One of our loonier commenters referred yesterday to the “locally predominant anti-Israel consensus” at Crooked Timber. Odd that. One of our contributors strongly identifies with Israel and I spoke up last year against the proposed academic boycott by UK academics. (One unexpected consequence of which was that I was absolutely deluged for a while by emails from pro-Israel lobby associations, keen to share with me their view of the latest Palestinian outrages. No wonder bloggers of a certain disposition don’t struggle to find material to relay.) We don’t have any kind of a party line on Israel at CT, but my guess is that most of us share the view that many sensible Israelis have. Namely that an eventual solution will involve two states with something like the 1967 borders, and that it would be better if that came about sooner and with less bloodshed rather than later and with more.
All of which is a preamble to saying that the current actions of the Israeli government , in bombing facilities like Beirut Airport and a power station in Gaza, in deliberately making civilians suffer (and in many cases causing their deaths) are illegal and disproportionate, words that don’t do justice to the bloody reality. Collective punishment and reprisal are not permissible actions, but that is plainly what is going on here. Lebanese people are being killed as a matter of policy in order to put pressure on the Lebanese government. There is also the matter of the Israeli government continually referring to actions against its soldiers as “terrorist”. At other times they have made a big deal out of the unwillingness of news organizations to use the term, but when they openly seek to gain the rhetorical benefits of the word in relation to actions that are plainly military, though irregular, they illustrate why the BBC and others operate the policy that they do.
Saying this is not to offer apologetics for Hamas or Hezbollah. Seizing soldiers as prisoners of war may not be illegal, but seizing anyone to use them as a hostage plainly is. And there seems to be evidence that Hezbollah’s actions are part of a power play by a Syrian government that once again sees Lebanon and Lebanese civilians as expendable pawns. But what Israel is doing in Lebanon and Gaza at the moment is wrong, and that needs to be said.
UPDATE: See Jonathan Edelstein at The Head Heeb for some further comment .