[A-List] Israel: A State of Irresponsibility
critical.montages at gmail.com
Thu Jan 22 18:44:06 MST 2009
Israel: A State of Irresponsibility
Look for "Gaza" and "collateral damage" in Google News now, and you'll
get 640 results (as of 22 January 2009, 8:15 PM). Search for "Gaza"
and "human shield," and you'll get 6,741 results. That does not bode
well for Israel.
"Collateral damage" and "human shield" are, among other things, both
terms employed by belligerents to excuse themselves of responsibility
for civilian casualties they caused. But they are not the same excuse.
The idea of "collateral damage" says that we aimed to kill enemy
combatants but have ended up accidentally killing hapless civilians,
too, who happened to be in a wrong place at a wrong time. The deaths
of civilians, for which no one can be held responsible, are to be
The idea of "human shield," on the other hand, says that it is enemy
combatants who caused not only deaths of civilians on our side but
those on their own side as well. In the case of Gaza, it goes like
"Hamas uses despicable tactics -- such as targeting Israeli civilians
while using Palestinian civilians as human shields. As a result, the
Israeli Defense Forces are forced to combat the terror infrastructure
in the midst of the civilian Palestinian population. This leads to
pain and suffering not only on the Israeli side, but also to innocent
Palestinians, who are forced by means of violence and dictatorship to
collaborate with Hamas and its commanders" (Histadrut -- General
Federation of Labour in Israel,
Israeli civilians killed by Hamas = Hamas's responsibility.
Palestinian civilians killed by Israel = Hamas's responsibility.
In short, Israel is proclaiming to the world: it is irresponsible,
less by accident ("We are not responsible for accidental collateral
damage") than by nature ("Hamas made us do it, whatever it is. We are
helpless. Israel is a victim of Hamas, and so are Palestinian
civilians"), and all responsibility belongs to its enemy.
Israel says it wants the world, including Arabs, to recognize its
right to exist, in other words, legitimacy in the eyes of the world
and normal relations with other states, especially Arab states. Arabs,
however, must wonder: Israel takes no responsibility for the choices
it has made -- the choice to occupy other people's territories, the
choice to keep building settlements on them, the choice to blockade
and impoverish people, the choice to make war to begin with and the
choice to bomb schools and other civilian infrastructure in the course
of it. Should a state that claims only rights and no responsibility
enjoy legitimacy in the eyes of the world? Should the state of
irresponsibility be normalized?
And it is not just Arabs who wonder about such questions. In one
European Commission survey, taken a little over a year after Israel's
"Operation Defensive Shield," during which it reduced Jenin to rubble,
nearly 60% of the respondents said: "Israel is the greatest threat to
world peace." Imagine how many more will say so after Gaza.
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