Friday, March 07, 2008

They Want Israel to Be Proportional? Okay.

"We are proud and happy, and everyone in Jabel Mukaber is proud of him..."

- Family member of terrorist
Alaa Abu Dhein, responsible for shooting 8 at the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva in Jerusalem on March 6, 2008


Whether we're talking about a war started by Hizballah in 2006 or a terrorist attack in Jerusalem in 2008, the international community's advice to Israel on what sort of response is appropriate generally centers around this word and its many variations:




Earlier this week, a German Foreign Ministry spokesman in Berlin said the Jewish state should
"try to be proportional" in its approach to combating rocket fire from the Gaza Strip. During the Second Lebanon War in July-August 2006, the State of Israel was accused multiple times of using "disproportionate force" in response to Hizballah missile attacks and border violations. Even Israel has latched onto the word: A recent study conducted by the Israeli Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem found that "A survey of international practice suggests that... [Israel's] approach toward proportionality corresponds to, or is more stringent than, that taken by most Western countries confronting similar threats."

At a February 25 "Rally for Sderot" held in Toronto, Harvard University law professor Alan Dershowitz said, "The world is waiting for one of those rockets to hit a school bus, God forbid, to hit a school room, God forbid, to hit an ambulance, to hit a hospital, to hit a group of children. Then the world will say it's OK for Israel to respond. As long as it's
proportionate, and as long as no civilians are killed, and as long as it's done in a way that will have no impact on preventing it in the future. What other democracy in the world would wait until that horrible disaster occurs?"

This focus on proportionality in response to terror attacks and other acts of war, this request that any Israeli military actions should be proportionate to the threat posed, this requirement - which other countries, and the Palestinians for that matter, aren't obligated to hold to - that Jerusalem engage in proportional uses of force begs the question: What, exactly, do they mean when they use this term?

According to Professor Dershowitz,
"[Hamas] has a culture of death, not a culture of life… We choose life. [But] the international community will not allow Israel to engage in proportional, lawful actions that every other country in the world facing comparable threats would engage in." Dershowitz makes a very good point: the world asks Israel to be proportional, but really would prefer that there be no response from Israel at all. The world, in truth, is afraid of allowing Israel to actually be proportionate in its response, because.....because why?

Because here's the thing:

A truly proportionate response to Palestinian rockets being fired at communities in Israel would be - as I suggested in a previous blog entry - a reciprocal firing of rockets at Palestinian communities in the Gaza Strip. A truly proportionate response by Israel to a barbaric terrorist attack carried out against teenagers studying the Torah at a rabbinical school - such as occurred Thursday evening - would be the targeting of Islamic religious schools in the Gaza Strip or the West Bank, and the shooting of young men studying the Qu'ran. A truly proportionate response to attacks deliberately targeting Israeli civilians carried out by Palestinians would entail the deliberate targeting by Israel of Palestinian civilians.

Of course, there are those who claim that Israel already
does target civilians, and they point to the higher death tolls of Palestinian civilians compared with the civilian casualties on the Israeli side. Israel, though, is not to be blamed for the Palestinian practice of basing rocket-launching sites and terrorist safe-houses in the middle of residential neighborhoods. If anyone, or any group, is primarily responsible for placing Arab civilians in harm's way, it is the Palestinians themselves, and Hamas. Israel certainly doesn't go out of its way to harm Palestinian civilians; if only the same could be said about the attitude of Palestinian "resistance" groups toward Israeli civilians.

There's a part of me which says, "If only Israel targeted their civilians like the Palestinians target ours." It sounds bad, and I know the very idea is on the whole repugnant. However, at the same time I can't help but wonder if the intentional targeting of Palestinian civilians would make a difference.

After all, what is really lacking is not common ground or a willingness to discuss difficult issues; what is lacking is a "balance of terror". Palestinians rely on terrorist groups to attack Israelis in the hopes that Israelis will in turn put pressure on their leaders to make concessions to the Palestinian leadership. Even the Palestinian Authority, whatever its differences with Hamas, has a soft spot for violence directed primarily against Israeli civilians; Fatah terrorists have plenty of Jewish blood to answer for.

Were it not for the "culture of death" and the celebration of "martyrdom" pervading Palestinian society, I would say a balance of terror would be possible for Israel to achieve. The sad truth of the matter is that Palestinians don't care about their kids as much as we do. They don't value the lives of their children as much as they say they do. As evidenced by the quote which started off this entry, you can't create a balance of terror by threatening the lives of those who not only want to die, but wish to take you with them to Allah.

Let's look again at that aforementioned quote which started off this entry:

"We are proud and happy, and everyone in Jabel Mukaber is proud of him..."

It's no secret, and it's nothing new: This is what we're dealing with. This is the mentality the State of Israel is supposed to make peace with. Israel is proud of its soldiers; the Palestinians are proud of their murderers. Israel focuses on "getting" those with guns; Palestinians focus on slaughtering those whose only defense is the volume of the Bible or Talmud in their hands. This is why, when I see those stupid "Coexist" bumper stickers utilizing the Crescent, Star of David, and the Cross as letters, I cringe...

We put those stickers on our cars.

They don't.

Following yesterday's attack in Jerusalem, residents of Gaza City went out into the streets - just like they did after they heard about the 9/11 attacks - and celebrated. They fired their rifles in the air, likely ululated, and demonstrated their solidarity with the murderist (a.k.a. terrorist) cause.

I know bombing such celebrations would be extreme. I know it wouldn't solve anything; mass slaughter on such a scale wouldn't convince the Palestinians of anything other than that they must fight on until the Jewish state is destroyed (which, by the way, they're already committed to doing anyway - even when no Israeli bombs are dropped). Bombing celebrations that honor acts of terrorism against innocents won't help strike a needed balance of terror between Israelis and Palestinians. It would only make angry Arabs angrier.

But it sure as hell would make me feel better. And since Hamas has taken responsibility for the attack, we'd have a pretty good excuse...

See, this atrocity, perpetrated against Jews at a religious school, was an act ordered by the Hamas government against innocent Israeli civilians in Jerusalem. Wouldn't it be proportional for the Israeli government to respond in kind against Palestinian civilians in Gaza? You probably disagree with me, but I say it would be entirely proportionate, entirely acceptable, to do exactly to them what they do to us. Or something similar.

Because that's what it's all about, my friends:


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