Wednesday, July 23, 2014
American-Israeli Politics: Where Bullying is Called Self-Defense
“And I stand shoulder to shoulder with Israel as it defends itself against this shocking violence.” Senator Cory Booker
“Israel is entitled to take the steps necessary to protect itself from destructive rocket attacks from Hamas that are aimed at all Israeli civilians, regardless of their religion,” said Senator Charles Schumer
"We support Israel's right to self-defense.” Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
It was General William Tecumseh Sherman, whom after conducting his devastating campaign against Georgia’s civilian population and burning the city of Atlanta, who said, “War is Hell.” This statement is likely the most concise and appropriate description of war recorded in modern history since the publication of Carl von Clausewitz's great military-theoretical classic On War published in the 1873. I despise war and the carnage it results in regardless of the factions involved. But what is next in line that I personally find as upsetting, is the cosmetic over simplification used by many, often the oppressor in these exercise, to sanitize what is barbaric brutality in its purest form.
The recent re-start of the incessant military engagement between Israel and Gaza (one that has been going on since 1949), has reared its ugly head again. And as usual, the result is the same, the mass slaughter of mostly innocent civilians, mainly women and children, which outside of newspeak, resembles ethnic cleansing more than a military engagement. However, as noted in the opening quotes, it is the retro chic position of the moment to describe Israel’s actions as SELF-DEFENSE. This misappropriation of the term SELF-DEFENSE defeats reason, logic and any operational definition used in the past to define this action.
By definition, a noun, self-defense refers to the use of reasonable force to protect oneself or members of the family from bodily harm from the attack of an aggressor, if the defender has reason to believe they are in danger. Consequently, the force used in self-defense may be sufficient for protection from said perceived harm such to stop any danger from attack, but cannot be an excuse to continue the attack or the use of excessive force. Thus self-defense cannot include killing or great bodily harm to defend property or collective forms of punishment.
The present actions of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) do not meet any of the aforementioned operational definitions. Even under the purview of “Just War Theory”, which asserts military personnel must take careful aim at his military target and away from nonmilitary targets, and one cannot kill civilians simply because he finds them between himself and his enemies. Simply not to intend the deaths of civilians is not the pragmatic objective in this sense, but rather paramount is to save civilian lives even if it means risking soldiers’ lives.
What is obviated from the discussion is that self-defense means that if the people of a nation are suffering aggression, oppression, or genocide, and are themselves capable of stopping it, they are morally entitled to respond militarily. Unfortunately Israel cannot claim this position, given that aggression from another nation can only be described in self-defense if it is a last resort, which historically we hasn’t been the case (2012, 2008, etc.). In addition, the self-defense notion under the assumption of military action being a last resort cannot be met also because every other conceivable avenue outside of using military force has not been tried. Moreover, the kidnaping and murder of three innocent individuals, usually a police action cannot be perceived as a last resort or the impetus to start aggressive military action. But when these standards are not met, the result is Gaza: an innocent populous is the victim of a catastrophic attack
Another point of contention is that self-defense is virtuous and practical. What Israel is practicing is more like a George Zimmerman style of self-defense. Instead of self-defense, the actions of Israel are more akin to bullying. Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Bullies intend to harm their targets and usually are continuous and sustained. This means that they (bullies) target their victims multiple times, frequently with the same act over and over. More importantly is that the bully intends to harm the target.
I say this because the assertion of self-defense avoids the historical reality of colonial occupation of Gaza by Israel which prevents effort on behalf of the Palestinians living in what has been described as an open air prison, the ability and human right to establish a proper, free society. If Israel was trying to avoid civilian deaths, they would and could, but this is not their desire. They are possessed with an evil dogma of annihilation similar to that we saw in South Africa during apartheid. Their objective is to destroy and kill all who are in the way of their imperialistic desire to control and occupy all of Gaza, inclusive of it rich natural gas and oil reserves. For example, it is a well-known fact that The IDF calculates the number of calories Gaza's civilian population needs to just survive on a daily basis and transports foods into Gaza accordingly. This is not self-defense, it is bullying with the objective to occupy territory accordingly break up the will and lands of the Palestinian people. Ironically, it closely the plan of Adolf Eichmann, the architect of ethnic cleansing, for Hitler. And anyone that cannot accept this, I’m cool, but facts are facts: Soweto 1976 is no different than Gaza 2014.
Since the 1990s, Israel has repeatedly failed to meet and even broke all of the conditions outlined in documented agreements with both parties. They continue to play this shell game that gives them the privilege to ignore the natural human rights that Palestinians have like all other peoples in the world. There is an aggression of the worse kind: one that indicates they will always be against a two-state solution, while knowing this is what the majority of Palestinians have agreed with and desire. They should just admit they desire to ethnic cleanse Gaza, and take thier oil and natural gas.