The arithmetic is totally skewed: hundreds of dead compared to a handful of Israelis. The Palestinians have already lost so much at the hands of Israel, including a country where they were already living. Now they are herded into the margins, in a grim parody of Jewish ghettos and South African apartheid, cut off from the land their fathers farmed by walls and barbed wire. Does that weeping woman curse Hamas for firing the rockets that provoked this response? Or does she feel - if she has any feeling left - that this is the only possible thing to do in protest? But how do the relatives of the handful of dead Israelis feel? Obviously it's no better knowing that you're one of only half a dozen if it's your brother who is dead - so do they cheer on the troops who so outnmber the "insurgents" they are determined to crush? I am reminded of the days when, in my role as a CND activist, I spoke at the RCC in Edinburgh. In these days, much was made of the "Just War" theory. We were talking nukes then, but surely this is not a just war by any standards - let alone that of proportionate response.
And why do the rest of us seem to be letting this happen? We look at these dead children and wailing mourners, we see the abject poverty of the environment which is now being pounded to rubble, we watch doctors working in squalor to save lives as the drugs run out. A westernised power which we helped to plank in the middle of Palestine seems to have learned the worst possible lessons from its people's history and looks as if it is trying to eliminate the original inhabitants. What failure of imagination drives their leaders? These articulate and terrifying Israelis with American accents - what business have they there?
Daniel Barenboim, writing in the guardian last week, said this:
Palestinian violence torments Israelis and does not serve the Palestinian cause; Israeli retaliation is inhuman, immoral, and does not guarantee security. The destinies of the two peoples are inextricably linked, obliging them to live side by side. They have to decide if they want to make of this a blessing or a curse.
But until there is real justice for the wretched people of Palestine, it is hard to see how they can see any blessing in the proximity of their neighbours.