A week or so ago I had a meeting with two Israelis, one of whom had flown in from Tel Aviv that morning. During the meeting, I had to ask a few questions about service reliability given the current situation and this swiftly led to these chaps passing what I thought were fairly insensitive (yet not unsurprising) comments about the events underway in Beirut. One chap described that blighted city as 'the greatest firework show on earth'.
What was even more interesting, looking back, was that it was taken for granted that as a white Englishman living in London that I was completely on board with the whole Israeli position, and that such comments would be acceptable.
This morning the Guardian newspaper tells us that over the weekend, and following the deaths of the UN observers last week, the Israeli airforce killed 60 civilians in a bombing raid and many of those were women and children, killed when the shelter they were hiding in was hit by whatever it is the Israelis use to ceate these great 'firework shows' of theirs.
The interesting thing is, nobody at a Western governmental level has come out and told Israel to pack it in; indeed, late last week this wall of apparent silence was taken, publically by some Israeli minister, as approval of their actions. Why is that? Of course, the UN has condemned it - but that's the equivalent of being told to sit on the naughty step.
There seems to be some unwritten rule that you don't criticise Israel - you just sit back and passively support whatever it is they do because they've been through such a lot / represent the only true western style democracy in the region / are surrounded by 'enemies' / etc. Worse still, if you criticise Israel, you incur the wrath of those ever so powerful organisations in America who do nothing but pump cash and rhetoric into the executive to ensure the support, aid and most importantly arms, keep coming.
Where does it end? I have vocally supported Israel's right to exist and defend itself before - and continue to believe that, however such support does not extend to the current actions being undertaken in Lebanon which smack of zealous disproportionate invasion where Israel's true disregard for those it must live next to, shines through.
How Israel expects to gain any respect for their position after this weekend's events is beyond me - however, I suspect that given my meeting with the two Israelis and their attitude to the whole thing, respect if not approval is simply expected from us. Once again, 'Middle East Peace' remains a twisted joke.