So here we are again. This is all depressing and predictable. Hamas has fired many rockets into Israel, with most of them being intercepted by the Iron Dome. Tragically, some of them haven't been intercepted and three Israeli's were killed. Israel has responded by bombarding Gaza with missile and drone strikes. As of this writing the respective death toll for Israel stands at 3, and for Gaza, 91.
The primary justification for this disproportionate response over the years is echoed in President Obama's recent remarks:
"Let's understand what the precipitating event here that's causing the current crisis and that was an ever-escalating number of missiles that were landing not just in Israeli territory but in areas that are populated, and there's no country on Earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders,” Obama said at press conference in Thailand at the start of a three-nation tour in Asia.
“So we are fully supportive of Israel's right to defend itself from missiles landing on people's homes and workplaces and potentially killing civilians."
For the purpose of this diary, let's leave aside the point that there is disagreement about whether Israel is acting in defense. Some would argue that the occupation of Gaza is in fact the precipitating act. However, this is besides the point I'm wanting to make here, and a whole separate diary could be written on whether an occupation gives one the right to commit violence against the occupying nation's civilians. So for the moment, let's just take this at face value and assume that Israel is in fact acting in defense.
In that case, nobody except an extreme radical would doubt that Israel has a right to defend itself, and to take some action in response to missiles being fired into populated areas by Gazan radicals, most likely with the tacit support (perhaps open support) of Hamas. Almost every moral person agrees in the right of self defense, and thus if Gaza attacks Israel, or threatens to attack Israel, then Israel is justified in taking some action against Gaza to defend itself. This is clear and simple enough. But it is also clear that none of this justifies the specific action taken by Israel.
Thus, the issue is more properly whether Israel is justified in inflicting severely disproportionate pain on Gaza in response to these rockets, killing many innocent people, and providing very little strategic advantage even according to the most pro-Israel voices.
This is where President Obama's words, echoed by many, come into play. We are told that Israel is justified in it's bombing campaign that has already killed many innocents, and promises to kill more because no other country would sit by idly after three of its citizens were killed by missiles. The implication is that had this happened to France, or the U.S. or Britain, that the response would be equally as bloody, if not more bloody.
I think this is true. No observer of America's response to 9/11 could honestly say otherwise. And though I am no student of French or British foreign policy, I sincerely doubt they are a fountain of morality when it comes to unleashing disproportionate carnage on other countries. Therefore the point made by Obama and supporters of Israel's bombing of Gaza is correct in pointing out the hypocrisy of any world leader who would dare to criticize Israel.
It's also true however that in 2000 BC, the prevailing norm amongst world leaders was that if a beautiful woman was seduced away from your kingdom, that you were justified in launching a war that would kill thousands and lay waste to entire cities and civilizations. The story of the Trojan War after-all, went down in the history books not as the deeply immoral war that it was, but as a great and civilization defining moment for the Greeks.
The point being that it is dangerous precedent for a nation at war to justify itself solely on the ground that the other superpowers in the world would have done the same thing. This might be true, but it hardly settles the question of whether their actions are moral in the first place. This is especially the case when the world's biggest super power has been known to torture, send drone attacks to funerals, justify the killing of a 16 year old boy simply by virtue of who his father is, among other things.
If Israel is going to continue to bomb Gaza in response to rocket strikes, resulting in severely disproportionate casualties in Gaza, they should justify these attacks on their own merits, and not on the backs of what other countries might do. Both the Israeli public, and supporters of Israel everywhere should demand this.