T Nation

Israel: what right to defend itself?

Israel is a sovereign country, though it’s precise boundaries are argued over by reasonable and decent people. In addition, certain fanatics believe Israel should be extinguished, destroyed. Sorry not to be more inclusive, but for this thread, I am addressing those who agree Israel has a right to exist, in some fashion.

There are many groups that are trying to destroy Israel, and consider the killing of Israeli civilians to be fair game. One such group is Hamas, which has succeeded in killing many hundreds of innocent Israelis. Israel has responded by asserting it’s right to self-defense, including the right to kill the leadership of Hamas.

Recently, Israel has succeeded in killing two such leaders, Yassin and Rantissi. Much of Europe and the rest of the world have responded by condemning these killings.

If we (United States) are morally justified in hunting down Bin Ladin, how come Israel can’t kill Yassin and Rantisi?

Good question!

The reason why they are targeting innocent civilians is because they can’t fight in any other way. They don’t have the military means to keep up with well financed and armed infantry, tanks, and helecopters. Quite frankly, I’m not sure who’s more responsible for terrorism… the people that blow themselves up as an only means to fight, taking some people with them or the people bulldozing houses, using Apache helecopters and firing missiles into crowded streets, or armed soldiers shaking down Palestinians and raiding houses shooting whoever gets in the way.

They are both wrong, but its hard to say who’s more guilty. The Israelis did take a lot of land away from those people, and its all religious in nature so its probably unlikely to have any good resolution.

Israel can’t act (or be judged) like a normal country, because:

a) it’s a country full of Jews (note: Jews are hated and despised in most of the world…America, Canada and parts of Western Europe are exceptions to this rule).

b) it doesn’t have a significant impact on the world economy (at least directly)…no Oil, no influence!

c) Israel’s existence is annoying for so many groups because it makes them feel inferior (See modern Arab political culture for examples), or disproves their flawed theories on human development, progress and democracy (see Palestinian refugee camps for examples). This in turn causes irrational responses to Israeli actions, or unreasonable expectations regarding Israeli behavior. Arabs, for example, condemn Israel for striking at terorrists, but blame Isael when the terrorists kill Isaelis (blaming the victim). In other words, Israel should not compalin when it suffers from terrorism (because it caused it), and it can’t defend itself against it (because that would be considered state terrorism, or at the very least illegal). Convenient, no?

I agree that Israel has the right to exist, just as Palestine has the right. The Israelis have been expanding their territory at the cost of the Plestinians. That I do not agree with. I don’t condone the killing of civilians, yet this is a practice that is done by BOTH sides. Israelis with their missiles and Palestinians with their suicide bombers. What pisses me off is the hypocritical attitude of Israel, the “we are the victims here” attitude. There’s blood on both sides, that is fact and there has has been for thousands of years. If you’re interested in the subject there is a good book on the crusades seen from the arab perspective (can’t remember the title).


You won’t believe it coming from me, but they can and they did!

It might not cool tempers over there, but taking out the leadership of the enemy is fair during war.

Will it help? Will it hurt?

They are both wrong, but its hard to say who’s more guilty. The Israelis did take a lot of land away from those people, and its all religious in nature so its probably unlikely to have any good resolution.


You mean they won the land from war?


if those suicide bombers were targetting only military objectives MAYBE your validation was correct. anyway, they dont and wont, and anyway they wont take peace when offered.

regarding your remarks about shooting into crowded places:
Israel has many times chose not to shoot at terrorists hiding at crowds although by the geneva convention IF one side is not going with the other side doesnt have too, but Israel pust itself to the highest moral standard under impossible scenarios, where killers are on sight but protecting themselves by civilians. how many americans will hold the trigger?

All the Hamass leadership are fair game because they target civilians. want more info?

I don’t want to get into this debate because whenever I do, I seem to encounter a lot of moral relativism and bigotry that raises my bile. I also don’t want to get into the psychology of either suicide terrorists or Islamist groups (whose ideology reigns in Palestine).

However, to pre-empt that whole discussion, we might look at what has just happened. Israel is DISENGAGING from the territories. The Palestinians are getting the sections of land which roads connecting illegal settlements were blocking them from getting. Moreover, they are getting those illegal settlements themselves(with housing, running water, etc.!) when they come back to the debate table for the Road Map. Those settlements are going to be held for them. (This is why Caroline Glick in the Jerusalem Post accused Sharon of giving the Palestinians Oslo without them having to make any sacrifices or any efforts against terrorism.)

CURRENTLY, the West Bank is largely unsettled, that’s right, EMPTY of people. As to whether such landis intrisically “Palestinian,” that is racist. The Middle East is not simply “Arab land” with a sprinkling of non-Arab interlopers. Arabs conquered the region, oppressed all minorities, forced most to convert, forced others to leave (like the 850,000 Sephardic Jews who had to leave Arab tyrannies and move to Israel, and now constitute almost half it’s population).

Land in the West Bank belongs to whomever is on it, a Palestinian family or a Jewish family. Statehood, however, is a right for all people of the world, and to have a state, land must be organized, and borders must be defined. Individuals whose land is taken by a state in border negotiations must be adequately compensated (as the U.S. constitution requires, for example).

Israel is now DISENGAGING from the territories. It is keeping all the largest official settlements that were built on UNOCCUPIED land. Because of Sharon’s gambit, the Palestinians will have a state much sooner, and Israel will be defending defined borders that will eventually be recognized by the Arab world.

The way it works, with Islamist groups, however, is that they try to define every sound retreat as a great victory for them (Somalia, Lebanon, etc.). So Hamas and Fatah will deploy more killers in order to make Sharon’s disengagement seem like their achievement. The Israelis will send soldiers to meet militants, and target terrorist leaders in order to retreat while showing that their state is not going to disappear. So expect more violence for a while.

  1. I do not agree with Hamas.
  2. I do not agree with many of Israel’s actions as an occupying power… including building greenhouses over water supplies in the Gaza strip, as well as numerous other things. Israel is NOT the good guy that Americans have seemed to believe it was for so long. And to be honest, I don’t know what other steps the Palestinians could have taken other than terrorism, when the other side is deaf and they are dying. Hopefully, if Israel truly DOES disengage, people will no longer be so miserable that they must turn to radical sects to express their dissent.

Nephorm, please cite article which told you that Israel “[builds] greenhouses over water supplies in the Gaza strip”


If you believe Isreal is “occupying” and should give their land away, then do me a favor.

Take the land you own, and give it to a Native American.

Afterall, you’re occupying their land.

If you won’t do this, then you can’t say anything.

This is a never ending argument that will get us no where…

“Terror in the Name of God,” Jessica Stern. She teaches a terrorism class at Harvard.

Musclerob: Not at all comparable. This land dispute goes back to the 1960s, and Israel agreed to certain rules of occupancy. I never said that Israel should give back all the land… rather, they shouldn’t greedily over-consume a precious commodity that is necessary to the life and health of the Palestinians. I’m just pointing out that there are two sides.

But hey, if you choose to believe that Israel is beautiful and good and never does anything wrong, far be it from me to disabuse you of that notion.

Butterpants - Why don’t you do some reading on history and international law and leave such idiocy to Limbaugh.


Oh, I guess you would give your land away? Please do, then come back and we might take you a little more seriously.

Land is won by war…period. Every single piece of land at one time or another was fought for. That is how the U.S. came about, as well as almost all other countries. Winning land by war is fair and square. Obviously “talking” someone into giving up their land doesn’t work (Israel/Palestine), so the only effective way is to kick their ass into submission. RLTW


I read that Jessica Stern book, but I don’t remember that part. Maybe I immediately put it into the larger context and forgot. I’ll go look at the book again.

Oh, and Nephorm, when you wrote, “And to be honest, I don’t know what other steps the Palestinians could have taken other than terrorism, when the other side is deaf and they are dying,”
you said something that Jessica Stern absolutely disagrees with. Interesting.

The argument that Palestinians have no alternative to terror is absurd…and insulting. There are many peoples the world over that do not rely upon, or condone, the systematic use and glorification of terrorism to further their political causes. The only caveat is that terrorism does make you famous (infamous?), so the Palestinian terrorists have, at the least, achieved that goal…

Let’s also not forget that decades of Palestinian and pro-Palestinian terrorism (and the arguments that seek to justify it) have de-legitimized the cause they “fight” for. One can reasonably argue that no nation is perfect, but the very short history of Arab Palestine is replete with terrorist atrocities that are intentionally carried out against civilians…time after time, decade after decade. Couple that with an impossibly intractable political position for any “peaceful end” to the conflict, and it spells disaster.

So my attitude is if the Palestinians feel that terror is a legitimate weapon (which they do), then Israel has a right to do whatever it takes to defend itself against them. Period.

If the Palestinians were indeed a non-violent society, they would have been handed a state of their own on a silver platter decades ago. Actually, they probably would have had one in 1947, as part of the UN Partition plan that they (and the other Arabs) rejected completely. But that’s another debate!