In public life as in private, morality is a very relative term. And it holds true even more so in the world of geopolitics.

A small news item got lost in all the hoopla over the mid-term elections. 18 Palestinians were killed by Israeli shelling in the Gaza Strip – attributed to a “technical error” by the Army and duly “regretted” by the Israeli PM Olmert. According to CNN, all were women and children, the youngest, as young as one year old.

And apart from the usual “apalled” UN Secretary General, the Human Rights Watch Group – nothing. No word from the usual “pundits” who beat themselves into a frenzy otherwise. No word from the United States government – but then, most of the government was at a standstill awaiting the election results. No nothing.

18 women and children died in their sleep, at their house, because one of the most powerful armies in the world made a little “technical error” and there is no moral outrage. Because subconscious to this lack of response, is the race based belief – that Palestinian lives are expendable. Unless they are taken in the thousands. Because ultimately, 18 is just a number from a small sliver of land – where millions of homeless people have been living in temporary shelters.

I am not one sided in this argument – as readers of this forum know rather well. A lot of violence towards perfectly innocent Israelis emanate from these lands also.

But the fundamental point remains, that when an overwhelmingly powerful force decides to act in such fashion, with rather startling regularity – the tendency of any self-respecting people is to respond in kind.

And when the response from the world is so prejudicial – it only helps in exacerbating the violence. From one side. And then from another.

And the usual round of moral indignation from armchair pundits from the airconditioned television studios.

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