Ben Lowry: A worrying decline in support for Israel, but the war has not escalated
The bad thing is that support for Israel has been falling in western countries, having not been particularly high to start with – even in supportive countries such as America and Britain.
Anyone who was watching the internet closely, on websites such as X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, would have known from the afternoon of Saturday October 7, that the anti-semitic terrorists of Hamas had inflicted a devastating and wide ranging attack on Israeli citizens. The first of the explicit videos were already being posted online.
This is perhaps the first time in human history that the savagery of massacres of civilians have been captured up close on film, from multiple sources – the Hamas terrorists themselves, the Israeli security forces, Hamas and Israeli drones, CCTV in Israel, and the phones of bystanders.
As we all know living in a country like that UK that has so much CCTV, security cameras are now able to store many hours of high quality film, and so there is a deluge of footage from such monitoring equipment, showing for example Hamas killers breaking into kibbutzes.
The Hamas attackers have been wearing hitech ‘gopro’ cameras, proudly documenting their slaughter. There is barely any such footage from the Second World War, even though there were plenty of German massacres of civilians in eastern Europe, and there was (as Hitler’s colour home videos show) good enough film equipment to capture events on high quality film. But such video cameras were rare and not portable, so Nazi butchers were hardly in a position to transport it around.
The almost obsessive desire of people around the world now to capture moments on film has been another huge source of footage, and this tragically includes film that people took on their phones as they hid from approaching Hamas terrorists. Some of this footage has been pieced together with photographs of the bodies of the phone film-takers, after Hamas reached them.
So we have now reached a point in human history where we are so advanced that people around the world are enjoying extraordinarily sophisticated technology that is filming some of wicked actions since the dawn of civilisation.
Yet over the weeks as more and more horrific footage of the mass murder of Jews has emerged criticism of Israel has only deepened. Much of this is because Hamas propaganda has been accepted at face value.
A ham actor, apparently called Saleh al-Jafarawi, who keeps appearing in videos expressing terror and horror after an alleged Israeli bombing, has appeared in another fake video, that would appear to show the grisly aftermath of the blast, and would have seemed plausible if not for his almost comical re-appearance. Hamas is lying about everything from casualties to videos, and as the response to the blast at the al-Ahli Arab Hospital showed, much of Europe and America believes them.
Israel on the other hand is a first world democracy with precise casualty data and a free press, including papers like Haaretz, which are bitterly critical of the Israeli government.
Nowhere in the western world has hatred for Israel triumphed more than in the Republic of Ireland, with one poll showing only 10% support for the Israeli response. Nationalist Ireland’s hostility to Israel is such that Sinn Fein has been unable to fence-sit on calls to expel the Israeli ambassador to Ireland, and it has instead effectively endorsed such a position, despite fears of alienating America (but as I said on BBC One’s The View on Thursday night, and as I wrote here three weeks ago, Irish exceptionalism is such that they will get away with such anti western thinking, and Washington hostility will stay focused on unionists who want to stay part of a UK that is America’s big ally on matters such as Israel).
The turn against Israel in much of Europe and America reflects a wider self-hatred in the wealthy, decadent west.
But the good news, so far, is hinted at in our story on page 7 about oil prices, which have fallen in recent weeks, not soared as was feared due to the war.
I was not alone in fearing after October 7 that we might slide into a world war, something I also feared on September 11 2001, when America was attacked by Islamic fanatics. A world war, or a ‘shadow world war’, remains very possible, given the threat of Russia escalating Ukraine, Iran escalating the Israel conflict, and China taking advantage of it all by moving on Taiwan.
So far, thank goodness, the situation has not yet escalated.