Blood on their hands
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The contrasting images coming out of Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories on Monday could not have been starker -- or more disturbing.
Faced with protests at the perimeter fence in Gaza, Israeli snipers killed dozens of unarmed Palestinians and wounded more than 2,000 others, including children, women, journalists and paramedics, in a hail of live fire. Amnesty, the international human rights organization, rightly called it a "horror show."
Such horror is now so routine that TV anchors could only headline the news as the worst day of bloodshed in Gaza in four years, when Israel massacred civilians in its last major military assault.
Already gasping from the chokehold of Israel's decade-long blockade of Gaza, local hospitals are now collapsing from the weight of casualties.
A few kilometres away, meanwhile, Israelis were partying.
So-called "liberal" Tel Aviv was busy "chicken dancing" with Netta, who had just won the Eurovision Song Contest and gave a free open-air performance to celebrate.
And in Jerusalem, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu was glad-handing a bevy of US officials, including Ivanka Trump, the president's daughter and policy adviser. They were there to beam for the cameras as the US opened its embassy in the occupied city.
The move pre-empts negotiations over the city's fate and sabotages Palestinian ambitions for East Jerusalem to become the capital of a future Palestinian state.
Netanyahu's grin said it all. As he mouthed platitudes about "Middle Eastern peace," he finally had Washington's blessing for all of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. And next year Europe will give its implicit blessing too by hosting the Eurovision Song Contest there.
But amid the euphoria, a few Israeli commentators understood that politics is about more than power -- it's about imagery too. The champagne-quaffing in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem while Gaza drowned in blood left a profoundly sour taste in the mouth.
There was more than a whiff of hypocrisy too in statements about "defending borders" from a state that has refused to declare its borders since its creation exactly 70 years ago -- as well as from a Netanyahu government currently trying to establish a Greater Israel over the Palestinian territories.
But the hypocrisy was not restricted to Israel and Washington, which parroted Mr Netanyahu's talking points.
There was an ugly equivocation from other western leaders. They spoke of "regret," "tragedy" and "concern at the loss of life," as though an act of God had struck Gaza, not an order from Israeli commanders to quell the Palestinian urge for freedom with live ammunition.
Equally dishonest was talk of the "need for restraint from both sides" and "clashes," as though the protesters had been tussling with Israeli soldiers in hand-to-hand combat rather than being coldly picked off through telescopic sights.
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