Monday, August 07, 2006

Katie’s right

In her column today, Katie provides the approving mouthpiece for Stephen Silverfarb, a member of the local Jewish community who says that Israel has no choice but to defend itself. Nations generally don’t have a choice about defending themselves, and they have the right to do it. It’s written in the UN Charter, the low and vile organization that John Bolton wants to blow the top off of! If his own doesn’t blow off first. As usual, it's a little more complicated that Katie suggests.

Silverfarb says this about Israel’s general approach to defense:

"The first thing you learn is that Israel has no margin of error, no safety net," says Silberfarb. That's why the country's self-defense must rest on a strong military deterrent. Silberfarb puts it this way: "If you hurt a hair on an Israeli's head, the Israeli Army will come after you like you wouldn't believe. Hopefully, that will prevent further aggression."

And that has worked really, really well over the years, hasn’t it Mr. Silverfarb? And then Katie weighs in with this nugget of world-weary wisdom:

The broader Israeli-Palestinian issue is complex, and there is more than one valid view of it. In the current conflict, however, Israel must steel itself not only against implacable foes but also against a larger world where moral equivalence reigns supreme.

There’s that pesky moral equivalence again! You see grasshoppers and grasshopperettes (if any women out there find the reference offensive, let Spot know, except Julie and Carol). To most people, one dead civilian looks pretty much like another. But it’s not true according to Katie. If Israeli civilians die, it’s immoral, ungodly and terrible. If Lebanese (or Iraqi, for that matter) civilians die, on the other hand, it’s just that the terrible swift sword of justice swung a little wide; it can’t be helped sometimes.

Siverfarb continues with his first-hand report:

"TV gives you pictures of destruction, but without any context or perspective," says Silberfarb. In fact, Israel does all it can to avoid hitting civilians -- dropping leaflets, for example, to warn of impending military operations. By doing so, he says, it loses the element of surprise and endangers its soldiers.

Hezbollah, on the other hand, routinely uses "human shields," placing rocket launchers in apartment buildings, hospitals and mosques. It targets Israeli civilians with rockets packed with ball bearings that shred human flesh.

"When Israel hits civilians in error, like the apartment building in Qana, there's regret and a full-scale investigation," he says. "When Hezbollah kills civilians, they hand out candy and celebrate."

That’s so good to know, Mr. Silverfarb. But not everyone agrees with your assessment. Did you know that? Here’s just the opening graf of the summary of a recent report by Human Rights Watch:

This report documents serious violations of international humanitarian law (the laws of war) by Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in Lebanon between July 12 and July 27, 2006, as well as the July 30 attack in Qana. During this period, the IDF killed an estimated 400 people, the vast majority of them civilians, and that number climbed to over 500 by the time this report went to print. The Israeli government claims it is taking all possible measures to minimize civilian harm, but the cases documented here reveal a systematic failure by the IDF to distinguish between combatants and civilians.

Spotty recommends the report to both Mr. Silverfarb and Katie. Spot will also recommend to you his earlier post on the laws of war in the present circumstance, Unintended Consequences? You see, the resistance of aggression maybe justified, but the manner in which it is resisted is not.

It is kind of like Katie when somebody treads on her sensible shoes in the Strib elevator. She pulls the Lady Walther out of her purse and fires indiscriminately into the crowd, confident that she is bound to hit the culprit!

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