Jodi Rudoren has a post about Gaza to which one reader commented:
Another poster, named Mariam responded angrily:
You are plainly sick! Imagine I say the same thing about Americans? That the attack they suffered was inflicted by themselves? You will probably be horrified and calling me all kinds of names. Don’t de- humanize people and show respect for those that are dying while you watch TV. Wish you could experience Gaza life for a day, you would be ashamed of your words
Mariam’s argument, “what if i were to say that about Americans (or Israelis), then you’d scream…” is a very weighty one in the politically correct “public debate.” People readily back off when confronted with it, especially when it’s accompanied, as is Mariam’s, with implied accusations of “blaming the victim.”
But it really is a fallacious argument. Whether Hamas (and other Gazan “militants”) use their own civilians as shields, whether they not only invite Israeli attacks on civilian areas, but hit their own people with “friendly fire,” is not a matter of feelings hurt or otherwise. It’s a matter of evidence. The strong empirical evidence from many independent sources (cited by a number of commenters at Rudoren’s page in this thread) including Gazan, is that Hamas uses their own people as human shields and tries to benefit from the misery they inflict on their own people by blaming Israel. They even brag about it.
On the other hand, there’s no evidence that either Israelis or Americans do this. On the contrary, they go to extensive lengths not only to protect their own civilians, but those of their enemies. So of course, we don’t like to be so accused. We do everything to avoid being guilty of so heinous a crime, even sacrifice our own soldiers. And accusing Hamas of doing this is not “dehumanizing” them. That’s something they do all on their own.
Thus, it’s not intellectually or morally honest to not criticize someone else for something they’re doing because you wouldn’t like to be (falsely) accused for doing it, and its pure demopathy to invoke the principle to shut up our criticism.
But it’s even worse. This trope of not blaming the victim is actually a form of victimizing. The good people of Gaza (many of whom rue the day they voted “democratically” for Hamas), are the victims of Hamas’ cannibalistic strategy, which only succeeds if the Israelis are blamed. By blaming Israel even where it’s clearly the fault of Hamas, one makes such a terrible and inhumane strategy profitable. As one of the commenters and my Daily Telegraph blog put it, the people who support the Palestinians by demonizing Israel are co-dependents in Hamas’ terror tactics against their own people.
Nothing better illustrates the argument that the “left” hates Israel far more than they care about the Palestinians. Alas!