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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.

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Comment Preferences

  •  if you scorn any judgement but your own (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jasan, IndieGuy, GeeBee, Cedwyn

    If you scorn the concept of an international court, for example, and scorn the "court" of public opinion with a shrug and a sneer, having concluded long ago that nothing you do will change anyone's opinion of you anyway...if you live and die by the almost gangland credo of "for everyone of us you kill, we will kill 9 of yours.."   You don't have to justify anything you do.

    Self justification is all that is important, and everyone else can kiss your ass.

    Oregon: Sure...it's cold. But it's a damp cold.

    by Keith930 on Mon Nov 19, 2012 at 07:46:56 AM PST

  •  I'd make one edit (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LostLibertarian, Hey338Too, MWV, mll

    "because no other country would sit by idly after three of its citizens were killed by missiles."

    Your minimization of the near thousand rockets that have been fired into Israel over the last 11 months betrays a bias that takes away from the rest of a very well-written and thought provoking diary.  I for one cannot imagine what it is like to have to stop what you are doing and have 30 seconds to find cover or get to a bomb shelter.  I cannot imagine what it is to be at work and learn that your daughter's pre-K class was evacuated to a bomb shelter and a missile struck only yards away.  One of the whole points of "terror" as a tactic is not just the actual damage inflicted, but the "terror" that comes from the disruption of life and fear.

    Other than that, I think there is a lot to think about in this piece.  I do believe that Israel has a right to defend itself, and I do wonder whether Israel could do more to minimize civilian casualties.  I am not sure if there is as I believe that Israel has taken great steps already to minimize these casualties which is complicated by the fact that the persons firing these rockets are intentionally doing so from civilian populations.

    "He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that." - J.S. Mill

    by dmsarad on Mon Nov 19, 2012 at 08:06:58 AM PST

  •  How many and for how long would you endure (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LostLibertarian, mll

    rockets landing around you and your family before you responded?

    And would you calculate on a piece of paper the level of response you would engage in or would you want to do whatever it takes to stop the people from targeting you and your family?

    •  This is the question I'm declaring irrelevant (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      corvo

      Those taking actions should defend them on the merits and not by comparison.

      •  Such a declaration may ease your own conscience (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        IndieGuy

        but does nothing to detract from the relevance of the question.

        I look forward to your defense of targeting and attacking innocent civilians with rocket fire.

        •  How many? (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Cedwyn, AgavePup, corvo

          How many bombs dropped on your homes?

          How many innocent lives taken?

          How many bullets fired?

          How many homes bulldozed on your land, to make way for foreign settlers?

          How long a fence around the worlds largest ever concentration camp?

          If these things were done to YOU, on your land, in YOUR country, by a foreign power,  would YOU fight?

          In all of the world's problems religion has never been the solution

          by Tailgunner30uk on Mon Nov 19, 2012 at 09:15:46 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I would not target innocent children with rocket (0+ / 0-)

            fire.

            No, I would not do that.

            Would you?

            •  Would I? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              corvo

              Picture,

              A child running from a burning village in a foreign country, her clothes burned from her body, her parents dead in that napalmed village. Then look in a mirror and ask yourself that question.

              Picture a burnt and blackened landscape, with the shadows of the dead burnt into the few still standing walls, 35,000 civilians in an undefended city of no military value vaporized in a few seconds, and ask yourself that question.

              And as an Israeli pilot in an American made F16 drops an American made laser guided bomb through the roof of a hospital or a school, or some anonymous house, ask YOURSELF that question...

              In all of the world's problems religion has never been the solution

              by Tailgunner30uk on Mon Nov 19, 2012 at 10:29:16 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  If you are going to put up bogeymen for innocents (0+ / 0-)

                being targeted by USA why not just jump to the big one (or two actually).

                Our targeting of civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

                The intentional targeting of civilians, which is happening now, as we speak, with rockets being fired into Israel are war crimes and should be condemned by all without equivocation.  

                Arguing over the innocent civilians being hurt or killed as a result of strikes on military targets is a good discussion to have in the context of reducing civilian deaths during a war.

                But there is no moral comparison to one side targeting civilians as part of a campaign of terror attacks and another causing civilian injuries as a result of military targets being struck.

                •  Too subtle.. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  corvo

                  A burned and blackened wasteland, the shadows of the dead etched into the few still standing walls,   The United States, STILL after 65+ years the only nation to use a nuclear weapon in war, deployed two, against the CIVILIAN populations of two undefended cities, Nagasaki and Hiroshima, estimates of the final death toll were in excess of 200,000 when the effects of radiation were taken into account.

                  These weapons were used to strike terror into the population of Japan, not aimed against any military target.  Why?  Because the American government feared the death toll from invading the home islands.  The targets were chosen deliberately for this purpose.

                  Ask the Palestinians, as they watch their home of generations being bulldozed to make way for another illegal settlement or the husband of a wife taken and used by Israeli soldiers as a human shield as they smash their way through a village, or a father carrying the body of his 11 month old son killed by an American made bomb, what they think of American morality.  Not me.

                  I will ask you again as I did at the beginning, given the same overwhelming imbalance of power, if it was your home, your family, YOUR land would you fight, would you resist any way you could?  

                  Or would you just accept your fate.

                  The answer, I think, lies in the first paragraph of this comment.

                  In all of the world's problems religion has never been the solution

                  by Tailgunner30uk on Mon Nov 19, 2012 at 12:01:11 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  your argument is just as silly as the israeli (0+ / 0-)

                    argument

                    Instead of "what would you do if you were having rockets lobbed at you"

                    it's "what would you do if you were being occupied"

                    Both sidestep the real debate which should be over the morality of the occupation, the morality actually firing the rockets into Israel, and the morality of Israel's response to those rockets.

                    •  Why? (0+ / 0-)

                      Silly to defend yourself.

                      Silly to defend your home.

                      Silly to defend your family, your heritage, your life.

                      Silly to swear an oath to defend your country from all enemies without and within.

                      Silly to stand up to the army of a King.

                      Silly to fight and die at Gettysburg.

                      Silly to fight to the last man and the last bullet at the Alamo.

                      Silly to fight across the Pacific, across the fields and rivers of France and Germany.

                      No that is not silly, silly is debating a moral justification for genocide.  Silly is equating the actions of the oppressor with the actions of the oppressed.  Silly is employing legal argument when real people are dying in a war funded and supported by the American taxpayer.

                      I lived through the "Troubles" in England of the 1970s and 80s, the bombings, mortar attacks, shootings.  It continued until both sides had to face reality, the IRA with  funding and support starting to dry up, and the British Government facing pressure from other nations. Both parties facing that reality started to talk to each other and find a way to peace.  

                      Israel will not come to the peace table for as long as it knows America "has it's back"  Hamas and the Palestinian people understand from past experience that Israel will not negotiate in good faith until that situation changes.

                      And therefore bombs will continue to fall, and rockets continue to fly, politicians will continue to lie and the innocent on both sides will continue to die.

                      There is no morality in war.  There is no moral justification for the actions of either side.  There is only a moral imperative to seek peace, and that, unfortunately, at the moment lies in the hands of the U.S.A.

                      In all of the world's problems religion has never been the solution

                      by Tailgunner30uk on Mon Nov 19, 2012 at 01:25:23 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

        •  Look--it's clearly RELEVANT (0+ / 0-)

          I misspoke

          It's just not valid reasoning.

          I think the Helen of troy example is a pretty good counter-factual to that line of reasoning. Instead of simply repeating the question of what would I do, maybe a response on the merit of my diary would make more sense.

          I do not defend targeting or attacking innocent civilians with rocket fire--obviously.  And so that statement is preposterous.  

          •  That preposterous action has been happening for (0+ / 0-)

            months now without ending.

            How many artillery shells/mortars/rockets were fired into Turkey before that country responded militarily?

            And how many more would they allow to continue to be fired into their country without further action?

            A perfect world has perfect actions and responses.

            I wish we lived there.

            •  The problem with all your reasoning by comparison (0+ / 0-)

              besides the fact that it isn't valid (as argued in the diary)

              Is that if both sides adhere to that logic, nobody will ever have to actually stop and consider the morality of their present actions...or the efficacy of their present actions

              Israel is in dire need of a more effective way to respond to these situations--I think you would agree?

              •  Do you understand how one can read an effort (0+ / 0-)

                at minimizing the terror by calling rocket attacks on civilians a 'situation'?  

                Not that I don't disagree there should be a more effective way to respond to terror attacks, there should.  There should be negotiations for peace that are ongoing.  But there are not because both sides will not do so.

                What response is appropriate when your adversary continues to attack you and will not sit down at a negotiating table to achieve a more effective course of action for both sides?

  •  So what is an appropriate response? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dmsarad, LostLibertarian, Hey338Too, mll

    You write that "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."

    So, what, in your view, would be a "proportionate" response from Israel? Should Israel lob a few "rockets" (a less threatening-sounding euphemism for "missiles") indiscriminately into downtown Gaza every time Hamas and its allies launch "rockets" into Israel?  

    Why do you insist that Israel is required to wait for Hamas to make the first attack, and when that happens, Israel can only respond in a "proportionate" way?  Why aren't you insisting that Hamas stop launching rockets into Israel in the first place?

    •  I'm not sure what the point of this comment is (0+ / 0-)

      My only point in the diary was--if you believe that it is right to have a disproportionate respnose to the gaza missiles being sent into Israel

      You should justify that on the merits instead of defending them on the grounds that other countries would react similarly.

      I'm not saying that one couldn't come up with a valid defense of the bombings on the merits by the way.  I'm just saying that the "anyone else in my situation would do the same" defense is not a valid defense and a dangerous precedent to set because it sets up a race to the bottom in collective morality.

      •  Why isn't that part of the merits? (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JNEREBEL, Rich in PA, Hey338Too, mll

        I understand your point.  You want people to focus on the unique facts of the situation and not simply justify or attack Israel because of what "some else" would or would not do.

        However, why is it not relevant to the inquiry what someone else would do in the same situation?  As a lawyer, that is exactly what I am supposed to do.  Based on the facts on this particular case, I am supposed to find a case "just like it" with my preferred result.  Thus, I argue why this situation is just like the "Smith case" where the defendant got probation and the prosecutor argues that this is different from the smith case and more like the "Jones case" where the defendant got 5 years.

        Why is the same not true here?  Why is it not valuable to look for analogues in modern history and compare what is going on in the ME with how other countries dealt with similar situations?

        "He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that." - J.S. Mill

        by dmsarad on Mon Nov 19, 2012 at 08:54:40 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  good question--I'm also a lawyer (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dmsarad

          You neglect that there is a catch all in legal reasoning called the Supreme Court which decides each case on the merits.

          The reason for that is to avoid the ills that my diary is suggesting--that argument by comparison will amplify an immoral result.

          There is no equivalent in the foreign policy context which is why I don't think it's a valid form of argument.

          •  Aha! That second sentence is the key. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JNEREBEL, Hey338Too, dmsarad

            You don't like the method (comparison) because you don't like the outcome.  I feel your pain.  Personally, I discount al arguments over method, except in stylized settings like the law, precisely because they're always arguments over outcome.  

            You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

            by Rich in PA on Mon Nov 19, 2012 at 09:37:09 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Not at all (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              dmsarad

              I don't like the method because it allows for the amplification of immoral outcomes by definition.  Anytime you justify your actions on collective notions you run the risk that the collective notion is unjustifiable.  

              I'm agnostic, at least in this diary, about whether that is the case in terms of Israeli justifying it's strikes by asking what would america do.  

              •  You ask for too much, seriously. (0+ / 0-)

                To ask that everyone reason and justify from first principles just isn't going to happen.

                You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

                by Rich in PA on Mon Nov 19, 2012 at 12:31:58 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

          •  "amplify an immoral result" (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JNEREBEL

            but what dictates that it is an immoral result.  That sound likes an individual judgment.  I don't think that there is some type of universal morality that a given result can be compared against.

            Taken one step further, while I recognize the potential for tyranny by majority, isn't the final question of whether something is moral or immoral whether or not it is accepted?  The whole concept of the marketplace of ideas as articulate by Mills is that ideas will compete in the marketplace and the "right" idea will come to be the one which is accepted.

            Using that logic, isn't the same true as to whether any given tactic is accepted? moral? immoral?

            The problem I see with the way you set up your inquiry is that it is dependent on your particular idea of morality.

            "He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that." - J.S. Mill

            by dmsarad on Mon Nov 19, 2012 at 10:36:37 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I'm saying that (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              dmsarad

              a priori that the form of argument can amplify an earlier immoral result and thus should be rejected off hand

              I remain agnostic as to whether in this case it is amplifying an immoral result--i only point out that the method suffers from that underlying flaw and thus should not be used.

              Instead a more direct argument that the act taken is moral should be made.

              I admit that it's a bit complicated to understand my point--it's clearly a lot smaller than everyone is thinking it is.

              I reject your notion that what is moral is what is accepted.  Morality is definitely something different from what the majority thinks--the clearest example of that would be slavery in America.

              •  This is a very interesting conversation (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                JNEREBEL

                I think it is interesting that you so value direct argument.  Almost all of what we do as lawyers is argue by citation to examples.  Which seems to be the opposite of what you articulate here.

                As for morality, I think it is a very difficult point you are trying to make.  I am not sure that morality is different than what the majority thinks.  I certainly know that MY morality is different than what the majority thinks.  But the way you are using the concept of morality, I think it is precisely what the majority thinks.

                Using slaver as an example, we can look back at slavery in america and conclude that it was immoral.  I am confident that this is not an individual judgment and would get support from the vast majority of persons.  However, at the time that slavery was active in the united states, I disagree that one could conclude that it was immoral on the whole.  Again, I am not saying that this is my moral judgment, but that was the judgment of the society at the time.  In fact, it is specifically because more and more people became to view slavery as immoral that it eventually came to an end.

                Gay rights is also a good example.  Open gay relationships were once strongly viewed as immoral.  Today, a majority of Americans support gay marriage.  While my personal morality always dictated that discrimination against gays was wrong, American morality took a longer time to get there.

                "He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that." - J.S. Mill

                by dmsarad on Mon Nov 19, 2012 at 11:10:36 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I don't believe I need to define morals (0+ / 0-)

                  to make my argument--watch me.

                  Premise 1.  There is some such thing as an immoral action or hypothetical action.

                  Premise 2.  Those immoral actions and hypothetical actions are sometimes considered moral for a period of time.

                  Preliminary conclusion:  At any moment, there exists a number of actions that are actually immoral but are presently not considered as such.

                  Premise 3:  The argument in favor of the current Israeli bombing along the lines of, "what would your country do if presented with this situation" is an attempt to refer to analogous real or hypothetical moral acts.

                  Preliminary conclusion:  The Israeli argument therefore justifies itself by comparing itself to real or hypothetical actions which may currently be assumed to be moral, but which may actually be immoral.

                  Ultimate Conclusion:

                  The Israeli argument is therefore invalid as a matter of form.

                  Thus the better approach is to dogmatically question the morality of any proposed action, and arguments by analogy must be rejected off hand as allowing for the amplification of immoral results.  

                  The same can be said for legal arguments made by method of analogy.  However, the chief difference is that in almost any legal regime there is a body which can supersede arguments by analogy--for us it's the SCOTUS; as well as to some extent jury nullification.

                  See my point is really independent of what you declare morality to be.
                   

                  •  Nope (0+ / 0-)

                    You are still begging the question.  What does it mean in your preliminary conclusion to be "actually immoral"?  Actually immoral to whom?  To you? To me? To Benjamin Netanyahu? To Seeb Erakat? To society as a whole?

                    "He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that." - J.S. Mill

                    by dmsarad on Mon Nov 19, 2012 at 12:24:45 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  So your point is that immoral things do not exist? (0+ / 0-)

                      As I see it, unless you are denying that some things are actually immoral and are a complete moral relativist--my argument works as written.  It seems like you are making a moral relativist objection.

                      Something to think about: "pro-Israel" (god I hate that phrase) arguments are often deeply rooted in the moral realism that antisemitism is immoral and exists, and is a force out to destroy Israel.  

                      It's also making my brain hurt what a moral relativist would think of an the argument by analogy.  I don't think they'd like it any better because it seems like they'd find appeals to the morality of others as irrelevant but I'm open to a counter suggestion.

                      •  I don't think "morality" exists (0+ / 0-)

                        I don't think moral argument ever work.  Morality is an inherently individual assessment.  I believe it is immoral to discriminate as to which couples the government gives marriage licenses to.  My friend Joe thinks it is immoral for gay people to have sex.  Who is right?  Well, if you agree with me, I am right.  If you agree with Joe, he is right.

                        So it is not that I deny whether something can be moral or immoral.  Its just that I recognize that just because I say something is immoral does not make me right.

                        To the extent that we are talking of something beyond individual notions of morality, the best that can be said is that something is moral if the majority of people believe it is moral.  Something is immoral if the majority of people believe it to be immoral.

                        Just because the majority of people believe something is immoral does not mean that I have to believe it is immoral.  I believe it is immoral to give a viewer of child pornography a five year jail sentence.  I am very much in the minority and a lot of people disagree with me.  Society views it as a moral thing to so.  I view as an immoral thing to do.  Who's definition of moral do you use when deciding whether something is moral or immoral?  Mine or society.

                        "He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that." - J.S. Mill

                        by dmsarad on Mon Nov 19, 2012 at 02:30:58 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

    •  another thing (0+ / 0-)

      I am not insisting on proportionality...that is a ridiculous misreading of my diary...

      I'm insisting on a defense of non-proportionality, if you are going to go that route, which doesn't hing on comparing your actions to what others in the same situation would do

    •  how about stopping the blockade (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      S F Hippie, Cedwyn, AgavePup, protectspice

      so children can eat.

      but wait, what strategic advantage could israel gain by not starving children?

  •  So Pakistan should attack America... (0+ / 0-)

    And they'd be justified given the drone missiles?  And Yemen? And Iran has legitimate grounds to go to war with US and Israel over assassinations and stuxnet?

    They have the billionaires, We have the Big Dog!

    by Jacoby Jonze on Mon Nov 19, 2012 at 08:32:54 AM PST

  •  You're living the dream! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JNEREBEL

    You know, the dream of defining everything in a way that precludes any reasoning but your own.  Ironically, according to your tendentious definition of "on the merits" (which I understand to mean "a response narrowly targeted at stopping the missiles"), the ideal Israeli response would be an invasion of Gaza.  This has always been the ironic take-away from condemnations of drone attacks by the US in Yemen and Pakistan; after all, if our only legitimate goal is the capture of those accused of harming us, and if the host countries aren't able to capture them, what option (apart from doing nothing, of course) do we have except to invade and capture them?

    You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

    by Rich in PA on Mon Nov 19, 2012 at 09:33:52 AM PST

    •  I do not understand your point (0+ / 0-)

      and disagree that I'm implying that the missiles should be stopped.

      •  What confuses me is that you seem to... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JNEREBEL

        ... be ignoring the motive behind the missiles and mortars fired from Gaza.  The outcome is irrelevant when the motive is to kill, injure, and terrorize Israeli citizens.

        Would you have written this diary if every attempt from Gaza "succeeded" in killing or maiming someone on the Israeli side of the border?  Is a counterattack only merited when blood flows?  How about if Israel turned off Iron Dome and those rockets reached their targets, would the merits of a counterattack change in your mind?

        I've seen a few of these "no one was killed in Israel because of the rockets" arguments; and I wonder if someone tries to shoot to kill another person and misses are we going to say "no harm no foul"?  What if someone fires hundreds of times to kill but misses every time, same thing?

        I haven't been here long enough to be considered a Kossack, does that mean that I'm just a sack?

        by Hey338Too on Mon Nov 19, 2012 at 10:35:51 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Why is this so hard to understand? (0+ / 0-)

          All I'm asking for is to justify the bombing of Gaza on its own merits instead of the predominant form of argument which is, "well what would any other country do if it happened to them."  

          If you want to make an argument that the evil motives of those firing missiles into Israel justifies the killing of many in Gaza, or any other argument that addresses the actual moral equation involved in Israel's attack on Gaza, I'd be interested to see you put that argument to fruition and I'll reserve judgment until I've read it.

          What I'm not interested in is, "well what would America have done" or "any country would react this way."  Even though those arguments might be true--they are not a justification.   And I will point that same argument at Hamas supporters who argue that "well what would you do if you were living under an occupation."  

          The arguments simply aren't logically coherent.

          •  You've stated my premise correctly... (0+ / 0-)

            ... the people firing mortars and rockets from Gaza are not doing so purely for the pleasure of it.  Regardless of the outcome, the motives of those involved in these actions are malicious.  They are trying to kill, maim, and terrorize those whom they target.  

            From what I understand of your argument, you are giving Hamas credit (merit?) for not actually killing anyone.   And by extension, it sounds like you are indicating that any retaliation which involves any loss of life on the Gaza side is therefore disproportionate.  

            To me,  this seems to allow the abdication of any morality on the side of those firing mortars and rockets.  As long as no life is lost, Hamas is free to do as they please.  Furthermore you are forcing the Israelis to operate under a different ethical and moral code than the people launching the attacks.  This appears to make the justification of any retaliation by Israel impossible under your premise.

            I haven't been here long enough to be considered a Kossack, does that mean that I'm just a sack?

            by Hey338Too on Mon Nov 19, 2012 at 02:07:00 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Disproportionate (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JNEREBEL

    doesn't mean using more force or causing more harm, death, suffering than the other side. Proportionality is not evaluated in relation to the harm you have suffered. How many Israelis have died is irrelevant to whether its actions are proportional.

    Disproportionate means using more force than is necessary to achieve the military objective.

    So whether Israel's response to Hamas rocket attacks is disproportionate depend on whether the airstrikes are necessary to destroy Hamas's rocket arsenal and deny Hamas the ability to hold Tel Aviv and Jerusalem at risk.

    There's no moral or legal reason to limit defensive military action to the level of the other side. The legal and moral requirement of proportionality just says that you have to use only as much force as is required to achieve your military objective.

    So to claim that Israel's response is disproportionate, you have to argue that Israel could somehow destroy Hamas's rockets by using less force or causing fewer casualties.

    •  that's a pretty privilleged definition (0+ / 0-)

      I don't think gazans would see it that way.

      Either way--my basic point stands--defend their position on the merits--whatever you want to label the strategy as--defend it on the merits.

      •  asdf (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JNEREBEL

        You want to argue that disproportionate force is not justified -- and that Israel's actions are disproportionate, and therefore unjustified.

        If you use the actual ("privileged") definition of the term in international law and moral philosophy, then Israel's force is not disproportionate. It may or may not be justified, depending on conformity with other requirements of international humanitarian law. But it's not disproportionate.

        (To clarify and correct the definition in my previous post, how much force counts as disproportionate also depends on the military importance of the objective. Since the objectives of depriving Hamas of the capability to rain down rockets on Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and allowing the people of southern Israel to live without the daily threat of rocket attacks are of overriding importance to Israel's security, a lot of force and harm to Gazans are still proportionate. If the objective was less important to Israel's security -- say, killing a low-level and easily replaceable terrorist -- then an attack causing even limited harm to civilians would be disproportionate.)

        If you use the colloquial meaning of disproportionate as just "more than the other side," then Israel's response may be disproportionate, but that has nothing to do with whether its justified.

        An oversimplified hypothetical to illustrate the point: Someone slaps me, then pulls a knife on me, threatens to kill me, and lunges at me. I pull out a gun and shoot him in the leg. I inflicted vastly disproportionate harm (gunshot vs. slap). But that has nothing to do with whether I was justified. That depends on whether shooting him was necessary to prevent him from stabbing me. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't. But the fact that the only physical harm I suffered was being slapped is completely irrelevant to whether I was justified in using "disproportionate" force. (I don't mean in any way to minimize the deaths of three Israelis or the wounding of dozens more as a mere slap.)

        And your larger ("on the merits") point, as I understand it, rests on your misunderstanding of proportionality.

        You acknowledge, at least for the sake of argument, that Israel has a right to defend itself. But you object to Israel's actions to defend itself on the grounds that they are "disproportionate." So what you seem to want defended "on the merits" is the "disproportionality" of Israel's response.

        And the Israeli answer -- "on the merits" -- is that Israel's actions are not disproportionate because they are necessary to significantly degrade Hamas's rocket arsenal, and that (because Hamas launches these rockets from civilian areas, and embeds its military forces and activities in civilian areas) it's not possible to defend Israel's population without inadvertently harming Palestinian civilians. If you want to argue that Israel's actions are disproportionate, you need to argue otherwise.

        •  You have wasted a lot of ink here (0+ / 0-)

          I am not expressing an opinion on whether Israel's actions are justified.

          I'm just asking that people justify them--with an argument that is not, "what would you do if your country was rocketed" but which actually addresses the moral justification for their bombing campaign.

          I think it would be a useful discussion to have and perhaps help end some of the logic loops that keep the violence going.  

          That's the only point I'm making.

          It seems to be a difficult one to grasp--perhaps I am not being clear enough although to me it seems clear.  

          •  See my last paragraph. n/t (0+ / 0-)
            •  that's fine (0+ / 0-)

              at least it's an argument on the merits...

              as far as it goes--it kind of flies in the face of history--we've seen repeated rounds of this--and sometimes actual invasion by Israel--and Hamas always seems to gain, not lose capabilities.

              •  asdf (0+ / 0-)

                Yes, that's Israel's arguments on the merits.

                As far as flying in the face of history, the Israeli view is that such operations have to be repeated every few years to keep the threat from Hamas manageable. The goal is not to eliminate it; they don't think that's possible militarily. See the "mowing the grass" metaphor in this Times article.

                The operative metaphor is often described as “cutting the grass,” meaning a task that must be performed regularly and has no end. There is no solution to security challenges, officials here say, only delays and deterrence.
                In this view, military operations buy a few years of relative peace, until Hamas rebuilds its arsenal and resumes its attacks.
  •  Why now? (0+ / 0-)

    One thing I'm wondering is why is this happening NOW? I wonder if Israel is going after Gaza leaders and infrastructure partly because of the "Arab spring" and the possibility that Gaza will grow in stature and gain allies. That intention would not justify killing civilians. I don't think this type of incursion -- and a possible invasion -- is solely in response to rockets from Gaza.

    Everyone will disagree, but I think almost anything Israel does in self-defense against Gaza is disproportionate simply because Israel is so much more equipped militarily. There's no comparison.
    That doesn't mean that Gaza rockets are justified but Israel's response will always cause disproportionate harm.

    The civil rights, gay rights and women's movements, designed to allow others to reach for power previously grasped only by white men, have made a real difference, and the outlines of 21st century America have emerged. -- Paul West of LA Times

    by LiberalLady on Mon Nov 19, 2012 at 11:53:31 AM PST

  •  Reposted from another diary (0+ / 0-)

    with apologies):

    I'm having trouble believing that the air strikes against Gaza have anyting to do with "eliminating" a "threat."

    For one thing, it isn't the rocket installations that are being targeted, but mostly homes.

    So is Israel out to eliminate the Hamas leadership?  Strangely, it seems reasonable to assume that when Israel is out to blast you to bits, you tend to avoid your home.  So I'd have to say that blowing up Hamas Guy's home doesn't have much to do with eliminating Hamas Guy himself.

    So what does this accomplish?  Material damage and, of course, "collateral damage."  Nothing more.

  •  Barking Up The Wrong Tree (0+ / 0-)

    Attempting to analyze, justify or otherwise comprehend the actions of actors seemingly caught in a paradigm of hatred and destruction on a moral level seems like a fools errand to me.

    I once had an Israeli friend try to justify the Israeli mistreatment of Palestineans as no different than how the U.S. treated Native Americans. That was my point, they are analogous-and both wrong. Professing to ideals of democracy, morality, and enlightenment with your kind and behaving undemocratically, immorally and in an unenlightened way with those who are not like you is a conundrum for the future of humanity. Rationalizing the murder of innocent humans is nothing new and doesn't change the only ethical principal that matters-might makes right.

    The United States supports Israel for political reasons. The United States would continue to support Israel even if Israel murdered every non- Israeli man, woman, and child in the occupied territories. This situation has nothing to do with morality:never did, never will. This is about a frail concept that reached it's expiration date over a century ago. The Nation- State system is not troubled with annoying concepts of morality, ethics and human rights if they can be ignored with impunity.

    What we have in the area called Palestine or Israel, depending  on the team you support, is a failed experiment in human relationships. Imagine, the birthplace of Jesus is the graveyard of the only religious concept worthy of a creed-Love.

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