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?


  1. Well, GA teaches us to be skeptical of any utopian and especially “permanent” solutions to violence. Israel’s occupation of West Bank is very effective in terms of limiting terrorist attacks from there; and they should probably reoccupy Gaza. Some version of reoccupation might be what Israel has planned.

    Comment by Q — July 30, 2014 @ 10:03 am

  2. Yes, maybe “some version”–certainly much tighter scrutiny, at any rate. The Israelis should first of all figure out how Hamas built all those tunnels right under their nose–either the Israelis didn’t notice it was happening, or noticed and didn’t take it seriously. Either way, it seems there was some dereliction. It’s not out of the question that Hamas wants some tightening of the screws as well–it helps them garner international support and tighten their own screws.

    Comment by adam — July 30, 2014 @ 10:50 am

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