All My Little Words

A Proportional Response

Posted in Uncategorized by nickchristian on December 31, 2008

I don’t really know what to make of Israel’s bombing campaign in Gaza. No one is arguing that Israel does not have a right to defend itself or to protect its people. The charge, it seems to me, is that the level of force it is employing to successfully achieve its publicly stated aims far exceeds that which would be described as proportional.

The problem with proportionality, as far as Israel is concerned, is that it lacks value as a future deterrent.

I am reminded of this scene from the West Wing episode entitled “A Proportional Response”. A US military aircraft carrying Bartlet’s personal physician has been shot down in the Middle East and the president is facing his first real foreign policy test.

So a case can be made. However, as Bartlet learns later in the episode and Israel should really have learned itself at some point in the past sixty years, once you lose all sense of perspective you also lose legitimacy among your peers and the right to consider yourself the victim, more sinned against than sinning. And that is before we even begin to consider whether Israel will actually achieve anything in the long term. It might be argued that should Israel sufficiently weaken Hamas, with which it will not negotiate, Fattah, with which it will, can increase its political influence in Gaza. However, even if this were to succeed would it not likely dangerously divide the  Palestinian people and take us further away from the possibility of a Palestinian state? Or might that possibly be Israel’s true intention?

It’s all just a little bit of history repeating.

As ridiculously simplistic as it is to say, someone needs to sit these two down and politely but firmly inform each that neither is going to be driven into the sea any time soon. A job for Hillary and Obama?

2 Responses

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  1. fadajoy said, on December 31, 2008 at 12:26 pm

    There is nothing about proportion in this matter. The right of Israel to exist as a state is being denied it by the majority of Arabs. It is not too much for Israel to keep responding the way it does to terrorist activities.

  2. nickchristian said, on December 31, 2008 at 1:01 pm

    I absolutely agree that Israel has not only a right but a responsibility to protect its people against terrorism. My question is whether, in the long term, such extreme tactics will achieve that security.

    I’m not trying to answer the question, just asking it.


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