I have never seen a dead child. There is something about life foreshortened that makes the incidence of death more powerful. As a parent, I try not to imagine the impact the death of one of my children would have on me. I know that I would probably, for a time at least, not want to live. Death would feel like a warm escape.
Which is why this week's news bruises the heart so much. Children should not die in war. They are not `agents'. They do not even vote. Yet here they are, piled up under rubble, maimed in ambulances.
I am not a flag-waver for the Palestinian cause. As a people they are poorly led. And Political Islam has, in effect, led the world to wash their hands of their cause. As Michael Portillo said this week, it is clear that there is only one solution: two states. The problem is getting people, particularly on the Palestinian side to accept this position rather than seeking to drive Israelis into the sea.
Coupled to this, I have always supported the state of Israel. Its energy, alchemy (turning desert into a homeland) and its ability to defend itself like a cornered boxer have always impressed me.
So this week's action, like that in Lebanon a couple of years ago, leaves me with a heavy heart. I just can't support what they are doing right now. It is callous and unstately. Yes, I don't think we would tolerate missiles raining down on us from Northern Ireland or whatever. But, even at the height of Republican violence, we would never have done to Derry or West Belfast what is being done right now in Gaza.
I don't want to sound like a naive dove on this. I know that states have to take some tough-bastard decisions at times. I am glad I not the person actually having to make those kinds of calls. Yet I think Israel diminishes itself through this action. It is a cliche now to say this but the next generation of suicide bombers was recruited this week by the Israeli military. Indeed if I were 15, full of anger and testosterone, I am sure I would be putting myself forward there right now. Its what happens.
One's big hope, of course, is Obama. Naively perhaps as his advisers will, I am sure, want to steer him away from where Clinton, Bush and so many others have failed. Obama will, as is his gift, be able to see both sides. But even he cannot force others to do this. This is a war over land, religion and between two ancient tribes. And it is long from being over.