Saturday, January 17, 2009

Moral Considerations Concerning the Gaza War

In case anyone is still confused about the purpose of Israel's attack on Gaza, its last-minute, concerted attack on a UN school just before an expected "unilateral" ceasefire would seem to clarify things.

The short-term goals would seem to be two-fold. First, the people of Gaza (not Hamas) are being informed that they are to be kept in subjugation. Killing kids at school is a pretty clear example of subjugation. Second, the UN, international law, and all that sort of liberalism is rejected: does not apply to Israel.

The long-term goals that follow from these would seem to be several. First, if this is how Israel treats Gaza, about which it cares not a whit, think what Israel is prepared to do to the West Bank Palestinians should they conceivably get it in their heads to talk back, for the West Bank is something Israel cares about a great deal. Second, Israel is daring Hezbollah to so much as breathe without permission. Third, this is psychological gearing up for putting Iran "in its place."

Mr. Hubris has been made to feel a bit unwelcome in Washington recently; he seems ever so smoothly to have moved his headquarters to Tel Aviv.

Caveat: the above statement is just an hypothesis. Any of the following actions would constitute disconfirmatory evidence:

  • an immediate outpouring of medical aid from Israel to the people of Gaza of a scale and speed commensurate with the harm Israel has just caused;
  • a serious, emergency Israeli project to rebuild Gaza;
  • an Israeli project (or U.N. project with Israeli support) to create an effective government for Gaza;
  • the opening of Gaza ports to international trade and travel;
  • a complete termination of the Israeli economic boycott of Gaza;
  • the opening of the Egyptian border to normal trade, communication, transportation, travel by citizens of Gaza--with no Israeli opposition;
  • the announcement and initial implementation of an Israeli policy of returning all Israeli citizens from the West Bank to Israel.

If Israel is allowed to get away with its temper tantrum in Gaza, exactly where does this leave the global political system? Can it be said to have advanced at all in the last century? Have we managed to slide all the way back to the pre-World War I days?

If someone thinks that Israel still has a moral right to exist or that the world can afford to tolerate its continued existence, they are cordially invited to explain in clear, unemotional terms why that might be so. If someone thinks I am glossing over things or reading way too much into this year's first war, please feel free to explain that as well.

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