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Redefining Aggression

By David Haldane


Jan. 1, 2024




It felt like a punch in the gut.

The Philippines, my favorite country and historically a friend to Israel, had just voted in favor of a United Nations resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

“It is highly appreciated,” Palestine Ambassador to Manila Saleh Mohammad said in an interview with The Manila Times. “We cannot accept for Filipinos to refer to Palestinians as terrorists…I cannot expect…[the] Philippines to vote in favor of Israel, supporting the aggression on Palestine.”

Waitaminute, I thought, are we talking about the same war? The one sparked by 3,000 Palestinian zealots who stormed Israel’s border and slaughtered 1,200 Israelis, mostly civilians, in their homes and at a peaceful music festival? The one in which Israel counterattacked to free 240 hostages and destroy Hamas, under whose banner those zealots attacked?

In what world, I wondered, is the deliberate rape, mutilation, and murder of women and children not considered terrorism? And where in the universe is a defensive counterattack defined as aggression?

Much has been made of the high number of Palestinian casualties felled by Israeli rockets and bombs since that attack. Hamas-controlled sources put the number at 20,000-plus, which, if accurate, is truly tragic.

But let’s look more closely. In reporting those numbers, Hamas doesn’t distinguish between fighters and civilians and for an excellent reason; their military personnel routinely disguise themselves as, and hide among, non-combatants. So it’s not surprising that lots of civilians get killed.

Let’s look even closer. The Israel Defense Forces estimates that at least 6,000 of the dead were actually Hamas terrorists. If true, that would put the kill ratio at 2.3 civilians per combatant, far fewer than in World War II or the Korean War.

And yet I don’t recall massive protests after the Allies bombed Germany. Nor have I heard Filipinos curse the 1944 liberation of Manila from Japan that killed 100,000 unarmed civilians, a full 10% of the city’s population. “Many were massacred in atrocities by Japanese troops,” the Los Angeles Times has reported, “but many were also pulverized by U.S. artillery barrages. Countless others were maimed, impoverished and traumatized.”

Not to mention the almost complete destruction of a once bustling city.

No one except Hamas and its supporters celebrate the deaths of innocent civilians. Unfortunately, however, that’s what happens in war; civilians represented by brutal and aggressive regimes inevitably suffer.

Historians have estimated that about 33% of the German public supported Hitler and the Nazis during World War II, which destroyed their country and killed millions of civilian worldwide. In contrast, a recent survey by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research found that a full 72% of the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank supported the Oct. 7 attacks and 44% would vote for Hamas today.

Those sentiments are borne out by videos showing swarms of “innocent” civilians following Hamas brigades into Israel on the day of the attack. Later, many were seen kicking and spitting at Israelis who’d been captured or brutally murdered. At least one freed hostage recalled escaping only to be returned to Hamas’ custody by cooperative so-called civilians. And there are even reports of Palestinian terrorists unconscionably using children to transport ammunition.

Ambassador Mohammad may have inadvertently told the truth in counting a vote for ceasefire as one against Israel. “In other words,” a popular Israeli blogger concluded, “the UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to inform every terror group on earth that [they can get away with] massacring, raping, and abducting civilians.”

Jerome Marcus, a fellow at George Mason University’s Center for the Middle East and International Law, believes only one outcome will prevent future repeat performances. “History provides an example of what Israel should do,” he wrote in the Wall Street Journal. “At the end of World War II, the Allies’ goal was clear: The German Third Reich must agree to an unconditional surrender.”

Any ceasefire short of that would be a waste of many lives.





David Haldane is an award-winning American journalist, author, and radio broadcaster with homes in Joshua Tree, California, and Northern Mindanao, Philippines. His latest book, A Tooth in My Popsicle, is available on Amazon and Lazada. This column appears weekly in The Manila Times.








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