A MAN called Tim Montgomerie was on the BBC’s Question Time last week. If you were to slice Tim, you’d find the word ‘Conservative’ running through him to his innermost core.

At university he ran the Conservative Association and set up the Conservative Christian Fellowship (stop sniggering, Virginia). He worked at the Conservative Party Central Office, where he became a speech writer for William Hague and Iain Duncan Smith. He was also a columnist for The Times newspaper. He resigned his membership of the Conservative Party in 2014 because the party then supported EU membership. Like I said, truly Tory.

On Question Time last week, Tim got agitated when people condemned as war crimes Israel’s actions in Gaza. Why pick on Israel?, Tim wanted to know. Lots of countries carpet-bombed other countries. As an example, Tim pointed to  Saudi Arabia’s bombing of  Yemen. 

Good point, Tim. Over 19,000 civilians died from bombing in Yemen – a war crime, for sure. So you might expect that Saudi Arabia leaders be declared war criminals instead of Israel. 

And Tim didn’t need to stop with Saudi Arabia and Yemen. During World War Two  Churchill and Roosevelt both carpet-bombed Hamburg and Dresden. Were Churchill and Roosevelt declared war criminals? Nah. They were the good guys. 

The idea behind carpet-bombing is to bomb the homes of ordinary people in the hope that this will lead to a breakdown in social order. There’s also the mathematical fact that if the people who work in munitions factories are bombed to bits, there won’t be nearly as many people available to build weapons for the enemy.

In 1945 the US chose not just to obliterate people who worked at munitions factories. President Harry Truman went for obliterating everybody in Hiroshima and Nagasaki  when he had the US Air Force drop atom bombs on these Japanese cities.  The record shows that somewhere over 200,000 civilians were vaporised. It also shows that neither President Truman nor the airmen who dropped the atom bombs were declared war criminals, let alone incarcerated.

Not everybody has the aerial wherewithal to to commit war crimes. Right here in our twisted little north-eastern stateen, the British stayed on the ground and killed or helped kill dozens of innocent people. Bloody Sunday, Ballymurphy, the Dublin and Monaghan bombs – the list goes on. But not so much as a whisper about holding these people to account or pronouncing them war criminals. 

That’s why Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, doesn’t give a damn what the UN says. Article 8: 2e(i) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court may declare someone a war criminal who is “intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population as such or against individual civilians not taking direct part in hostilities”,  but since Netanyahu knows there’s zero chance of punishment for said crimes, he can thumb his nose and keep on killing.  

World opinion may be sick watching Israel do its best to deliver genocide in Gaza, but since there are no consequences for it all, it’s like shooting fish in a barrel.The fish don’t voice any objection to their slaughter, and while it may give you a slightly soiled reputation (‘You heard about your man shooting those fish?’), you know that nobody’s going to come and put you in jail. 

Getting justice at a local level can be very damn hard (ask the various UK postmasters and postmistresses). But local or international, the important thing is to be on the winning side when the smoke clears. Few of us may think highly of Israel in recent months; but when handcuffs and prison cells won’t loom for Netanyahu and his pals, why would they let meaningless words on a UN declaration deter them?