I have had a great many thoughts about many things over the 12 days of Christmas but of late my scribe has complained that it has been too cold to manipulate a type-writing machine. As I have noted before, England has become less able to cope with the exigencies of winter in spite of the advancement of technology. Pen, ink, a roaring fire and thickly drawn curtains always made a delightful environment.
It has taken not a little reading and study to comprehend the new conflict in Palestine. The existence of a modern Jewish state is a wonder of the modern age. Yet its creation, its conduct and its tendency to display an arrogance in its actions is a source of conflict.
I noted in the case of Russia the foolishness of a small state tweaking the tail of a mighty neighbour. Yet there appears to have been a deliberate plan in the provocation launched against Israel by the Palestinian zealots in Gaza. A movement that can sacrifice women and children as weapons would be happy to use a whole nation to achieve its aims.
Israel has responded crudely, as it was likely too. It has given Hamas a nation of martyrs.
It is difficult to urge the principles of St Augustine of Hippo on two nations that follow separate religions based more on the Old Testament than the New Testament, that perceive an "eye for an eye" as a reasonable way to resolve conflict. And as I have noted before, modern warfare appears to have diverged considerable from St Augustine's principles in that it places the safety of the armed forces above that of civilian populations, of innocent women and children.
Undoubtedly in striking Gaza from the air in search of the Hamas rockets, Israel believed it was merely emulating the tactics displayed by the western powers in recent conflicts, in Iraq and in Afghanistan. It is difficult therefore for these self-same powers to urge restraint without restating their own principles of warfare.
And yet restraint must be urged and, indeed, the principles of modern warfare must be reconsidered. Devastating air bombardment allows an invading force to enter cities and face few casualties. But it is not analogous to the use of bombardment to destroy an opposing force.
As for the Palestinians, in pitying their plight, we must regret their embrace of Hamas whilst acknowledging the many injustices that have led them over the years to resort to extremism and violence. It is apparent that on the West Bank Israel continues to violate international agreements. It is to be hoped that President Obama of America will use his newly-acquired power to restore a stable and inviolate democratic Palestine to the West Bank; and in turn that such a development may offer hope and assurance to the people of Gaza.