I have sent this letter to Councillor Burns and every member of his council. The contents of his motion can be found at the end of this post.
Dear Councillor Burns
I am writing to you with reference to your recent Motion 9 to Council of the 21st August 2014.
Whereas anyone with the slightest spark of humanity cannot but feel enormous empathy for the innocent people of Gaza in the current conflict, and whereas it is a natural reaction for anyone so moved to want to help, i am absolutely appalled at the way the motion was framed in a way to politicise the plight of Gazans without regard to the origins of this conflict and with a totally one-sided account of recent events.
I wish to bring a number of points to your attention.
You quote the number of innocent civilians killed as being more than 1900. In fact, the number is now over 2000. However, you are parroting the lies of Hamas, who are the ultimate source of these figures. Even the BBC has recently advised caution on the casualties. Where are the combatants in these figures? In fact, analysis by several sources have revealed that there is a disproportionate number of men of fighting age in the demographic of these casualties. These analyses reveal that at least 45% of casualties were actually combatants.
To glibly represent those killed as all being innocents completely airbrushes the very people who were and continue to be responsible for this tragedy, namely Hamas.
I was astounded that your motion not only ignores the proscribed terrorist group which has spent more than a decade firing 20,000 rockets at Israel, but ignores the rockets themselves and the devastating affect that constant and sustained rocket fire has had on the people and the children of southern Israel.
Your motion implies that the devastation in Gaza has no causal origin except the malice of Israel.
You say you support a ceasefire. Hear, hear. But I have lost count- I think it’s now 12 – of the number of ceasefires agreed by Israel and broken by Hamas.
You have determined to send a letter to the President of the ‘State of Palestine’, which does not now, nor has ever existed. Have the good people of Edinburgh the power to recognise a state that the United Nations does not? It is very revealing of your prejudices that you have no intention of sending a similar letter to the President of the State of Israel, sympathising with decades of terror visited on his people or empathising with more than a million people who have only a matter of seconds to find a bomb shelter.
And on that point, the number of innocents killed in Gaza would have been reduced if, instead of building miles of terror-tunnels, Hamas had built shelters for their civilians. They would have been further reduced if Hamas had not used mosques, schools, hospitals and kindergartens to fire from or forced their population to be human shields or occupy buildings that they knew were about to be bombed.
The truth is that not a single person would have been killed if Hamas was not a genocidal terrorist organisation dedicated to Israel’s destruction. Your motion strongly implies that the people of Gaza are the victims of Israeli aggression rather than Hamas’s murderous intent to terrorise Israelis by kidnap, suicide-bombing and rocketing.
Instead you are sending a letter to the Israeli consulate condemning his country for defending itself. I wonder, but not for very long, how the people of Edinburgh would react if Glaswegians were firing rockets from civilian infrastructure, tunnelling into Waverley or popping up in St Giles to murder your constituents.
You mention Ban Ki-Moon’s outrage at the targetting of an UNWRA school when it has since been shown that the incident took place outside the school. In any case, did you not hear how Hamas uses schools to store weapons? Acts condemned by Ban and UNWRA. Where is your outrage at that?
I have no problem with your humanitarian sympathies for Gaza, but tell me, councillor, with thousands of Yezidis being massacred, uprooted, sold into slavery, forcibly converted by IS in Iraq, how many motions in council have there been for them? And how many appeals for the thousands of Palestinians fleeing slaughter in Syria?
Your council’s singling out of Gaza as your cause du jour would be more credible if far more attention, rather than none at all, had been given to far worse humanitarian disasters across the world. Why is it always Gaza? And if your council has a particular affinity with that cause, why do you use it to make outrageous attacks on Israel without the slightest mention of Hamas or its rockets.
I find it beyond reason that so many on the Left are so ready to malign and demonise the only country in the region which upholds so many of the values that you are supposed to hold dear: freedom of worship, freedom of the press, democracy, human rights, gay rights, women’s rights, the right to form unions, the right to strike. Yet your sympathies are with Palestine, where none of these rights exist at all or to anything like the extent they do in Israel.
So fly your flag in solidarity with a political entity and putative state that hangs gay people, declares that no Jew will ever live in it, spews antisemitic propaganda in schools and television, denies women equal rights and seeks the total destruction of its neighbour, and the murder of every Jew. Don’t bother flying the Ukrainian flag, or the ‘We are N’ symbol in support of Iraqi Christians, or the Tibetan flag or any flag other than the Palestinian. Well done with your selective empathy.
Enjoy that special solidarity, councillor Burns. Maybe you’ll fly the ISIS flag next month; it pretty much amounts to the same thing. Hamas and ISIS and, yes, Fatah, are branches of the same Islamist tree.
Shame on you and Edinburgh Council. The people of your great city deserve better.
Here is the text of Motion 9
By Councillor Burns – Gaza – Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) Appeal
“The City of Edinburgh Council:
1) has been deeply appalled and distressed to witness the recent loss of life in Gaza;
2) stands in solidarity with the innocent civilians of Gaza, who have lost more than 1,900 people, many of whom have been women and children;
3) supports an immediate ceasefire, as called for by the United Nations.
Council thus agrees:
4) to send a letter from the Council Leader, to the President of the State of Palestine, offering the City’s condolences for the deaths they have suffered;
The City of Edinburgh Council – 21 August 2014 Page 3 of 6
5) to send a letter from the Council Leader, to the Israeli Consulate in London, condemning in the strongest possible terms, the killing of hundreds of innocent civilian men, women and children.
Council also agrees:
6) to fly a ‘Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) Appeal’ flag, at the City Chambers entrance on the High Street, which will prominently feature the DEC Gaza Appeal telephone donation line: 0370 60 60 900; and
7) to promote the DEC Gaza Appeal via its own external, and internal, websites.”
9.2 By Councillor Booth – Flying the Palestinian Flag from the City Chambers
1) Notes the continued conflict in Gaza, which has lead to the deaths of 67 Israelis and more than 1800 Palestinians, including many innocent civilians, and which has included attacks on UN schools which have been labelled a moral outrage and a criminal act by Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary-General of the United Nations;
2) Notes the appeal recently launched by the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), comprising 13 UK charities, to help the people of Gaza, including the estimated 65,000 people who have seen their homes severely damaged or destroyed and the estimated tens of thousands who urgently need food, water and medical care;
3) Believes the ongoing conflict is unacceptable, condemns any ongoing violence and calls on all sides to work for peace and a stable two-state solution in Palestine;
4) Agrees to fly the Palestinian flag from the City Chambers in a gesture of solidarity with the people of Gaza wherever this does not clash with the pre-existing flag flying programme;
5) Agrees to ask the Council Leader to contact the Disasters Emergency Committee to explore any further measures the Council can take to support the people of Gaza and support the DEC appeal.”