I’ll be honest, I am not the biggest fan of Israel. I am grateful it exists and, as a believer in freedom and democracy, I feel an instinctive defence kicking in when I see a free country trapped between the sea on one side and a range of bad actors on the other, from autocracies like Syria and Iran and the Hezbollah terrorists they fund, to Hamas which, although Sunni, shares the aims of the aforementioned Shias when it comes to Israel.

However, despite the omnipresent threat from around them, for as long as I have been old enough to understand it, I have been exasperated by the actions of successive Israeli governments, none more so than the current one. They do few favours, in the long term, to their own people, to their own country, to their powder keg region, or indeed to Judaism.

And I, like the vast majority of observers and international actors, believe in Palestinian statehood on 1967 borders, either on the basis of the two-state solution or (although it has become much less fashionable in recent years) the three-state solution.

Ironically, as of this time last week, there was more reason for optimism about the future of the Middle East than there has been for some time. Israel, you see, has been talking to Saudi Arabia. In a thawing of relations which was hitherto unthinkable, Binyamin Netanyahu and Muhammad bin Salman (not exactly the saviour of democracy, we must accept) have met, and their governments were in regular and detailed discussions about their future relationship, with the common enemy of Iran in mind.

By Saturday morning, that incremental inching towards a more peaceful region was decimated by the most unthinkable, unspeakable terrorist atrocity that many of us have seen in our lives. More and more grim details of the biggest slaughter of Jews since the Holocaust are still emerging, but it is already clear that this is barbarism on a shocking level.

Israel, in a state of unprecedented tension and emotion, is now inclined to take a series of actions which, unless we as other western nations manage and mollify (which we are not ostensibly doing yet), risk being remembered for all the wrong reasons.

All of that aside, the immediate reaction to the atrocity should not have been complicated for right-thinking people, particularly those in the West, who are fortunate enough to be observers rather than participants. And yet, over the last six days, we have shown ourselves to be capable of the most cruel use of moral equivalence. We have shown ourselves to be completely unable to distinguish between a fairly mainstream scepticism about the actions of the Israeli government from entry-level humanity in the face of indiscriminate kidnap, rape and murder or innocent civilians, including babies.

In a sense, one can disregard those who we know are not capable of more. From Twitter’s keyboard warriors to the Celtic’s Green Brigade, we have people who would fail to pick out Gaza on a map and who simply know that shouting “victory to the resistance” vaguely fits their narrative. This is not unique to Scotland or the UK; all countries have black sheep.

Less forgivable are those who are capable of more, and particularly those who, as elected politicians, are our representatives, responsible for telling Scotland’s story to the world.

Most reacted appropriately. While there is little they may be able to do, what they say matters, and from the backbench members of our Parliaments to the King, they generally said what we would have wanted them to; that this was an inexcusable attack by terrorists which cannot be justified.

However, as the week has worn on, Scotland has inexplicably risked being seen by the world as a rather shady outlier. Members of the Scottish Parliament from one of the governing parties were out of the traps very quickly last Saturday. One said that Palestinians had a right to “attack their occupiers”. Another said that what happened was the result of “imperial aggression by the Israel state”.

In the immediate aftermath only one member of the Scottish Government’s Cabinet, Angus Robertson, projected the mainstream western reaction, when he tweeted: “The scale and horror of Hamas terrorism against Israel and Israelis sadly keeps growing. There is no justification for their actions.”

By Monday, cities in free democracies all over the world, from London to Paris to Berlin to New York, were flying the Israeli flag and projecting it onto buildings. I must say that I am not a huge fan of flag waving, which I think can often become a proxy for support for victims which deflects from meaningful action, however it has become part of our culture. We have been flying Ukrainian flags for a year. Indeed, public buildings have flown Palestinian flags in the past.

But later in the week, the Scottish Parliament’s Corporate Body, on which sits four MSPs and the Presiding Officer, voted by majority against flying the Israeli flag at Holyrood. Up the hill at St Andrew’s House - the main seat of the Scottish Government - there are four flagpoles. Two fly Saltires; one flies the Ukrainian flag; the final one is unoccupied. An empty space for a flag, but not the Israeli one.

It is unfair, and unnecessary, to ascribe motivation to those who are making those decisions. However, as a semi-detached observer I can offer a view of where that places Scotland in the world.

It tells the world that we have chosen to sit this one out. It tells the world that Scotland is a country which condemns terrorism and stands shoulder to shoulder with victims all over the world, but it places an asterisk on that support. And that asterisk says: Except Israel.

By flying an Israeli flag, we would not have been supporting the Israeli government or opposing Palestinian statehood. We would not have been green-lighting the Israeli Defence Force to do what it wishes. We would simply have been bowing our heads to the innocent victims of one of the most despicable groups of terrorists in the world.

Instead, Scotland told the world a different story. And the saddest thing of all is that the moment has now passed. It is too late to put it right.