Moral Clarity

Charles Krauthammer, in today’s column, responds to those who see Israel as being at fault for bullying the Palestinians once again. His essay begins:

Some geopolitical conflicts are morally complicated. The Israel-Gaza war is not. It possesses a moral clarity not only rare but excruciating.

Israel is so scrupulous about civilian life that, risking the element of surprise, it contacts enemy noncombatants in advance to warn them of approaching danger. Hamas, which started this conflict with unrelenting rocket and mortar attacks on unarmed Israelis — 6,464 launched from Gaza in the past three years — deliberately places its weapons in and near the homes of its own people.

This has two purposes. First, counting on the moral scrupulousness of Israel, Hamas figures civilian proximity might help protect at least part of its arsenal. Second, knowing that Israelis have new precision weapons that may allow them to attack nonetheless, Hamas hopes that inevitable collateral damage — or, if it is really fortunate, an errant Israeli bomb — will kill large numbers of its own people for which, of course, the world will blame Israel.

For Hamas, the only thing more prized than dead Jews are dead Palestinians. The religion of Jew-murder and self-martyrdom is ubiquitous.

Krauthammer reminds us that besides the asymmetry of means — Hamas is committed to “the most civilian pain and suffering on both sides”, while Israel tries to save as many lives as it can, giving advance warning when sites are about to be attacked, and using precision ordnance that can destroy a house while leaving its next-door neighbors unscathed — there is also an asymmetry of ends:

Israel has but a single objective in Gaza — peace: the calm, open, normal relations it offered Gaza when it withdrew in 2005. Doing something never done by the Turkish, British, Egyptian and Jordanian rulers of Palestine, the Israelis gave the Palestinians their first sovereign territory ever in Gaza.

What ensued? This is not ancient history. Did the Palestinians begin building the state that is supposedly their great national aim? No. No roads, no industry, no courts, no civil society at all. The flourishing greenhouses that Israel left behind for the Palestinians were destroyed and abandoned. Instead, Gaza’s Iranian-sponsored rulers have devoted all their resources to turning it into a terror base — importing weapons, training terrorists, building tunnels with which to kidnap Israelis on the other side. And of course firing rockets unceasingly.

The grievance? It cannot be occupation, military control or settlers. They were all removed in September 2005. There’s only one grievance and Hamas is open about it. Israel’s very existence.

Read the rest of the piece here.

Meanwhile, reports that the Hamas leader Nizar Rayyan refused to evacuate his own wife and children when the IDF warned that his house, which was also an arsenal and concealed the mouth of a tunnel, was about to be attacked. These collateral deaths will of course be used to blacken Israel’s name. We read:

The air strike killed Nizar Rayyan along with nine other people, including his wife and three children, Hamas said. Another 25 people were wounded. Security sources told Ynet that the house was also used as an arms cache, a communications headquarters and concealed a tunnel’s opening.

Israeli military sources confirmed that Rayyan, who was considered the Hamas leadership’s liaison with the group’s military wing, was killed in an attack on his north Gaza home.

Prior to striking Rayyan’s house the IDF tried to warn his family about the imminent attack and urged them to evacuate the place, but they refused to do so.

It does seem, though, that this time around even some of their fellow Arabs have had it with Hamas. This may be due mostly to Sunni/Shi’a animosity, but it is welcome nevertheless.


  1. Peter Lupu says

    In addition to the above points, it should be made clear that in this conflict Israel is the front line of Western civilization; Hamas in turn is one among many front lines of a movement that aims to destroy Western Civilization.

    Anyone who does not see that the final goal of Islamic Extremism (‘Fascism’ as I conceive them) is the complete destruction of the West lives in a dangerous illusion. Once this is clearly understood, it should also be clear that there is no room for negotiation, bargaining, or rational discourse of any kind with this movement. We are in a war to the end and only one side will eventually stand. The so-called “moderate Muslim world” must decide which side they will support. Thus far I see only fog and ambivalence from this “moderate” Islam. There may be several reasons for this silence. However, whatever the reasons, eventually they will be forced to decide or else they will be removed by the Islamic Fascists.
    Unfortunately, most of the Western world prefers to ignore the magnitude of the threat and treats it like it can be handled by a massive coordinated enforcement problem.
    It is not! It is one of the most dangerous threats our world ever faced, comparable only to Nazism. And if the world will continue in this path, then just like WWII, the cost of removing the threat will be multiplied several hundred times or even worst: it could be too late.

    The current goal of Islamic Fascism is to take over Pakistan or alternatively cause a war between Pakistan and India. Such a war will incite all the Muslim world, so-called moderates and all, and could topple several moderate governments in the predominantly Muslim world. In addition it will create chaos in both countries and make it easier for the Fascists to take over Pakistan.

    The second goal is for Iran to develop nuclear weapons, help Syria do the same, surround Israel and destroy it.

    The third goal is to develop a solid 5th column of radical Islamic Fascists throughout Europe and South America as well as in the US. This step of course follows in the footsteps of their ideological predecessors, Nazi Germany. The purpose of these 5th columns throughout Europe, and elsewhere is to be activated at the right time and create havoc in various countries and demoralize the populations in them.

    Islamic Fascists grow in weak societies and become stronger. Then they take them over (examples: Lebanon; Gaza; Afghanistan, and currently Pakistan).

    I do not have much hope that the world will wake up and see the threat in time. So those of us who are older, well perhaps we shall die in peace before it all will begin disintegrating. For the younger among us;….


    Posted January 2, 2009 at 11:09 pm | Permalink
  2. Malcolm says

    Thanks as always for commenting, Peter; I see nothing to disagree with in anything you have written here. I will also point out that if Pakistan falls decisively under the influence of radical Islam (and the sympathy for that cause in the military and ISI is already strong) there will be no need to wait for Iran to develop nuclear weapons.

    The perilous attitude in the West is exemplified by academics like Vartan Gregorian, whose book Islam: A Mosaic, Not A Monolith I have just read. He is so eager to demonstrate that moderate Muslims actually exist that he ignores the persistent threat at Islam’s core.

    Posted January 2, 2009 at 11:57 pm | Permalink
  3. Malcolm, I pretty much agree with you, Peter, and Krauthammer, but just to be clear . . . Hamas is Sunni, not Shia. You probably already know that, but I wanted to make certain. Perhaps your point was that Hamas has links with Hezbollah, and therefore with Iran. Fatah hates Hamas because the latter has attacked and killed many Fatah members in Gaza — such as tossing Fatah members from the tops of buildings.

    Jeffery Hodges

    * * *

    Posted January 3, 2009 at 5:22 am | Permalink
  4. Peter Lupu says


    Good hearing from you. Happy new year.

    Hamas is indeed Sunni, but it has been supported by Iran directly (not just through Hezballah) because Iran’s long range goal is to surround Israel, render Iraq another satellite (just like Lebanon and Gaza), convert the whole region into an Iranian sphere of influence by reducing and eventually eliminating the influence of the West. In order to achieve these primary goals the members of this axis of Islamic Fascism ignore previously important distinctions such as Sunni vs. Shia; Persian vs. Arab.

    If Hamas is allowed to survive (and I do not trust for one minute the decisions of the Olmert Government, the worst government by far in Israel’s history), then in a short time Hamas will take over the West Bank also; Fatah has no chance under such circumstances. Then you have the following picture: Gaza, West Bank, Hezballah in Lebanon, and Syria will all be pointing missiles towards Israel. For the first time in Israel’s history the whole country will be in range of these Iranian supplied missiles. At an opportune time, they all will begin a war against Israel from all directions, while Iran (and perhaps Syria) stand ready with nuclear weapons, just in case. Even if Israel will survive such an assault, tens of thousands of Israelis will die and the country will be weakened considerably. The next round will then wipe it out.

    This scenario was enabled by the current Olmert government, which weakened Israel to such an extent that all its enemies now believe that the above scenario may be realizable.
    If you think about it in a detached way, you must conclude that this strategy that Iran devised is indeed very masterful. It is the only strategy ever devised by Israel’s enemies that actually is liable to work. The present Israeli government is no match against such a strategy; nor is an impotent and misguided Bush administration (despite its fundamental support of Israel); and of course the UN is useless; most Europeans are already in the grip of the Islamic Fascists 5th column (just like many were in the grip of the Nazi Fascists: I guess this kind of an attitude is in-bred in Europe).

    There you go! Just watch and see how this scenario gradually unfolds.

    What is the remedy? One word:

    I have heard on TV a reporter arguing that a ground offensive against Gaza will achieve nothing because (paraphrasing) “you can never defeat militarily someone (i.e., Hamas) who has the support of the population”. This reporter obviously does not know history. Whether you can defeat Hamas, Hezballah, and Islamic Fascism depends on your will and the strength of your culture. Unfortunately, I suspect that western culture is too weak to react boldly, without hesitation, and with a will and purpose required to defeat this nemesis. Hence, it will eventually lose.


    Posted January 3, 2009 at 7:40 am | Permalink
  5. Malcolm says

    Hi Jeffery,

    Yes, Hamas is indeed Sunni. It was their Iranian backing, as Peter has described above, that I was thinking of. I should have been clearer about that. Thanks for pointing it out.

    Peter, while I think your summation is correct, I wouldn’t say that the ancient Sunni/Shi’a animosity is put aside except for the moment, while the great enemy of all is dealt with.

    Also, the situation may be more complicated: some of these missiles may, I hear, be of Chinese manufacture.

    Posted January 3, 2009 at 11:31 am | Permalink
  6. Without disputing anything Krauthammer says, I think that the best analysis of the situation (as usual) comes from The Economist. While recognizing the indefensibility of Hamas’s attacks — no moral equivalency argument here — the core of the editorial is this:

    “In general, a war must pass three tests to be justified. A country must first have exhausted all other means of defending itself. The attack should be proportionate to the objective. And it must stand a reasonable chance of achieving its goal. On all three of these tests Israel is on shakier ground than it cares to admit. ”

    Posted January 3, 2009 at 12:46 pm | Permalink
  7. Peter Lupu says


    While some of the missiles are manufactured in China, they are supplied to Hamas and Hezballah by Iran and Syria.

    One eyer:

    I beg to differ with you regarding your assessment that The Economist’s analysis is “the best” for the following reasons. The Economist argues that any justified war must satisfy three criteria:
    (a) All non-military means had to be exhausted first;
    (b) proportionality;
    (c) reasonable chance of achieving “its goals”.

    The Economist argues that the current military conflict fails all three criteria. Well, let us evaluate each of these criteria:

    Re (a): Hamas’ goal, quite explicitly stated, is the destruction of Israel. Their leadership refuses to renounce this goal. Therefore, every move that Hamas takes, including negotiations, truces, cease-fires, etc., are only intermediary steps toward this goal. If they agree to a truce, it is because they intend to use the time to rearm, retrain, and reorganize for another round of attacks against Israel. If they violate a truce, it is because they are ready to take further military action. How do you exhaust “all other means of defending” yourself against an enemy that is intent to destroy you, will use any means to do so, and refuses to give up on this goal. Hamas broke the most recent truce repeatedly, then unilaterally refused to extend it and started to bomb Israeli civilians. What are these so-called “all other means” that Israel should have tried which it did not already do? This criterion is designed specifically for one and only one purpose:

    Israel should be the only state in world history that must accept without defending itself militarily a regular bombardment of its civilian population from a neighboring entity.

    Give me an example of any other state that was required to accept this condition under similar circumstances.

    Re(b) Proportionality: in principle this is exactly the same as above. “Proportionality” is a diplomatic code word for “doing nothing”. Why? Well, let us see what could this “proportionality” mean? Would it be proportional to indiscriminately lob 70 or 80 missiles every day into the densely populated Gaza City? Or perhaps it would be more “proportional” to arbitrarily bomb from the air anywhere in Gaza cities for every missile dropped on Israel. And how do we match missile to missile? By its weight? size? How? And how far do we go back? During the last several years Hamas dropped several thousand missiles on Israel. So haw far do we count back? Does Israel now have several thousand missiles they are justified to lob before they are even again?

    The purpose of the proportionality criterion is to rule out any effective response that Israel could take in order to protect its population from attacks by Hamas.

    Re(c) Achieving Goals: I do not see what this criterion has to do with a “just war”. The goal of Nazi Germany was to conquer the world. So are we to say that the war which Nazi Germany started is unjustified because it failed to achieve its goals. That is of course absurd. the goals themselves must be morally justified in order to render a war just. Achieving these goals by means of a war may or may not be relevant for its justification.
    This is what happens when people lacking any analytical background to think through what they say go around and spout things that make no sense; and most correspondents lately feature the distinction of having absolutely no analytical background to think through matters like this.

    The point of all of these criteria is to put Israel in a position where it is not allowed to defend itself, it is not allowed to weaken its mortal enemies, and gradually put it in a position where a total destruction is inevitable. I challenge anyone to give me one example of a country that was asked to endure such conditions?

    On the other hand, I can ask you all to reflect upon the following thought experiment as an exercise: Suppose some gangs in Mexico decide that they will set out to take back California, Texas, Arizona, etc. They decide to arm themselves with missiles and begin firing them toward major American cities under the protection of the Mexican government. How long you think US will hold back a massive incursion that will eliminate this threat? I venture to guess: about two weeks!

    Now, if you do not live in the USA, then simply invent the same scenario for the country you live in. Most if not all countries have some regions that once belonged to someone else or some other country claims it. What would you expect your country to do in a similar situation?


    Posted January 3, 2009 at 6:36 pm | Permalink
  8. Jack says

    While I appreciate the level of discussion here, one pre-eminent fact seems to have been totally ignored: the systematic repression of the Palestinian people as a whole, the continued settlement program, and the recent embargo. There are people there, suffering people, and they’re suffering has a lot to do with *both* Hamas and Israel.

    And the rhetoric about Islamic fascism is really a little misleading. It assumes that there is a coherent overarching strategy among the morass of Islamist organizations, and ignores, too conveniently, both the history of Western colonialism in the region, and the very real asymmetry in power relations in the region. Why should they choose the West as its great enemy (and not China, India, Brazil, or Venezuela)? The answer is not “because they hate freedom” (even if they do), nor is it because the West is overwhelmingly Christian, or Atheist. We cannot ignore the West’s dominance and interference in the region, its undermining of a relatively benign nationalist movement of the early 20th century, and support for Israel, in the face of injustices perpetrated by Israel.

    Posted January 3, 2009 at 7:02 pm | Permalink
  9. Peter: your points are well taken, but regrettably I’m about to go out for the evening — I’ll try to respond tomorrow.

    Posted January 3, 2009 at 8:47 pm | Permalink
  10. Peter Lupu says


    You make three points:

    (a) The Palestinian Sufferage thesis: Palestinians have suffered under Israeli occupation. Therefore, this fact justifies Hamas’ actions and does not justify Israel’s actions;
    (b) The “Islamic Fascism” is a misleading rhetoric because “[i]t assumes that there is a coherent overarching strategy among the morass of Islamist organizations”;
    (c) The whole thing is the West’s Fault: The emergence of Islamic Fascism (in all of its manifestations: Al Queda, Hezballah, Hamas, Iran, Syria, etc.,) are all the fault of the west because
    (i) The West’s colonialism;
    (ii) “the very real asymmetry in power relations in the region”;
    (iii) “the West’s dominance and interference in the region”;
    (iv) “its undermining of a relatively benign nationalist movement of the early 20th century”; (v) “support for Israel, in the face of injustices perpetrated by Israelis” at fault;

    (I) Killing innocent people everywhere in the world is justified? The brutal rule of Taliban in Afganisthan is justified? 9/11 is justified? etc.,


    (1) Since point (a) is a subservient to (c), I shall respond to both together.

    (2) First, even if all the facts you site were historically accurate, they cannot lend moral justification to the purposeful murder of civilians everywhere in the world.
    (3) Second, when attempting to evaluate a particular historical event in a historical context it is somewhat useful to have some background knowledge of the relevant history.

    4)Some more recent History:
    (i) In 1948 there was a plan to create a state of Israel in a portion of current Israel and give the rest together with portions of West Bank and Gaza to the Palestinians. Israel accepted the plan; the Arab world did not. Instead they decided to settle the matter on the ground with war. They attacked the new nation of Israel and lost.
    When was the last time a nation that won a war it did not start was required to relinquish its gains?
    Why demand that from Israel?

    (ii) Prior to 1967 the West Bank and Gaza were under the Jordanian and Egyptian rule, respectively. I do not recall anyone demanding from Jordan and Egypt to relinquish their rule and create a Palestinian state in these territories. I did not see you complain or point out or address this fact.

    (iii) Black September: In 1970-1971 the Jordanian army killed tens of thousand Palestinians and expelled the PLO from Jordan. The reason was that Fatah defied the King of Jordan’s authority, took over several parts of Jordan, attempted an assassination on the King’s life, and aimed to take over Jordan. Hundreds of PLO members preferred to cross the border into their mortal enemy Israel in order to avoid the “wonderful” treatment of the Jordanian army. Israel never matched the feat of killing tens of thousand of Palestinians in any conflict with the Palestinians, the Arab countries; anyone! I did not hear any outcries from the Muslim world against the brutality of the Jordanian army. I did not see you mention this wonderful episode of a Muslim country against its own population; I did not see you lament the suffering of the Palestinians under Jordanian rule.

    (iv) Destruction of Lebanon: The solution of the Arab World to the Jordanian Black September massacre was to convince a wonderful, stable, and prosperous country in the north border of Israel to accept the PLO. That country was Lebanon!
    Prior to this sinister solution that was motivated by an unbending determination to destroy Israel at all cost, Lebanon was a center of tourism; it had a balanced constitution that shared power evenly between Muslims, Christians, and Druze; and they all lived in peace. From 1971 onward Lebanon became a lawless country; for all practical purposes there was no central government but different militias that fought each other and completely destroyed the country. The PLO began terrorist activity from Lebanon into Israel, just like they did from Jordan. But Lebanon had a much weaker army than Jordan and so they could not stop the chaos that the PLO brought upon Lebanon. That caused the 1982 Lebanon war.
    Lebanon never recovered.
    I did not hear complaints about the destruction of a wonderful country by the PLO and the Palestinians. I did not see you complain about the suffering of the Christians and Druze in Lebanon under the domination of a fanatical Palestinian and now Islamic Fascist movement. I did not see you lament the destruction of the wonderful country of Lebanon.

    (v) Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005 and turned it over to the Palestinian Authority. Arrangements were made for supplies etc., and negotiations began for a two state solution. Then Hamas won an election, took over Gaza by force, killed hundreds of members of Fatah and the Palestinian authority and started a terrorist campaign against Israel under the influence and instruction of Iran and Syria. They never were willing to denounced their intention to exterminate Israel, they never were willing to negotiate a stop to hostilities, and were using all means to smuggle into Gaza weapons supplied by Iran and Syria rather than food, medical supplies, and other products needed by the population they controlled. I wonder how much of the needed supplies they could have smuggled instead of the weapons they actually did. This alone shows that they do not care about the Palestinian population. They only care to advance one cause and one cause only: The destruction of Israel. They will sacrifice anything and anybody in order to advance this goal.
    I did not hear anyone complaining, demonstrating, etc., against
    –Hamas’ refusal to negotiate;
    –against smuggling into Gaza missiles rather than sufficient needed supplies;
    –against the use of the civilian population of Gaza as human shelters while bombing Israel;
    I did not hear you mention any of these things and protest the use of civilians for such ends.

    Answer: Because the Arab world does not care about civilians; they do not care about the Palestinians except insofar as these people can be used as pawns in the destruction of Israel.
    And people like you are duped by a well coordinated propaganda campaign by the Muslim world (financed by your oil dollars) to portray the Palestinians as the underdogs in their just battle for survival. This well oiled propaganda campaign using their 5th columns in the West exploits the natural tendency of people in the west (particularly in the USA) to tend to side with the underdog. But
    (a) an underdog may not be always the morally correct dog;
    (b) The Arab world consists of hundred of millions of people spanning several continents, with an accumulative assets that places them among the top financial powers in the world: this is the power that is behind the Palestinians, Hezballah, etc. Israel is a small piece of land (the size of NJ), with a population of roughly 7 Million, and with not much financial muscle.

    Who is the underdog?

    For now this should be enough to think through, if you are really interested in thinking through matters. I shall respond to the other points at some later time.


    Posted January 4, 2009 at 10:44 am | Permalink
  11. Peter:

    Re the first criterion: there are several responses.

    1) Soviet Russia was sworn to our destruction, and we successfully negotiated a number of treaties with them. Maoist China was sworn to our destruction, and now Wal-Mart shoppers everywhere can buy their underwear for 99 cents. Even Apple runs Windows software. Negotiations between sworn enemies are not always fruitful, but they can be.

    2) If it is true that “if Israel had ended the blockade, then Hamas may have extended the truce,” then it logically follows that the first criterion is not satisfied.

    3) Were the Patriots justified in the Boston Tea Party? Were the French and Dutch underground justified in killing Nazi soldiers? Were the Indians justified in killing British colonialists and were the Algerians justified in killing the French colonialists? What precisely is the difference between the Palestinians and the other groups?

    To be clear: I am not equating the Palestinians with any of the other groups, but they all share the common characteristic of being a people living under the boot of an occupying force. Viewed through this prism, the standard of doing everything possible to avoid war gains added significance, and it seems to me that if Israel truly wanted to avoid a war there are other things they could have done first.

    4) What would you do if you were a Palestinian?

    Re the second criterion: I disagree with the statement that “The purpose of the proportionality criterion is to rule out any effective response that Israel could take in order to protect its population.” The fact that you can’t quantify proportionality – and reasonable people can disagree on what a proportionate response would be – does not mean that some things are clearly acceptable and others are not. I don’t think any of us would complain if Israeli sharpshooters killed Hamas bomb throwers. However, if a Palestinian kid aimed a pea shooter at Israel and his apartment building got flattened as a result, I think we would all regard that as grossly wrong. It’s like Justice Stewart’s definition of pornography: I can’t tell you what it is, but I know it when I see it.

    Re the third criterion: a reasonable chance of achieving its goals is a necessary but not sufficient condition for a just war. Nazi Germany fails the test for other reasons.

    To be clear: I think that Israel has an absolute right to defend itself and was absolutely correct in attacking Hamas. I am not arguing that its response was disproportionate. It may well be that Israel’s only option was to wipe out Hamas, regardless of the consequences. I don’t know one way or the other, and I recognize the fatuity of sitting in a comfortable house near San Francisco Bay and advising people halfway around the world how to protect their kids. My only point is that I think that to uncritically and automatically accept any Israeli response as justified is intellectually flaccid, and the situation is far more nuanced than guys in white and black hats. I think that is the core of the Economist’s argument, and for that reason I find it to be superior to Krauthammer’s.

    Posted January 4, 2009 at 10:47 am | Permalink
  12. Peter Lupu says

    One Eyed man:

    1) My responses to your defense of the first criterion:
    (i) You give examples of Russia and China as analogous to Hamas (and Hezballah) as entities that sworn to the destruction of USA, yet negotiations taken place between them.

    Bad analogies for the following reasons:
    (a) USSR (not Russia; two different entities) and China are countries that never attacked an inch of US soil directly.
    (b) However, when USSR placed nuclear weapons in Cuba, thereby threatening US from a close distance by way of a third country, what did US do? Blockaded Cuba; was ready to wipe out militarily the nuclear weapons placed there if they were not removed; and came closest to a nuclear war with USSR. So much for this response.

    (ii) You argue that if it is true that Hamas would have extended the truce, if Israel would have removed the blockade, then it follows that Israel has not done enough to avoid war.
    (a) Did Hamas try all available political means to convince Israel to remove the blockade (assuming there was one) BEFORE they started firing missiles? No! But you did not think about this question, now, did you? You (The Economist) and others apply quite readily, “automatically and uncritically” this standard to Israel; but it does not even occur to you that the same standard should be applied to Hamas. How can The Economist and the rest of the terror-apologists miss this straightforward and simple moral reasoning? How could you even raise this objection without noticing that the very same reasoning applies to Hamas?

    (b) Hamas could have avoided the consequences of the blockade (if such existed) by not firing missiles against Israel for five or so years; they could have showed their sincere interest in the welfare of the Palestinian population by building tunnels and smuggling into Gaza food, medicine, and other needed supplies instead of thousands of missiles and weapons; they could have asked the Arab League to help them remove the blockade in order to import food and supplies by calling an emergency meeting at the UN, etc.; and Israel supplied fuel, food medicine, and so on to Gaza regularly, even when Hamas was attacking Israel with rockets.
    Have you asked yourself whether there is a nation that supplied food, medicine, etc., to a population that is governed by a group that has publicly declared its intention to exterminate it?

    (iii) You ask: “What precisely is the difference between the Palestinians and the other groups?”
    Where examples of “other groups” are: The Boston Tea Party; Anti-Nazi underground; the Indian resistance; the Algerian resistance to the French, etc.

    Response. An appallingly bad analogy:
    (a) Moral principle as well as International law distinguishes between combatants and civilians. Both principles prohibit the use of civilians as human shields by any force and the deliberate and intentional targeting of civilians regardless of the cause.
    (b) All of your examples are cases of resistance that aimed primarily at enemy soldiers; and while civilians were occasionally killed in the process, the resistance movement did not deliberately target civilians. The PLO and the subsequently all of these terrorist organizations deliberately target civilians as a means of achieving their goals. They have made an art out of this method as well as the method of hiding behind civilians and using them as human shields.
    (c) And then you backtrack: “To be clear: I am not equating the Palestinians with any of the other groups, but they all share the common characteristic of being a people living under the boot of an occupying force.”
    Now, I have no idea what is the point here. If you are not equating them, then don’t! The analogy collapses and there is nothing more to say. The fact that they all were occupied is not a justification. And regarding the historical facts, there is much more to be said (look at my response to Jack here).

    (iv) The second criterion.
    (a) You miss the point by a mile. This fact is best demonstrated by your ludicrous proposal to place sharpshooters to take out Hamas missile shooters. You mean you know of rifles that can take out a target 10, 15, 20 miles away? Wow!
    (b) My point was this: Those who cry out for proportionality never offer practical suggestions as to what proportionality means.
    One proposes: How about bombing from the air?
    Answer: Oh, no! That is not proportional because the bombs are bigger, they can have collateral damage and kill civilians and destroy property.
    One proposes: How about destroying the houses of those who fire?
    Answer: Oh, no! That might kill innocent civilians, etc.
    And then there is the wonderfully insightful proposal of using sharpshooters from 10, 15, 20 miles to kill those who fire the missiles from inside the houses of civilians or the streets in which civilians do their business.
    (c) And I ask again: Do you mean that Israel should have fired indiscriminately several thousand bombs into Gaza city in order to make it proportional?
    (d) You and the rest of the terror-apologists of course refuse to answer this question because they have no idea what they mean by proportionality: hence, the sort of ridiculous suggestions such as the sharpshooters.
    (e) In the absence of concrete proposals regarding what constitutes proportionality, one is justified to conclude that it is a code-word for “do nothing”. If you deny this, then you are obligated to do two things: (a) give concrete proposals that make sense and are feasible (and the sharpshooters example is not); (b) will be willing to accept these same proposals in all similar cases (such as the Mexican terrorist organization that lobs missiles from Mexico in to your town).
    (f) This and nothing short of this is your challenge; fluffy thinking and science-fictional examples are ways of evading the hard and difficult issues that we are debating. They are the stuff that the disaster of WWII is made out off.

    (v) Third Criterion. You say: “a reasonable chance of achieving its goals is a necessary but not sufficient condition for a just war. Nazi Germany fails the test for other reasons.”
    (a) Good. Then Israel’s goal in this war is to eliminate the threat of missiles fired from Gaza by Hamas.
    (b) Do you have an argument that this action by Israel has no “reasonable chance” of achieving this goal? What is it?

    (vi) What would I do if I were a Palestinian?
    (a) I have no idea! Do you?
    (b) But, I can tell you what I ought to have done and ought not to have done! I certainly ought to have promoted a peaceful two-state solution and joined similar minded people in this quest (which I, incidentally, did!). I ought to have objected to any deliberate killing of innocent civilians no matter what the purpose or cause (which I, incidentally, did!). I ought to have objected against radicals on both sides even if that could have endangered my well-being (which I, incidentally, did!). I ought to have tried to fight against the corruption prevalent among the Palestinian Authority so as to strengthen this organization and demonstrate to the world that the Palestinians have the integrity and ability to rule themselves without a threat to their neighbors (Israel, Jordan, Lebanon; on this see my reply to Jack). I ought not to have joined Hamas, Hezballah, the old PLO, and any organization that is willing to use its people as pawns and as human shields in order to achieve goals promoted by foreign powers (Iran, Syria, Saudi-Arabia, Libya, or whatever). I ought to have promoted and joined peaceful resistance such as the one Gandhi promoted in India; Martin Luther King promoted in US; and Mandela promoted in South Africa. Incidentally: All of these people and movements succeeded to achieve their goals by peaceful means in a relatively short time and certainly much faster than the Palestinian movements’ terror methods. Don’t you think that his is an interesting historical fact? And isn’t it interesting that none of these relatively peaceful yet successful movements were Muslim?


    Posted January 4, 2009 at 2:30 pm | Permalink
  13. Malcolm says

    I’ll let Peter and Peter slug this one out for now; it’s nice to have a rest. (Needless to say, I’m in Peter’s corner.)

    Meanwhile, reader ‘JK’, in an email, calls our attention to a pair of posts at the blog “Powerline“.

    In the first post we read:

    As Yaacov Lozowick notes, the IDF has called the neighbors of targeted sites to give them a ten-minute warning. Lozowick comments:

    Alongside the thousands of civilians whose lives have been spared there are hundreds, at least, of armed Hamas fighters, the people who put the explosives in the cellars in the first place: by warning their neighbors, Israel has warned them, too, thus giving them the chance to escape and fight another day: say, tonight, or tomorrow, when they’ll still be alive to fight the IDF troops, instead of lying dead under the rubble, as would have been possible had we hit their explosive stashes without prior warning, as any normal army would have done.

    But what about the IDF system which provides for the warnings? As a manager of complex IT systems, Lozowick reconstructs the efforts that have gone into its creation:

    First, Israel clearly has created a sophisticated GIS (geographic information system). A system that records tens of thousands of buildings, their location, and their distance from each other. Then there’s a database with the names of the tens of thousands of families who live in the buildings, and the phone number of each family. The system has the ability to identify all the families and phone numbers that could be affected by an attack on any given building. Finally, given the numbers involved, there must be a system that automatically makes concurrent phone calls to dozens of families, since everybody has to have the same ten-minute warning.

    Ah, and someone put tens of thousands of pieces of information into that database.

    Such a system costs real money, takes time to set up, and since it is obviously operating close to flawlessly, it was tested, fiddled with, tested, fiddled with, and tested again. The purpose, I remind you, is to save the lives of thousands of Palestinians who happen to have murderous neighbors.

    Lozowick concludes that the IDF is the most moral army in the world: “This drives some people bonkers, and they often go ballistic. Alas for them, and fortunately for many Palestinians, it happens to be the simple truth.”

    The care taken by the IDF to avoid civilian casualties complicates the achievements of its military objectives and increases the hazards to its soldiers, and it doesn’t do much to win Israel friends outside the United States. It is nevertheless an essential component of Israel’s strategy in dealing with its terrorist enemies.

    I reproduce the second post, made yesterday, in its entirety:

    It’s been widely rumored, if not exactly reported, that Fatah elements in Gaza have tipped off the IDF to locations where Hamas stores weapons and conducts operations there. Hamas evidently believes that such reports are true:

    Fatah officials in Ramallah told The Jerusalem Post that Hamas militiamen had been assaulting many Fatah activists since the beginning of the operation last Saturday. They said at least 75 activists were shot in the legs while others had their hands broken. …

    Meanwhile, sources close to Hamas revealed over the weekend that the movement had “executed” more than 35 Palestinians who were suspected of collaborating with Israel and were being held in various Hamas security installations.

    The sources quoted Hamas officials as saying that the decision to kill the suspected collaborators was taken out of fear that Israel might try to rescue them during a ground offensive. …

    The Hamas official said that his security forces had launched a massive “preemptive” campaign aimed at thwarting Fatah’s attempts to “spread anarchy and chaos.” He confirmed that many Fatah operatives had been shot in the legs over the past few days by Hamas “to make sure that they don’t help Israel.”

    Fahmi Za’arir, a Fatah spokesman in the West Bank, accused Hamas of “executing” a number of Fatah detainees. … Za’arir [also] said that several Fatah members who attended funerals of victims of the IAF strikes were severely beaten by Hamas militiamen who accused them of collaboration with Israel.

    The Palestinians that Hamas admits to murdering amount to around 10 percent of the total number reported killed since the Israeli offensive began. It’s reasonable to assume that these acknowledged victims of Hamas are included in the Gaza death totals that our press outlets report so breathlessly. What the real number of such victims is, of course, we have no idea.

    Of all the thousands of “humanitarians” who have demonstrated against Israel’s effort to defend itself, are there any who care that many of the deaths and grievous injuries that have occurred in Gaza were inflicted not by Israel, but in cold blood for political purposes by Hamas?

    OK, just kidding. It’s a rhetorical question, obviously.

    Posted January 4, 2009 at 5:19 pm | Permalink
  14. Peter Lupu says


    Interesting, revealing, and useful information, if it is true. However, I am not at all surprised if it were indeed true. I know Israel; I lived there. I know its spirit and how its army works. I know how the people think.

    As for the terrorist-apologizers that protest Israel’s actions but never lift a voice against the murder of ten fold Muslims and Palestinians by their so-called brothers; well, that history is well-documented and known. I have listed several such incidents in my second reply to Jack. But there are many others, including the brutality of Hamas’ takeover of Gaza two years ago. I did not see anyone demonstrations in NY, SF, London, etc. Why?

    First, because Muslims themselves by and large do not really care when Muslims kill their own kin. In their mind, that is part of the price that Muslims have to pay for some goal or other.

    Second, their sympathizers in turn, those I call terrorist-apologizers, come out only when they are called upon by the Muslim organizers. If you review the history of such demonstrations, you will find that they were never called to demonstrate when Muslims kill each other.

    Third, these organizers, their puppets, and the terrorist-apologizers are not humanitarian. They do not really care about human life. They do not have a real moral sense of their own. They are all moral Machiavellians that only protest what and when it is convenient and useful.

    Fourth, the whole concept of the value of human life is not part of their vocabulary. They only promote it because they know that it plays well in the West and that all of these gentle (and in their mind stupid) people in the West will be moved and support their cause. And sure enough they do indeed.

    It is somewhat scary how many people can be manipulated and become morally blind with the right tools. But, then again, we have already seen that with Nazi Germany. The parallels between this Islamic Fascism and Nazi Fascism are simply unbelievable. The more you dig, the more you find similarities.


    P.S. that is OK. As time permits I will carry this on my own. It is of such importance that it is time for me to say what I have been thinking over and over for years. I have been thinking about these issues for over forty years. I have been among the first (in Israel) to join the first party that promoted the concept of a “piece of land for a piece of peace” and the two-state solution. I have organized demonstrations and the like. And I have been thinking about this all throughout these years. After 9/11 I realized what is going on and began thinking about what needs to be done. Unfortunately, the time for effective action against this virus already past. I do not anticipate that the world is going to do what is necessary to stop what is coming. So now we are approaching the final episode of this sorry chapter in human history. And the price, just like in WWII, is going to be a hundred times steeper than it would have been if the West would have acted effectively and in time.


    Posted January 4, 2009 at 6:08 pm | Permalink
  15. JK says

    Mr Lupu,

    “…if it is true…” Without saying too much, open source media reports have yet to out and out, openly report that so called area denial weapons (such as the use of cluster bomblet weapons) are apparently not being employed. Yet at least. Routes out of urban centers are apparently open by which non-combatants can use, are still available.

    Two, the sorts of weapons that would normally be employed against underground targets such as tunnels, so-called “bunker busters” are apparently not being employed. Media video seems to show rather small, localized areas of destruction. Given the soil composition of the areas involved, were the normal weapons usually utilized for underground targets being used, nearby buildings (within 1000 meters of an intended target) would almost certainly be suffering far more catastophic structural damage, if not total collapse.

    Judging from the media reports, it seems to indicate that the IDF is showing considerable, if not foolhardy restraint.

    Posted January 4, 2009 at 7:00 pm | Permalink
  16. Peter:

    1a) Historical analogies are never exact, but this one is perfectly valid. Russia did not physically attack us (although they shot down an American spy plane over Russian soil) but we had a cold war for several decades, during which time Kruschev famously promised to bury us. China had the world’s largest standing army, which fought us using proxies in Korea and VietNam. Berlin was a quasi-battleground with Russia during the airlift. Both countries have nuclear weapons and could have destroyed us. They were as much our enemies as the Palestinians are to the Israelis. Both countries illustrate the principle that nations which are sworn enemies can have successful negotiations which lead to what will hopefully be a permanent peace.

    1b) The Israeli blockade of Gaza is over a year old. If you are looking for historical examples of an occupying force using economic blockades to exert its will, you will come up with examples like the Japanese occupations of Korea and China. I don’t think you want to go there. The blockade has been in place whether Hamas was lobbing rockets against Israel or not. It seems pretty evident that Israel is using the blockade against Gaza to weaken the (democratically elected) government of Hamas in hopes that it will strengthen Fatah. In your view, is Israel justified in maintaining a stranglehold over Gaza to substitute its will for that of Gazans?

    1c) As an occupying force, Israel has the obligation to allow food and medicine into Gaza. Nor are they unique in providing humanitarian aid to another country which is sworn to its destruction. South Korea gives aid to North Korea repeatedly.

    1d) I am in no way a terror apologist. There is nothing I have written which remotely apologizes for terror.

    1e) The Algerians and (especially) the Indians deliberately targeted civilians in their fight for independence. So did Irgun, in the massacres at the King David Hotel and Deir Yassin. What exactly is the difference between Hamas and Irgun? If you are strongly against Hamas (I am too – no argument there) do you feel the same way about Irgun? If not, why not?

    2a) The hypothetical example of an Israeli sharpshooter firing on a Palestinian bomb thrower is nothing more than an example of a response which is clearly within the boundaries of proportionality. Pick another example if you don’t like this one.

    2b) I never said that the Israeli reaction was disproportionate. Read the last paragraph of my post. Quite frankly, I don’t know what the proper response is. However, some responses clearly are disproportionate. Do you think that Israel would be justified in turning Gaza into a parking lot? If not, why not?

    3a) I certainly hope that Israel has a reasonable chance of success. However, since a military response has not worked in the past, I don’t see any reason why it should work now. Do you? If so, why? Do you think the military attack against Hizbollah last year was successful?

    3b) I don’t want to be put in the position of defending Arafat, Hamas, or the PLO. The Palestinians have been poorly served by their leadership (which they supported enthusiastically, so I’m blaming the people as well as the leaders). They never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity. There is no moral equivalency between Israel and the Palestinians. The starting point for any analysis of the Arab-Israeli conflict is this: if the Arabs laid down their arms, there would be peace. If the Israelis laid down their arms, they would all be dead. (I said this once to a friend of mine who is a Jordanian Christian. He didn’t know what to say to that.)

    We can all agree that the Palestinians ought not to lob bombs into Israel. However, what is Plan B? Any analysis of the situation which condemns the Palestinians for their actions but leaves them hanging is incomplete. Civil disobedience may be the best of a bad lot of options, although your facts are wrong. Read the recently published Indian Summer for a cogent argument that Gandhi’s civil disobedience delayed rather than accelerated the liberation of India from British rule. Also, you can make a strong case that Martin Luther King achieved very little until the race riots in Watts, Detroit, and Newark, which – along with the rise of black militancy – gave King credibility in the power establishment by casting him as a moderate. However, regardless of what they do, nothing will happen as long as the Israelis remain intransigent. There is certainly plenty of blame which can be ascribed to the Palestinians. However, Israel had an opportunity during the ceasefire to show some flexibility, yet squandered this opportunity by maintaining a hard line throughout the period. While there is no equivalence between the Israelis and the Palestinians, we have no leverage on Hamas but plenty of leverage on Israel. Hopefully the new administration will use it wisely.

    Peter: I would be happy to debate you, but not if you make me a straw man or insinuate that I am a terrorist sympathizer. I’m not. Life is too short to bother with ad hominem attacks.

    Posted January 4, 2009 at 8:52 pm | Permalink
  17. JK says

    As for the views of Hamas, well…

    “But Gaza committed no crime against Israel. To be sure, the opposite is quite true.”

    Posted January 4, 2009 at 9:26 pm | Permalink
  18. Peter Lupu says


    “If it is true…” expresses my cautious attitude in the absence of direct and conclusive information. This as well as other points you site are not surprising to me, however, since I am somewhat familiar with the attitude of the Israeli army towards doing their utmost to preserve life even under the most harsh conditions.

    Thanks for sharing the info.


    Posted January 4, 2009 at 10:26 pm | Permalink
  19. JK says

    I rather suspected as much given your entire missive. I did not take it too terribly. As you might expect, only open source material can, well I suspect you know that too.

    Posted January 4, 2009 at 11:17 pm | Permalink
  20. Malcolm says

    Worth repeating:

    There is no moral equivalency between Israel and the Palestinians. The starting point for any analysis of the Arab-Israeli conflict is this: if the Arabs laid down their arms, there would be peace. If the Israelis laid down their arms, they would all be dead.

    Posted January 4, 2009 at 11:45 pm | Permalink
  21. Peter Lupu says

    Malcolm, One eyed

    That which Malcolm quoted above from One Eyed latest post is worth repeating. But it also states the fundamental situation. Israel can only lose once: the Palestinians indefinitely.

    One Eyed says: “I would be happy to debate you, but not if you make me a straw man or insinuate that I am a terrorist sympathizer. I’m not. Life is too short to bother with ad hominem attacks.”

    Indeed. But there is one point worth emphasizing.
    Once the fundamental moral situation is clear and that is combined with a clear understanding of the strategy of the Islamic Fascists regarding the western world (which I have outlined in some of my previous posts), then there is no room for ambivalence or fence-sitting. I was and many time have been a critique of many things Israel did in the past. But for some time now the matter become closer and closer to the rare situation where things must be viewed with moral clarity: either the west stops the Islamic Fascists or the west perishes. Hamas, Hezballah, Iran, Syria, Al-Queda, Taliban, and all their associates are Islamic Fascists and they must be defeated. This is a matter of black and white. You can argue details here and there (as One Eyed and I were doing) explore the nuances of historical points, and so on. But the fundamental question is simple:
    (a) IS the moral situation clear? For me it is and Israel and HAmas (and the rest of this bunch) are not equivalent. Period! Is it for you?
    (b) Do you think that the West’s very existence is threatened by what I call Islamic Fascism (call it whatever you wish; we know who we are talking about)? If you do believe that, then you will reach my conclusions. If you don’t, then there we part company and have not much more to discuss on this matter.

    So sometimes in life we reach a point where we must take a clear and unambiguous stand. I reached that point. The best I can do is inform others why!


    Posted January 5, 2009 at 12:51 am | Permalink
  22. Peter Lupu says


    I know!


    Posted January 5, 2009 at 12:54 am | Permalink
  23. Peter Lupu says

    Two more historical points and a few additional considerations worth noting.

    (a) After WWI the winners imposed very harsh economic penalties against Germany. That lead to a serious deterioration of the German economy so that prior to WWII Germany had quite reasonable gripe against those who imposed the penalties. One of its excuses for the war was this economic situation. However, no one can argue that these facts justify Nazi Germany’s conduct in starting WWII and during the war.

    (b) Could one reasonably argue that USA’s reaction to the Japanese assault on Pearl Harbor was not proportional by declaring and implementing the war with Japan and Germany? Could one argue that instead of declaring and conducting a full scale war, US should have bombed some Japanese ports instead?

    There is no tit-for-tat in such matters. If a country is attacked by a neighbor, and particularly if it is attacked consistently and on a daily basis, that constitutes a declaration of war. Israel left Gaza and let it be self-managed. It was a self-regulated country for all practical purposes. Since Hamas attacked Israel on a regular basis it created a state of war between Israel and Hamas lead Gaza. Under such circumstances, Israel (and for that matter any other country) has a right both morally and under international law to take all necessary measures, including all military measures deemed necessary, to remove any and all threat emanating from Gaza. Since Hamas purposefully conducted its aggressive assault on Israel from a populated territory, they are both morally and according to international law responsible for all civilian casualties.

    These are common sense principles that govern conflicts in the world for sometime now (except when it comes to Israel). Anyone who fails to see these matters clearly has motives other than a fair and rational evaluation of the situation or their thinking got corrupted by the influence of propaganda or it is misguided plain and simple.

    In order to prove the above here is a test:
    Suppose that India attacks several populated sites in Pakistan in which those who trained and planned the attack on Mumbai hide.
    In light of the Mumbai massacre, do you think India has a right to do so?
    Will you criticize efforts by India to eliminate those who planned these terrorist attacks even if they are hiding in populated areas?

    If your answer is “No!” to both questions, then you take different stands toward morally and legally equivalent situations. The question is: Why?.
    If your answer is “Yes!” to both questions, then you consistently fail to understand what is the moral and legal right of nations under attack by terrorists that are sheltered by a neighboring country or territory. Then the question is: Why you fail to understand these matters?
    In either case you got much to think about.


    Posted January 5, 2009 at 8:06 am | Permalink
  24. the one eyed man says


    I would say that India does not have the right to attack heavily populated Pakistani areas in retaliation for the Mumbai terror. I’ll go with Alyosha Karamazov on this one. (When asked if he would allow all of the world’s suffering to end provided a small child was tortured to death, he said no. Same basic principle.)

    However, I would ask you this: back when Israel was called Palestine, the terror exerted by groups like Irgun was one of the forces which ultimately led to Israeli statehood. Was Irgun justified in killing Arab civilians? If so, how are they different from Hamas?

    Posted January 5, 2009 at 11:26 am | Permalink
  25. JK says

    Mr. Lupu, I rather suspect we agree far more than we might disagree but differing (however to what degree) your, “…Hamas attacked Israel on a regular basis it created a state of war between Israel and Hamas lead Gaza. Under such circumstances, Israel (and for that matter any other country) has a right both morally and under international law to take all necessary measures, including all military measures…”

    I believe I would substitute your word “right” for “duty.” From the perspective of “looking in from without” it would appear that Israel exercised tremendous restraint so long as the missiles that were reaching Israel proper were of rather poor capability. However, fairly recently a newer form of missile appears to have come on the scene – one that combines greater range and so-called “fin and spin” guidance – and once that development occurred, the government of Israel had the duty to act.

    As far as the concept of “proportionality of response” goes, so long as the Palestinians were lobbing, as it were, “bottle rockets” (though a bottle rocket-should it fall in close proximity to a citizen-usually results in fatality[ies]) the Israelis were very restricted in any methodology of response. However when they (Hamas) upped the ante by procuring and then began firing weapons that proportionally were far more potentially deadly, the so called “rules of engagement” also proportianally changed.

    It would appear that the surrounding Nations (three at least) recognized this and while not offically giving a green light, nevertheless did little (thus far) in the way of effectively calling a halt to Israeli countermeasures.

    And looking at this most recent Israeli incursion into Gaza dispassionately, I personally see this as not a punitive action with the intent to punish but rather an action to emplace effective countermeasures. Taking this view I admit, poses some possibilites for disagreement. However I would submit, if my above analysis is mostly valid, this ongoing action satisfies the requisite “proportionality of response.”

    Posted January 5, 2009 at 12:12 pm | Permalink
  26. Peter Lupu says


    I agree with your amendment regarding “duty”; however, from the point of view of international law the issues I think are formulated in terms of the right of a nation to defend itself against various forms of aggression.
    As for proportionality, I cannot see how this concept can be operationalized so as to guide international affairs in cases of aggression. It is I think better to provide criteria when one nation or territory’s actions constitute a declaration of war (without the wording, of course, since if you count words Hamas is at war with Israel since the inception of this terrorist organization); once this notion is defined, then there is a state of war with everything that it implies. OW situations like the one with Hamas, Hezballah, the Islamic Fascists that are sheltered by Pakistan and regularly attack India will all be ambiguous and ambiguity is exploited by these elements and the nations that shelter them. On the other hand, if matters are stated clearly then that might give a pause to the sheltering nations before they are willing to allow these groups free rein from within their territories.

    Again, I emphasize the need to reassess all international matters so as to leave as little room as possible for Islamic Fascists and their supporters to exploit well meaning nations.


    Posted January 5, 2009 at 3:11 pm | Permalink
  27. JK says

    Mr. Lupu, I suspect that we agree rather more than we disagree. Earlier you commented, “Suppose that India attacks several populated sites in Pakistan in which those who trained and planned the attack on Mumbai hide.
    In light of the Mumbai massacre, do you think India has a right to do so?
    Will you criticize efforts by India to eliminate those who planned these terrorist attacks even if they are hiding in populated areas?”

    Several months ago, I believe the initial reports began surfacing in early October ’08, several naturalized US citizens of Somali ancestry were reported by their families to be missing from The Twin Cities of Minnesota. the fear of the collective familys’ was that these young men were seeking jihadi training and perhaps subsequent involvement in actual jihadi warfare.

    Until very recently, none of these suspicions were confirmed although it was more than reasonable to believe these suspicions were quite “on target.”

    In the above examples, the elected Pakistani government exercises, at best, tenuous control over elements outside Islamabad and it’s immediate environs. Hamas, whom the Palestinian voters, fully cognizant of what their candidates proposed, regardless voted the Party into power. In the case of the US, there were indications but at the same time, more than tenuous control.

    Soley in the case of the US, would any Nation (under International Law) suffering an attack expect Washington, and the World-at-Large to acquiesce to that attacked Nation, bombing Minneapolis and St. Paul?

    India has accused “rogue elements of Pakistan’s ISI” to be “at least nominally involved” in the Mumbai attacks. But note, India has yet to accuse the elected government of Pakistan for either direct involvement, or for that matter, Pakistan’s ISI to be directly involved.

    India too, admits that certain groups such as LeT have some origins in India itself. Indeed the Indian born Dawood Ibrahim (Company D) probably had as much to do with the radicalization and indoctrination of that group as any other entities.

    It is true (from publicly announced sources) that the Mumbai attackers set out from Pakistan. (America’s FBI apparently provided Pakistani authorities with phone intercepts between the attackers and telephones apparently located in or near Karachi.) However any Indian launched attacks on Pakistani urban centers hiding a few, probably very isolated and individual terror masterminds, would not be able to even closely approximate the level of expertise or capability that Israeli forces can bring to bear.

    So again, as an outsider looking in, I must conclude that unless India can replicate it’s own version of say a Mossad or at minimum, an American DIA, CIA, whatever. India should be constrained from anything approximating an Israeli attack on a State.

    Mr. Lupu, Israel v Gaza is not, nor for the time being should be, India v Pakistan.

    Posted January 5, 2009 at 6:08 pm | Permalink
  28. Peter Lupu says


    Yes! I think we agree on judgments regarding concrete cases.
    It is however important that I make clear the general point which I am trying to emphasize illustrated by the Pakistan vs. India case.

    My central point is this. Everyone agrees both from a moral point of view and from the perspective of international law to the following: if one nation attacks another without provocation, then the attacker declared war on the nation it attacked and the latter has the right to defend itself militarily in ways it sees fit.

    But, now, what about a case where one nation harbors and shelters within its borders groups that attack another nation systematically, repeatedly, including using the territory of the first nation with their knowledge and acquiescence in order to commit terrorist attacks including killing civilians?

    This is the area of international law that the world I believe has not addressed clearly and resolved. I submit to you that it must do so and do so now. Why?

    Because unless the world resolves this problem clearly and explicitly, this method of using terrorist organizations in order to destabilize and terrorize another nation will be used by more and more nations against each other. Since it is a gray area in international law and the world has not resolved how to deal with it, it can be safely used by all nations to their ends without suffering any international penalties (e.g., Pakistan vs. India; Hamas in Gaza vs. Israel; Hezballah in Lebanon vs. Israel). The result is going to be the proliferation of dangerous terrorist organizations helped and trained by any nation that has a gripe against another and eventually they will acquire nuclear weapons and so on.

    I should mention that US has used the very same methods by way of Pakistan back when USSR took over Afghanistan; so the US may hesitate to tackle this matter. Nevertheless, I submit to you that unless the world does address it, chaos is going to come out of it.

    That was my point.


    Posted January 5, 2009 at 6:58 pm | Permalink
  29. JK says

    Ahh Mr. Lupu,

    I’m unsure whether we see things alike but I’m pretty sure we see things similarly.

    You cite: “I should mention that US has used the very same methods by way of Pakistan back when USSR took over Afghanistan…”

    I was young enough, then – well things… well I was… were it in my power, but of course it’s not. It never was. I’m pretty sure of this. (Provided Malcolm was buying-we could sit together for a beer-provided it was in the summertime of Wellfleet.)

    I’m fairly certain you have aged at the same rate I have. I am also as certain I would meet as many disagreements with others whom I would nonetheless sit and drink a beer. Well, you could drink tea or milk, so long as you’d agree that Malcolm’s buying me that expensive Dogfish wasn’t a sin, anyway Malcolm posted a post:

    WTF, the point is to work out the differences.

    Posted January 5, 2009 at 8:25 pm | Permalink
  30. Peter Lupu says


    You got a deal; Malcolm buys the beer for you and a latte for me. Then we hash things out as long as it takes. I doubt that it will take long.


    Posted January 6, 2009 at 8:16 am | Permalink
  31. Jacob says

    Moral clarity? Again, for all the arguments and casting blame here, the basic fact of human suffering in the Gaza Strip is lost.

    From a participant, Rossina Hasoun, in an Environmental Anthropology Listserv:

    To really understand the water issues in Gaza, I highly recommend the book: by Amira Hass . 2000. Drinking the Sea at Gaza: Days and Nights in a Land Under Siege. 1st ed. Holt Paperbacks. Amira Has is a left-leaning Jewish journalist for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. She lived for a year in Gaza and focused on water and living conditions there. It is an eye opening read. In the 1930’s a British White Paper warned against any more development in the coastal areas because of the potential damage to the Coastal Aquifer. After that, the city of Tel Aviv was built over the aquifer and the Palestinian refugees from the 1948 and 1967 wars resulted in the 27 km of the Gaza strip becoming the mostly densely populated place on earth with 1.5 million Palestinians trapped there. Subsequently, in addition to other suffering in Gaza, the Coastal Aquifer is collapsing with heavy salt water intrusion. The area is karst and the Palestinians have had little or no sewage treatment for almost 63 years now which means the pollution all ends up in the aquifer. It is not just the Israelis and Palestinians that are to blame-we have left these people to literally drink salt water for over 41 years. Why would we expect anything other than radicalism to grow there?

    There are larger regional issues of water and peace. To visualize the water issues, the following maps are helpful:

    Topographic map of the headwater of the Jordan River

    The Aquifers are under the Palestinian Arabs:

    This war is not going to solve a single problem, as a matter of fact Hamas was loosing popularity in Gaza recently and the war has actually increased support for them across the region. This is the definition of insanity-repeating what they did in Lebanon for Hezbollah’s status in Gaza. Hamas is not going to go away and neither will Israel. Radicalism is not going to be thwarted by violence. Bringing clean water and quality of life to Gaza would do more to disenfranchise radicals than any other possible actions. This is radical’s dream recruiting scenario-the sight of Arab/Muslim civilians being killed. My great hope for the coming year is that there will be a dramatic change in foreign policy towards the Middle East.

    I quite suspect that Hamas lobbed missiles into Israel for the sole purpose of provoking a violent response from Israel. Afterall, Hamas’s legitimacy is largely based on its vilification of Israel. That Israel forewarns Palestinians of impending strikes (the effectiveness of which might be questioned), is quite beside the point.

    It is always easier to tear down than it is to build. That is true in a very practical sense.

    Posted January 6, 2009 at 5:25 pm | Permalink
  32. Peter Lupu says


    I really have no clue how to respond to some of your comments and particularly to the whole tone of your last post. It is genuinely baffling!

    1) You say that Hamas “lobbed missiles into Israel for the sole purpose of provoking a violent response from Israel. Afterall, Hamas’s legitimacy is largely based on its vilification of Israel.”

    Yes! Suppose this is partly right. So, then, what follows from this?

    2) You say: “That Israel forewarns Palestinians of impending strikes (the effectiveness of which might be questioned), is quite beside the point.”


    Are you really saying that it is “besides the point” that Israel risks their soldiers and the effectiveness of their strikes for the purpose of trying to save the lives of civilians, which Hamas uses as human shields; purposefully placing them in areas from which they shoot; and so forth? Do you really mean to say that this fact has no moral significance? That is somehow irrelevant to one’s judgment of the conflict and nature of the two sides?

    If that is what you are saying, then I wonder to which moral code you subscribe?

    What is besides the point is how effective is the warning effort and that of course we are not in the position to know either way. However, if it saves a few civilian lives, it is more than Hamas ever did for their “beloved” Palestinians brothers and sisters.
    But…one reason it might not be effective is that Hamas operatives are on the other side of the line when the call is made holding civilians as human shields in order to gain one more photo opportunity or statistics. Of course, if such is the case, then those poor civilians are doomed courtesy to this wonderful organization you appear to defend.

    3) As for the water issue that this Rossina Hasoun notes: What is the point? That there is water shortage in Gaza? Everything is in short supply in Gaza except the missiles and other weapons, Hamas’ exclusive focus since its inception.
    You still don’t get the point!

    Hamas’ purpose is to keep Gaza’s population starved and in short supply of all kinds of necessities because that increases the likelihood of bitterness which they can then exploit in order to recruit more young Palestinians for their imbecilic martyrdom. Instead of creating a prosperous society, cooperating with Israel on various economic and industrial matters, they starve their population on purpose in order to be able to blame Israel and the West for the plight of the population.

    You might now ask:
    Well, but why should they do that? Why should they want to starve their own population in order to create bitterness so that they can recruit more youngsters to go out and kill themselves and others instead of cooperating and creating conditions in which Gaza’s population flourishes and strives?

    The answer:
    Because if Gaza (and the West Bank) flourishes, then there is a natural human tendency to join the fruits of such flourishing. And then people and youngsters will want to join enterprises that would enable them to participate in the fruit of these flourishing conditions. And then they will not want to join organizations like Hamas that can only promise death and destruction and a perpetual fight to exterminate Israel. And then their Iranian masters will not give them money, weapons, and support because then Hamas cannot be a pawn in Iran’s grand scheme for the middle-east. And then the dream of Hamases and their kin, the dream to eliminate Israel from the face of the earth is gone. That is why!

    4) And, now, here comes another line of thinking you might wish to ponder just a bit:

    Why would Israel want to accept the principle of two state solution, unilaterally exit Gaza in 2005 in order to allow the Palestinian Authority to prove they can govern Gaza while keeping the peace only to blockade the territory so as to create bitterness and so forth?

    That would make no sense.

    On the other hand: who has something to gain by a blockade of Gaza?
    Iran, of course. Why? Because Iran is not interested in a two state solution; Iran is not interested in a prosperous Gaza and West Bank; Iran is not interested in peace! Iran is interested in a one state solution: A Palestinian state which they can control in Gaza, West Bank and all of Israel.

    Why would Iran be interested in a one-state solution which they can control?
    Because then they would have the following sphere of control: Iraq (once the US leaves); The one Palestinian state; Syria; and Lebanon.
    What does this positioning give Iran?

    The first immediate advantage is to surround Jordan. Jordan is a Western ally; it is moderate and it is secular. By surrounding Jordan, they can begin instigating matters in Jordan and hoping to topple the Jordanian monarchy and install their own puppets there. Now they have a sphere of influence spanning from Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and the one Palestinian state. They will be the most influential power in the area. Together with nuclear weapons, which by then they will already posses, they can dictate anything: oil prices, economic conditions, radical Islamic influence, etc.

    Next is Egypt! But that is a different chapter.


    Posted January 6, 2009 at 9:33 pm | Permalink
  33. Jacob says

    What are you blathering on about?

    Posted January 6, 2009 at 11:16 pm | Permalink
  34. Jacob says

    I was not particularly clear when I said that whether or not Israel informs the targets of impending strikes is besides the point. What was meant was that whether Israel does or not makes little difference in the way that Israel’s strikes are seen by Palestinians and the world in general. Why should that be? If indeed agents of Hamas disallow the people to clear out of the targeted areas, then civilian casualties will indeed occur, if Israel strikes. And it is the images of those dead and wounded that people see, not some midnight call from Israel. For that matter, if Israel knows that people aren’t going to clear out, or are disallowed from doing so, then Israel is still culpable for those casualties. In fact, giving such warning might be considered the moral equivalent of a disclaimer: we are not responsible for any deaths that may occur as the result of any actions we take.

    I’d rather see Israel do nothing but offer assistance to the Palestinians in Gaza in response to the atrocities committed by Hamas. Lob sacks of flour over the wall, not bombs. Let’s be clear, it is not clear to me that the hardliners in Israel benefit from a peaceful and prosperous Palestinian people either.

    Posted January 6, 2009 at 11:27 pm | Permalink
  35. Malcolm says

    Meanwhile, Natan Scharansky, who knows a thing or two about brutal repression, weighs in:

    Israel’s assault on Hamas is just the latest in a long chain of military clashes, the scripts of which are always the same. On one side, there is the Israeli army. Technologically and militarily superior, its soldiers are motivated by a powerful commitment to their country’s security. On the other, there are Palestinian terrorists whose aim is to kill as many innocent Israelis as possible by unleashing missiles and suicide bombers on civilian centers. Then, when Israel retaliates, they appeal to the world with gruesome images of Palestinian suffering as part of a global campaign to prevent Israel from defending itself.

    Sooner or later, the tactics of the Palestinian terrorists work. The voices of protest in response to Palestinian suffering grow louder until international pressure stays Israel’s hand.

    Inevitably, some of these protests come from Israelis. Last week, before the tanks had begun rolling into Gaza, the journalist Tom Segev put it bluntly in a column he wrote in Ha’aretz. “A child in Sderot is the same as a child in Gaza,” he wrote, “and anyone who harms either is evil.”

    Mr. Segev is correct when he says that the suffering of children on either side is intolerable — this is why the pictures from Gaza make us shudder. But he is wrong to draw a moral equivalence between the two sides. In this, he lends a hand to the Palestinians’ most shameful military tactic: pimping the suffering of their civilians as a weapon of war.

    Palestinian children are dying today not because of Israeli brutality, but because their own leaders have chosen to use their children as human shields, and their pain as a battering ram against Western sensibilities.

    Can anyone really imagine that if the Israelis threw sacks of flour over the wall, Hamas would abandon their insane obsession with Israel’s destruction?

    Posted January 7, 2009 at 12:16 am | Permalink
  36. Peter Lupu says


    “I was not particularly clear when I said that whether or not Israel informs the targets of impending strikes is besides the point.”

    And you are not particularly clear or principled about the next clarification you offer for that obscure comment:

    “What was meant was that whether Israel does or not makes little difference in the way that Israel’s strikes are seen by Palestinians and the world in general.”

    Then so much the worse for the Palestinians’ perception of things and indeed the world in general. Anyone who ignores or attempts to minimize (like you do) an attempt by an army to warn civilians of the other side of an impending attack in the context of a war fails to have a clear moral sense. It is for this reason that it is so important to highlight these matters, point them out, and emphasize them repeatedly so that more and more people have the opportunity to know which side cares about the lives of civilians and which sides does not.

    Thus far, you have failed to answer any of my points, questions, or theses. Instead you keep changing the subject to suit a point of view that at the minimum expresses sympathy toward a terrorist and murderous organization that cares nothing about Palestinians or for that matter for the lives of any human being; that promotes a version of Islam that views human life as worthless; and that answers only to a ruthless Iranian regime that intends to extend its hegemony as pointed out in my last post.

    In sum, you are not interested in seriously debating my points or exploring what really is going on. You are interested only in finding something, anything, wrong with Israel, no matter what the facts say. I guess we all have certain emotionally fixed points which we will defend come what may. This is yours. I hope you are happy with it.


    Posted January 7, 2009 at 12:30 am | Permalink
  37. Jacob says

    With regard to Israel warning civilians, I was principally talking about effect, not morality, except to note that if Israel still fires missiles knowing that they will kill innocents, then Israel should is culpable for their deaths. This is not the same thing as justifying or defending Hamas. It is disingenuous of you, to say the absolute least, to claim that I do. Myopic responses like these can be found on any fundie blog, and they don’t interest me.

    This is why I don’t like to (and shouldn’t) get involved in political discussions on the net. They usually devolve into dribbling ad hominem. I’m guilty as any other, when the blood gets boiling. But having a conversation with you is like having someone screaming bloody murder an inch away from one’s nose. No thanks. I’ll stick to Malcolm’s more philosophical posts.

    Posted January 7, 2009 at 2:03 am | Permalink
  38. Jacob says

    Can anyone really imagine that if the Israelis threw sacks of flour over the wall, Hamas would abandon their insane obsession with Israel’s destruction?

    Malcolm, I wouldn’t expect Hamas to, no, unless they thought that not doing so would lose them power. Funny how the drive for self-preservation can transform an organization. Look at all the free-market advocate companies asking for government handouts and take-overs!

    What I do expect is that doing so could conceivably undermine the popular support of Hamas. Hamas may have no interest in the welfare of the Palestinian people in general, but the Palestinian people do. Bread talks. Lobbing missiles though, even with fair warning, only plays into the hands of Hamas.

    One way to look at this is: if Israel’s strategy really is the right one, why hasn’t it worked?

    Posted January 7, 2009 at 2:11 am | Permalink
  39. Malcolm says

    What I do expect is that doing so could conceivably undermine the popular support of Hamas. Hamas may have no interest in the welfare of the Palestinian people in general, but the Palestinian people do. Bread talks. Lobbing missiles though, even with fair warning, only plays into the hands of Hamas.

    One way to look at this is: if Israel’s strategy really is the right one, why hasn’t it worked?

    It should be clear to all that Israel has always been willing to meet peace with peace; if the people of Gaza are really more interested in a quiet and productive life than in hatred of Israel they have already had ample reason, for many years now, not to back Hamas.

    When you ask “why hasn’t it worked”, the answer is that nothing, it seems, can work to soften such a monomaniacal obsession. Israel is not going away. Hamas, and the people they represent, persist in refusing, quite irrationally, to accept this plain and incontrovertible fact, and will not end the bloodshed until Israel is destroyed. Israel, then, has no realistic alternative but to fight back. Though the history is of course complex — and certainly Israel is not innocent of some indefensible excesses — this practical reality is very simple.

    Posted January 7, 2009 at 10:38 am | Permalink
  40. bob koepp says

    “It should be clear to all that Israel has always been willing to meet peace with peace; if the people of Gaza are really more interested in a quiet and productive life than in hatred of Israel they have already had ample reason, for many years now, not to back Hamas.

    When you ask “why hasn’t it worked”, the answer is that nothing, it seems, can work to soften such a monomaniacal obsession.”

    This is why I think that what is needed — desperately — is a Palestinian version of Gandhi.

    Posted January 7, 2009 at 12:47 pm | Permalink
  41. Malcolm says

    Indeed that would be most welcome, Bob. Is such a thing possible?

    Posted January 7, 2009 at 12:57 pm | Permalink
  42. bob koepp says

    Well, I live on hope — but realistically, I suppose Hamas would assassinate such a one as quickly as possible.

    Posted January 7, 2009 at 1:02 pm | Permalink
  43. JK says


    Of course this doesn’t necessarily constitute “bags of flour” necessarily – however:

    Electricity – imports:
    90,000 kWh; note – from Israeli Electric Company (2005)
    $301 million f.o.b.; (includes West Bank) (2005)
    Exports – commodities:
    citrus, flowers, textiles
    Exports – partners:
    Israel, Egypt, West Bank (2006)
    $2.44 billion c.i.f.; (includes West Bank) (2005)
    Imports – commodities:
    food, consumer goods, construction materials
    Imports – partners:
    Israel, Egypt, West Bank (2006)

    Of course ongoing military operations tend to disrupt imports and exports.

    Posted January 7, 2009 at 4:11 pm | Permalink
  44. Jacob says

    I would love a Gandhi. I don’t know if contemporary currents of Islam are very conducive to it. However, I will note that Rossina Hassoun writes:

    The Palestinians do have a history of the use of non-violent resistance ( most of it unknown in the West) including the longest commercial strike in history to that date in 1936 against the British ( the British put it down violently hanging thousands of Palestinian men in the village squares and there was, in the end, a violent response by the Palestinians-but it started peacefully). The Israelis deported Mubarrak Awad in 1989 who was the leading non-violent advocate at that time and who had started the Palestine Center for Non-Violence in Jerusalem in 1985. His big crime was that he was translating Ghandi’s writing and Muslim South Asian Ghandi-ist writing into Arabic and they used a technicality in his citizenship status to deport him.

    The Christians of Palestine have long used non-violence through organizations like Sabeel- using liberation theology. The city of Beit Sahour, a Christian city near Bethlehem, participated in a very long non-violent tax revolt. They refused to pay taxes to Israel that did not provide services for their city and that funded occupation. At one point, the Israelis confiscated all the furniture and belongings of every family in Beit Sahour. Things like this don’t make the news in the US-only when Palestinians resort to violence are they heard. There is so much more about the Arab Israeli conflict that Americans do not know.

    Make of this what you will.

    Posted January 7, 2009 at 11:43 pm | Permalink
  45. JK says

    Jacob I find myself exceedingly heartened that the Israelis persuaded themselves to agree to the Hamas suggestion that they (the Israelis) observe a daily three hour cessation of hostilities so that the Gazans might therefore replenish their flour supplies.

    Of course during today’s ceasefire only Palestinian juvenile delinquents were responsible for firing rockets into Israeli territory. Again of course, Hamas did all in it’s power to discourage those miscreants from disrupting Israeli shipments of foodstuffs and medical supplies into Gaza just like Hitler admonished Goebbels to suspend London aerial bombardment way back then. Of course again, Hamas should bear as little responsibility as did Brother Adolph.

    It does surprise me that the damnable Zionists would even consider following the Hitleresque practice of declaring and observing a daily three hour cease-fire in order to provide expendable, marketable, nominally “civilian population” even a questionable requirement given that (apparently) missiles continue to fall while the Israeli trucks continue to deliver foodstuffs, bandages and toilet paper.

    What truly surprises me is that Israeli supplied electricity continues to be delivered to Gazan areas from which missiles directed toward Israel seems not to occur with any frequency.

    Were it me, if even one missile was fired at either me or someone I cared about – (and were it in my power) – I’d cut off the supplies of D-Cells that power Mag-Lights. As a matter of fact, I wouldn’t even agree to observe the daily three-hour cessation of hostilities that Hamas suggested.

    Heck. I might even abandon precision bombing for Dresden-like bombing.

    “Po po tweet?”

    Posted January 8, 2009 at 12:53 am | Permalink

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