Making Lies Sound Truthful and Murder Respectable
Trying to make sense of international reactions to Israel’s war against Hamas this week, one was reminded of George Orwell’s famed essay, “Politics and the English Language.”
Political language, Orwell writes, “is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable.”
Across the board world leaders were almost unanimous.
“Foreign Secretary William Hague has repeated calls for an urgent ceasefire between the Israelis and Palestinian group Hamas,” the BBC reported.
According to Reuters, “French foreign minister Laurent Fabius said… securing a ceasefire for the Gaza Strip… was a top priority for France.”
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed alarm that “despite the Security Council’s clear demand for a ceasefire, the situation in and around the Gaza Strip appears to be worsening.”
Australia’s Foreign Minister “has been calling on both sides to cease the retaliatory action,” The Jerusalem Post reported.
In a phone call late last week with Israel’s Prime Minister Netanayhu, U.S. President Obama offered to help broker a ceasefire.
But while seemingly innocuous, it is these political calls for both sides to halt their fire that actually have contributed to making “lies sound truthful” and “murder respectable.”
The first implication of the call for Israel to halt its campaign against Hamas is that its actions are somehow illegitimate. Yes, there are civilian casualties and that is cause for concern, but that is the case in all wars, many of which have been supported by the international community. Hence the lie that tells of the injustice of Israel’s campaign becomes a truth.
The second implication is that the two sides of this altercation are somehow comparable and that they are therefore both equally bound to halt their fire.
But they are not. Hamas are indiscriminate murderers. Although thankfully they have had less luck this time around, as there have been less civilian deaths in Israel, there can be no question that Hamas’s purpose is to butcher and maim as many innocents as possible.
Israel on the other hand is defending its citizens as a responsible, democratic nation state with accountable leaders who represent their people. By treating the warring sides as peers, Hamas’s murderous cause becomes respectable.
There is one world leader, however, who perhaps would have won Orwell’s favor with his straight talk.
In his reaction to the war in Gaza, Canada’s Stephen Harper did not mince his words.
“The indiscriminate rocket attacks from Gaza on Israel are terrorist acts, for which there is no justification…” he started.
He continued, “Canada is unequivocally behind Israel. We support its right to defend itself, by itself, against these terror attacks…”
Harper is saying: We understand that you are a morally conscious and responsible nation. You are just in your cause and we trust that you will take the necessary steps, and not more, to secure your citizens and protect all civilians in the process.
These are the words of a true friend.