On Proportionality, Civilian Casualties, and Why Israel Has Already Lost
Once again, I watch in horror as the Israeli military pounds a densely populated area in "self defense," killing civilians, restricting aid, and causing a humanitarian disaster. And I wonder again why Israel, its supporters, and the Western media just don't get it.
Yes, Hamas fired rockets into Israel. Yes, Israel has the right to defend itself from such attacks. But by bombarding and invading Gaza, killing hundreds of civilians, destroying infrastructure, and blocking aid to Gaza, Israel has abandoned the moral high ground and has become worse than the Hamas terrorists they decry. And that's why Israel has already lost.
As of today, the United Nations estimates that approximately 165 Palestinian civilians have been killed, representing 25 percent of all Palestinian casualties. Since fighting began, 4 Israeli civilians have been killed by Hamas rockets.
The problem is proportionality, a word I've actually been happy to hear used commonly in this discussion. Former secretary of defense Robert McNamara talks about it in Errol Morris's excellent Oscar-winning documentary The Fog of War and how "proportionality should be a guideline in war." I agree.
Maybe it's because I'm naïve that I don’t see how you can claim the moral high ground and that you are both good guy and victim when your side is killing 41 times more innocent civilians than the “terrorists.” Maybe it's because I am not an expert on the Middle East, so I don't understand why killing 41 civilians is a proportional, appropriate, and legal way to show that killing a single civilian is wrong.