GABlog Generative Anthropology in the Public Sphere

July 25, 2014

A Few Thoughts on Gaza

Filed under: GA — adam @ 3:38 pm

It is a marker of the deadening of thought, not increased moral sensitivity, that it is now commonplace to condemn or support one side in a war based on which side suffers the greater number of casualties, military or civilian. If one side wins by having the most civilian victims, then an incentive is created for that side to generate as many civilian victims as possible. As is often the case, what looks like scrupulousness is really a justification for barbarism.

Wars have aims—generally the surrender of the other side, and its agreement with your terms, or, if necessary, the destruction of the other side. Proportionality in war means that you use the amount of force needed to attain those aims, and no more—if a certain amount of force is needed to bend the other side to your will, you shouldn’t use more than that for reasons, say, of revenge. The notion that “proportionality” refers to the proportion of force used by, or available to, the respective sides, is degradation of thought to the level of imbecility.

Those critical of Israel’s response to Hamas’s rockets and tunnels might be asked what kind of response they would find legitimate. If the response they would allow is one that would leave the rockets and tunnels in place, they are arguing that no Israeli self-defense is permissible. If no Israeli self-defense is permissible, then the only conclusion to be drawn is that Israelis should allow themselves to be slaughtered. In other words, the critic of Israel is a genocidal anti-Semite.

War is obviously not the answer! Israel bombs and invades Gaza and then in a few years Gaza rebuilds its means of violence and Israel has to do the same thing all over again. Clearly, the problem is not being solved, and we need another approach. Maybe, but we keep putting murderers and rapists in prison and, nevertheless, people continue to rape and murder. Do we need another approach here as well, to stop the cycle of violence between violent criminals and civilized society? Or could it be that, for the forseeable future, the Palestinians will find no way out of their resentments other than fantasies of Israel’s destruction, just like people will continue to murder and rape and that, nevertheless, in both cases forceful responses can prevent things from getting much worse than they might otherwise be?

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