Legitimate targets

by Henry on July 22, 2006

Via Kevin Drum, this quite disgusting claim from Alan Dershowitz.

Hezbollah and Hamas militants, on the other hand, are difficult to distinguish from those “civilians” who recruit, finance, harbor and facilitate their terrorism. Nor can women and children always be counted as civilians, as some organizations do. Terrorists increasingly use women and teenagers to play important roles in their attacks. The Israeli army has given well-publicized notice to civilians to leave those areas of southern Lebanon that have been turned into war zones. Those who voluntarily remain behind have become complicit.

Irish and British readers may find this line of reasoning familiar. It was advanced by the IRA at the height of its murder campaign. According to the IRA, civilian bystanders, including women and children, who were killed when bombs blew up police officers or soldiers should have known better than to be associating with the security forces or socializing in places that they were known to frequent. These bystanders were complicit in their own deaths. It was an utterly contemptible argument then. It’s just as contemptible today.

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{ 170 comments }

1

Rasselas 07.22.06 at 3:12 pm

It’s hard to come up with original arguments for killing noncombatants.

2

norbizness 07.22.06 at 3:13 pm

Billmon has a post up on the subject. Warning: contains an extremely disturbing picture, whose ugliness is only matched by Dershowitz’s war crimes apologeia.

3

astrongmaybe 07.22.06 at 3:19 pm

Another, related, favourite line of the Provisional IRA and the INLA back then, say after they had blown up a number of innocent bystanders with a carbomb: “We issued a warning 45 minutes beforehand, the authorities obviously failed to clear the area, therefore any casualties are their responsibility, not ours.” The parallel with Israel’s current ‘warnings’ is not perfect, though, since now civilians are responsible for clearing themselves from the area.

4

Liz 07.22.06 at 3:26 pm

It’s hard for Israel to admit that its tactics are tantamount to those of other “terrorist” organizations, because they use the defense that their actions are defensible because they are surrounded by terrorists. I just posted this on my site, from Human Rights Watch: “In principle, it is permitted to target the location where a combatant resides or works. However, as with any attack on an otherwise legitimate military target, the attacking force must refrain from attack if it would disproportionately harm the civilian population or be launched in a way that fails to discriminate between combatants and civilians. “

5

harry b 07.22.06 at 3:31 pm

Could we start a campaign in favour of administration members and defenders learning something about Northern Ireland and the IRA? I’mnot being entirely facetious — it might stop them saying as many evil things and might even stop them doing some stupid things.

6

Kevin Donoghue 07.22.06 at 3:37 pm

Could we start a campaign in favour of administration members and defenders learning something about Northern Ireland and the IRA?

In the case of Dershowitz, the result would probably be articles about situations where knee-capping is morally justified.

7

Catch 22 07.22.06 at 3:42 pm

Not only does this line of reasoning mirror the IRA but it mirror the approach of al Queda to get around Muslim prohibitions on the killing of innocent civilians.

Al-Qaeda, however, disputes the broad prohibition against killing civilians on two grounds. First, it takes issue with the notion that those killed in the September 11 attacks were “innocents” covered by the prophet’s prohibitions. Second, al-Qaeda argues that the prohibition is not an absolute one and that there are conditions under which killing civilians becomes permissible. The movement thus takes on both the theological argument proffered against the September 11 attacks and reformist framings of the victims as innocent. The result is a broad set of conditions that provide religious justification for killing civilians in almost every possible circumstance. Only one condition need be met to legitimize an attack against civilians.

Condition One: The Norm of Reciprocity
The sources of Islam provide clear prohibitions against killing civilians, but al-Qaeda argues for reciprocal attacks. This is justified with reference to Quran 2, 194: “And one who attacks you, attack him in like manner as he attacked you.” Thus, if the enemy uses tactics that are prohibited in Islam, these tactics become legal for the Muslims. Since the document makes the case that America has purposely targeted Muslim civilians, it presses readers to accept the logical conclusion that civilian targeting, as in September 11, is now legal. This point is emphasized with particular reference to the Palestinian struggle:

There currently exists an extermination effort against the Islamic peoples that has America’s blessing, not just by virtue of its effective cooperation, but by America’s activity. The best witness to this is what is happening with the full knowledge of the world in the Palestinian cities of Jenin, Nablus, Ramallah and elsewhere. Every day, all can follow the atrocious slaughter going on there with American support that is aimed at children, women and the elderly. Are Muslims not permitted to respond in the same way and kill those among the Americans who are like the Muslims they are killing? Certainly! By Allah, it is truly a right for Muslims.

For al-Qaeda, the evidence points to a clear conclusion:

It is allowed for Muslims to kill protected ones among unbelievers as an act of reciprocity. If the unbelievers have targeted Muslim women, children and elderly, it is permissible for Muslims to respond in kind and kill those similar to those whom the unbelievers killed.

Condition Two: Inability to Distinguish Civilians from Combatants
When attacking an enemy “stronghold” it may be difficult to distinguish combatants from non-combatants, particularly if enemy fighters hide among the general population. The Arabic term the document uses for “stronghold” (hisn) has an interesting semantic range in light of the targets of September 11. It refers to a place that is immune to attack either because it is well fortified or because great height makes it impregnable.25 The connection with the targets is obvious — what American sites have been more clearly associated with fortification and height than the Pentagon and the World Trade Center? Al-Qaeda argues that so long as the stronghold is a legitimate target and enemy fighters are present, Muslims can attack, even if this means civilian casualties: “It is allowed for Muslims to kill protected ones among the unbelievers in the event of an attack against them in which it is not possible to differentiate the protected ones from the combatants or from the strongholds.” So even if one grants the argument that there were innocent civilians in the buildings, which al-Qaeda does not accept, the buildings can still be attacked.

The document cites as evidence a story in which Muslims asked about the offspring and women of unbelievers who stayed behind with the enemy fighters and were killed. The prophet was said to reply, “They are from among them.” In this story, the women and children of the enemy preferred to remain with their men rather than flee to safety. Once they made that decision, they ceased to be innocents because they had aligned themselves with the combatants and were now legitimate targets for the Muslim forces. The al-Qaeda document suggests that those in the World Trade Center and the Pentagon should be viewed in the same way. The distinction between combatants and civilians is thereby erased since some of the latter chose to remain in “enemy territory.”

Condition Three: Assistance of Civilians in “Deed, Word or Mind”
In Islamic law, the legitimacy of a target in the context of a war is typically determined by the capacity of that target or individual to fight against the Muslims. This includes enemy soldiers and leaders, as well as advisers to the military and the enemy leadership, including civilian advisers. The vast majority of civilians, however, are excluded from target lists because they are not actively engaged in battle, especially women, children and the elderly, whose capacity to fight is considered minimal in most cases.26

Al-Qaeda, however, broadens the definition of active participation to include roles that indirectly assist the enemy:

It is allowed for Muslims to kill protected ones among unbelievers on the condition that the protected ones have assisted in combat, whether in deed, word, mind or any other form of assistance, according to the prophetic command.

This is based upon a story about Duraid Ibn al-Simma, a well-known Arab poet who strongly opposed Muhammad and the message of Islam. According to tradition, he was brought to the battlefield to advise the Hawazin troops about battle procedures in a conflict against the Muslims. As a very old man, he posed no physical threat to the Muslim forces, but the intelligence he provided to the enemy made him a target and led to his death in battle.

But al-Qaeda’s use of this story creates an expanded understanding of combat assistance that includes not only direct support through physical participation or advice to war planners, but less direct support as well. From this perspective, the press and journalists are legitimate targets because they are American propaganda tools in the war against al-Qaeda. Academics and intellectuals working on Islam and/or terrorism can be killed because their studies and publications help inform government officials and provide knowledge that can be used against the Muslims. Employees working in businesses that supply the government and/or military can be targeted because they provide equipment and services that support the war or the leaders waging the campaign.

http://ics.leeds.ac.uk/papers/vp01.cfm?outfit=pmt&folder=10&paper=540

8

astrongmaybe 07.22.06 at 3:46 pm

“…it might stop them saying as many evil things and might even stop them doing some stupid things…”

Not sure: I think doublethink comes all too easily – the notorious Congressman Peter King (R-NY), for example, was/is both a long-time SF/IRA supporter and big war-on-terror supporter too.

9

Uncle Kvetch 07.22.06 at 3:50 pm

Astrongmaybe, that’s putting it mildly. We’re talking about the same folks who financed and armed the Contras in Nicaragua and the Mujaheddin in Soviet-occupied Afghanistan. To suggest that they just haven’t thought things through is giving them far too much credit.

10

abb1 07.22.06 at 3:58 pm

I guess those who voluntarily remain in the US and Israel have become complicit too.

11

P O'Neill 07.22.06 at 3:59 pm

Dershowitz: “the continuum of civilianality.”

They’re coming up with the reality faster than anyone can come up with the parody.

12

Vance Maverick 07.22.06 at 4:09 pm

Just as those who were stranded in New Orleans when Katrina hit were complicit in the hurricane.

13

John Emerson 07.22.06 at 4:14 pm

12: “Al”, Kevin Drum’s house troll, made that comparison exactly. Or maybe it was Fake Al.

14

astrongmaybe 07.22.06 at 4:17 pm

Point taken, kvetch, but by ‘doublethink’ I wasn’t trying to suggest they were just naïve. I’m never sure of what to call that kind of posturing. It is cynicism of a sort, but is ultimately a pernicious and systematic bullshit which goes beyond cynicism, in that it is somehow believed and not believed at the same time. ‘Ideology’ comes close, but to me that suggests something too much outside of whomever it is who is spouting it. A character like Dershowitz, for instance, is obviously ‘fervently immune’ to logic, if I can put it like that.

15

abb1 07.22.06 at 4:18 pm

This is actually very similar to Ward Churchill’s much resented rhetoric: ‘little Eichmanns’ and so on. The rot in academia, I guess. Although Churchill’s rhetoric seems a bit more rational, at least he has the decency not to include children into this.

16

Mike Otsuka 07.22.06 at 4:29 pm

Having read the whole Dershowitz column, I’m surprised to discover that everything he says in it strikes me as sound apart from (i) the risible neologism “continuum of civilianity” and (ii), much more significantly, the following two despicable sentences that others have rightly strongly condemned:

“The Israeli army has given well-publicized notice to civilians to leave those areas of southern Lebanon that have been turned into war zones. Those who voluntarily remain behind have become complicit.”

At the risk of bringing to mind the line “Apart from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?”, I’d be interested to know what else, apart from these two things, people found objectionable in the column.

17

Uncle Kvetch 07.22.06 at 4:33 pm

Point taken, kvetch, but by ‘doublethink’ I wasn’t trying to suggest they were just naïve. I’m never sure of what to call that kind of posturing. It is cynicism of a sort, but is ultimately a pernicious and systematic bullshit which goes beyond cynicism, in that it is somehow believed and not believed at the same time.

I could be wrong, but this is pretty much what Harry Frankfurter was getting at, isn’t it? But I see your point; “bullshit” doesn’t really get across the borderline-depraved kind of cynicism on display here.

18

Uncle Kvetch 07.22.06 at 4:33 pm

Sorry for the messed up tags.

19

abb1 07.22.06 at 4:50 pm

I don’t have a problem with the ‘we’re all complicit’ concept, but only if it’s applied consistently to all actors. When it is applied consistently, it’s a logical and healthy approach. But unfortunately it’s almost always hypocritically applied to the opponent only.

I’m sure Mr. Dershowitz doesn’t consider himself a combatant, yet I’m sure he did Ahmed Yassin, for example.

20

otto 07.22.06 at 5:00 pm

“The Israeli army has given well-publicized notice to civilians to leave those areas of southern Lebanon that have been turned into war zones. Those who voluntarily remain behind have become complicit.”

One of the interesting things to note is that a certain common line of Zionist justification for not allowing the refugees of 1948 to return to their homes in what became Israel was that by leaving the war zones they had become complicit in the war on Israel. It seems to be difficult to avoid complicity whether staying or leaving a war zone.

21

Christmas 07.22.06 at 5:03 pm

Alan Dershowitz is a fascist thug.

22

Cheryl Morgan 07.22.06 at 5:18 pm

The BBC had an Israeli general in an interview this evening. He made exactly this point. He also complained that at least he was giving the civilians a chance to get out, unlike certain people who invaded Iraq a while back, he said.

23

Liz Savery 07.22.06 at 5:43 pm

Bloody good point, cheryl — how do you argue with that? It’s tough to analyze the current situation sometimes, with a straight face.

24

Chris Bertram 07.22.06 at 6:18 pm

Mike O. I also found objectionable Dershowitz’s suggestion that there was a far clearer line between combatants and non-combatants in Israeli society than in Shiite Lebanese society. That doesn’t strike me as obviously true given the near-universality of Israeli military service and the paramilitary nature of many of the settlers.

25

gr 07.22.06 at 6:22 pm

“I’d be interested to know what else, apart from these two things, people found objectionable in the column.”

The problem with the rest of Dershowitz’s column, it seems to me, is that it will rarely ever be possible, in a situation of war, to reliably draw all the distinctions that Dershowitz claims need to be drawn. The fine-grained mode of assessment he’s envisaging is appropriate in the courtroom, to determine after the fact what degree of punishment people should receive for their varying degrees of collaboration in a past crime. But how is a military commander to make such fine-grained distinctions in the heat of battle? There’s also the problem, of course, that in the courtroom the distinctions will be drawn by a neutral third party, whereas they will be drawn by the combatants themselves in the heat of battle. It is hard to see how the interpretive leeway that would be opened up by Dershowitz’s view could fail to turn into a license for for the more powerful of the warring parties to impose its own, self-interested understanding of who should and who should not count as a civilian.

Another to put the same point is that Dershowitz misrepresents the function of the civilian/ combatant distinction. The function of that distinction is not to track fine-grained moral judgments about people’s moral culpability. It is to prevent war from turning into all out slaughter. It is essential to this preventative function that warring parties be denied the right to make the kind of judgments that Dershowitz talks about in the heat of battle. Once we admit that the warring parties have the right to draw the distinctions Dershowitz talks about, because there is no such thing as a clear cut concept of ‘civilianality’, we will also have to admit that we cannot object to what the warring parties do as long as they try to apply Dershowitz’s fine-grained view in good faith. And of course, it will hardly ever be possible to show, at least not during the war and from the outside, that the commanders on the ground lack good faith in assessing degrees of ‘civilianality’.

So either we accept that there’s a bright line, or there likely will be no real restraint in battle. If we accept that there needs to be a bright line, we must be prepared to live with the fact that the category of ‘civilianality’ is likely to be overinclusive from a post facto moral point of view.

Dershowitz isn’t prepared to live with that. Rather, he’s trying to insinuate that everybody in Lebanon is a little bit of a terrorist. But if everyone in there is a little bit of a terrorist, who’s to say, as an external observer sitting somewhere in London or Washington, that Israel goes too far? Dershowitz’s objectionable conclusion that all those who don’t leave forfeit their status as civilians is rather intimately connected with his general line of argument.

26

gr 07.22.06 at 6:31 pm

Just a short addition to the previous post. The distinction between civilans and combatants is not, as Dershowitz implies, a distinction between people who are morally innocent and people who are morally guilty and thus liable to punishment. Being a combatant is not a crime, after all.

27

John Emerson 07.22.06 at 7:01 pm

What Otto just said should be repeated and amplified. Staying is regerded as an act of war now, but in other very similiar circumstances fleeing was regarded as an act of war.

28

John Quiggin 07.22.06 at 8:05 pm

And, of course, quite a few people have been killed while fleeing. The justificatory argument (I’m not sure I’ve seen it as baldly as this, but it’s implicit in many of the statements I’ve read, and in the rejection of pleas for a temporary ceasefire to enable flight) is that they may be providing cover for fleeing combatants.

29

odw 07.22.06 at 8:06 pm

Everything old is new again:

Door Gunner: Git some! Git some! Git some, yeah, yeah, yeah! Anyone that runs, is a VC. Anyone that stands still, is a well-disciplined VC! You guys oughta do a story about me sometime!
Private Joker: Why should we do a story about you?
Door Gunner: ‘Cuz I’m so fuckin’ good! I done got me 157 dead gooks killed. Plus 50 water buffalo too! Them’s all confirmed!
Private Joker: Any women or children?
Door Gunner: Sometimes!
Private Joker: How can you shoot women or children?
Door Gunner: Easy! Ya just don’t lead ‘em so much! Ain’t war hell?

30

nick s 07.22.06 at 10:10 pm

Bloody good point, cheryl—how do you argue with that?

Bush’s pre- and post-Iraq-invasion bullshit has been a treasure trove for the Israelis. I heard the ambassador to the UN say that ‘you can’t distinguish between Hezbollah and Lebanon’ in a way eerily similar to Bush’s ;umping of Iraq and al-Qaeda.

The problem with the rest of Dershowitz’s column, it seems to me, is that it will rarely ever be possible, in a situation of war, to reliably draw all the distinctions that Dershowitz claims need to be drawn.

Which was the same problem with his ‘torture warrant’ argument. I think we have a pattern here.

31

Steve LaBonne 07.23.06 at 12:43 am

Wahn, Wahn, überall Wahn!

32

tj 07.23.06 at 1:08 am

The funny thing about Dershowitz’s attempt to change the vocabulary of the conflict to make Israel’s strategy more palatable is that neither the US or Israeli governments seem to be all that uncomfortable with the current language. Secretary Rice is at a total loss as to the advantages of a ceasefire. Apparently the cessation of killing is not enough of a reason on its own.

It seems to me that rather than muddy the distinction between combatants and noncombatants, we should simply accept that Israel’s strategy involves the killing of civilians (“intentionally” or not is really beside the point) and judge the legitimacy of the strategy based on its potential to achieve a good outcome. Anyone think it will?

33

bad Jim 07.23.06 at 1:30 am

On the Lehrer News Hour the other night I heard someone advancing a slightly different line, that since Israel was more precise in bombing with its F16’s than Hezbullah with its Katyushas, Israel was obviously less at fault in the death of innocents.

The 10:1 kill ratio makes it less than obvious, at least to me.

Emboldened by his efforts with respect to torture, Dershowitz now endeavors to make collective punishment acceptable. He does seem to have slid some way down this particular slippery slope.

Why, though, does he think that destroying Lebanese bridges, airports, silos, ambulances or whatever, have anything to do with containing Hezbollah? In effect, he holds the entire country responsible. The very small point he might have made was lost at the onset of the butchery.

34

Mike Otsuka 07.23.06 at 3:41 am

Chris B. — You’re right. I noticed that controversial claim regarding Israelis versus Shiite Lebanese only after I posted my remarks. One could add to the near-universality of a period of regular military service in Israel the liability till their mid-forties of civilians to annual one month reserve duty, and hence the line that civilians in Israel are actually soldiers on 11-month furlough.

35

~~~~ 07.23.06 at 4:07 am

Dershowitz doesn’t just defend warcrimes, he also likes to participate:

Dershowitz’s exceptional defense of Israel is not confined to academic criticisms of the ICJ (or the International Red Cross or the United Nations). In the interview, Dershowitz, who opposes the death penalty, revealed that he had sat on the Israeli assassination committee that reviews evidence before terrorists are targeted and killed. This “due process” hearing is designed to reduce the raw charge that state-sponsored assassinations are blatantly unlawful.

36

abb1 07.23.06 at 4:14 am

It’s not only about military service. He spells it out: “recruit, finance, harbor and facilitate”. On ‘our’ side this includes pretty much every Israeli and American citizen. You pay taxes in Israel or the US – you’re a financier. You have to be unemployed and homeless to avoid being complicit. I think it’s fair and has to be understood by everyone.

As far as giving a notice to civilians to leave – that’s what the indigenous people of the region have been giving constantly to the Europeans coming to Palestine for the last 60 years. If he thinks that those who stayed behind are a fair game – that’s fine too and he should stop whining when his team is hit. What’s fair is fair.

37

derek 07.23.06 at 4:32 am

This Irish and British reader (first generation Briton, family immigrated from Ireland) finds Dershowitz’s description familiar for another reason. I did and do indeed find the Americans who financed, harboured and facilitated IRA terrorism difficult to distinguish from the IRA terrorists themselves. The difference between us is that I never advocated strafing New York in reprisal.

38

John Emerson 07.23.06 at 7:43 am

Something still unresolved that came up over at Unfogged: just how big is Dershowitz in the legal community? I have always assumed that he’s one of the top guys, and believe that he has been on the Democrats’ Supreme Court nomination list.

Others say that he just a second rank law professor whose prominence comes from being a publicity hound. I have no clue about who is right.

39

Marc Mulholland 07.23.06 at 8:14 am

This isn’t quite accurate about the IRA. They didn’t claim that civilians in vicinity of security forces were legitimate targets (which would have been difficult, given that soldiers did rather make a point of patrolling republican areas). Rather, they complained that civvies didn’t distance themselves sufficiently, and for this reason many IRA attacks had to be called off. Dershowitz makes quite a different claim: civilians in the free-fire zone are not just inconvenienmces, but de facto targets.

The IRA, of course, killed a lot of civilians: some sectarian, a lot ‘collateral’ (quite a few from their ‘own’community), suspected informers of course (a number fingered by the security forces in black-ops) and – particularly as the campaign dragged on – in an ever widening definition of the war-machine: workers on security contracts etc.

40

rushmc 07.23.06 at 8:44 am

I find Dershowitz’s positions on this issue biased and untenable, but he is correct in stating that women and children are capable of committing terroristic acts–and, in fact, DO increasingly commit them.

But, innocent until proven guilty remains the key measure. His attempts to generalize from this fact to a blanket condemnation of civilians is pathetic.

41

dsquared 07.23.06 at 9:02 am

As far as I can see, Dershowitz has taken the line from one of his most prominent clients (“I will do everything I can to find the real killers”) and run with it.

NB also that the rationale for bombing infrastructure in Gaza (that Palestinians had democratically elected the Hamas government which had been responsible for atrocities and were thus collectively responsible) was identical to that of Mohammed Siddique Khan for the 7/7 bombings.

42

Stephen M (Ethesis) 07.23.06 at 9:35 am

Thanks for the post and the comments, I learned something.

43

Eyal 07.23.06 at 10:13 am

Dershowitz’ argument is frankly crap, but a few comments on the comments (is that meta, or what :)):

1) Liz (#4): That HRW quote is only half right. The laws of war require that the risk or damage to civilians must be porportional to the military value of the target. However, AFAIK, subject to that condition, there is no requirement that “indiscriminate” weapons not be used. Bombs, artillery, and tank shells are almost inherently indiscriminate (even when they’re precisely guided, you can’t control who’s in the kill radius).

2) Bad jim (#34): I always find arguments which bring up the kill ratio as a condemnation of Israel to be rather baffling. The fact of the matter is, while about half of the Israel casualties are military, AFAIK none of them were killed in military bases. Hizbullah is exclusively targeting Israeli civilian population centers rather than military facilities – and unlike in Hizbullah’s case, Israel has no military facilities in those centers. The much lower rate of Israeli civilian casualties is due mainly to Israel’s greater preparedness in civil defense. So what, we need to apologize because we bothered to build shelters, rather than fortifications for Katyushas?

As for bombing roads, bridges, and the airport, remember that Hizbullah is getting its armaments from (or through) Syria and Iran.

3) ~~~~ (#36): first I’ve heard that a non-Israeli was on that comittee. In any event, I consider such assassinations to attacks against enemy combatants rather than executions of civilians (this is an area where the laws of war are somewhat lacking; ironically, under GC4 Article 5, Israel could quite legally do them inside the Green Line.

Besides these, a general comment. Israel is currently faced with the prospect of eliminating the Hizbullah positions on or near the border. Many of these positions are hardened bunkers placed inside villages. So Israel basically has three options:

1) Attack the village (either by air or ground) without warnings, to try and destroy the emplacements. This will almost certainly entail heavy civilian casualties.
2) Warn the villagers to leave, and then attack. This will reduce or prevent civilian casualties, but will entail….well, look at this thread.
3) Do nothing and hope none of the rockets launched from that emplacement kill anyone.

Which of these options do you consdider the most reasonable?

44

abb1 07.23.06 at 10:59 am

(that Palestinians had democratically elected the Hamas government which had been responsible for atrocities and were thus collectively responsible) was identical to that of Mohammed Siddique Khan for the 7/7 bombings.

It’s also quite close to bin Laden’s ‘letter to America’:


(b) The American people are the ones who pay the taxes which fund the planes that bomb us in Afghanistan, the tanks that strike and destroy our homes in Palestine, the armies which occupy our lands in the Arabian Gulf, and the fleets which ensure the blockade of Iraq. These tax dollars are given to Israel for it to continue to attack us and penetrate our lands. So the American people are the ones who fund the attacks against us, and they are the ones who oversee the expenditure of these monies in the way they wish, through their elected candidates.

( c) Also the American army is part of the American people. It is this very same people who are shamelessly helping the Jews fight against us.

(d) The American people are the ones who employ both their men and their women in the American Forces which attack us.

(e) This is why the American people cannot be not innocent of all the crimes committed by the Americans and Jews against us.

He gives the notice to leave the war-zone as well, rather more elegantly worded than Israeli Army’s one:

(5) We also advise you to pack your luggage and get out of our lands. We desire for your goodness, guidance, and righteousness, so do not force us to send you back as cargo in coffins.

45

Henry 07.23.06 at 11:06 am

Marc – I’m pretty sure that they did. I’ll try to drag up the reference (although my access to Irish research material on this side of the Atlantic is limited – Tim Pat Coogan and Padraig O’Malley’s books are the only ones to hand).

46

Yan 07.23.06 at 12:01 pm

I think what’s most offensive about the article is that like so many of his political arguments it exudes a lack of intellectual integrity. Regardless of the quality of his argument, it’s painfully evident that his methodology is to begin with the unquestionable assumption that whatever we or our allies do is morally correct, then to dig up an argument to defend anything that might seem to suggest that assumption is false. The man lacks intellectual hygiene.

47

gr 07.23.06 at 12:17 pm

Thinking about it a little more, I think Dershowitz has a reply to the claim that there’s no very clear distinction between combatants and civilians in Israel either.

His rape analogy suggests that he’s denying that Hezbollah fighters are legitimate combatants. Rather, he takes it that they are criminals, like the rapists in his example. Lebanese civilians, from that perspective, are at least suspect of being collaborators in the punishable crimes of Hezbollah fighters. If they are collaborators, to whatever extent, they are to that extent morally guilty and hence legitimate targets of violence.

If this is Dershowitz’s argument, then Isreali civilians are in the clear. Israel’s forces are punishing criminals, and it certainly can’t make anyone guilty and fit for punishment to cooperate with or support that effort. Hezbollah fighers simply have no right to kill Isrealis, whether combatants or civilians. But the IDF has a right to kill Hezbollah fighters and to act against those who support them.

However, if this is what Dershowitz is saying, then the point about the difficulties of distinguishing between civilians and combatants because Israel’s enemies are not wearing uniforms is a red herring. The argument I’ve just attributed to D. would have applied in full force to German civilians in WWII (on the plausibe assumption that they collaborated in or supported Nazi crimes). But the ‘technical’ distinction between German civilians and combatants was crystal clear and I’ve yet to hear any serious just war theorist claim that it would have been right for the allies to disregard it.

It seems to me that Dershowitz’s article is really confused. He vacillates between the complaint that Hezbollah violate ius in bello constraints, which seems plausible but doesn’t give him what he wants, and the claim that they are criminals who lack the status of legitimate combatants. But I doubt he can have it both ways.

48

astrongmaybe 07.23.06 at 12:30 pm

Marc, Henry – I’m not sure about the IRA, though I’m pretty sure examples might be found. But in the case of the 1982 INLA Ballykelly bombing, there was an explicit calculus of civilian death based on an idea of proximity, although this shades into ‘fraternization’. (For those unfamiliar with the background: the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA), an armed republican splinter group, famous even in that context for its ruthless violence.)

The Ballykelly incident was a bomb attack without warning on the “Droppin’ Well,” a disco-bar used by off-duty British soldiers and local civilians. Four people were found guilty of the bombing and given life sentences in 1986. In court, one of them said that the INLA team had carried out several reconnaissance missions intended to “see if there were enough soldiers to justify the possibility of civilian casualties”. Apparently there were: 11 soldiers and 6 civilians were killed, most of the latter being women aged between 17 and 21.

Wikipedia has the basics on the incident here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ballykelly_disco_bombing with links to a couple of media articles using the courtroom quote.

49

Albert 07.23.06 at 12:41 pm

Deliberately targeting civilians is clearly wrong. However, are we to make it a rule of war that, to be legitimate, no civilians are allowed to be killed? What about foes who then use civilians as shields? Isn’t such a rule, then, tantamount to giving such foes free reign to do what they please?

Also, how do we draw the line between Hezbollah and Lebanon? Hezbollah makes a significant portion of the official government of Lebanon, and hides behind the civilians population. Are they to be allowed to do whatever they wish, just so we can hold the “principled” view that no civilian deaths are allowed and that Hezbollah is not synonymous with Lebanon?

50

micah 07.23.06 at 12:53 pm

A couple points on reading the comments above:

1. Even if you think, following Dershowitz’s argument, that the line between Israeli combatants and civilians isn’t clear, Hezbollah doesn’t purport to draw *any* such distinction with respect to Israelis — not even the weak distinction between innocent children and the disabled that Dershowitz recognizes. Or, at least, if there is an attempt to draw this distinction, I haven’t seen it.

2. I don’t agree with the conclusions that Dershowitz draws from his argument, but as Mike notes above, he’s not wrong that there is a range of culpability with respect to involvement in military actions. And his underlying concern is that the standard model (based on two well-defined national armies) for evaluating an appropriate response is inadequate to the reality at hand. How does a nation state, with a defined military, respond legitimately to a guerilla force with significant popular support? That is a large and difficult question — certainly beyond facile answers in an op-ed piece. But at least Dershowitz is asking it.

51

Jim Harrison 07.23.06 at 1:14 pm

Hezbollah hadn’t been rocketing Northern Israel recently unless you count a small disputed area. The rockets, like the two captured soldiers, are merely a pretext for a campaign that had been planned for years–as in the instance of our invasion of Iraq, the war was a given, the excuses continue to evolve.

52

John Emerson 07.23.06 at 1:30 pm

Hezbollah is not synonymous with the government of Lebanon.

53

Albert 07.23.06 at 1:45 pm

Hezbollah is not synonymous with the government of Lebanon.

Yes, I know. The point I was making is that often people who say this use it to justify their position that Israel is in the wrong in taking any military action in Lebanon. Such a view, I think, means that Hezbollah is given free reign to do whatever they want.

54

Kevin Donoghue 07.23.06 at 1:52 pm

Albert,

Can you provide a single example of somebody taking the position you describe in your comment (1:45 pm)?

55

Kevin Donoghue 07.23.06 at 2:07 pm

How does a nation state, with a defined military, respond legitimately to a guerilla force with significant popular support?

Different cases require different solutions. George III fought them and lost. Abraham Lincoln fought them and won. David Lloyd-George struck a deal with them after a short struggle. In all three cases, their forces sometimes broke the sort of laws that bother Dershowitz so much. Yet I don’t know of any gain which flowed from those violations. Torture didn’t produce any war-winning intelligence and killing civilians didn’t produce any breakthroughs.

56

Chris Bertram 07.23.06 at 2:12 pm

Hezbollah doesn’t purport to draw any such distinction with respect to Israelis

Indeed, and that’s deplorable. Having just watched the footage from Beirut — have you seen the pictures Micah? — it would be tempting to respond that the Israeli airforce _merely purports_ to draw such distinctions with respect to Lebanese civilians. I’m sure that would be too strong and that some discrimination is being practised some of the time. But not enough, not nearly enough.

How does a nation state, with a defined military, respond legitimately to a guerilla force with significant popular support? That is a large and difficult question.

It may be large and difficult, but “not like this” would be a good starting point.

57

harry b 07.23.06 at 2:30 pm

Asking questions is easy — I agree that “How does a nation state, with a defined military, respond legitimately to a guerilla force with significant popular support?” is a serious and interesting question, one that serious people should have been attempting to answer for the past 60 years at least. Is Dershowitz committed to doing any of the intellectual work involved in providing an answer? Is he willing to ask whether his purported answer applies with any level of generality (e.g. by considering whether it applies to states dealing with the IRA, the ANC, or, in the more distant past, stateless zionists)? I’d be surprised if so. From what we can see of the footage and what we hear from the reporters I’m inclined to agree with Chris; and doing so implies no sympathy for the actions or aims of Hezbollah.

58

abb1 07.23.06 at 2:31 pm

…and killing civilians didn’t produce any breakthroughs.

One could argue that it did produce something like a breakthrough in the case of 1945 Japan, though.

59

abb1 07.23.06 at 2:32 pm

Oh, Japan wasn’t a guerilla force, of course, but nevertheless.

60

Luc 07.23.06 at 4:25 pm

I think GR. in comment 27 has it exactly right.

The distinction between civilian and combattant doesn’t involve any morality.

In the normal interpretation of the laws of war there’s no difference between someone volunteering his home for ammo storage, and someone forced to. And with good reason.

The argument of Derschowitz looks as little more than a perverse casuistry about civilian casualties and proportionality. It is not just the “disgusting claim” that’s wrong.

61

John Quiggin 07.23.06 at 4:29 pm

The fact that no-one (at least no-one here) is trying to defend Hezbollah tends to mean that there is much more focus on Israel’s actions, and on untenable defences of them like that of Dershowitz.

But Hezbollah deliberately started the current war, and has done nothing to end it. It is therefore fully responsible for all the consequences, including the death and destruction inflicted by the other side. (That doesn’t change Israel’s responsibility for its own actions – all parties to a war of choice are fully and jointly responsible for the death and destruction they cause.)

Exactly the same is true of the US in Iraq. The US chose to start the war and is responsible for the consequences. Again this doesn’t excuse or mitigate the crimes of terrorists, death squads and so on.

62

Jack 07.23.06 at 4:31 pm

Is Israel’s attack on Lebanon a war between two democracies?

Eyal, I think the death ratios are significant because as far as I can see the Israeli plan is to maintain the status quo by maintaining continued actions such as the assault on Lebanon which does not have an end in site. It may reassure the electorate that something is being done and may even reduce the scale of the problem for a while but without permanently depopulating southern Lebanon the same people will be scratching the same itch, most likely in the same way. That need not matter to Israel any more than it does now but israel will go on with its several eyes for an eye policy and pretending that the situation is the fault of the leaders and not vice versa.

Put this another way, has Nasrullah’s position been weakened? It looks like both sides need each other. It takes quite a monstrous enemy for Israel’s behaviour towards its neighbours to appear reasonable and I’m not sure how happy Nasrullah would have been with Ivana Trump and company disrupting the moral and financial economy of the Lebanon.

63

otto 07.23.06 at 4:38 pm

I have a question for those who know more about AD than I do.

Did he always (meaning pre 2000) have views on civil liberties more or less in line with what I take to be his current thinking (torture warrants, limited civilians status for Lebanese, ah, civilians), or is he someone who has been driven mad by 9/11 and terrorism against Israel and abandoned all his former positions? Or perhaps a bit of one and a bit of the other?

64

micah 07.23.06 at 4:51 pm

I agree that asking question is easy, but so is criticizing. I don’t think it’s enough to say “not like this.” It’s also not enough to lack sympathy for Hezbollah. If you think Israel is entitled to defend itself against a continous threat of indiscriminate rocket attacks from its northern border, you have to ask what kinds of actions it can take to reestablish security. A ground invasion of southern Lebanon might make it possible for Israeli forces to target Hezbollah militants more accurately and reduce risk to civilian targets. Would that be preferable? What are Israel’s alternatives? Or should it be resigned to the occasional rocket attack from the north? (Prior to the recent action, does anyone really think the U.N. or any other international organization would have placed an effective peacekeeping force in the area?)

I’ve seen footage from Lebanon and from northern Israel, and it’s all deplorable. But so is having to live under constant fear because of state-sponsored terrorism. I’m not defending all of Israel’s actions here, but the criticism should flow both ways. And so far, it’s been directed mainly at Israel and restricted to the events of the last few weeks, as if the problem of Hezbollah attacks is a new one.

65

Bob B 07.23.06 at 4:58 pm

For comparison with the recent casualties from rocket attacks against Israel, readers may be interested in this account from the Imperial War Museum in London of the results from the V1 flying bombs (the precursor of cruise missiles) and V2 ballistic rockets directed against London from June 1944 until March 1945, shortly before the war in Europe ended in early May:
http://london.iwm.org.uk/upload/package/4/dday/pdfs/VWeaponsCampaign.pdf

The V weapons, as the flying bombs and ballistic missiles were known, killed 8,938 civilians in Britain. In June 1944, a V1 flying bomb landed down one end of the road in inner London where I lived then and a V2 rocket down the other in January 1945. As I recall, life continued as best it could in wartime and we kept going with the hope that the war would soon come to an end.

66

cartbran 07.23.06 at 5:01 pm

Marc, Henry, astrongmaybe:
I think another correlation can be drawn a little closer to home so to speak in light of the current conflict.

The 1946 King David Hotel bombing led by the Irgun and Menachem Begin.

According to Wikipedia, the attack killed 91 “mostly civilians” and “The Irgun blamed the British for the deaths due to failure to respond to the warning…” that was claimed by Begin to have been sent 25 minutes prior to the blast.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_David_Hotel_bombing

I know that there is a lot of contentiousness surrounding this attack, however, for a little “moral clarity” in light of the current administration line on terrorism should reveal that there is no claim of righteousness in such actions.

67

Donald Johnson 07.23.06 at 5:04 pm

From what I’ve read about him at secondhand, Dershowitz has always been a defender of torture and war crimes when conducted by the Israelis. Someone with more firsthand knowledge is welcome to confirm or deny this.

68

Shalom Beck 07.23.06 at 5:33 pm

Here is the relevant article from the Fourth Geneva Convention, courtesy of http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Fourth_Geneva_Convention

Now if somebody can explain how Dershowitz goes beyond what is permitted by the Geneva Conventions, I’d be much obliged.

Article 28

The presence of a protected person may not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations.

69

Chris Bertram 07.23.06 at 5:37 pm

I don’t think it’s enough to say “not like this.”

Well I didn’t say it was “enough” did I? I said it was a good starting point. I really don’t think critics of policies which involve, at best, reckless disregard for the lives of innocents are required to answer “What’s your alternative?” questions.

the criticism should flow both ways

Sure. When someone pops up in our comments threads who is (a) worth engaging with and (b) defends indiscriminate rocket attacks on civilians by Hezbollah, I’ll criticize them. As it is, we seem to have a surfeit of people who either defend Israel’s military tactics or who, faced with pictures of whole areas of Beirut flattened and blood spattered children say “I don’t defend this but what would you do?”

70

Kevin Donoghue 07.23.06 at 5:45 pm

Shalom Beck,

On my reading the GC does not support the claim that “Those who voluntarily remain behind have become complicit.”

71

luci 07.23.06 at 6:03 pm

The fact of the matter is, while about half of the Israel casualties are military, AFAIK none of them were killed in military bases

Not to minimize any deaths, but I’ve read: 36 total Israeli deaths, 17 civilian, 19 military. About half of the military deaths were from the initial raid which killed 9(?) IDF soldiers and captured two, and the other half from close-in fighting during brand-new Israeli ground operations in Lebanon. (maybe incorrect)

The WashPo says 372 dead Lebanese, 1500 wounded, 20 of which are Lebanese soldiers, 8 Hezbollah guerrillas. So, 90-98% of the dead are civilians, 1/3 children.

But yeah, Hezbollah rockets aren’t hitting military targets. The rockets are “militarily insignificant”. They’ve launched over a thousand, killing 17 people. So the vast, vast majority must be landing in the desert somewhere. Their only purpose apparently is to 1) terrorize Israeli citizens, 2) allow Hezbollah leaders to pretend to be “doing something” and standing up to the Israelis, and 3) indirectly, allowing the casus belli of Israeli actions to slip from “kidnapped soldiers” to “raining rockets”.

“Israel is currently faced with the prospect of eliminating the Hizbullah positions on or near the border

“faced with the prospect” makes it sound like they are forced, elides the choice Israel is making.

[should they] Do nothing and hope none of the rockets launched from that emplacement kill anyone?

Unless the rockets were being fired into Israel before Israel’s current aerial bombardment of Lebanon (I’m not sure) then I’d say, “yes, doing nothing is correct choice.”

I don’t like arguments for preventative attacks, based on perceived threats, usually against actors who “conveniently” are irrational, impervious to deterrence or negotiation.

72

eudoxis 07.23.06 at 6:08 pm

The Israeli army has given well-publicized notice to civilians to leave those areas of southern Lebanon that have been turned into war zones.

There’s something that bothers me about that sentence. It seems to imply that Fate turned those areas into war zones, rather than Israelis, deliberately targeting areas with a minimal content of Hezbollah, intent on wreaking havoc on the whole populace.

73

Bob B 07.23.06 at 7:09 pm

This recent book by a British philosopher is a timely reminder that the moral issues raised by the bombing of civilians in pursuit of war aims are certainly not new:

“Deliberately targeting civilians is widely considered terrorism nowadays, but during World War II both the Britain’s Bomber Command and the United States Army Air Force deliberately targeted civilians.

“The British philosopher A. C. Grayling, in his new book Among the Dead Cities: The History and Moral Legacy of the WWII Bombing of Civilians in Germany and Japan, points out that the two air forces combined killed perhaps 600,000 German civilians and another 200,000 Japanese. He makes the case that at least by our current standards we were terrorists, and it logically follows that the attacks were war crimes.”
http://www.americanheritage.com/events/articles/web/20060406-bombing-strategic-world-war-ii-grayling-among-dead-cities-germany-japan-civilians-royal-air-force-atomic-bomb-richard-pape-terrorism-russia-axis.shtml

Even so, the RAF and USAF were not the pioneers:

“The bombing of Guernica was an aerial attack on April 26, 1937, during the Spanish Civil War by the German Luftwaffe squadron known as the Condor Legion against the Basque city of Guernica. It was the first aerial bombardment in history in which a civilian population was attacked with the apparent intent of producing total destruction.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombing_of_Guernica

74

Katherine 07.23.06 at 7:25 pm

“Something still unresolved that came up over at Unfogged: just how big is Dershowitz in the legal community? I have always assumed that he’s one of the top guys, and believe that he has been on the Democrats’ Supreme Court nomination list.

Others say that he just a second rank law professor whose prominence comes from being a publicity hound. I have no clue about who is right.”

I can’t really speak for the legal community-I’ve only been a student, never a professors.

He’s got an office on the fanciest floor at Harvard Law School, but I’d be shocked if he were seriously considered for the Supreme Court. I’d say he’s more famous than respected. Especially after the “torture warrants” stuff, and now this.

75

Bro. Bartleby 07.23.06 at 7:38 pm

Interesting statistic: After 76 comments, the word “Jew” was only used twice.

76

astrongmaybe 07.23.06 at 8:13 pm

Bro B. wtf is your point?

77

Roy Belmont 07.23.06 at 8:46 pm

#63-“But Hezbollah deliberately started the current war, and has done nothing to end it. It is therefore fully responsible for all the consequences, including the death and destruction inflicted by the other side. (That doesn’t change Israel’s responsibility for its own actions – all parties to a war of choice are fully and jointly responsible for the death and destruction they cause.)”

That first sentence assumes a consensus that doesn’t seem to exist anywhere real. And the rest of the paragraph sounds like the rules to an RPG.
Someone upthread suggests Dershowitz may have been driven mad by events and circumstances. My impression is that would have been in his case a very short trip indeed, but there is that aspect saturating virtually all this nightmare. That somehow the entire Jewish people have been driven into a state of near-insane insecurity from which any action that resembles defense is justified.
This is a moral view diametric to the “everyone must take responsibility for their own actions” idea. And certainly the other parties could make a similar claim to their own insecurity.
Grief is not logical, nor is fear.
Terror is so powerful a descriptor, or at least it was until recently, because the state of mind it describes is so overwhelming.
Someone who is terrified can’t be held to the same standard as someone who is calmly sitting at home. But the idea that anyone in this shoot-out entered with a clean slate and only malevolent intent is naive and unproductive.
I’ve suggested before a close reading of the Hatfield-McCoy feud of late 19th c. America.
Hillbillies for some reason known only to the Hollywood zeitgeist are generally perceived as buffoons and legitimate objects of scorn and ridicule. Though they were mainly Celts driven or drawn to the New World by severe oppression and dislocation from the Old.
It’s an instructive tale that feud. Bloody as any image now emerging from Lebanon, in intensity if not volume. And each side after the first few blows just as valid in their thirst for revenge as the other.

78

engels 07.23.06 at 9:32 pm

I agree with the early gr, and with luc. Law is a blunt instrument, which needs bright lines. I would suggest that Dershowitz knows this perfectly well…

As for Dershowitz’ lawyer-cred, the Independent calls him, as I recall, “America’s leading liberal lawyer”. Which only shows that the Independent is full of shit, at times…

79

engels 07.23.06 at 9:39 pm

80

Nicholas Weininger 07.23.06 at 9:53 pm

I was a fan of Dershowitz before 9/11; I thought he was a reasonably consistent civil libertarian, and that he used his media celebrity to speak out effectively for the right of everyone including murdering scum to a vigorous defense in court, the right of everyone including nasty bigots to speak their minds unmolested, and other such good unpopular things. His old _The Best Defense_ is a nice commentary on some aspects of the criminal justice system, and though it’s a bit self-promoting, it gives a tour of some worthwhile causes he championed.

I was vaguely aware that he had something of a moral blind spot where Israel was concerned, but it didn’t take center stage in his public persona until 9/11. And I can’t imagine him having publicly advocated “torture warrants” for terrorist suspects before then.

81

John Quiggin 07.23.06 at 10:11 pm

The idea that all this can only be understood as a blood feud, so no moral standards can apply, might not be naive, but it certainly seems entirely unproductive. If you are going to get anything out of the vendetta model, presumably you want to look at how these feuds ended, which, I imagine, was that the survivors got sick of fighting.

And once you’ve reached that stage, the point about people being responsible for their own actions applies to anyone who chooses to restart the feud with new provocations, or to react disproportionately. So it doesn’t look as if the analogy gives us any insight we didn’t have already.

82

Donald Johnson 07.23.06 at 11:29 pm

Dershowitz first proposed torture warrants back in 1988, according to this Harvard Gazette piece–

link

83

Donald Johnson 07.23.06 at 11:30 pm

My link didn’t work, dang it. Try again tomorrow maybe.

84

Bro. Bartleby 07.24.06 at 12:01 am

#78
The real question: Why the Jews? So listening to much fretting about the tactics of tiny Israel surrounded by those that don’t wish peaceful coexistence, but wish for Israel to be simply “wiped out,” I can only think that before the state of Israel, most Europeans more or less felt the same, the want for the Jews among them to just go away, or disappear. This has been going on for over two thousand years, this hate, this scapegoating of the Jews for everything bad under the sun. So in recent history we have Ahmadinejad wishing Israel to be wiped out, the same Iran that helped to create Hizbullah and is now arming them. So I would ask, if surrounding folks left Israel alone, what would happen? I think nothing, Israel would go about being the vibrant nation that it is. So, what would happen if Israel left the surrounding folks along? I think the attacks would and will continue, because too many simply hate Israel, or more precisely, hate the Jews, for no other reason than they are Jews.

85

brooksfoe 07.24.06 at 12:09 am

A ground invasion of southern Lebanon might make it possible for Israeli forces to target Hezbollah militants more accurately and reduce risk to civilian targets.

Actually, according to Israeli sources, a ground invasion would have produced MORE civilian casualties. I’m not sure why this is, but it certainly seems plausible. With guerrillas mixed in with the population, it’d be essentially all house-to-house fighting. Machine guns and hand grenades are not precision munitions.

More broadly: The decision to restrict military action to air strikes, artillery, and targeted raids is an effort to devise a new strategy to counter the asymmetric warfare practiced by semi-state armed groups like Hamas and Hezbollah. Hezbollah uses its non-state status to escape major military retaliation: a state which kidnapped its neighbor’s soldiers would be inviting total war and could then be blamed for the consequences, but Hezbollah seeks to stay under the radar and evade responsibility. By refusing to accept responsbility for the territory and population it controls, it keeps options open and evades annoying consequences.

Israel’s previous responses to such organizations involved invading and occupying territory. This ultimately became counterproductive because Israel was forced to assume responsibility for hostile populations. So Israel, in the post-“Yesh Gvul” era, is trying a new strategy: retaliation without occupation. They retreat, build a wall, and launch retaliatory raids — in this case, massive ones. The goal is to leave the hot potato in the other guy’s hands, and pummel him. Hopefully this will force him to accept responsibility for the territory he controls and for halting military actvitity inside it.

The problem is that this strategy has not been very successful so far. Authorities in Gaza and South Lebanon have not materialized to take responsibility for restraining militia violence. Rather, Israeli violence has promoted the most extremist armed groups, who claim to be the only ones capable of protecting civilians against the Israelis, or at least of “making them pay”. Some anger towards irresponsible militants is generated, in both Gaza and Lebanon; but the sense of helplessness and anger in the face of Israeli violence is at least as strong, which leaves the field to the militants. It is not clear whether there is any realistic way out of this conundrum for the Israelis (or the Palestinians or Lebanese, for that matter).

86

brooksfoe 07.24.06 at 12:14 am

The idea that all this can only be understood as a blood feud, so no moral standards can apply, might not be naive, but it certainly seems entirely unproductive. If you are going to get anything out of the vendetta model, presumably you want to look at how these feuds ended, which, I imagine, was that the survivors got sick of fighting.

This presumes that the blood feud will eventually end. It may, but perhaps not within the lifetimes of anyone involved, or of their great-grandchildren. If you look at the landscape this way, then the most rational question is not how to end the feud, but how to survive best in the context of the feud.

I have been watching this conflict since 1981 – not so long, really. My idealism is gradually being drummed out of me.

87

Mike Otsuka 07.24.06 at 12:28 am

63 — But Hezbollah deliberately started the current war, and has done nothing to end it. It is therefore fully responsible for all the consequences, including the death and destruction inflicted by the other side. (That doesn’t change Israel’s responsibility for its own actions – all parties to a war of choice are fully and jointly responsible for the death and destruction they cause.)

So if I punch you and you retaliate by dropping a bomb on my house — killing me and my family, including my innocent children — I’m fully responsible for the death of myself and my children? I’m fully responsible, no matter how unjustifiably disproportionate the response to what I deliberately started? I don’t think so.

88

Mike Otsuka 07.24.06 at 12:35 am

(PS re #89: I don’t mean to imply that Hezbollah’s initial act in this conflict was no more than a punch. I’m simply questioning what I take to be the general principle that John is relying on to draw his inference in the second sentence of what I’ve quoted.)

89

brooksfoe 07.24.06 at 12:39 am

Mike, what’s the issue? “That doesn’t change Israel’s responsibility for its own actions”, i.e. Israel is responsible too. Are you trying not just to implicate Israel, but actually to EXCUSE Hezbollah – i.e. to say they DON’T bear any responsiblity for the war in Lebanon?

90

Mike Otsuka 07.24.06 at 12:40 am

PPS to #89: I might add:

I’m fully responsible, no matter how unjustifiably disproportionate and unpredictable the response to what I deliberately started?

91

Mike Otsuka 07.24.06 at 12:47 am

brooksfoe — the issue I’m raising is the general validity of John’s inference. I’m not trying to excuse Hezbollah. Particular relevance to the case in question is not all that matters. See Harry B’s #59.

92

brooksfoe 07.24.06 at 12:58 am

mike – I suppose I think that once a conflagration gets to the point where it appears disproportionate to the initial spark, the question of whether the initial provocateur should bear full or only partial responsibility will amost always have ceased to have any relevance. One might argue that the Serbian nationalist movement should not bear the full brunt of responsibility for all the deaths in World War I; but who cares, either way? Who would have cared even in 1915?

In the current case, there is universal agreement in the West that Hezbollah does bear the responsibility for having provoked a war. The conclusion is that they have to be separated from Israel by an international force which will shoulder some of the burden of ensuring they can’t launch any more military provocations. To what extent Hezbollah shares responsibility with the Israelis for the death and destruction in Lebanon…does this really matter to anyone? Why?

93

Mike Otsuka 07.24.06 at 1:10 am

brooksfoe — Is it really of no interest to you whether (as John appears to think) it’s appropriate to condemn Hezbollah just as strongly as it’s appropriate to condemn Israel for the death and destruction Israeli bombs are wreaking on Lebanon?

94

Sebastian Holsclaw 07.24.06 at 1:19 am

“Actually, according to Israeli sources, a ground invasion would have produced MORE civilian casualties. I’m not sure why this is, but it certainly seems plausible. With guerrillas mixed in with the population, it’d be essentially all house-to-house fighting.”

And this has always been the problem. If Israel isn’t allowed to invade, and it isn’t allowed to bomb, what the heck is it supposed to do when missiles rain down on it from Lebanon and Hezbollah kidnaps (remember it isn’t a war because Israel can’t invade or bomb so they clearly aren’t POWs) its soldiers?

95

brooksfoe 07.24.06 at 1:24 am

whether (as John appears to think) it’s appropriate to condemn Hezbollah just as strongly as it’s appropriate to condemn Israel

What is accomplished by condemning? How much time do you want to spend thinking about relative condemn-strength?

96

John Quiggin 07.24.06 at 2:10 am

Mike, I agree that responsibility for your actions only extends to reasonably foreseeable consequences. But that’s not an issue here. Even if Israel’s reaction wasn’t foreseeable (and given that the situation matched that in Gaza, it obviously was foreseeable) Hezbollah has chosen to carry on fighting, refused to release its prisoners and so on.

The fact that a foreseeable response might be unjustifiable does not reduce your responsibility. To follow your analogy (with trepidation, since analogies are always dangerous) if you punch a neighbour whom you know to be prone to murderous rages, you are responsible for the consequences.

97

abb1 07.24.06 at 2:21 am

Bro. Bartleby,
I think the attacks would and will continue, because too many simply hate Israel, or more precisely, hate the Jews, for no other reason than they are Jews.

I don’t hate any Jews, yet the ‘wipe out’ rhetoric doesn’t seem to me entirely unreasonable or unjustified.

Because when Israel was created (quite recently, in the post-WWII civilized era) there was a community there that was wiped out by Israel. Some of those people are still alive, they, their children and grand-childeren live in refugee camps. They still have titles to their houses and farms, keys to their apartments.

The attitude of the Israelis (or a vast, vast majority of them anyway) is that these refugees should just move on, find themselves some other place to live. There are about 6 million of these people now, plus 3 million living under Israeli occupation. That’s 9-10 million direct victims, and you’ll probably find a couple of billion people who sympathize with them and believe in their cause.

Under these circumstances it doesn’t seem too surprising or unfair that a lot of folks think of Israel as an illegitimate entity that should be wiped out for the indigenous population to be able to come back home and achieve self-determination they are entitled to.

And that’s all there is to it, you shouldn’t assume an irrational motivation where there is a perfectly rational one right in front of your nose, brother.

98

Roy Belmont 07.24.06 at 2:24 am

John Q -
What happened to end the Hatfield-McCoy feud was distance, through time, and the steady encroachment by larger, armed, entities. But it took a long while. I’m not in any way suggesting the answer’s there, but a platform for insight is.
Contrary to #94 there is no “universal agreement in the West” that Hezbollah bears responsibility for having caused “a war”. There may be universal agreement in the media and officialdom of the West, and in those unfortunate enough to still listen to them uncritically, but that’s another thing entirely.
Hatfield-McCoy began with a very specific act of violent injustice, and a case could be made that everything that came after was caused by that – but there is the complicity and the furthering of revenge in its own cause, a nuance rejected more nearly universally than the attribution of blame for the present carnage is agreed on.
There are substantial moral and practical differences between the havoc in 19th c. Appalachia and in 21st c. Lebanon, but that’s one thing these events have in common.
What’s striking to me is the oxidizing of humanity in rage, fueled by grief and loss – the way the violence becomes a conflagration.
Rationality – rules and attribution of cause – requires a perspective that’s far removed from the mayhem. But that same distance diminishes the emotional content of action and reaction. And it’s emotion that’s driven these things throughout history, and drives them now.
It feels as though each step justifies the next, and is justified by the last, to the people for whom the violence is anything but abstract numbers and digital imagery.

*

The wikipedia entry on H-M isn’t as readable as James C. Simmons’ page, gone now save in the dust-free archives of Google.

99

abb1 07.24.06 at 2:35 am

But Hezbollah deliberately started the current war, and has done nothing to end it.

I don’t understand how an across the border raid by a militia amounts to starting a war between two states. You could say that they gave a reason to start the war, perhaps even a good reason, but they didn’t start it.

100

Mike Otsuka 07.24.06 at 2:50 am

John at #98 — Perhaps I’m fully responsible for the consequences of my punch if it provokes an uncontrollable human response that was foreseeable. This might be because the uncontrollable behaviour of another human being is relevantly like the causal effects of non-agents. So just as my responsibility for a death I cause by pressing a button that releases a payload isn’t reduced by the fact that the death is more proximately caused by the explosion of the bombs, it may not be reduced when death is more proximately caused by the uncontrollable, predictable behaviour of another. But if the deliberate and free (as opposed to uncontrollable) agency of another is a more proximate cause of death than my own agency, then it’s odd to claim that I’m fully responsible for the death even if I could have predicted what this person would do. This is because it’s odd to claim that I’m fully responsible for the deliberate and free acts of another — at least so long as we set aside special cases in which this person is acting on my orders or as my agents.

101

Brendan 07.24.06 at 3:24 am

‘But Hezbollah deliberately started the current war, and has done nothing to end it.

I don’t understand how an across the border raid by a militia amounts to starting a war between two states. You could say that they gave a reason to start the war, perhaps even a good reason, but they didn’t start it.’

I thought it should be generally quite well known by now (at least in the blogosphere) that the idea that Hizbollah ‘deliberately started’ this war is a lie. I mean come on guys. This is an invasion. You think the Israeli’s wrote down their invasion plans on the back of a napkin at lunch at few days ago? Common sense alone would suggest that months, perhaps, years of planning would be involved in this, and common sense would be right.
Moreover, why do people tend to believe that Israel ‘wants to live in peace’ with its neighbours? What is the evidence for this? If it does, why does it keep on invading them? In terms of politics, people are inclined to make different political choices in a war situation. There are many politicians in Israel (perhaps most of them) who would simply not have been elected had they not been able to present themselves as being ‘military strongmen’ in a ‘time of war’. It is certainly not in these men’s interests to choose peace over war.

102

Thom Brooks 07.24.06 at 3:43 am

I’ve really enjoyed these posts, agreeing with much of what Mike Otsuka says.

One thing I simply cannot grasp for the life of me is the two sides of Alan Dershowitz. On the one hand, he once championed rule of law and procedural justice in the high profile O.J. Simpson case. On the other hand, he now thinks that the enforcement of justice may require parting with precedent and breaking (international) law. I wonder how he’d defend Simpson now if the case ever arose….

103

Chris Bertram 07.24.06 at 3:43 am

Mike, I’m sympathetic to the point you’re making here, but surely we often make judgements that go the other way. And I think it is important to make the point that responsibiliity judgements aren’t zero sum. So we can judge, without inconsistency, that two human beings are both fully responsible for an outcome.

Imagine a German, at the end of WW2, contemplating the ruins of Berlin and saying “Hitler brought this on us.” I think that’s a true statement, and a statement ascribing responsibility, even though it is also true that nearly all the actual destruction passes through the free agency of others. I also think that we can blame other agents for their conduct in bringing about the outcome that the statement holds Hitler fully responsible for. So, amid the destruction, a Soviet soldier rapes a German woman. He is fully blameworthy for the rape, and we can also say “Hitler brought this on the Germans.”

In the present case, it seems to me that holding Hezbollah fully responsible is compatible with also holding the Israelis responsible for the bad things they do. Whether we ought to hold Hezbollah fully responsible, though, may depend on whether we judge that they started a conflict which wouldn’t otherwise have happened or whether their action merely provided the pretext the Israelis were looking for.

104

Marc Mulholland 07.24.06 at 4:04 am

Astrongmaybe, you’re right about the INLA rationale behind the attack on the Droppin’ Well. I seem to remember that one of the perpetrators later committed suicide out of remorse. The INLA, of course, were not the IRA.

Henry, the IRA never adopted a ‘Dershowitz’ principle of simple proximity to armed enemy forces rendering civilians a legitimate target. They could not have done so, as Dershowitz is effectively treating civilian refusal to obey Israeli commands to evacuate the free-fire zone as a hostile act. (By this frightful rationale, it’s very hard to see how Israeli settlers in the occupied territories are not legit. targets). Northern Ireland allowed for no analogous situation. You would find better parallels in British counter-insurgency – bloc houses, concentration camps, secure villages etc) than IRA depredations.

What the IRA did do was take unacceptable risks of collateral damage in an unjust pursuit of military targets, and to define the British war-machine very widely (though, admittedly, less widely than is standard in conventional war). They also occasionally carried out sectarian atrocities, usually under a nom de guerre.

105

corbetti 07.24.06 at 4:42 am

Pay attention, people: the Israeli soldiers WERE NOT KIDNAPPED.

They were apprehended IN LEBANON.

The Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah movement announced on Wednesday that its guerrillas have captured two Israeli soldiers in southern Lebanon. “Implementing our promise to free Arab prisoners in Israeli jails, our strugglers have captured two Israeli soldiers in southern Lebanon,” a statement by Hezbollah said. “The two soldiers have already been moved to a safe place,” it added. The Lebanese police said that the two soldiers were captured as they “infiltrated” into the town of Aitaa al-Chaab inside the Lebanese border. [Hindustan Times 7/12/06]

According to the Lebanese police force, the two soldiers were captured in Lebanese territory, in the area of Aïta Al-Chaab close to the border, whereas Israeli television indicated that they had been captured in Israeli territory. [fr.news.yahoo 7/12/06]

Search the international press. The UK/US Media has an agenda, and it is NOT the truth.

106

soru 07.24.06 at 5:03 am

If you define the ‘British war-machine’ sufficiently widely that it includes Birmingham pubs, Manchester shopping centers, and London office blocks, then you might as well not bother with a definition.

107

Marc Mulholland 07.24.06 at 5:14 am

Soru, I was talking about the IRA definition of British ‘war-machine’ personnel, as more relevant to the theme of the thread. The IRA didn’t define the civilians killed in the ‘economic war’ as legit targets; rather as collateral (or disavowed altogether, as in Birmingham, though the perpertraters weren’t disciplined as far as I know). Civilian contractors, cleaners, construction workers etc on security force projects were defined as legitmate targets, particularly by the 1980s.

Of course, the very grreat majority of civilian victims of the IRA (about one quarter of all their victims), and in general, were in Northern Ireland rather than Great Britain.

108

Mike Otsuka 07.24.06 at 5:36 am

Chris — I agree that responsibility isn’t zero-sum. But surely the raping Soviet soldier couldn’t justifiably claim that Hitler was as fully responsible for the rape of the German woman as he was. And it’s not clear to me why a third party should come to a different assessment of responsibility in this case. A better case for you is one in which the deliberate and free acts of allied soldiers are, unlike rape, morally required responses. So, to refine what I say at #102, I’m willing to concede that Hitler is fully responsible for the death and destruction caused by the Allies where Hitler’s aggression left them “no choice” (morally speaking) but to deliberately and freely respond as they did. But I don’t think people should be held fully responsible for the disproportionate or otherwise unjustifiable deliberate and free choices of others that they provoke.

109

Eyal 07.24.06 at 5:38 am

1) Jim (#53): That’s simply incorrect. While attacks have occured in that disputed area (which, mind you, even the UN says is not Lebenese territory), they’ve not been confined to it. For example, last November, 11 Israelis (including 4 civilians) were injured in Ghajar*. In May there was another Hizbullah attack, which included an anti-tank missile striking a house in Metulah (which is quite some distance from the area). In addition, the attack in which the soldiers were kidnapped involved rocket attacks against Israeli communities in the area (injuring 5 civilians in the process).

2) jack (#64): you seem to assume that Israel has an interest in the status quo, or in a weak and divided Lebanon (or, for that matter, in maintaining – for no apparent reason – its “behavious towards its neighbours”). In point of fact, Israel has been trying to use diplomatic pressure to get Lebanon to change the status quo by taking control of southern Lebanon.

3) luci (#73): I don’t know the ratio of how many rockets strike cities rather than open areas (not “desert”, note – this is northern Israel, not Sderot). However, a lot of them do hit Israeli communities. But since Israel has prepared defenses (warnings and shelters) for the civilian populace, most of those rockets fail to do more than property damage (and relatively little – many of the rockets were converted to anti-personnel use, so they’re – relatively – less effective against hardened targets) and are thus not reported, or only offhand.

As I noted above, while Israel hasn’t been under continous attacks by Hizbullah, they have attacked Israeli civilian communities prior to the beginning of the Israeli attack.

As for Lebenese casualty numbers, there are some indications (though nothing definitive) that some of the “civilians” in the (Lebenese-supplied) statistics were actually Hizbullah fighters.

4) brenden (#103) – As I noted above, Hizbullah has been sporadically attacking Israel since the withdrawal six years ago. Nor is this the first time they’ve kidnapped Israeli soldiers since then (pesonally, I think that we could have avoided the current mess – at a much smaller cost to both sides – had we gone in after Hizbullah then, when it was obvious neither Lebanon or the UN were going to do anything to restrain them). The current situation was quite forseeable, and the IDF would have been derelict in its duty had it not had plans for such an eventuality.

5) corbetti (#107): The soldiers were kidnapped while on patrol between Shtulah and Zarit – both of which are on the Israeli side of the order. Furthermore, if Israel had crossed the border, it likely wouldn’t have been with reseve soldiers, who according to news reports were mustering out that day. Finally, not even Hizbullah is claiming they were on the Lebenese side. Note that both of yur sources are from the day of the kidnapping – it’s not unusual for initial reports to be wrong. For that matter, even later reports in the Hindustan Times describe the soldiers as “patrolling the border”.

*On the Israeli side; the border runs through the village.

110

Brendan 07.24.06 at 5:53 am

‘As I noted above, Hizbullah has been sporadically attacking Israel since the withdrawal six years ago. Nor is this the first time they’ve kidnapped Israeli soldiers since then (pesonally, I think that we could have avoided the current mess – at a much smaller cost to both sides – had we gone in after Hizbullah then, when it was obvious neither Lebanon or the UN were going to do anything to restrain them). The current situation was quite forseeable, and the IDF would have been derelict in its duty had it not had plans for such an eventuality.’

Ipso facto, given the fact that the Israelis have invaded Lebanon (a democracy, let’s never forget) then presumably the Lebanese would be derelict in their duty not to counter attack, and perhaps create a ‘buffer zone’ of a few miles inside Israel in which IDF forces would be forbidden to operate? After all, if the Israeli government is incapable of reigning in the IDF, then presumably the Lebanese will have to do it. Presumably, also, the Israeli populace will accept this invasion, and realise ‘it’s for their own good’.

(ah but Hizbullah started it….ah but what about the Israeli operations in Gaza before then….ah but what about the Israeli invasion before then…ah but….and so tediously backwards and backwards and backwards).

111

abb1 07.24.06 at 5:56 am

surely the raping Soviet soldier couldn’t justifiably claim that Hitler was as fully responsible for the rape of the German woman as he was. And it’s not clear to me why a third party should come to a different assessment of responsibility in this case.

Suppose a governor pardons a murderer (say, for personal reason? for a bribe?), the guy comes out and murders someone. Should the governor be held resonsible by the third party – the public? To want extent?

112

Chris Bertram 07.24.06 at 6:00 am

Mike. Yes, you’re right about the rape case. But I think your restriction to morally required responses is too stringent. (1) You ought to allow morally permitted responses as well as morally required ones. (2) I think you have to make some allowance for the way in which parties to a conflict can make it the case that the moral threshold of the other side gets lowered. The Allies, for example, chose to undertake their terror bombing campaigns of German cities, but in doing so (for which they are blameworthy) they developed a method of warfare that the Germans had pioneered at Guernica, Coventry etc. Here, I don’t mean “they started it” but rather that they corrupted the standard of acceptable conduct and thereby made it harder for their opponents to act morally.

113

abb1 07.24.06 at 6:05 am

As for Lebenese casualty numbers, there are some indications (though nothing definitive) that some of the “civilians” in the (Lebenese-supplied) statistics were actually Hizbullah fighters.

Indeed. Lenin’s Tomb has this amazing BBC link: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/5208110.stm

The children’s father paces the hospital corridor. His dress, language, beard and the fact that he was “elsewhere” when the attack occurred, all indicate he may be a member of Hezbollah.

114

john m. 07.24.06 at 6:07 am

I think the real conundrum is why did they kidnap the two soldiers in the first place? It’s fine to talk about reciprocation etc. but the IDF’s reaction has been entirely predictable (regardless of its justness) and Hezbollah would have been wholly aware of the likely response to their actions. So, the question stands, why bring this upon Lebanon? Hatred of Israel etc. does not usefully explain such a deliberate, specific action. I have a suspicion that this may have orignated as an attack on the post-Syrian Lebanon, with the IDF and Hezbollah only being required to act true to form – which of course they both have done. I have nothing to back this up other than the mystery of why they kidnapped the two soldiers in the first place, so other explanations are more than welcome.

On Dershowitz, somebody wondered earlier in the thread how the man who defending OJ could be reconciled with the above article. The snide answer is that he is lawyer and is thus demonstrating the moral vacuum at the heart of many in his profession. If you think that harsh, bear in mind that recently here in Ireland, after a Supreme Court striking down a statue, a lawyer went to court to apply for his client to be released from jail (basically on a legal technicality). A man who had PLED GUILTY to raping a 12 year old girl. Ugh.

115

abb1 07.24.06 at 6:12 am

John M, they kidnaped the two soldiers to initiate a prisoners exchange. This has happened before.

116

Mike Otsuka 07.24.06 at 6:23 am

Abb1 #113: Nothing I say above rules out the governor’s being held partially responsible for the murder. But surely the governor is not as responsible as the murderer for the murder. Therefore the governor is not fully responsible for the murder.

Chris #114: Perhaps “morally required” is too strong. But I think “morally permitted” is too weak. I think, rather, one needs something like “morally permitted and left with no reasonable alternative”. This encompasses cases in which the response is permissible but not required, yet it would have been supererogatory not to respond as one did.

117

john m. 07.24.06 at 6:30 am

Abb1, I think that is too weak an explanation – they must have known that a prisioner exchange would only be likely after an intense and (for Lebanon) crippling period of conflict. It is also a questionable tactic on their part in any event. I go back to my orignal point that it is, imo, highly unlikely that such a low level outcome was the only thing being planned.

118

abb1 07.24.06 at 6:31 am

Suppose the murderer is an insane maniac?

What I am trying to say here is that if your country ends up being occupied by a foreign power, it’s a statistical certainty that there will be many women raped by occupation soldiers, there is absolutely no doubt here. Thus even though individual soldiers are, of course, fully responsible for their actions, the overall responsibility on the national level seem to fall squarely on the leader.

119

otto 07.24.06 at 6:32 am

One further thought: It would seem to me that those suggesting that civilians can be targetted in Beirut have definitively yielded any principled arguments against the boycott of Israeli academics. After all, Israeli academics are at least as implicated in Israeli policies as Lebanese civilians are implicated in Lebanese policies. And, of course, there’s a difference between being killed, on the one hand, and, well, not being invited to a conference.

120

Mike Otsuka 07.24.06 at 6:43 am

Suppose the murderer is an insane maniac?

Remarks at #102 regarding uncontrollable human responses apply here.

121

abb1 07.24.06 at 7:16 am

Well OK, but it’s not the either-or: free acts of another or an uncontrollable response. It’s both. On the micro level it’s free acts of a bunch of people and on the macro level it’s an uncontrollable response. The mastermind may not be responsible for each individual act but he sure is fully responsible for the totality of them. It’s a paradox, then.

122

brooksfoe 07.24.06 at 7:58 am

It would seem to me that those suggesting that civilians can be targetted in Beirut have definitively yielded any principled arguments against the boycott of Israeli academics.

Oh, good for you. You got your little argument in, and now you can have your treasured boycott.

How appalling.

123

Bro. Bartleby 07.24.06 at 7:58 am

#99 “I don’t hate any Jews, yet the ‘wipe out’ rhetoric doesn’t seem to me entirely unreasonable or unjustified.”

Okay, let’s see, the guilt of the post-WWII Europeans made them acknowledge that, gee, the Jews have suffered enough, let’s ‘give’ them their own land, in fact, we control that piece of real estate, so ‘we’ll give them their homeland’ — and behind closed doors, they wink and say, “Why didn’t Hitler think of this?” Send these pesky people to a place surrounded my enemies, dump them atop some indigenous Arabs, then let ‘our problem’ be solved. Germany, Switzerland, France … by golly, all Europe will be Jew free! Oh yeah, shall we complain about the Japanese that took over the lands of the Ainu or the Okinawans? Or the Americans that created a nation on the land of the native Americans? And Canada, same same. South Africa? Brazil? Australia? And on and on … this notion that folks ‘sprung from the earth’ on a particular tract of land and remained there forever is just fiction. The Jews on that bit of land is no different from you resting atop whatever bit of land you are now resting upon.

124

brooksfoe 07.24.06 at 8:01 am

But you know what’s really appalling? mike otsuka and abb1 are having arguments over figments of their own imaginations, slicing up degrees of moral condemnation on the head of a pin, while eyal, who actually knows what’s she’s talking about, is probably posting from inside a bomb shelter.

125

Bob B 07.24.06 at 8:15 am

There is a certain sense of nauseous hypocrisy about current expressions of outrage over the abduction of Israeli military personnel by Hezbollah in the light of these press reports on the release from national archives in Britain of previously secret files:

“MI5 [the internal security sercice in Britain] feared that Zionist ‘terrorists’ were plotting to assassinate the then British foreign secretary, Ernest Bevin, and set up IRA-style cells in London during the war for an Israeli state, papers released today by the national archives reveal.

“In an ironic twist on the current situation in Israel, a 1946 MI5 briefing document, called Present Trends in Zionism, said that the Stern Group, which in 1944 assassinated Lord Moyne, the British military governor in the Middle East, had been steadily recruiting and was believed to number as many as 600 followers ‘most of whom are desperate men and women who count their own lives cheap’.

“The note continued: ‘In recent months it has been reported that they have been training selected members for the purpose of proceeding overseas and assassinating a prominent British personality – special reference having been made several times to Mr [Ernest] Bevin in this connection.'”
http://politics.guardian.co.uk/politicspast/story/0,9061,961081,00.html

“MI5 was warned that Jewish terrorists planned to assassinate members of Clement Attlee’s postwar Labour government and feared that Menachem Begin, then leader of the extremist Irgun resistance group and a future prime minister of Israel, had tried to trick it by having cosmetic surgery to disguise his identity, files released yesterday disclose.”
http://politics.guardian.co.uk/politicspast/story/0,,1724378,00.html

Even Pravda reported – unfortunately the link therein to The Times no longer functions:

“JEWISH terrorists plotted to assassinate Ernest Bevin, the foreign secretary, in 1946, as part of their campaign to establish the state of Israel, newly declassified intelligence files have shown. The plan was devised by Irgun, the insurgent group led by Menachem Begin, who went on to become a Nobel peace prize winner and prime minister of Israel.

“Agitation among the Jewish population for a separate state escalated immediately after the second world war as refugees flooded in from Europe.

“It reached its most intense point in July 1946, when the British headquarters at the King David hotel in Jerusalem was bombed by Jewish fighters dressed as Arabs with explosives contained in milk churns. Ninety-one people, 28 of them British, were killed.”
http://engforum.pravda.ru/showthread.php3?threadid=161426

Perhaps even more worrying are several reports in various sources about the endeavours made by the Stern Gang in 1941 to make alliances with the Nazis:
http://www.palestineremembered.com/Acre/Palestine-Remembered/Story799.html

126

abb1 07.24.06 at 8:32 am

Bro. Bartleby,
Send these pesky people to a place surrounded my enemies, dump them atop some indigenous Arabs, then let ‘our problem’ be solved.

…dump them? what ‘our problem’ are you talking about? Have you ever heard about a rarely mentioned obscure movement called ‘Zionism’? Are you aware of the actual facts at all?

127

P O'Neill 07.24.06 at 8:56 am

Professor Reynolds has entered with a Solomonic resolution of the argument

[quoting from a link] “To Hezbollah — high on the hatred of centuries — this is total war, and the very term “civilian” — except for its temporary value in gulling the West — does not apply.”

This is something that neither the press, nor discussions of the law of war, gives sufficient attention.

128

Kevin Donoghue 07.24.06 at 9:07 am

Brooksfoe,

You are sending rather mixed messages here. Upthread you wrote:

What is accomplished by condemning?

Now you write:

But you know what’s really appalling? mike otsuka and abb1 are having arguments over figments of their own imaginations….

So, have got this right: killing people with rockets and bombs is just the way of the world – condemnation is pointless – but debating the finer points of morality is shameful?

Make up your mind, please.

129

Geoffrey MG 07.24.06 at 9:18 am

From 24 March to 10 June 1999 US President Clinton and European governments ordered NATO to conduct an air campaign against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

Over 10 weeks, NATO aircraft conducted over 38,000 combat sorties, including 10,484 strike sorties. Yugoslav media stated that “thousands of civilians” were killed in NATO air raids although later FRY government accounts ranged from 400 to 600.

Major incidents included the 23 April 1999 attack on the headquarters of Serbian state Television and Radio (16 civilians killed), the 12 April bombing of Grdelica railroad bridge (12 civilians killed) and the missile attack on Varvarin bridge on 30 May (11 civilians killed). Other incidents involving significant civilian casualties were the destruction of a passenger train on a bridge and the attack on civilian vehicles in Kosovo.

There was an efficient economic embargo on Yugoslavia. More than 30 countries agreed to cut the flow of oil, for instance and NATO eliminated the FRY’s ability to refine oil.

According to Serbian trade unions, the destruction of factories left more than 500,000 workers jobless and eliminated incomes for another one and half million family members who depended on them.

The Yugoslav Red Cross said NATO bombing had resulted in the destruction of civilian districts in the towns of Aleksinac, Pristina, Novi Sad, Djackovica, Surdulica, Cacak, Valjevo, Cuprija, Nis and Prokuplje. This had created more than 1 million internally displaced persons.

UN officials at the time warned that a humanitarian disaster was looming in Yugoslavia. Stephan Vandam of WHO said drugs, medical equipment and food were urgently needed throughout the country to prevent the spread of disease. In Serbia, he said, the bombing had destroyed health clinics, while other clinics were forced to operate irregularly due to electricity cuts, fuel shortages, staff reductions and lack of drugs.

Such, apparently, are the incidentals of legitimate acts of war in Europe. And elsewhere?

130

Eyal 07.24.06 at 9:40 am

Brooksfoe

It’s not quite that bad – I’m in southern Israel, out of both Qassam and Hizbullah range (unless the “optimistic” estimates of the Zalzal prove correct)

(and it’s “he”, BTW)

:)

131

abb1 07.24.06 at 9:58 am

Eilat is nice, I remember diving in the yellow submarine there some years ago.

132

John Emerson 07.24.06 at 9:59 am

Bro B, you saintly motherfucker, everyone here is aware of the existence of anti-Semitism, and yet many of have serious doubts about Israel’s behavior. There’s no paradox or dilemma here. Speaking for myself and I think for many others, because of what I know of the Holocaust I’ve been much more indulgent of Israel than I would be of, say, Armenia or North Korea if they had acted similiarly. But if Israel continues to milk anti-anti-Semitism as relentlessly as they’ve been doing, they’ll be setting themself up for disaster. The Holocaust ended before most people were born.

I can say in so many words that on the average I like Jewish Americans better than generic Americans, and I’m even occasionally accused of being a Jew myself, but frankly the Israelis don’t always seem much like Jews to me. It’s my understanding that the Israelis don’t like Woody Allen Jews much, whereas I like Woody Allen Jews fine.

Americans pay special attention to Israel’s behavior because we funbd Israel and give them full diplomatic support. We don’t fund the other countries and factions in the area — except for Egypt, and our Egypt payoffs are for Israel’s benefit.

133

brooksfoe 07.24.06 at 10:01 am

So, have got this right: killing people with rockets and bombs is just the way of the world – condemnation is pointless – but debating the finer points of morality is shameful?

I neither wrote nor believe either of the above statements. However, they are not in contradiction with one another. Substitute “and” for “but” and see what you have. So I’m not sure what you’re trying to say.

Condemnation has its place. But, as I said above, the situation in Lebanon has now gone long past the point where it’s relevant even for heads of state to be thinking about whether they should be condemning Israel and Hezbollah in equal terms, in a ratio of 1.3 to 1, or whatever – let alone for European or North American citizens on blogs, who vote in neither Israel nor Lebanon, to be wasting time on such issues. And, as a more generalizable point, in situations like the one in Lebanon, where an initial provocation has spun way out of control, it is stupid, pointless, and a typical weakness of the left to waste its time thinking about whether shelling Maroun al Ras is more ethically comparable to the firebombing of Dresden or to a guy who hits his girlfriend’s notorious drunk brother outside a bar…ya di da di da.

I will allow myself to be sucked into the maelstrom of analogies with one of my own. In a bar fight, it is meaningful to subject the first two or three punches to ethical analysis — who insulted whom, was retaliation with a broken bottle ethically justified or disproportionate, etc. After the one hundredth punch, once six or seven guys are involved, whacking the hell out of each other with everything they’ve got, such analysis loses all meaning. The question is how to end the fight on reasonable terms and minimize the risk of more fights in the near future.

134

brooksfoe 07.24.06 at 10:05 am

And, Eyal, sorry about the gender switch. Duh.

135

harry b 07.24.06 at 10:23 am

brooksfoe, if you don’t like people engaging in careful moral deliberation, you don’t have to participate. Me, I’d like to know what is right and what is wrong.

136

astrongmaybe 07.24.06 at 11:01 am

John Emerson, #133 – with friends like you, “Jewish Americans” hardly need enemies…

Brooksfoe. #126, 134
Your original post read to me like “While an existential threat exists [here concretized in the image of posting in a bomb shelter], there is no need to answer to moral quibbling from those not.” It may have been vivid, but is essentially the familiar Israeli line used to shut down any and all criticism (strong version: “you want us driven into the sea, do you?”; weak version: “we live in a rough neighborhood”). It begs and evades all the questions that have been discussed here.

As for the angel-pinhead-dancing scholasticism of “having one’s house bombed in response” it’s hardly so far beyond the bounds of possibility. Consider the bombing of a house in Gaza City, July 12th, 2006. In an attempt to kill Mohammed Deif, a Hamas leader, the IAF dropped a quarter-ton bomb on the house in which he was staying, killing the owner of the house, described as “a Hamas activist”, his wife and seven children. Is that concrete and real-world enough to be considered?

137

Jonathan Edelstein 07.24.06 at 11:12 am

#103:

You think the Israeli’s wrote down their invasion plans on the back of a napkin at lunch at few days ago? Common sense alone would suggest that months, perhaps, years of planning would be involved in this, and common sense would be right.

Surely you aren’t suggesting that the existence of a contingency plan for an Israel-Hizbullah confrontation is proof that Israel wanted to go to war. It’s the job of security forces to prepare plans against foreseeable events, and whatever else may be said of a confrontation between the IDF and HA, it was eminently foreseeable.

The Canadian army has a contingency plan for war with the United States. Should we start fortifying the borders now?

138

Brendan 07.24.06 at 11:34 am

‘Surely you aren’t suggesting that the existence of a contingency plan for an Israel-Hizbullah confrontation is proof that Israel wanted to go to war.’

Oh please, less of the weasel words. ‘Confrontation’? This was a plan for an invasion. And do I think that Israel wanted to invade Lebanon and was looking for an excuse? Yup.

139

otto 07.24.06 at 11:59 am

“The Canadian army has a contingency plan for war with the United States.”

Interesting. Is there any evidence for this claim?

140

Bro. Bartleby 07.24.06 at 12:03 pm

133: I wonder if Gandhi ever said, “I’m even occasionally accused of being a Jew myself…”

But in 1946 Gandhi did say, “The Jews should have offered themselves to the butcher’s knife. They should have thrown themselves into the sea from cliffs.”

All I can say is … cute.

141

Kevin Donoghue 07.24.06 at 12:12 pm

We won’t really know until key people are fired and start to tell their story, but I think it’s a bit simplistic to say Israel wanted an invasion. Of course the IDF would love to destroy Hezbollah, and Hezbollah gave them a very good pretext. But they surely don’t want another prolonged occupation of Lebanon, which could be ruinous for morale. This commentary speculates that they hope to do the job with only a very minor role for troops. It struck me as plausible. Not that that’s any recommendation, since the only F16 I ever saw was in an air-show.

142

Jonathan Edelstein 07.24.06 at 12:17 pm

Interesting. Is there any evidence for this claim?

I’ll actually have to correct that – it was the other way around, and it was some time ago. There may or may not be a similar plan in some Pentagon or Canadian Forces desk drawer today.

I’ll stand by my main point, though – the existence of a contingency plan is not, by itself, proof of a desire to wage war. If the IDF didn’t have a contingency plan for a response to an attack by Hizbullah, it would be derelict in its duties. Note that I’m not saying anything about the ethical merit (or otherwise) of the IDF plan, only that its existence doesn’t prove that Israel was looking for a pretext.

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John Emerson 07.24.06 at 12:34 pm

Seriously, in what way am I anti-Semitic if I am anti-Israeli but pro-American-Jew? I realize that this is a taboo way of talking, but it’s a real question.

These are two different peoples, albeit with considerable overlap. I am in every way supportive of, and in most ways in agreement with, and often admiring of, and normally quite friendly with American Jews. And Americans who don’t like American Jews usually don’t like me either.

Traditional anti-Semites were people who basically hated the Jews they saw every day, and wanted to get rid of their own nation’s Jews. But I like the Jews I see every day, and basically prefer them to my own ethnic group, and end up agreeing with them about most things, and will automatically support them whenever anti-Semitism becomes an American issue. But I have real problems with Israel.

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John Emerson 07.24.06 at 12:38 pm

From a sectarian leftist site: American invasion plans, Canadian defense plans

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John Emerson 07.24.06 at 12:39 pm

From the link:

“Brown’s idea was to buy time for the British to come to Canada’s rescue. Buster even entered the United States in civilian clothing to do some reconnaissance.

‘He had a total annual budget of $1,200,” said Rudmin, “so he himself would drive to the areas where they were going to invade and take pictures and pick up free maps at gas stations.'”

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abb1 07.24.06 at 12:43 pm

How can you destroy Hezbollah? I only see 2 ways to destroy Lebanese Hezbollah – to kill all or most Shia Arabs in Lebanon or to remove the reasons for the Hezbollah to exist. Look at the Muslim Brotherhood that is being destroyed for the last 50 years now and only grows stronger and stronger. Yeah, and clearly you can’t remove the reasons for Hezbollah to exist by bombing.

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Brendan 07.24.06 at 12:52 pm

‘Note that I’m not saying anything about the ethical merit (or otherwise) of the IDF plan, only that its existence doesn’t prove that Israel was looking for a pretext.’

OK fair point. The existence of a plan does not prove that Israel was looking for a pretext. Nonetheless it does indicate that many in the Israeli military were unhappy (to put it mildly) about being defeated in Lebanon the last time, and were keen (again, to put it mildly) to have a return match and show the Lebanese who is boss. I really have nothing more to add about this beyond what has been stated in Juan Cole’s blog so eloquently, but very briefly there are two other ‘reasons’ (or contexts might be a better word) for the invasion. First: the blatant and aggressive racism of Israeli military discourse which portrays Islamic militants as ‘cancers’, ‘cockroaches’, and ‘animals’. This mode of discourse (aggressively and hysterically amplified by the likes of the late Christopher Hitchens and Glenn ‘Jesus Christ they let him teach law’ Reynolds) will have the obvious effect of not only tending to dehumanise members of the Hizbollah political party, and, therefore, the people who voted for it (and who can tell who voted for them? Better kill them all and let Allah sort it out), but also makes the Israeli defeat so hard to bear psychologically. Bad enough to have been beaten by human beings: worse to have been beaten by animals and vermin. Moreover, animals (unlike human beings) do not possess reason, and so there is no point in negotiating with them or discussing matters with them. Instead these creatures only respond to simple, primal emotions: fear, rage etc. Therefore the use of indiscriminate, massive force against civilians becomes not only acceptable but desirable. Second, the Israeli’s (and, perhaps, the Americans too) have a strong desire to destroy Arabic democracy, realising (accurately) that any democratic states will be likely to be strongly opposed to Israeli foreign policy. CF in this respect Lebanon, Palestine and, for what it’s worth, Iraq (not that the Iraqis’, currently under occupation, can do anything about it). Moreover, in striking at Hizbollah, the Israeli’s are (they think) weakening Iran, or at least helping to radicalise the region. It’s not exactly a great secret that the Americans have been desperate to invade Iran (and Syria) since the Iranians started to ‘ruin’ the Great Democratic Experiment in Iraq, and this may yet turn out to be the Causus Belli. Since WW2 American foreign policy has been devoted to helping the Sunnis crush the Shias (in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq and elsewhere) and it still is. The rise to power of the Shias in Iraq was a (completely unforeseen, to the Americans) disaster, and now the only way to stop it happening, thinks Bush (and Rumsfeld) is to crush the Iranians who (they think) are ‘behind it all’. The current invasion may well be the start of operation ‘nuke the Iranians’.

I might also point out in passing that a great many radical religious Zionists (many of whom are certifiably mad) want the return of the ‘Biblical’ Israel which ‘ has the river Jordan as its eastern border and the Brook of Egypt in the West. It encompasses most of modern Israel, the territories, a small part of modern Egypt, southern Lebanon, and the southwestern tip of Syria.’ (Wikipedia).

And gosh and golly here is Israel is invading the ‘South of Lebanon’ yet again for the first time in…gosh it hardly feels like years. This religiously inspired Zionist agenda fits in well with George Bush’s radical Christian right wing agenda in the Holy Land. Secularists tend to ignore these motivations because they simply can’t let themselves believe that religion continues to motivate people in the 21st century (this was one of the many major flaws in the Mearsheimer and Walt paper) but they are wrong.

People who tell themselves that (some) Israelis have no desire to grab and hold or at least control, permanently, parts of Lebanon (i.e. the South) are also deluding themselves.

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Donald Johnson 07.24.06 at 2:19 pm

To John Emerson–

I generally agree with you, but talking about Israeli Jews vs. American Jews and so on just isn’t helpful. Put it another way–I strongly dislike militaristic assholes no matter what their ethnicity. A lot of Israelis seem to be militaristic assholes, as do a lot of Americans (and of my ethnicity). That seems to me to cover the point you want to make. Maybe.

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Donald Johnson 07.24.06 at 2:20 pm

Oh, and to be fair, Hezbollah also seems to be run by militaristic assholes.

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Bob B 07.24.06 at 3:01 pm

In Britain, “the Liberal Democrats have [just now] called on the prime minister to halt any further shipments of military equipment to Israel. . . “
http://www.epolitix.com/EN/News/200607/839bcfd9-33ed-4ea2-b1e4-a50c7264ed37.htm

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soru 07.24.06 at 3:21 pm

CF in this respect Lebanon, Palestine and, for what it’s worth, Iraq (not that the Iraqis’, currently under occupation, can do anything about it).

Quite a good test of any political interpretation of historical events is to ask if it would apply equally or more plausibly to the same events in reverse time order.

If the USA had invaded to replace al-Maliki with Saddam, had used diplomacy to pressure Syria into occupying the Lebanon, what would you interpret that as revealing about their intentions?

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John Emerson 07.24.06 at 3:42 pm

Probably I like a lot of Israeli Jews too. I don’t know many.

But the fact is, there are traditional patterns of anti-Semitism, and I don’t fit them, and I do get tired of the issue being raised visavis the Israel question (by our delectable Brother Bartleby).

153

me 07.24.06 at 5:10 pm

How about non-traditional patterns of anti-Semitism? You know, you gotta move on…

That many of Israel’s critics are (less or more – often probably less – consciously) motivated by anti-Semitic prejudice, bias, double standards, etc. does not preclude, of course, the possibility that (many of) Israel’s actions, policies, etc. are reprehensible.

In fact, I sadly believe that both propositions are true.

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Bob B 07.24.06 at 5:56 pm

Readers may be interested to see these official summary accounts of released MI5 files relating to jewish terrorist organisations in the early post-WW2 years targeting Ernest Bevin, Britain’s foreign secretary in the Attlee government and one of the original founders of the NATO alliance:
http://www.mi5.gov.uk/output/Page453.html

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derrida derider 07.24.06 at 7:38 pm

I visited Israel some years ago, and was genuinely shocked by the outright racism of many Israelis I met – all the more so as it often came out of the mouths of otherwise likeable people. They really do see the Arabs as untermenschen.

So Bro. Bartleby oughtta be very chary of playing the racism card.

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brooksfoe 07.24.06 at 8:23 pm

It’s true that Israelis are often racist. But they don’t see Arabs as untermenschen. They think that Arabs have an inferior political and socioeconomic culture. There’s no genetic theory involved.

This is a small point that in many ways doesn’t make much difference, but in other ways does. I don’t think there are any Israelis who have a physical repugnance towards shaking an Arab’s hand, the way that some whites in South Africa and the American south once did. But ultimately, it may make it harder for Israelis and Arabs to reconcile, not easier. Once the physical-genetic barriers fell in South Africa, they swept a lot of other things before them. It’s hard to imagine a similar revelatory enlightenment in Israel, where accurate knowledge about the other’s culture (clan-based societies, relatively low level of education (whose fault is that? (don’t get into it))) is all mixed in with the prejudice, and with rational caution, fear and hostility.

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Ros 07.24.06 at 8:56 pm

The continuing attacks on Israel by Hizbollah have been covered by others. I would like to add however. The 3 Israelis soldiers taken in 2000, after the peace agreement, were returned as corpses. It seems likely, thanks to the denied and then acknowledged UN videos, that they were alive when they were taken. That must figure in the Israeli considerations of the latest of at least four recent attempts to take Israeli soldiers.

The thread commenced with “disgusting” claim of Alan Dershowitz. Just as contingency plans are about possible events, so the changing nature of war requires discussion of emergent elements such as, what is a civilian? It is not as if Dershowitz is first or the only one to confront this issue.

“The conduct of war – Whom can you fight?
The practical question is this: “Is it immoral to kill civilians in war?”
An issue of growing importance

This question has become more important during the last 100 years because a century ago most people killed in wars were professionals.
·At the beginning of the twentieth century only 10%-15% of those who died in war were civilians.
·In World War 2 more than 50% of those who died were civilians.
·By the end of the century over 75% of those killed in war were civilians

May well be regarded as combatants
civilians who are helping the war effort – these are people working to supply the troops and to provide them with weapons or helping in other ways.

They aren’t combatants in the sense of bearing arms, but they are an essential part of the war machine and constitute a threat to the other side”

BBC religion ethics war site.

S Beck’s question, “Now if somebody can explain how Dershowitz goes beyond what is permitted by the Geneva Conventions, I’d be much obliged.”
I don’t think anyone did oblige. I will add to his question by asking whether those who consider that Israel is wrong in their manner of fighting would find this view of the international Red Cross as in fact supportive of the Israeli position, though I absolutely sure that the Red Cross would not like the Israelis to be given leeway.

“Any inhabited place near or in a zone where armed forces are in contact and which is open to occupation by the adversary may be declared a non-defended locality. Such a locality must fulfil the following conditions:[P. I, 59]

a) all combatants, as well as mobile weapons and mobile military equipment must have been evacuated;
b) no hostile use may be made of fixed military installations or establishments,.
c) no acts of hostility may be committed by the authorities or by the population,.
d) no activities may be undertaken in support of military operations.

As long as these conditions are met, no attack can be launched on the locality by any means whatsoever”

Many here appear to be arguing that Israel may not attack South Lebanon by any means whateversoever. But surely what Dershowitz says is that because activities are undertaken by “civilians” in support of Hizbollah’s military operations, the locations and hence the individuals in them may be attacked. There is not an absolute definition of “civilian” or for that matter “innocent” Should it not be an issue for discussion?

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Doctor Slack 07.25.06 at 1:14 am

Once the physical-genetic barriers fell in South Africa, they swept a lot of other things before them.

Ummm, most forms of racism — including the South African kind — come heavily mixed with pretensions to “rational” fear and hostility (tribal societies, violence, relatively low levels of education — sound familiar?). The “revelatory enlightenment” in South Africa wasn’t the fall of any “physical-genetic barrier,” but rather the realization among some parts of the white citizenry that a pariah apartheid state was becoming unsustainable, and among other parts that the national myth of having given the natives a “fair shake” was a lie.

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Brendan 07.25.06 at 2:26 am

‘It’s true that Israelis are often racist. But they don’t see Arabs as untermenschen. They think that Arabs have an inferior political and socioeconomic culture. There’s no genetic theory involved.’

This is unquestionably true. But does it really matter? One of the key differences between Nazi racism and the racism shown by the British Empire was precisely this: Nazis believed that some races (Jews, Slavs, ‘Negroes’) were simply biologically inferior and should be used as slaves (or pets?) or simply killed.

The British Empire on the other hand, bought into the idea that that there was such a thing as ‘progress’ in cultures, creating an ideological ‘pyramid’ with white, protestant, anglo-saxon, ‘male’ (and then, later, democratic) society at the top, with Catholic ‘culture’ underneath that, then Jewish/Muslim cultures/religions, then ‘oriental despotism’, and, at the bottom, ‘tribal societies (i.e. the native cultures of South America, and then, at the bottom, Africa).

Not only was this dubious enough on its own, but it’s notable that it was pretty easy to adapt this to an openly racist discourse: after all, many in the British Empire believed in this ‘pyramid of cultures’ and ALSO managed to be biologically racist as well. It’s not an either/or.

But the key point (apart from the fact that, from an anthropological point of view it’s nonsense) is that this provided a motivation for a certain kind of ‘paternalistic’ imperialism. ‘Aha!’ went the thinking. ‘”We” have “discovered” all these people. They are biologically the same as us. But, you see, they have an inferior culture. Therefore we, with our superior culture must invade. Then we can civilise them. Eventually (at some indeterminate point in the future) we will have raised them up to the level of culture already achieved by ourselves, and then we can “allow” them to govern themselves’.

There are so many problems with this kind of thinking I could easily turn this into an essay, but let’s just leave it at this: the non-racist cultural supremacy style of rhetoric is still very much a kind of discourse associated with a certain kind of imperialism.

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abb1 07.25.06 at 2:31 am

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John Emerson 07.25.06 at 7:15 am

Ros, while there are pacifists posting here as well as opponents of Israel, the Dershowitz question is specifically about redefining the term “non-combatant”. The non-pacifists here recognise that non-combatant deaths are unavoidable, but what Dershowitz wants to do is define the term out of existence by declaring a free-fire zone.

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Bob B 07.25.06 at 7:16 am

Whether from coincidence or not, on Monday evening the BBC broadcast a radio documentary on the activities of jewish terrorist organisations in the years following WW2 with the title: Document – A Date with Ernest Bevin.

The programme included taped interviews with some living Israelis who had been tasked at the time by Lehi or Irgun to assassinate Ernest Bevin, the foreign secretary in Attlee’s government, and bomb the Houses of Parliament in London. This is the relating BBC website posting:

“Mike Thomson investigates Jewish insurgency in Palestine after WWll and a plot to assasinate Britain’s Foreign Secretary, Ernest Bevin. . .”
http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/history/document/document.shtml

Illuminating insights from Matthew Parris on all this: Two reasons why I cannot bring myself to write about the Israel problem:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,6-2277670,00.html

I’m reminded of the sheep in Orwell’s Animal Farm?

“Four legs good, two legs baad.”
http://www.george-orwell.org/Animal_Farm/index.html

163

Kevin Donoghue 07.25.06 at 7:53 am

Ros,

What on earth are you trying to say? Are you asserting that Hezbollah has declared South Lebanon a “non-defended locality”? I note that you claim S. Beck’s question wasn’t answered, which is untrue.

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Yan 07.25.06 at 8:37 am

I just realized what a marvellous piece of bad faithed circular logic Dershowitz is nudging us toward:

Our enemies are terrorists because they murder our civilians.
But we can kill their civilians because terrorists don’t have a truly civilian population.

Finally! A way to have someone else’s cake, and shoot them too!

165

Bro. Bartleby 07.25.06 at 8:40 am

Hizbollah. Not the problem. The problem?

Iranian Parliament Speaker Gholam-Ali Haddad ‘Adel, the Iranian News Channel (IRINN) on July 18, 2006:

Gholam-Ali Haddad ‘Adel: “The Palestinian refugees should return to the land of their forefathers, and you, who came to Palestine from other countries, should return to your homes too.

“Today is the day of the liberation of Palestine, and the day of resistance. As said by Hassan Nasrallah, this courageous, vigilant, and informed religious scholar, the war has just begun.”

[…]

“We say to America, England, and the supporters of Israel in the West: You will not benefit from supporting Israel. You are earning the hostility of 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide, under the pretext of supporting a handful of Zionists, whom you brought and stuck, like a dagger, in the hearts of the Muslims in the Middle East.”

Crowd: “No more humiliation.

“No more humiliation.

“No more humiliation.”

http://memri.org/bin/latestnews.cgi?ID=SD121006

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Bob B 07.25.06 at 9:11 am

The indisputable evidence is that terrorism was used to create the state of Israel.

We are now witnessing the downstream consequences of that. The British government abstained in the UN debate on the future of the Palestine mandate in November 1947, warning that partition of Palestine would lead to continuing conflict. That predictive insight has proved absolutely correct.

It amounts to a trevesty to blame Britain for Palestine when British ministers were subject to terrorist threats and the then government abstained in the UN debate which created the separate state of Israel in Palestine.

As for what should we do about 1.5 billion muslims worldwide, I’m unclear precisely what Bro. Bartleby has in mind as his preferred alternative to a new diaspora. Genocide of the muslims?

167

Rebecca Allen 07.25.06 at 6:43 pm

I was struck by the resemblance to 2 other “arguments”: 1) The post-Katrina assertion that since the city of New Orleans had been ordered to evacuate, the people who stayed behind had broken the law and deserved what happened to them (never mind that they were almost all too poor/old/sick to travel), and 2) Hitler was clear about his plans for European Jews, so they should have all just left (for where?? not explained).

168

Thom Brooks 07.26.06 at 4:13 am

John M.–

I take your point. It is hard to accept the behaviour of trial lawyers who try to quash sentences for paedophiles who have pled guilty (in Ireland or elsewhere). That said, one can at least see as consistent the sophist who does whatever he can to defend his client. It is perhaps another to accept an entirely inconsistent bore who gets (rightfully) bent out of shape with procedural fairness, transparency, and the rule of law *for OJ Simpson* and *not* with Israel. I am not equating his two loves: I am not anti-Israeli (and I always suspected that Simpson’s son was to blame). This isn’t being a relativist defence lawyer, but different principles in different cases guy. Hard to swallow.

169

Stephen M (Ethesis) 07.26.06 at 9:58 pm

I appreciate everything posted here, I’ve learned something, regardless of how much I agree with or disagree with.

Thank you.

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JANJ 07.27.06 at 2:31 pm

Jew Jewish Israel, Muslim Arab Islamic

Is a person of Jewish descent who is an atheist actually a Jew? Is a person of Arab descent who is an atheist actually an Arab? What exactly is a person of Arab descent practicing Islam and living in Israel? What exactly is a person of German descent practicing Roman Catholicism and living in America as a fourth generation American? Is a person of Palestinian birth, now a citizen of Belize and an atheist, still a Palestinian? Is a person born and raised in Israel who emigrates to the U.S. and becomes a citizen still an Israeli in a political or national sense?

I find it interesting that the current situation in the Middle East is viewed in terms of both religious indentity and national identity. For example, the Lebanese people are comprised of a mixture of Islamic (religion) and Christian (religion) faiths, but are regarded as Arabs (regional)because their primary language is Arabic, but they are not descendents of the Arabs (Saudia Arabian)who, under Mohammed, conquered the region in the 8th century, “converted” the populace to Islam and moved westward. Linguistically, the term “semitic” applies to the major language group of southwestern Asia and northern Africa. It is especially fascinating to have met many Israelis who are atheists and consider their Jewishness to be strictly sectarian in nature. In analyzing and confronting the perpetual violence in the area, it is essential to determine how people view themselves relative to the place in which they live (community) and the political entity under which they are governed (state). People living in refugee camps do not consider themselves “citizens” of the camp, but consider the place from which they fled to be their “homeland”. Persons who have fled their traditional homeland to another location often adopt that locale as “home” and begin a new life, as seen in the migration of, say, Lithuanians to the United States after WWII; or the migration of large numbers of Hmong people to the U.S. follwing the Viat Nam war. In one way or another, these migrants are assimilated into the predominant culture and political entity over time. While they may retain liguistic and cultural aspects of the “old country,” they become participatory residents of the new locale.

In terms of Israel, the Jewish peoples fleeing the Roman destruction of their cultural homeland rarely assimilated into the political and cultural states/communities to which they fled, continuing instead to regard themselves as Jews, both in religious and cultural terms. As such, they were regarded as outsiders in Europe, Asia and even in America. They were regarded, at best, as clannish foreign beings who had no true place in cultural, religious and linguistic communities and political states in which they resided, worked, raised families and owned property. At worst, they were the victims of persecution and death at the hands of local communities and states. The founding of a Jewish state, regardless of the political validity of that state, offered Jews of every nation a place to return to home, despite the fact that many of them had lived in other states for many generations. Their return to Israel, a state politically carved out of a now Arabic ethnic region, could bring only conflict as the current inhabitants were displaced by the returning “wandering Jews.”

How then can we look to the origins of personal identity in a region to discover what, if any, means can be employed to minimize conflict and maximize peaceful coexistance?

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