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The phony Israeli-Palestinian "proportionality" debate

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Headlined to H3 3/15/10

Israel's response to Hamas rocket fire in the Gaza war caused over one
thousand deaths according to Palestinian sources. However, it is not
known how many of these supposedly civilian deaths were actually Hamas
soldiers. In any case, fewer Israelis were killed in the invasion than
Palestinians. As a result, Israel has been accused of using
unjustifiable excess force in its response, "disproportionate" to the
losses it suffered.

This argument does not hold water for many reasons, least of all because
it is well established (even by the tainted Amnesty International
report) that Hamas operated out of civilian buildings and communities
and stored weapons in these buildings. It is equally well established
that Israel gave at least two notices to civilians before they attacked
or bombed buildings, to allow real civilians to escape. Nor was it
possible to know in advance how many Israeli casualties there would be.

But the issue of "disproportionality" is simply a flimsy after-the-fact
accusation that would not have been possible had Israel in fact suffered
a thousand casualties. What is at issue is the right of a country to
not only defend itself against attack but to dismantle the actual
sources of the attack. The notion that Hamas had a right to send rockets
into Israel at will and that Israel had no right to respond is totally
absurd. Furthermore, it is doubly absurd to assert that Israel had no
AMMUNITION were stored, to prevent future attacks.

Here is why this accusation is absurd. Nearly three thousand innocent
Americans were killed on 9/11. Does this mean that if we locate and
detain three thousand members of Al Qaeda we should be legally required
to stop looking for or deterring others? Another example used recently
was the bombing of Pearl Harbor, in which a number of American ships and
several thousand American military were killed. Should the American
response have been to simply destroy an equal number of Japanese ships?
No, not at all. The American responsibility was to retaliate by
declaring all out war. Anything less would have been irresponsible, even

Similarly with Israel, a failure to carry out a disproportionate attack
would not only have been seen as a sign of weakness or lack of military
preparedness but would have been a betrayal of Israeli citizens by its
military. Once Hamas attacked, Israel's responsibility was to try and
prevent additional attacks.

Too many European countries have bought into the Hamas propaganda,
forgetting that Hamas is a terrorist group, no less determined than Nazi
Germany was, determined to wipe out Jews and the state of Israel. What
we have seen with the corrupt flawed Goldstone report and the Hamas
propaganda machine is a capitulation by western Europeans to the
acknowledged perpetrators of genocide and terrorism.

The notion that a sovereign state under repeated attack by terrorists
should hold its fire until a "sufficient" number of its citizens have
been killed, or that it should not respond at all because it might risk
killing "too many" of the enemy has got to be the reductio ad absurdem
argument of criminals and scoundrels.

The neo-fascist left is now attempting to claim "universal
jurisdiction" against Israel's acts of self defense. Let us recall their
refusal to call for this jurisdiction in the case of Milosevic, one of
their favorite fascist heroes. Nor have they supported, much less
clamored for, the justifiable indictment of Bashir, president of Sudan,
for his sponsorship of the Darfur genocide, a genocide that the radical
left still denies occurred. Nor have they called for "universal
jurisdiction" against all the Muslim states in the middle east that have
deprived women of their civil liberties as a matter of state/mosque
policy. Nor have they called for this jurisdiction against child
marriages or "honor" killings, which are rife throughout the Muslim

If universal jurisdiction is to have any meaning whatsoever, it needs to
be consonant with established and accepted norms of human rights and
women's rights, recognizing state sovereignty and the right of self
defense, and with no selective enforcement or double moral standard. The
fact that it is being applied by terrorist groups and their neo-fascist
supporters to suppress freedom of speech and undermine a nation's
responsibility to protect its citizens is sufficient proof that these
norms are of no interest to them whatsoever. One then must ask just what
these leftist groups and their liberal Jewish supporters really stand
for. It certainly isn't for human rights or equal justice.

A graduate of Cornell University, Lorna Salzman has been an environmental activist, writer, lecturer and organizer for forty years. In the early 1970s, under the auspices of Citizens for Local Democracy, co-founded by the late Walter Karp, she (more...)
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'One then must ask just whatthese leftist groups a... by Mark Sashine on Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 11:58:45 AM
you are an Israeli apologist and as such are quite... by Archie on Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 4:44:51 PM
Israel's attacks on Palestinians are clearly not i... by Richard Pietrasz on Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 7:02:18 PM
According to Salzman it is perfectly acceptable fo... by Doc "Old Codger" McCoy on Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 12:28:21 AM
'One would think that after the Holocaust that the... by Mark Sashine on Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 10:45:59 AM
you may be totally correct in your comments but th... by Archie on Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 11:25:38 AM
but if it was not for those in Israel who fight t... by Mark Sashine on Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 11:48:25 AM
can't argue with that approach.... by Archie on Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 11:55:13 AM