Wednesday, December 31, 2008

How To Answer Israel's Critics‏

Six cliches you are likely to hear constantly in the coming days, and why they're false
Yigal Walt

1) "Israel's response in Gaza is disproportionate"

Since when is war a mathematical equation? The basic objective of any warring party is to inflict maximal damage on the enemy while minimizing its own casualties. Was there anything proportional about the US war in Iraq? Or about Iraq's invasion of Kuwait for that matter? Or about Russia's recent war against Georgia? Israel is doing exactly what any other country has done in the past. This is how war works.

Would a British citizen complain that "too few" British soldiers are being killed in Iraq? Probably not.

And on a more elementary note: Palestinian military inferiority is not an indication of moral superiority. Palestinian insistence on resorting to violence despite this military weakness is an indication of poor judgment perhaps - yet it is by no means an indication of moral virtue. Being militarily weak does not make the Palestinians right. 2) "But Qassams don't kill"

Actually, Qassams do kill. Not too often, perhaps, but dozens of Israelis were killed and wounded by rocket fire in recent years. Moreover, at this time the Palestinians are firing long-range Grad rockets with even greater explosive power. Such rockets killed 2 Israelis Monday.

Yet beyond the casualty figures, the psychological damage caused as result of living under an ongoing rocket threat is immeasurable. Would anyone in the West agree to have their family live under constant rocket attacks and be regularly woken up by sirens in the middle of the night? Would anyone living under such conditions appreciate being told that "these rockets don't kill?" Probably not.

3) "It's all because of Israel's siege. Israel should allow aid into Gaza."

Israel has allowed goods into Gaza regularly throughout the "siege". Palestinians have been able to complement these deliveries with supplies smuggled through hundreds of tunnels (of course, they would likely be able to bring in even more food had they not used the tunnels to smuggle in missiles.).

The day before operation "Cast Lead" got underway, Israel allowed dozens of trucks carrying aid to enter the Strip. On Tuesday, another 100 trucks - double the normal number -are expected to enter Gaza after Defense Minister Barak approved the move.

In short, Israel is allowing aid into the Strip (but guess who has kept Gaza crossings mostly closed thus far? That's right, Egypt.)

4) "Why didn't Israel just agree to renew the Gaza truce?"

First, what truce? Terror groups continued to fire rockets throughout the lull, even if somewhat infrequently, and even if the world didn't seem to care too much. Nonetheless, Israel clearly declared that it is interested in extending the truce. Our top officials made it clear time and again.

Yet Hamas leaders clearly declared that the truce has ended on December 19th, and proceeded to bombard southern Israeli communities with dozens of rockets daily. In short, it is no wonder that even the Egyptians are blaming Hamas this time.

5) "But Hamas was elected democratically - why can't Israel accept it?"

Although Hamas won the Palestinian elections, it took Gaza by force, in the process hurling rival Fatah members down to their death from high-rises and shooting others in the knees with the declared aim of maiming them. Some democracy.

In any case, Israel in fact "recognizes," de facto, Hamas' rule in Gaza, which is precisely why it is justified in attacking the Hamas-ruled Strip, recognizing that it is indeed being governed by a terror entity. Israel did not launch the operation because Hamas is in power there - rather, it did so because Hamas is a terrorist organization that has deliberately targeted civilians with thousands of rockets over the past 8 years.

6) "Israel is targeting civilians"

You mean to say that "one of the most powerful armies in the world" has been bombing Gaza for days, deploying massive air power, dropping hundreds of bombs, and ultimately killing a grand total of 50 civilians or so in the "most crowded place on earth?"

There are two options here: A) The Israeli army is not targeting civilians, or B) Israeli pilots suck. We tend to go with option A.

Indeed, Israel goes to great lengths to avoid civilian casualties, by deploying precise ammunition and specialized techniques. In fact, nobody in the world does this better than the Jewish State.


Anonymous said...

"Since when is war a mathematical equation?"
Proporcionality is a stated principle of international law which all countries are meant to respect. Let's say that if one your country's arsenal is bombarded, then it is not supposed that you can throw a nuclear bomb at your enemies capital city as a reply.
"Was there anything proportional in the US war in Iraq?.Or about Iraq's invasion of Kuwait for that matter?"
No, not at all. Morover, both wars were illegitimate wars. First, Iraq had nothing to do with the 9/11, as was demonstrated, principal excuse of the invasion, so the principle of self defense is not aplicable by any means.
"Israel is doing exactly what any other country has done in the past. This is how war works"
Not necesarilly. Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, as stated above, was illegal and desproportionate. But the international community's lead by the US response was not. It finished as soon as iraqui forces were expelled out of Kuwait, and the war was never conducted inside Iraq's borders. This is an example of the fulfillment of the principle of proportionality.
Finally, though war is and has been conducted by States in that way, cannot be regarded by any means as a justification for it. There's a broad amount of norms and principles regarding the Conduction of Hostilities compiled in the Geneva and Hague Law and States are meant to comply with them, so stating that "war has always worked like that" does not mean that it is right.
Hope to keep on going with this debate.

Unknown said...

HAMAS (and Hesbollah for that matter) violate Geneva Conventions first by
1) Placing military objects in residential areas
2) Using residential areas to attack IDF
3) Not wearing uniforms
By doing so they waive their right to expect IDF to follow Geneva Convention to the letter (although IDF follows these conventions to the spirit anyway risking lives of their soldiers in order to minimize civilian casualties). The fact that HAMAS located their bunker under major Gaza hospital speaks lauder that all its complaints. HAMAS is responsible for every drop of spilled Palestinian blood. But I do not expect them to agree as they are thugs, thieves and cowards. Their goal is to destroy Israel and build a Shariah state where few will flourish and most will be miserable as there is no oil underground... Sad that many good people are so naive to support HAMAS...

Anonymous said...

At least 265 of the 820 dead Gazans are children and more than 50 women were killed. 1,135 out of 2,250 injured are women and children.

And there are civilian men, including o 6 Medicsl and a Palestinian journalist.

These from UN sources

Where do you get your dubious stats, Doc?

War is not healthy for children and other living things.

GS Don Morris, Ph.D./Chana Givon said...


These were not "Doc's statistics" and the age old tactic of denigrating their authenticity by such means is worn out. Contrary to your suggestion, a war is going on-you know as well as the rest of us collateral damage is the result. The "numbers" you quote could be significantly less is Hamas would not use human shields but then this takes courage.Your reliance upon UN data makes sense given that many Hamas individuals have worked for the UN for some time-hmm, how reliable might we assume these numbers are-eh?