'WAR, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing’ sang Edwin Star in the 1970 Motown song, writes columnist Alison Eden.

‘Destroyer of innocent lives’ and ‘friend of the undertaker’, war is ever-present across the globe and since recorded time. And it’s always the powerless, the ordinary people, the vulnerable, the women, children and the elderly that suffer.  

Politicians from all parties in the UK this week, in the Autumn season of party conferences, have been making statements about ‘standing with Israel’, that Israel has a right to defend itself from attack and that the slaughter by Hamas of civilians is a war crime.

 I agree with every word. I also wish politicians would ‘stand with Palestine’. I wish, as David Lammy MP said to the Labour party conference, that Palestine were recognised as a sovereign state.  

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant is quoted saying following the Hamas attack: ‘I have ordered a complete siege on the Gaza Strip. There will be no electricity, no food, no fuel, everything is closed. We are fighting human animals and we act accordingly.’ 

Such a statement should chill us all. Some news outlets have edited out the words ‘human animals’ and I can see why – it’s an abhorrent comment. 

The ordinary people of the Gaza strip have the same human rights as any of us. They are not accountable for the actions that Hamas has taken. They have, importantly, no means of escape. 

I want to learn more and hear expert commentators discuss the decades’ long context of the terrorist organisation Hamas’ crimes in Israel. Not to excuse these acts but to understand them. 

Unfortunately, in our media, often when an interviewee mentions and criticises Israeli foreign policy, the treatment of Palestinians in their ancient homeland or the segregation and maintenance of Gaza as what is essentially an open prison, the interviewers wrongly respond to such comments as signalling some kind of endorsement of Hamas. 

This is wrong. You can be both pro-Palestinian sovereignty while entirely condemning Hamas but it seems our media struggle with that concept. The Liberal Democrat Palestinian MP Layla Moran has even been attacked online simply for saying: ‘Deeply concerned by reports from Gaza and Israel. 

‘Civilians must be protected, I am especially horrified to hear about hostage taking, and all violence condemned. This is a significant escalation. I can’t see how it ends well for anyone. Sad to see people on this thread suggesting putting civilian lives first is somehow weak. 

‘I am repeatedly on the record condemning Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the past and am again now. I also remain concerned by who else may be driving this and the wider fallout.’

It must be possible to weep for the lives taken by Hamas and for the Israeli families left destroyed by grief while also weeping for the lost broken lives of Palestinians. 

When I visited Tel Aviv some years ago, I sat at dinner one night chatting away about this and that with friends.

 One of my Israeli dinner companions said, in passing, ‘of course the Muslims hate the Jews’. It was the ‘of course’ that caught me.  I can only hope she’s still alive. I can only hope her family are not desperately trying to find her children, their friends in the rubble of the Hamas onslaught. 

Thinking back to that dinner, I remember I stopped myself saying ‘no they don’t – how can you make such a huge general statement about all Muslims?’

 I stopped myself asking her why she thought enmity between two religious communities was inevitable or why she saw Muslim people as the problem. 

It is such a tragedy that hatred can be so calmly expected. And she was wrong. It was a ridiculous, prejudiced and dangerous thing for her to say. 

She’ll feel proved right now though. This action by Hamas does nothing but promote more hatred, more death, more destruction, more fear, more rage and more terror. 

The only people who profit from war are the ones selling the weaponry. The only people who suffer from war are you and me.