withdrawing electricity), and are still the only viable electoral alternative to Hamas in Gaza.
Perhaps Oryszczuk thinks (correctly) that Hamas was democratically elected, and that it is anti-democratic to try to make people “turn on” their democratic choice of a terrorist government?

already-desperate situation” … “this slow death” … “Smoke them out of the hole” … “All this suffering, all this pain

Oryszczuk, to justify his conclusion, makes glib polemic assertions in his opening and penultimate paragraphs which are simply untrue (or which, if metaphors, are bizarrely inappropriate).
Oryszczuk treats these polemic assertions as a given, needing no justification, and no qualification.
Oryszczuk feels that polemic is its own justification, and an all-purpose justification.
Oryszczuk feels that the end justifies the polemic, and then the polemic justifies the end.
Life in Gaza is fairly ordinary, and similar to life in most third-world towns. The people are happy, well-fed, and have plenty of leisure options.
Admittedly, there is a serious power shortage (four hours of electricity a day), and the health service is inadequate (both of which are caused by the Palestinian Authority withdrawing funding, and by the Hamas government refusing to divert money from military construction). But even that does not make the situation in Gaza desperate (though of course eg a manufacturer may be desperate because electricity shortages are making him bankrupt, or a patient may be desperate because his drugs are being withdrawn).
People adjust.
Desperate is eg queueing for hours at a food distribution point, waiting for a lorry that may never arrive. Or having to choose between spending money on food for the family, or medicine for the baby. Or sending your child away, possibly never to see it again, because otherwise it has no future. Or knowing that something essential is about to run out.
To describe the situation in Gaza as “already-desperate” is a lie.

this slow death

(not in the original paper article, but thoughtfully added to the online edition) This is presumably meant metaphorically, but even so it is untrue.
It seems to have been added to make even clearer the insinuation in the following phrase …

Smoke them out of the hole

Such words give the impression, not only that the Israeli aim is killing, but also that Israelis regard the Palestinians not as humans but as defenceless animals.
Is this polemic phrase an invention of Oryszczuk? It’s not in the familiar racists’ vocabulary (“brutal”, “savage”, “slaughter”, “inhuman” …) of polemic words designed to give the impression that Israelis are less than human, or that they treat Palestinians as less than human.
All this suffering, all this pain”
“suffering” covers a very wide spectrum.
Apart from the suffering caused by inadequate electricity, or inadequate health provision – both of which are the Palestinian Authority’s fault, not Israel’s – what suffering and pain is there?

not one iota of sense

This dismisses all counter-argument out of hand: the writer does not need to deal with them: all opposition is stupid. Res ipsa loquitur.

And, as it gets worse, the silence of the Jewish community gets louder

Oryszczuk’s careful concluding sentence (in the original paper edition) is a blatant criticism of the whole (British) Jewish race.