There’s only one thing more sickening than the Israeli attack on the supply ships bringing relief to Gaza, and that’s the response of some respectable journalists and commentators in the West. I was listening to Radio 4’s Thought for the Day (hugely better than Radio Ulster’s [sic] effort, as a rule) the other day and Bishop Tom Butler came on. He’s the Anglican bishop who, you’ll remember, got tired and emotional after attending a pre-Christmas party at the Irish embassy in London, and was later seen throwing soft toys from the back of his chauffeur-driven car shouting ‘I’m the Bishop of Southwark – it’s what I do!’ Anyway, Bishop Tom’s line on the Gaza relief ships being attacked by the Israelis and nine of their number being killed was that there was much to be said on both sides. He concluded that the people sailing in the relief ships might be as wise as serpents but they weren’t as innocent as doves. Sound familiar? It should do – it’s the Blaming The Victim game, one that’s been played here for decades. It even featured prominently in the reporting of Bloody Sunday originally. The fact is that Israel is visiting collective punishment on well over a million people because it doesn’t like the people they have elected, but they do so in the name of peace. In a way I don’t blame Israel – they’re a hard-line lot and they’re going to dictate things on their terms if they can get away with it. I blame the Western press who pussy-foot in their response to naked aggression such as the Israelis’ attack on the ships, and I particularly blame the US, who arm and support Israel and who have found ways to water down the UN resolution condemning the attack on the ships. If Western countries had an ounce of integrity, they’d keep the pressure on Israel until it abandoned its blockade of Gaza. And if Western commentators had an ounce of integrity, they’d stop trying to occupy a place in the middle of the road. In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s a place that’s ultimately self-destructive.