OPINION: The obscene rationale of random retaliation

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OPINION: The obscene rationale of random retaliation

Barrister David Wolchover reflects on the horrific events of recent days in Israel and the warped logic driving the Islamic fundamentalism of terror organisations like Hamas.

Lucy Dee, 48, was killed in the terror attack along with two of her daughters.
Lucy Dee, 48, was killed in the terror attack along with two of her daughters.

Last week mainstream lovers of Israel doubtless watched in horror as crazed Israeli police were televised beating Palestinians with batons as they lay on the ground outside the Al Aqsa mosque.  

No “context” of security considerations could conceivably excuse such brutality, which sadly brought to mind similar footage of so-called “police” attacking demonstrators in that host of countries ruled over by oppressive regimes. The inflammatory effect it will have worked on the latest generation of Palestinian Arabs already poisoned by decades of the big naqba lie is not hard to imagine.

Yet as sickening as it was to observe the mishtara in action, it pales into insignificance compared with the random ambushing and murder of Anglo-Israeli sisters Rina and Maia Dee and their mother, who subsequently succumbed to her injuries.

David Wolchover

It has been reported that Hamas “praised” the attack (and the Tel Aviv car attack) as “retaliation” for the Al Aqsa raids. If accurately reported it is noteworthy that Hamas did not cite Israel’s air attacks on Gaza as legitimating the Dee killings.

Presumably the air raids were accepted by Hamas as a response to the rockets launched from Gaza and Lebanon. Those followed the Al Aqsa raids and since the vast majority were neutralised by the Iron Dome shield, it may be deduced that the Dee murders and the Tel Aviv incident were deemed sanctionable as replacement retaliation.

Even according to the Islamic fundamentalist interpretation of Lex Talionis – the principle of tit-for-tat – the murders were of course utterly disproportionate. No one knows what might have been in the mind of the killer or killers but what is significant is that Hamas, as the official embodiment of would-be genocide, sought by praising them to draw an equivalence between non-fatal beating and homicide.

The episode demonstrates once again the haphazard and muddled rationale behind Islamic Fundamentalism, rooted as it is in the quasi-theocratic doctrine of qisas, the sacred duty to exact revenge in like measure.

It would almost certainly have been impossible for outsiders to identify the policemen who wielded those batons on the Dome of the Rock and it would probably have been considered too provocative to shoot their police colleagues at random instead.

Islamic Fundamentalism is rooted as it is in the quasi-theocratic doctrine of qisas, the sacred duty to exact revenge in like measure.

But qisas does not require vengeance to be directed personally at the supposedly deserving criminal. If you can’t kill that individual, any old soft target will do, provided they are loosely associated with the original perpetrator. It could be regimental colleagues, family members or friends, fellow citizens or members of the same community.

It might even stretch to people only tenuously connected. The ultimate barbarism here is the Lockerbie bombing. On July 4, 1988, an IranAir jet carrying 290 passengers and crew was shot down by the Vincennes, an American guided-missile cruiser patrolling in the Gulf of Iran, with the loss of all on board.

The Vincennes was engaged at the time in a skirmish with Iranian fast patrol boats and the relevant crew members incompetently mistook the jetliner for an Iranian F-14A Tomcat heading in to attack the ship. Yet no timely apology or offer of compensation was forthcoming; instead the Reagan administration’s lame attempts to excuse the disaster only added salt to the wound.

Incensed, Iran embarked on qisas by collaborating with a Palestinian terrorist faction in the detonating of a bomb on PanAm 103 over Lockerbie the following December 21 with the not quite equivalent loss of 270 lives on board.

Quite apart from the fact that the victims were presumptively innocent it mattered not to the Iranian government that among the passengers a great many were not even American citizens and the 11 killed by falling debris were Lockerbie residents.

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