It's a PR Challenge

The Israelis have been forced to acknowledge the unpleasant fact that the IDF murdered a family of innocent Palestinian civilians yesterday. These very young children and their mother, preparing to eat breakfast inside their home…obviously the circumstances make it difficult to cast the blame aside. But don’t you worry! Even under the most challenging conditions, prominent Israelis will rise to the occasion and find clever and unique ways to rid themselves of moral responsibility. Behold…

Source: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3537284,00.html

Olmert makes a brave start, boldly going where he fears to tread.

At the start of the weekly government meeting, Olmert said, “I would like to express my deep regret, on behalf of the Israeli government and the State of Israel, over the tragic incident in which a mother and her four children were killed in Beit Hanoun.”

Had he only stopped there. But no. He had to go on and put a frame around the apology, to place it in context with Israeli suffering. No matter how sad and unjust these deaths, they do not compare, in any way, to the greatest suffering ever experienced at any time, ever: Israeli suffering.

He added, however, that “we are also sorry for our own children, who have been getting hurt for many years now, including the child whose leg was amputated several weeks ago.

Yes. Let us not forget that an Israeli child was seriously hurt, but we are allowed to forget that dozens of Palestinian children were killed in the IDF attacks on Gaza in March. He also said this:

I believe our regret is more real, sincere and painful than the regret of the terror organizations we are facing. But as long as the terror organizations fire at the south’s residents, the IDF will continue to operate against them.”

Even Israeli regret, as a form of suffering, surpasses the regret of other people. The Palestinians just cannot compete, no matter how many innocent babies and children die.

Moving on to Ehud Barak, Israeli Defense Minister, who yesterday spoke from an Israeli weapons factory. His remarks were reported on Israeli radio. In his eyes, there is nothing much to apologize for.

We see Hamas as responsible for everything that happens there, for all injuries,” he said while on a tour of an Israeli weapons factory, as reported on Israeli radio. “The army is acting and will continue to act against Hamas, including inside the Gaza Strip.”

He said something similar while touring a security fence near the West Bank:

Hamas is responsible for everything happening in the Gaza Strip. The operations also put civilians in danger. We are not happy when civilians are hurt, but view Hamas as the one to blame,” he added.

Other ministers made their own attempts to deflect criticism away from Israel.

Hamas is using the children and the families as a human shield, but war is war and terror is terror,” said Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Eli Yishai. “Although we do not wish to hurt innocent people, but unfortunately this happens. We must improve our PR efforts to present Israel in a better way.”

This next one is particularly spectacular. The victims, while inside their home getting ready to eat breakfast, allowed people carrying weapons to walk about between their houses and near their children. Yes!!! Can you believe it? Instead of preparing breakfast for her four small children, that mother should have been outside patrolling the street with a cast iron frying pan, brandishing it against Palestinian men and keeping them all away from her house and her children. Clearly, it’s her own fault for failing to keep the area clear of terrorists.

Housing and Construction Minister Ze’ev Boim said, “Israel must continue to develop means which will distinguish between involved and uninvolved populations. We must remember that not all the civilian population is uninvolved. The families in Beit Hanoun allow people carrying weapons to walk about between their houses and near their children.

And this one is interesting, too.

Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit wondered, “Aren’t children being hurt here? Aren’t we in a state of war with Hamas? Every night children are injured here. We are at war and have no other way but to fight Hamas. I object to a ceasefire with Hamas which will allow them to continue smuggling weapons.”

Every night children are injured in Israel? What is he talking about? I’m quite positive we all would be well aware of that if it in fact were happening, because certainly, all forms of Israeli suffering are disseminated rapidly throughout the world media. Maybe he is referring the people from Sderot who were profiled in this story. Just look what they have to endure.

Residents say the worst part of their disrupted lives is the constant fear - never knowing where the next rocket will fall. “I am falling apart, it is killing me, it is killing my family,” says Shulamit Sasson, 44.

Her family of seven sleeps side by side on mattresses on their living room floor, to be close to a makeshift bomb shelter. Her 13-year-old son wets himself each time he hears public loudspeakers blare “tseva adom” - “color red” - meaning a rocket will arrive in less than a minute.

This month a rocket landed next to the family’s home, blasting away the windows and filling it with a cloud of smoke. Sasson said she spent five days in the hospital with trauma.

“These are not people who are simply feeling bad. In the middle of the night they are woken up by their own thoughts, by their own fears, by the memory of these fears,” said Marc Gelkopf, who conducted the phone survey.

Sasson said that four years ago a rocket landed near her son, Raziel, then 9, inside a schoolyard and sent him into shock. She says she hasn’t worked since, and Raziel has never recovered.

“My son goes to school, hears a siren, wets his pants, and comes home - is that a normal child? A 13-year-old boy that needs me to go into the shower with him - is that a normal boy? I need to stand next to him when he goes to the bathroom - is that a normal child?” she said. “I cannot be this child’s psychologist, I cannot be his social worker. I am his mother - that’s all I can be.”

Such suffering. These must be the kind of children injured every night in Israel. I’m sure you can see that there’s no comparison between this profound Israeli suffering in Sderot and the stupid, self-inflicted Palestinian suffering in Gaza and the West Bank.

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