Schneider Aviel

Israel Knows Something About War Crimes Accusations

Facts fall short when emotions are involved. In the end, everyone believes what suits them

Demonstrators protest in Tel Aviv against the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Photo: Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90

Nothing is occupying the world media more than the massacre in Bucha. The pictures and videos from the suburb of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv have caused horror around the world. Media and governments speak of a Russian war crime. Both in Israel and abroad media and politicians are speaking of the worst crime of the 21st century. And fervor is building over the massacre in the Ukrainian city. Just Google it and with one click you can see how outraged people are over the scenes from Bucha. The Israeli media has been covering the situation in as much detail as any other.

Russia sees a “Western conspiracy” in the pictures from Bucha and rejects the serious allegations from Kyiv. “The Ukrainian government staged the situation in Bucha,” said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. “It was a fabricated attack designed to discredit Russia.” His spokeswoman was even clearer, saying the US and its Western allies commissioned the gruesome images. I know colleagues in Jerusalem who actually agree and likewise see a Western conspiracy in the Butcha massacre. Which is truer, the Russian war crimes or the Western conspiracy?

In Israel this situation takes on greater meaning because Israel has itself been accused numerous times over the years of war crimes, apartheid, colonialism, genocide, ethnic cleansing and all other manner of misbehavior. This is not to say that a war crime did or did not take place in Bucha. I just want to draw attention to how many times Israel has been accused of the same in its fight against Palestinian terrorism. After every operation in Gaza, Israel is accused of a war crime. Horrifying photos of dead Palestinian children or weeping mothers against a backdrop of rubble flood the media, often making it easy to vent one’s anger at Israel. Instinctively, people feel sorry for the victims in the pictures and videos. Israel has had to defend itself against this to this day.

Archive – Demonstration against Israel in Tel Aviv in May 2019. Photo: Tomer Neuberg/Flash90

I am convinced that Israel has never committed war crimes. I know the DNA of the people too well for that. In fact, the mercy of Israeli soldiers often plays to their disadvantage. Although there are isolated cases of an Israeli soldier fatally beating or shooting a Palestinian, this is certainly not a policy within the Israeli army. Soldiers who commit such crimes are tried by a military court with the help of Palestinian family members. This acts as a deference to such behavior. Israeli soldiers know they will be brought to justice. That in itself is a sensitive issue in Israeli society.

Israel cares more about its enemies than the enemies care about themselves. Yet Israel continues to be accused of war crimes. Israel wants only one thing: to live in peace and quiet. And for that, Israel has to defend itself, and that’s not a war crime. The daily riots during Ramadan at Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate have become a trend among young Palestinians, most of whom are not even residents of the city. In Arab networks, these young people are being criticized by their fellow Palestinian Muslims for spoiling the holidays for the majority.

On TikTok, Palestinians complain that one should not be surprised that action must be taken against the Palestinian instigators. I mention this because many Palestinians themselves admit that Israel is not a war criminal. But those who refuse to accept this will always and forever blame Israel for everything, including war crimes.

The Palestinian man filming at the Damascus Gate first shows the clowns who have come to make families and children happy on the nights of Ramadan, then scolds the young Muslims who hang around and spoil the holiday spirit. He protests that they provoke the police, who then fire smoke grenades and disperse the crowd. “Why are these young people destroying Ramadan and the joy of families? Why should the place be cleared? We haven’t had Ramadan for 5-6 years,” he laments.

This also applies to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is hated around the world. The media and governments have already convicted Putin of war crimes. Israel’s former prime ministers Ariel Sharon and Benjamin Netanyahu have both been vilified around the world as hardliners. We know these attacks. I’m not writing this in reference to Vladimir Putin, but in reference to the frequent accusations Israel faces. Also for me there is a big difference between the Israeli and the Russian armies. We can all see what happened in Bucha in pictures and videos.

When I claim that Israel has not committed any war crimes and the Russians have, I know that I’m preaching to the choir. Facts fall short when emotions are involved. And in the end everyone believes what suits them. And the truth always comes out in the end.

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