In search of moral clarity
Dan Kosky
Published: 11.01.09, 18:18
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15 Talkbacks for this article
1. simple body count; 284 killed kids out of 750,000
observer   (01.11.09)
2. IDF war against Hamas highly favors Israel from moral stance
Daniel ,   Los Angeles, USA   (01.11.09)
To claim otherwise marginalizes the claimant, making him/her appear as a terrorist sympathizer.
3. NGOs must be partisan
US Citizen ,   Jerusalem   (01.11.09)
For the past 1.5 years NGOs have had to be partisan in order to operate in GAZA... it used to be a kind of self-selection, now it is enforced by Hamas.
4. Errrr....
Peter ,   Jerusalem   (01.11.09)
"Pinpoint strikes have minimized civilian casualties..." No doubt that IDF do not try to kill civilians. This makes them better than Hamas. But also little doubt that they have minimised IDF casualties by relying on artillery and aerial counter-fire. This has caused high casualties. It is not common practice among the armies of developed nations (e.g. military casualties among coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan would be a lot lower if they responded to every contact with overwhelming counter fire. They don't.) "..proportionality is unconnected to a simple body count.." Proportionality is not directly connected to a relative body count. But is not unconnected either. It is one measure by which one can judge proportionality. So, for example, should you respond to shooting of one of your nationals by the killing of one million of your enemy that would be normally considered to be de facto disproportionate. We are, of course, not in such territory here but it's disingenuous to suggest numbers are irrelevant. "...the untenable allegation that Israel still occupies Gaza.." Again, slightly unfair to single out the NGOs on this one. It remains the official policy of the international community including the US, UN and EU that Gaza is occupied. The reasoning is that Gaza remains dependent to such a great degree, because historically it has been occupied, on Israel. The Israeli high court, of course, rejected this but did still find that Israel retained some legal responsiblities for the people of Gaza. I understand why Israelis would vigorously dispute this but it's the mainstream of current international legal opinion. "Israeli NGO B’tselem erase this context by insisting that “all parties” must “prevent the harming of civilians.” The illusion is created that both sides are equally bloodthirsty, equally guilty." That's not how I read it, to be honest. It is pretty clear that Hamas targets civilians deliberatly, the IDF does not. But in terms of the results on the ground, it is equally true that during this conflict Hamas has killed four Israeli civilians and Israel has killed probably in excess of four hundred. It would be bizarre if B'Tselem did not refer to the obligations on both sides to avoid civilian casualties. Where I think that those critical of NGOs (though more the smaller NGOs like HRW and, in particular, the specifically pro-Palestinian NGOs, rather than the bigger ones like Amnesty) have a point is that too many in the international community give only token criticism to Hamas. It often looks like an after-thought. Hamas have consistently blocked any moves towards peace - however small and equivocal. They fought Oslo. They launched the second intifada. They fired rockets after the Gaza withdrawal. In none of those scenarios was Israel entirely blameless. But Hamas have undoubtedly caused consistent and grave damage to ordinary Palestinians (who, yes, then voted them in). Hamas are murderous thugs. Israel is right and has every right to want to get rid of them. The problem is that this war - and the way it has been conducted - is likely to do the exact opposite. It has failed to defeat Hamas militarily, increased their popularity in the region, and marginalised the few relatively sane voices within Hamas. A better strategic move would have been to capitalise on the ceasefire in June (which was largely observed by Hamas), open up the borders and try to restore. It would have been brave, long-term and it might not have worked. But it would have been the right thing for a great nation like Israel to have done and it could hardly have been less successful than the route Israel has gone down instead.
5. Punitive measures required.
Terry ,   Eilat, Israel   (01.11.09)
These NGO's should not be allowed to function unhindered. Measures should be taken to limit their ability to function , for example, deportation of non-Israeli personnel, refusal of entry visas, investigation of finances, revocation of tax-exempt status, punitive fines for misinformation, etc.
6. clarity
mohson   (01.11.09)
You want clarity, I'll give you clarityZ: 1) Erdogan and his polished terror government can go to hell.Ask the kurds and armenians 2) Jordan protests-big deal 3) rafah-take over philadelphia and dig a canal. If attacked, raze the area north of it to the ground. Put all the philadelphia land under water. 4) Olmert got israel into this problem in the first place. He is an absolute shmuck and the US abstention of the UN resolution is proof of it. His dithering and hesitation confirms Dror's opinion is that he is a failed leader which we already know. He should shut up. 5) IDF should enter hospitals and enemy embassies in cognito where hamas is hiding out and start an insurrection by appearing as another gaza faction. Take out haniyeh and zohar 6) No un nothing unless shalit will be released.
7. "Innocent" Civilians Die In War
Reuven Brauner ,   Raanana, Israel   (01.12.09)
That is a reality. It is a fact. There is nothing that anyone can do anything about that. It is not that anyone wants that, but there is nothing that can ever be done to prevent that entirely. Anyone who fails to understand this simple point is fooling himself. No surgeon can perform a bloodless operation. No carpenter can saw wood without creating sawdust. No author can write a book without making a mistake. That's the way life is. Live with it.
8. "Pinpoint strikes" - waht a mockery!
Adam Keller ,   Holon, Israel   (01.12.09)
"Pinpoint strikes have minimized civilian casualties so far". Only about five hundred civilians killed so far, half of them children (i.e., nearly a hundred times the number of Israeli civilains killed in eight years of missiles lobbed at Israeli cities...) Without "restraint", how many children would have been killed? Ten thousand? A hundred thousand? Perhaps the excellent work done by the NGO's has saved at least some children from our army's "pinpoint" attacks. All power to them!
9. #4 Peter
Marty ,   USA   (01.12.09)
Actually, you are wrong. Legally, the doctrine of proportional force is NOT at all linked to body count. Proportionality is linked to the objective to be obtained by the use of force by the defending party. A simple example should suffice: Assume a father, mother and child are walking down the street. They are set upon by 5 masked, armed attackers with handguns who open fire and kill the child. The father happens to have a machine gun. The doctrine of proportionality gives the father the right to kill all 5 of the attackers because the objective of the use of force is to defend his family. The father is NOT limited to killing only 1 of the attackers because of some bogus requirement to keep the body count even. The father is also NOT restrained from using the machine gun just because it is a bigger weapon than the handguns of the attackers. It makes no difference whether the number of attackers is 5, 10, 20, 30, 50, 100 or even 1 million, The defender has the right under the doctrine of proportional force to kill all of the attackers, regardless of their numbers, since the objective is to protect his family. In your example, therefore, the question does not turn on the 1 million number but, rather whether the 1 million were involved in perpetrating the attack. You are also wrong on the US view of the status of Gaza. After the 2005 withdrawal, the U. S. position was that Gaza was no longer occupied. The mere fact that Gaza would have to purchase electricity and maintain good trade relations with Israel to avoid becoming the failed state that it is does not make them "occupied." Otherwise, we would have to consider the EU occupied by Russia because Russia controls the spigot to their natural gas as was so clearly demonstrated this week.
10. #7 but sometimes military do die in war,
observer   (01.12.09)
that is not the case in Gaza.
11. sam@TuscanyTours.com
Sam Hilt ,   United States   (01.12.09)
NGOs like Amnesty International and HRW have long ago "betrayed the very moral principles that they seek to defend." The issue now is how to fight back. One long-term objective should be to create alternative NGOs who are not complicit in aiding the terror groups. A near-term strategy should be massive, high-profile defamation lawsuits that challenge the fraudulent impartiality of the NGOs and highlight their rampant bias. And force them to be more careful to avoid further legal challenge. (The name Dershowitz comes to mind...)
12. Here Comes The Messiah
Dan ,   USA   (01.12.09)
The only talk of moral clarity comes from those who hate Israel and Jews and this includes many liberal American Jews. However they speak not a word as Israel is targeted with rockets for years prior to taking action. The real problem exists with Israel's leadership who will snatch defeat from the jaws of victory as pressure mounts from the Arab world plus those Euorpean countries with large Muslim populations and an Obama led U.S., since Obama believes by shear force of his messianic personality he can change despots to civilized human beings.
13. I gave up on line 2 - "similar to Lebanon".
redbourn ,   tel aviv   (01.13.09)
There are NO similarities to the so called Lebanon war which with Peretz and Halutz was a disaster. Israel now has a well oiled 'mean machine'. What 'highly motivated enemy' is Kosky talking about? Haniyeh just broadcast a message saying 'we're on our knees save us please' and the only thing stopping them from a complete unconditional surrender is Iran saying that it will cut of funding to Hamas if they raise the white flag. Sharon chose Halutz to be a yes man and never intended him to make decisions. I wish Ynet would pay for jounalists instead of simply taking free submissions. Mike
14. there's not much point from a warfare view in being prissy
Yanni   (01.13.09)
the more moral and clean-handed the idf tries to be, the more brutal and nazi-like the news reports and commentaries in the international press. that is because it is precisely the moral aspect of Israel which brings out their antisemitism. It would have probably been much more humane (and cheaper) to just bomb the hell out of 'Aza for 3 days and make them unconditionally surrender. From a diplomatic point of view, all this refinement has made not one whit of difference.
15. Moral clarity??
Ben ,   Monroe USA   (01.14.09)
Russia entered Berlin in the last days of WWII and murdered every Nazi the troops laid their hands on. Women, children, little old men made no difference. Britain gained some revenge for the blitz which murdered thousands of Brits by indiscriminate bombing by giving Germany a dose of her medicine fire bombing Dresden. Japan which murdered hundreds of thousand Chinese beginning in 1936; the rape of Nanking still is fresh in the gut of the Chinese. The US which used two a-bombs to destroy over one hundred thousand civilians and let us not overlook the 6 million Jews who murdered because they were Jews. Let us not omit the Arabs who were in cahoots with the Nazis helping to murder Jews. The USA which had the opportunity to bomb certain of the death camps found other things more important . No, moral clarity is a meaningless term in times of war. The only thing necessary is destroy your enemy before he destroys you. In this instance, the enemy Hamas swore to destroy Israel. Israel has the right and I hope the ability to destroy Hamas and all those who support her.
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