A second war in the world

David Bullard writes on Ukraine and Russia and Hamas' murderous attack on Israel


Well, I think we can all agree that after last Saturday’s attack by Hamas on Israel the war in Ukraine is highly likely to be relegated to the inner pages of the world’s newspapers. The problem with the Russia/Ukraine war is that it has become a big yawn and there is noticeable Ukraine fatigue emanating from NATO countries supportive of Ukraine.

When Russia first embarked on a ‘military exercise’ in late February of 2022 the whole show was supposed to last four days. That was the time the Kremlin reckoned it would take to get Ukraine back in line and showing due respect for Moscow. Now, twenty months later the conflict continues with no half-time score to tell us who might be winning. The short attention spans of the online generation need easy to digest facts and complex analysis of what is happening in Ukraine or who or who might not be winning doesn’t do it for them.

Then there’s the more important issue of military support. In this unusually strange conflict most NATO countries have been participating in a proxy war. So, while they may have weighed in on the Ukrainian side they haven’t actually committed their military personnel to that wonderfully euphemistic phrase “the theatre of war”. What they have done is collectively agreed that they are not under imminent threat of attack or invasion but since they do have plenty of tanks and armaments in reserve feel free to help yourself Mr Zelensky.

This was all fine and dandy in the early days but as the conflict has dragged on the demand for more and more weapons to repel Mr Putin has not only been ruinously costly for European economies which are also trying to support a tidal wave of illegal migrants but it has also depleted the weapon stocks available to NATO members to defend themselves should the need arise.

It’s just common sense isn’t it? If I lend my neighbour my lawn mower happy in the knowledge that I have a spare then there’s no problem. I have a happy neighbour and still have a mown lawn. But if the lawn mower I lent suddenly refuses to work and the neighbour asks to borrow my spare I have something of a dilemma. I want to be a good neighbour and he seems a decent chap so I lend my second lawn mower which accidentally catches fire in his garage. So now I have no lawn mower, an unruly back lawn and a degree of tension with my neighbour who hasn’t offered to replace either of my borrowed lawn mowers. That, in a nutshell, is what Ukraine is all about.

The very personable Mr Zelensky comes across as far more lovable than Vlad Putin. Who wouldn’t want to lend him a lawnmower or a few tanks and a handful of ballistic missiles? But. after twenty months, one must be forgiven for asking where this is all leading to and whether the vast expense to most European taxpayers is worth the effort of a free Ukraine. One can understand the emotional buy-in of countries near the Ukraine border but why on earth should the UK or Western European countries give a damn?

Suddenly, with the situation in the Middle East, things are about to become rather more tense. Ukraine has already fallen off the leader pages of the newspapers and media websites and the new war du jour is between Palestine and Israel.

If it was a bit confusing to know who to support or whether to profess neutrality in the Russian/Ukraine conflict no such doubt exists when it comes to Hamas/Hezbollah v Israel. Within hours of reports of last Saturday’s unexpected attack on Israel on a holy day cars with Palestinian flags were driving around parts of West London openly celebrating the murder of Israeli civilians and urging an escalation in the tensions.

Not far away from these demos in London there exists a large Jewish community. Despite an accusation from Susan Hall, the Conservative mayoral candidate for London, that Jews are “frightened” of current mayor Sadiq Kahn there is no evidence that Kahn (despite his many other failings) has demonstrated any anti-semitic sentiments.

The problem is that all parts of the ever growing Muslim population in London may not be as restrained as Sadiq Kahn and may well see what is happening in Israel as a call to arms.

We have precisely the same problem here in South Africa where the fashionable leftist view is that Israel is an apartheid state in much the same way as South Africa was pre-1990. The ANC were quick to express solidarity with the persecuted people of ‘occupied’ Palestine so no surprises there. The poor Palestinians are an oppressed people (albeit an oppressed people with access to enough funding to sponsor thousands of missiles with which to attack Israel).

The gormless EFF and the ANC Yoof League are almost certainly going to support the terrorist organisation Hamas even if most of their members couldn't even find Israel on a map of the world. This is understandable since the violence, barbarism and cruelty meted out to innocent Israeli civilians last Saturday by the Hamas thugs is precisely what the EFF and Yoof League are ideating for white South Africans.

There will almost certainly be similar demonstrations of support in New York and Paris and almost certainly in a few other European capitals as wokist trendoids take to the streets to support the poor oppressed Palestinians. The governments of most of those countries have already unequivocally shown support for Israel’s right to defend itself (translation: reduce Gaza to a pile of rubble) so, once again, it’s the people versus the politicians. Not great news with elections looming everywhere.

This presents something of a dilemma for Pres Frogboiler as he struts about on the world stage. We may have a lot of influential Jewish business people in South Africa but we have also just welcomed those delightful people from Iran into our BRICS cosy club. Iran has been in the news of late for beating up and imprisoning women who don’t wear clothing designed to protect their bodies from the lascivious gaze of sex starved Iranian clerics.

A rather odd choice of friend for a country that claims to espouse the rights of women and opposes gender-based violence. But we wouldn’t want to interfere with the sovereign rights of a country that employs sadistic ‘morality police’ to beat up defenceless women would we Mrs Pandor?

I visited Israel back in 2000 on a press freebie. It was a fascinating trip and the plan was that we visited the Dead Sea for a bit of massage therapy and I would then write about it for the Sunday Times. Just to avoid confusion I made the point in my article that the Red Sea and the Dead Sea were two different entities and if it was deep sea diving you were after then the anticommunist motto could be reversed to read “better Red than Dead”.

Back then Israel was a very nervous place and security at the airport could hardly be described as welcoming for tourists. We were quizzed, both entering and leaving Israel, on the real reason for our visit and none of my flippant comments impressed the 20-year-old female conscript questioning me. She had apparently had a humourectomy just after being called up. It left me wondering why anybody would choose to visit Israel as a tourist destination.

The first night we were put up in the King David Hotel which I see currently asks R18 187 for a one night stay. I couldn’t sleep so early in the morning I got up and dressed and walked across to the old city to explore before returning to the hotel before breakfast. I entered through the Jaffa Gate and spent an hour or so strolling around, mesmerised by the atmosphere and antiquity of this ancient city. The place was almost deserted.

I returned later with a tour party and the same ancient streets that I had walked along earlier were now bustling with merchants and people of all religions peacefully going about their daily business. I fell in love with Jerusalem and feel very privileged with hindsight to have been there, albeit for a very short visit. I fear for the future of this perpetually troubled part of the world… both for non-violent Palestinian and Jewish citizens who simply want to get on with their lives.