Monday, December 29, 2008

Deterrence and Retribution

"Justice in the life and conduct of the State is possible only as first it resides in the hearts and souls of the citizens." —Plato
The recent assault on Gaza that has left more than 300 dead is a foolish attempt at deterrence and retribution. The most foolish parties are, of course, Israel and the U.S. They say another brutal war will create security and topple Hamas. It will do the opposite. The Palestinians will look to Hamas (the government they elected) for protection. From a Haaretz report in East Jerusalem:
"The Israeli operation surprised terror elements in the West Bank," a police officer said, adding, however, "It is clear to us that the calls from the heads of Hamas to renew suicide bombings will eventually be heeded by those who will try to put those calls into action."
But still, it will be the battered Palestinians who suffer the most at the hands of Israel. Gideon Levy, writing for Haaretz, dares to identify Israel as the neighborhood bully repeating war crimes at an accelerated pace:
Blood will now flow like water. Besieged and impoverished Gaza, the city of refugees, will pay the main price. But blood will also be unnecessarily spilled on our side. In its foolishness, Hamas brought this on itself and on its people, but this does not excuse Israel's overreaction.

The history of the Middle East is repeating itself with despairing precision. Just the frequency is increasing. If we enjoyed nine years of quiet between the Yom Kippur War and the First Lebanon War, now we launch wars every two years. As such, Israel proves that there is no connection between its public relations talking points that speak of peace, and its belligerent conduct.

Israel also proves that it has not internalized the lessons of the previous war. Once again, this war was preceded by a frighteningly uniform public dialogue in which only one voice was heard - that which called for striking, destroying, starving and killing, that which incited and prodded for the commission of war crimes.

The war crimes referred to are the acts of collective retribution -- punishment against protected people who did not personally commit an offense. Hamas's rocket attacks -- though far less deadly -- are also war crimes.

Such attacks achieve no military benefit, and if our hearts and souls do not change, the violent cycle will continue until the bitter end.

No comments: