I am reading a book called The Boy, in which Israeli historian Dan Porat unravels the story around perhaps the most powerful image of the Holocaust. It is the image of a Jewish boy, with his hands up, outside the Warsaw Ghetto.
This morning, Gaza terrorists again scheduled their rocket fire to coincide with the time that children, just like the one in that photograph, are taken to school. It is only a combination of Israel’s civil defence infastructure, cancelled school days, and sheer luck that prevent these terrorists from successfully killing and maiming on the scale they dream of.
Israel has friends in many places. Yet as the south is bombarded, the world is largely silent, save the clearing of a few throats in preparation for a fresh round of finger-wagging ‘naughty naughties’ to be directed at Israel when it acts to defend itself against this menace.
It is the very possibility of defence that is the most significant difference between the era in which the photograph was taken, and now. Israel’s regional enemies are plentiful, murderous and determined. Many of Israel’s obsessive critics around the world are driven by misunderstandings, prejudice and the glow that comes from bullying consensus.
Yet the Jewish people now have a state and an army. The world can criticise both all it likes, they keep photographs like this one where they should be – in the past.