It is not only Israel's supporters who blame Hamas for the death and destruction that resulted. "The one responsible," said Nimr Hammad, an advisor to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, is "Hamas, and not the Zionist entity, which in its own view reacted to the firing of Palestinian missiles."
Wars can never be garden parties but during the recent conflict, far from acting like a headless monster, the Israel Defense Force took extraordinary efforts to limit civilian casualties, including, for example, making phone calls to Palestinian civilians to urge them to leave areas that would be targeted.
By contrast, Hamas took steps to increase non-combatant deaths. For instance, an Israeli armored brigade commander told The New York Times that his troops encountered "a woman, about 60 years old, walking with a white flag and six to eight children behind her, and behind them was a Hamas fighter with his gun. "We did not shoot him," the commander said.
Israeli scholar and author Barry Rubin, in a trenchant analysis of Oliphant's drawing, does not charge the cartoonist with anti-Semitism or even hatred of Israelis. "What is involved here," he writes, "is a lack of understanding," but one that is "so enormous that it will incite hatred; cause violence and death; and block policies needed to help people-including Palestinians who are supposedly the object of [Oliphant's] sympathy but thus doomed to suffer under a repressive regime with a permanent war policy."
Rubin argues, too, that Oliphant's image "represents the mentality that will plague every Western and democratic state in the coming years. Imagine the exact same cartoon but with the Magen David replaced by the Stars and Stripes-the evil America attacking the Taliban or al-Qaida, or Iraq, or Muslims in general."
Which raises this question: Do Oliphant and others like him believe that no people under attack by militant Islamists have the right of self-defense? Or are only Israelis expected to accustom themselves to absorbing punishment indefinitely?
I'm not sure which answer would be the more disturbing.