Tuesday, January 06, 2009

The Right to Self Defense

Updated below, Wednesday morning.

So, let me ask you this. If a man is standing on my neck and I am hitting him on the kneecap with my fist. He takes out a gun and shoots me in the head. Is his action with the gun properly defined as “defending himself” when he could have stopped me by simply not standing on my neck?

“Israel has the right to defend itself.” Says President Bush regarding the destruction that that nation is raining down upon Gaza, just as he said earlier when it rained down similar destruction upon Lebanon.

There are no good guys here, and it bothers me that our media and our leadership keeps referring to the Israeli acts as “self defense.” The invasion of a neighboring country and the destruction of its infrastructure is not self defense. The retaliation against insurgents, people who are fighting against the illegal military occupation of their land captured in war and occupied in defiance of United Nations and international laws and conventions, is not self defense.

The firing of unguided rockets by Hamas into Israel is a war crime, in that those weapons are not specifically targeted at military installations and are therefor capable of killing noncombatants. But bear in mind that Israel is blockading Gaza, depriving the entire population of food, energy, medical supplies and other necessities of life. When that fails to unseat a democratically elected government, Israel resorts to invasion and destruction. Blockade and destruction of infrastructure are known as “collective punishment” and that too is a war crime. The fact that what you are doing is being done in response to a criminal action does not make it non-criminal.

Otherwise known as, “Two wrongs do not make a right.”

Hamas is not the “good guys.” The Palestinians are not the “good guys.” The Israelis are not the “good guys.” All of this destruction and death accomplishes nothing other than an outlet for hatred and fear. And we keep getting sucked into it by an irrational degree of unreserved support of a nation that, with our full support, has turned into an international gang of thugs.

There probably is no solution, at least none that we can provide. The least we could do though, it seems, to me, is avoid telling them not to stop killing each other.

Update: Wednesday, 7:30am
From The Guardian, admittedly not a bastion of objectivity, but...
I write as someone who served loyally in the Israeli army in the mid-1960s and who has never questioned the legitimacy of the state of Israel within its pre-1967 borders. What I utterly reject is the Zionist colonial project beyond the Green Line. The Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the aftermath of the June 1967 war had very little to do with security and everything to do with territorial expansionism. The aim was to establish Greater Israel through permanent political, economic and military control over the Palestinian territories. And the result has been one of the most prolonged and brutal military occupations of modern times.

The writer is Avi Shlaim, an Israeli. Read the whole thing, but be prepared for a degree of discomfort.


  1. Anonymous4:36 PM

    I agree, they are both wrong. And we (the UISA) can't provide or impose one, but maybe help them work together. But they have to want to. And that is the hard part.

    Blame the British, they messed it up back after WW1

  2. Anonymous12:13 PM

    I do blame the Brits, for promising the same piece of property to three different groups; then screwing them all and keeping it for themselves. But I also blame that notorious white-supremacist and colonialist adventurer, Woodrow Wilson, for screwing them all yet again at Versailles.
    But let's be honest; from the Assyrians 3,000 years ago to the Ottomans less than a hundred years ago, the only time that the inhabitants of the area have gotten along very well with each other was when a foreign power was suppressing them all. Usually brutally, evoking a variation on old theme: "the enemy of my enemy is my friend".