They hate us for our bombs

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support for as little as $5 per month!

A letter I received last year rebuked me for calling George Bush's explanation of 9/11 - They hate us for our freedoms - "doltish." Its writer said leaders must speak concisely and simply. "What would you say?" he challenged. I've chewed on this and chosen: "They hate us for our bombs." It came to me during the bombing of Gaza this week. I use "hate" to parallel the Bush usage. "Consider us their enemies," would be better.

This is so in Kandahar, where Canadians keep dying, and "they," or some of them, don't hate us for our good intentions, but for the bombs that land on wedding parties. It's so in Gaza, where people often show bomb remnants marked "Made in U.S.A." That's why they see "us" as enemies, like Israel. That, plus "our" support for Israel's bombing. George Bush said it was fine with him. "No comment," said Barack Obama, squandering some of the goodwill toward him. "First and foremost, those rocket attacks must stop," said Canada's Foreign Minister. It's the "first and foremost" that invited rage. Most people, including Palestinians, know that rocketing others is bad - but so is being bombed. This is about understanding how people think, not debating it.

Or consider this. Gaza is roughly half the area of Toronto, with a population closing in on 60 per cent of Toronto's. To get comparable deaths for the current assault, you'd somewhat less than double: 450 there would be like 750 here, etc. In the first hour of bombing last Saturday, the morgues ran out of room. Then a university, mosques and a TV station were bombed.

The ratios between Palestinian and Israeli dead run between 100 and 150 to one, and have since Israel "withdrew" in 2005. That huge disparity is the difference between bombs and far less damaging rockets. It's what happens when you leave a place, surround it, close it off like a prison and bomb it at will.

Context also matters, and how the bombed see the motives of the bombers.

In a 2006 election that everyone agrees was fair, Palestinians chose a Hamas government. "We" immediately withheld aid to show disapproval.

Israel illegally withheld revenues like customs. The U.S. built up anti-Hamas forces. A virtual Palestinian civil war ensued, and Hamas took over Gaza, not exactly first prize. Israel tightened its existing Gaza blockade on most goods and all exports with the explicit purpose, repeated this week by its Prime Minister to explain the bombing, of pressuring Gazans to turn on Hamas. This amounts to punishing innocent people for political ends, which is pretty close to the conventional definition of terrorism.

Let me add, quick as a bunny, that I find "those rockets" sent by Hamas into Israeli kindergartens and bus stops just as odious as those bombs smashing Gaza. Terror is terror, it always sucks. Ordinary people deserve to live their lives unterrorized. Plus, in the case of Palestinians, mass non-violent protest would be far more effective than puny rockets. There is room for peaceful compromise on every side - it's all on the record - but the leaders choose to go other routes and "we" - the West - are likely the only ones who could apply the necessary pressure but we won't, or haven't. So in a way, "our" hands are bloodiest of all, since we have so little to lose.

Osama bin Laden says he sat in Beirut in 1982 watching U.S. bombs smash the "towers of Lebanon" and decided "they" would only stop doing it when it was done back to them. And an Israeli minister said last February that Hamas's rockets would bring upon Gaza a "holocaust." Of course, both were wrong, factually and morally. But it seems utterly typical of human beings to want to do unto others as was done to them. It makes you realize how radical, and even unnatural, is that rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. I used to think it was trite, and obvious.

Related Items

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable. has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.