Saturday, January 24, 2009

Israel, Gaza, and ethics

I haven't written at all here about the recent war between Israel and Gaza. The response by liberal Americans (of which I am one) and of the international community has been one of horror. In particular, on Facebook, which I consider to be a fairly good indicator of what people are thinking (well, maybe just people like me), two "friends" who are Jewish men, neither of whom I would characterize as particularly religious but who identify in some way as Jewish, were posting regularly about the horror they felt about the situation of the Palestinians. It was sad for me to see these posts, not because I didn't understand how they felt, but because I felt they weren't seeing the whole story. I actually responded to one of the posts at one point, trying to give some of the background, some context, and somehow, that comment wasn't heard.

Then the war ended as quickly as it began, and we've been hearing less about it (on Facebook and other places). The new Obama administration is more on peoples' minds and in the news.

But today, at shul, the Rabbi chose to talk about the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and their code of values. Very interesting choice of topic. He wanted us to know, he said, the grounding, the basis for the actions of the IDF, before we could actually think about how they responded in this particular situation. So he was giving us some background. (Interesting approach!) Here is a link to some of what he presented to us.

I think where he is going with this is: Hamas doesn't have a code of values (although I did find this online). Or rather, their value is: destroy Israel at all costs. So there isn't a basic framework of trying to fight ethically (whatever that means), trying to preserve life during war (if that is really possible). I suppose you could say: what does it matter that there is an ethical framework to the IDF? The end is the same. Lots of people die. Who cares about the framework? But I think his point will be: we do care. And it does matter.



Anonymous said...

Hamas terrorists choose not to expose themselves by firing these weapons from open areas. They construct launch pads in densely populated regions in Gaza, using the local Palestinian population as a shield because they do not care if their fellow Palestinians are killed by their own misfiring rockets (as frequently occurs) or by retaliatory strikes by Israel. The leaders of Hamas, like their ideological soul mates in Hezbollah, actually prefer that Israel hits back because they know that if civilians inadvertently are casualties, the international community will blame the Israelis.

Anonymous said...

Article 51 of the United Nations Charter reserves to every nation the right to engage in self-defense against armed attacks. As Professor Alan Dershowitz has also noted, "The claim that Israel has violated the principle of proportionality -- by killing more Hamas terrorists than the number of Israeli civilians killed by Hamas rockets -- is absurd. First, there is no legal equivalence between the deliberate killing of innocent civilians and the deliberate killings of Hamas combatants. Under the laws of war, any number of combatants can be killed to prevent the killing of even one innocent civilian. Second, proportionality is not measured by the number of civilians actually killed, but rather by the risk posed. This is illustrated by what happened on Tuesday (December 30, 2008), when a Hamas rocket hit a kindergarten in Beer Sheva, though no students were there at the time. Under international law, Israel is not required to allow Hamas to play Russian roulette with its children's lives."

Anonymous said...

Hamas Principles
The principles of the Hamas are stated in their Covenant or Charter, given in full below. Following are highlights.

"Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it." (The Martyr, Imam Hassan al-Banna, of blessed memory).

"The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf consecrated for future Muslim generations until Judgement Day. It, or any part of it, should not be squandered: it, or any part of it, should not be given up. "

"There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors."

"After Palestine, the Zionists aspire to expand from the Nile to the Euphrates. When they will have digested the region they overtook, they will aspire to further expansion, and so on. Their plan is embodied in the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion", and their present conduct is the best proof of what we are saying."

Posted by:

Anonymous said...

No innocent Palestinians would be in any danger if the Palestinian Authority took steps to stop terrorism or if the international community, especially the Arab world, had pressured Hamas to stop attacking Israel.

No innocent Palestinians would be in danger if Hamas terrorists did not deliberately hide among them. If the peace-seeking Palestinians prevented the terrorists from living in their midst, Israel would have no reason to come to their neighborhoods.

It is a tragedy whenever innocent lives are lost, and Israelis have consistently expressed their sadness over Arab casualties. By contrast, when innocent Israelis are murdered by terrorists, Hamas holds rallies to celebrate the murders

Anonymous said...

What would we do if terrorists fired thousands of rockets targeting U.S. cities? After 9/11, we saw that we took the same type of action as Israel by launching military strikes against the terrorists. U.S. forces used overwhelming force and though they never targeted civilians, some were inadvertently killed. Americans believe in Colin Powell's doctrine, which holds that "America should enter fights with every bit of force available, or not at all."

Anonymous said...

Make no mistake: if it were any other country to be attacked, no one would deny that country the right to defend itself. But since that country is Israel it’s an entirely different matter. Anti-Semitism is alive and well. Pakistan was a country carved out of British India, and invented for Muslims; Greece was a country carved out of the Ottoman Empire invented for ethnic Greeks; Belgium was a country carved out of the Netherlands and invented for French speaking Catholics. The idea that Pakistan, or Greece, or Belgium, have no right to exist, and that Indian, or Turkish, or Dutch terrorists have the right to claim their land, is beyond outrageous and you will find no one supporting it in the West. But the suggestion that Israel — a country carved out of a British protectorate inside what used to be the Ottoman Empire and created for Jews — is not fully legitimate and was illegally imposed upon Arabs, that idea enjoys wide sympathy in the West

Anonymous said...

I never understood why there wasn't international media attention when rockets were launched on Sderot through these 8 years. Why there weren't big headlines when a little girl sheltering her brother died? If that had happened to Palestinians, there would have been world uproar. I've often read about the atrocities of the Taliban (today's Globe) or Al Qaeda but rarely (ever?) about Hamas' or Hezbollah's atrocities.

nachtwache said...

I'm a bit late reading this. I realize it seems like many westerners are blaming Israel. The media at least often condemns Israel while showing the damages in Gaza, the theatrics of the people, it's even been shown how injuries are staged for the cameras.
I'm prejudiced the other way, I'm pro Israel. I'm sure my cousins, who's dad was Jewish, had a big influence on me, but I read and inform myself about events. I read Brigitte Gabriel's story, that confirmed my views.
Your first commenter is absolutely right. So not all of us are blind.