“…at base the Palestinian national movement since its inception in 1920 has not been about the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state but rather the destruction of the Jewish state or earlier the prevention of the establishment of a Jewish state and so it remains to this day which is why the PLO has consistently refused statehood every time it has been offered them since 1993.” – Caroline Glick, author of The Israeli Solution
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is an ever present topic in politics. Unfortunately, our understanding of it has been muddled so thoroughly by journalists, and politicians that it has become difficult for most people to come to firm conclusions. In reality, however, the conflict comes down to this: Israel was given statehood, and ever since, it has been under attack from its neighbors. Many skirmishes, and peace accords have come, and gone, and most of them were broken by the other side. Hamas, which controls the Palestinian portion, wants to wipe Israel of the map. It’s as simple as that.
With the most recent fighting, critics have accused Israel of war mongering. They are claiming that even though Hamas is the bad guy in this fight, Israel is using entirely too much force in their retaliation. Eugene Robinson, of the Washington Post, wrote an opinion piece which perfectly encapsulates the criticism of Israel. I’d like to take a moment to analyze, and rebut that piece.
“The civilian death toll in Gaza from Israel’s latest incursion is appalling. The right to self-defense is inalienable, but it is not free from moral constraints…As of this writing, nearly 750 Palestinians, including dozens of children, have been killed since the Israeli assault began…For Israeli military action to be justifiable, it must be proportionate. What we’re witnessing is not…Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that Hamas is ‘targeting civilians and hiding behind civilians,’ which he called a ‘double war crime.’ He was referring to the fact that Hamas targets Israeli civilians with its rocket attacks and positions its military installations in residential neighborhoods or near schools and hospitals. Netanyahu is right that these practices are reprehensible and that Israel has every right to respond. But none of this absolves Israel from its own moral responsibility. A civilized nation does not repay every heinous act in kind.“
Robinson is under the misapprehension that both sides are equal in this fight. He seems to believe that, while one side is indeed the antagonist, both sides are fighting under an assumed set of rules that should be followed. This is not what’s happening.
Robinson is concerned with proportionality. He believes that if Hamas fires one missile, Israel should fire back in kind, but should not exceed the level of aggression shown to them. He believes that Israel should not stoop to the level of Hamas by targeting civilians. But once again, in his plea for proportionality, Robinson misses an integral piece of the puzzle. Hamas isn’t operating under a set of ethical rules. Hamas deliberately places their military installations near schools, and hospitals, so that there will be maximum casualties, and they purposefully attack Israeli civilians. Given that, it would be impossible for Israel to reciprocate, and not harm Palestinian civilians.
So, let’s talk about proportionality. If Israel were to reciprocate proportionally, they would deliberately target Palestinian citizens, and they are not doing that. They even warn Palestinian civilians via text messages, leaflets, and non lethal weaponry prior to attacks. Israel is doing everything it can to reduce civilian casualties, but because Hamas has placed their installations near highly populated areas, it becomes impossible to eliminate civilian casualties altogether. Once one side has decided to create a situation in which their own people will be victims, there is not much of a choice on Israel’s part beyond what they’re doing. The game is rigged. Because Hamas has created this particular situation in which they have placed their own people in the line of fire, Israel will be responsible for some collateral damage. That is not the fault of Israel, but that of Hamas. The blood of those civilian casualties is not on the hands of Israel, but on the hands of Hamas. The fault must go to the ones who rigged the game in the first place, rather than the ones who have been forced to play under the fabricated rules.
Robinson goes on:
“I have seen no confirmed reports, however, of Hamas using force to keep people in targeted areas so they can serve as human shields — and perhaps sway world opinion by boosting the body count. When people decide they must leave their homes, they can do so. But where are these evacuees supposed to go? To the nearest school or hospital? Not if these, too, are considered legitimate targets by the Israeli Defense Forces.”
Here, it seems as though Robinson is apologizing for the actions of Hamas. I guess telling residents to stay put as targets isn’t really that bad, because they can leave if they want?! Meanwhile, reports are coming in that Hamas rounded up and executed twenty Palestinian protesters, who were merely advocating against the war. According to Joel Pollak, of Breitbart:
“The report, delivered during a panel discussion, was based in turn on reports by Palestinian sources, translated by Channel 10’s analyst. The demonstrators reportedly blamed Hamas for the destruction of the neighborhood, and Hamas’s response was to kill them all immediately.”
If Hamas was willing to execute twenty civilians so casually simply because they protested the war, what would their response be to civilians who wanted to leave their homes and businesses after being told to stay put? I can’t say for sure what would have happened, but the climate there seems to be rather frightening, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Palestinian civilians are afraid of Hamas leaders. They may have been given free will to leave the area, but who knows how much the fear of death had to do with their decisions. I would be willing to bet Hamas controls Palestinians quite well with terror.
“Assume for the sake of argument that Israel had no choice but to act. What, then, would be a morally acceptable number of Palestinian civilian casualties? Let me frame the question in practical terms: How many civilian casualties are needed to guarantee another generation of hatred and war? The scale of death and destruction appears to be aimed not just at lessening the actual threat from Hamas but also at punishing Gazans for elevating Hamas to power in the first place. Netanyahu seems determined to teach them a lesson.”
Once again, Robinson is placing blame for civilian casualties on Israel, rather than those who are keeping the civilians in the line of fire. Hamas—an organization that threatens the very existence of Israel–is holding its own people in front of it as a shield. Is Israel expected to not fire? He also makes the assumption that the more Palestinian casualties, the more the Middle East will hate Israel. That is a fundamental misunderstanding of the Middle East’s relationship with Israel. Radical Islam, which rules most of the Middle East, despises the Jewish people. Radical Islamists don’t care about the proportionality of casualties; their goal is to wipe Israel off the map. A lower number of civilian casualties will not make the radical Islamists in the Middle East hate Israel any less, just as more casualties will not increase their hatred. Their hatred of Israel is separate, and apart from any other circumstances. So, Robinson’s remark about guaranteeing another generation of hatred, and war is irrelevant.
Robinson then accuses Prime Minister Netanyahu of punishing the Palestinians for electing Hamas in the first place. Of course, this is just pure speculation on his part. It’s, once again, irrelevant.
Robinson concludes with this:
“Netanyahu could have offered them an alternative future of free movement, economic development and peace. Instead, he gives them no choice.”
For the third time, he is making assumptions based on the character of other human beings. He has no true understanding of what Netanyahu is thinking. Additionally, Robinson claims that Netanyahu is giving the Palestinians no choice, but isn’t it the other way around? Hamas is not interested in peace, or land, or free movement, they want to destroy Israel. Netanyahu cannot offer peace to those who don’t want it. Moreover, he cannot respond to violence with offers of peace, unless he wants Israel to be annihilated.
One cannot negotiate with those who want no negotiation. One cannot be blamed for casualties when the enemy is the one throwing its people in the line of fire. One cannot be expected to operate under a set of ethical rules when the game is fixed. War is death, and sometimes even the good guys have to make sacrifices.