Right now, Israel is sending ground forces into Gaza in an attempt to root out Hamas. It probably won’t—Hamas is fairly popular in Palestine, and any Israeli collateral damage will serve as a Hamas recruiting tool. (Hamas deserves the blame for the collateral damage—they deliberately position key military centers near civilians, but I doubt that many Palestinians will bother to work that out). But it could cripple Hamas’ guerrilla capabilities, and will ensure that Hamas and Hezbollah realize that they cannot attack Israel without some very unpleasant reprisals. So it’s a good plan.
Except in the minds of most liberals. For some inexplicable reason, nearly all of the Left is solidly opposed to any attempt by Israel to defend itself. The Left doesn’t like war, but this is ridiculous. It’s hard to find another conflict with such black and white, good versus evil opponents. Yet liberals almost universally oppose Israel’s war.
First, it is worth pointing out that Israel rightfully belongs to the Israelis. Palestine was part of the Ottoman Empire; when it broke up, Great Britain took over. In 1922, the League of Nations gave Britain a mandate to “secure the establishment of the Jewish national home” in Palestine. Securing the establishment took a while, what with conflicts with Arab natives of Palestine, and Israel was not created until 1948 with the expiration of the British Mandate. But the land comprising Israel was the property of the Ottomans, then the British—it is not as if conniving Jews stole the land from innocent indigenous Arabs.
So if Israel has a right to exist, and is a sovereign country, why isn’t its offensive against Hamas acceptable due to its right to defend itself? Because Israel’s response to savage, unjustified Palestinian terrorism is “disproportionate.”
“Disproportionate,” in this context, can mean anything. It isn’t possible to set a value on human life, and calculating the number of Palestinians Israelis are allowed to kill in retaliation for Islamic terrorism is just stupid. But that doesn’t stop liberals from trying—they reason that since about 500 residents of Gaza have died in the fighting, then Israel (which has lost a measly nine people to Hamas) is acting inappropriately.
Okay, 500 to 9 does look a bit uneven. But when one considers that Hamas’ kills are due to deliberate targeting of civilians, and that it would be much higher (Hamas has fired over 500 rockets into Israel over the last two years) if Hamas wasn’t so bad at fighting, and that all of Israel’s collateral damage is unintentional and it attacks only military targets, that number doesn’t look quite so lopsided.
And when one considers that Hamas positions military targets among civilians, Israel’s response starts to look downright restrained. Some collateral damage is inevitable in a war, no matter how well planned. Hamas’ human shield strategy is designed to maximize civilian deaths—for every military base hit, Hamas gets a PR coup. In order to protect itself, Israel must kill innocent civilians put in its way by Hamas. But the moral responsibly for those deaths should go to Hamas, not Israel.
What is really disproportionate is the response to Israel’s war against terror. According to Wikipedia (which may not be totally accurate but is probably in the right ballpark) over 4200 Palestinians were killed during the Palestinian-Israeli conflict from 2000 to 2006. Over seven thousand people died last year in a civil war in Somalia no one cares about.
Even if we assume that Israel’s strikes against Hamas represents a totally unjustifiable, wholly disproportionate response to years of attacks, aren’t there more pressing issues in the world? In addition to Somalia’s neglected civil war, there are the massacres in Darfur, China’s routine human rights abuses, and the rampant caste discrimination in India, all of which touch far more innocent people than the squabbles over the Holy Land ever could. Worrying about Israel’s use of force is unnecessary (since Israel is justified in attacking Palestine), and stupid, since there are so many other places that could actually use the concern.