Anonymous asked: Hi Dr Kohen, in response to a recent post, about the comments about "uneven" killing. I would say that pointing out the casualty disparity IS worthwhile, though not necessarily in this particular instance. Israel is the greatest power in the region, and I think the argument that their military responses can be dangerously disproportionate is a valid one. Thanks, also, for speaking more about this conflict. I agree with much of what you've been saying and wish more people would listen!
I don’t want to be read as suggesting that it’s unimportant to discuss Israel’s disproportionate responses to rocket attacks from Gaza (or suicide bombers or whatever).
As I’ve suggested before, it’s pretty clear that the Israeli government intends both to use overwhelming force as a deterrent (which they must know at this point doesn’t work) and to collectively punish Palestinians for the actions undertaken by militants in their midst. This is, I think, bad policy and a violation of the Geneva Conventions.
The mistake being made a great many critics of Israel is in the argument that Israel shouldn’t use airstrikes against Gaza in response to Hamas’ ineffective rockets because those rockets are ineffective. In other words, the argument implies, Israel shouldn’t respond to Hamas’ aggression because it will do so much more effectively than the aggression itself. Or, perhaps, Hamas just isn’t dangerous enough to merit a response from Israel (which would be, by virtue of their superior military technology alone, far more harmful to Palestinians than Hamas could ever be to Israelis). Or, as was definitely the case with one post I reblogged, that it would be good if more Israelis could be killed to balance out all of the casualties inflicted on Palestinians.
But it’s not illegal or even morally wrong to use your country’s weapons against a declared enemy, even if your enemy is far weaker. In fact, I can only assume that such a scenario would be every military commander’s dream and the hope of every citizen whose country is engaged in a conflict.
It’s far more important, I’d say, to talk about collective punishment and the Geneva Conventions than to point out that more civilians are killed in Gaza by Israeli airstrikes than are killed in Israel by Hamas rockets. The former is a serious issue that, at some point, might be used against Israeli leaders at the polls or even in a court of law; the latter is just the obvious byproduct of a strong defense and a strong offense opposing a weak offense and no defense to speak of.