Thursday, January 01, 2009

Proportionality.



Cenk Uygur sums up the proportionality argument perfectly. If someone is throwing stones at you it would make you furious, but would you want to burn down the building where they were throwing them from? Indeed, would you want to burn it down even if you knew it contained people who had nothing to do with the stone throwing?

Leaving aside the inappropriateness of that action, can you imagine trying to explain to a judge that the stone throwers were hiding amongst the non-stone throwers and that their deaths are, therefore, not your fault? I wonder how that argument would go down in a court of law?

4 comments:

Steel Phoenix said...

An excellent question. the term “terrorism” means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against non-combatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents. If Israel weren't recognized as a nation, Its acts would be those of terrorism. Israel doesn't recognize Palestine's right to exist, therefore, Any military action taken by Palestinians falls under the international legal definition of terrorism. Israel uses this to their advantage in ways they couldn't against another sovereign nation, which is the real reason any peace talks inevitably come to a screeching halt with each side demanding recognition as a nation.

Israel should be held accountable for every innocent death. That is what it is supposed to mean when you decide civilian losses are acceptable; that the situation is so dire that you will accept all repercussions and try to make amends, not to claim that it was Ok because there were probably terrorists in the area. The Palestinians on the other hand should be treated as individuals, since the acts are not those of a nation's military. Until we close Israel's loopholes we will see no proportionality.

Kel said...

If Israel weren't recognized as a nation, Its acts would be those of terrorism.

I think there could be an argument made that what we are witnessing is actually state terrorism as Israel make no secret of the fact that they hope to cause the Palestinians to overthrow Hamas. Individuals or groups who terrorize civilians in the hope of affecting government policy are know as terrorists, I don't see why states who behave in this way aren't defined in the same way as individuals or groups who use these tactics.

Steel Phoenix said...

I think the primary problem is their near unconditional U.S. support. The definition I quoted is listed in U.S. law (section (d)):
http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/22/2656f.html

I agree that it is a silly definition, which is why I refer to it as a loophole. Really when a nation does it, they could call it by another name: war crimes. Unfortunately, since Palestine isn't a nation, there isn't a war. The nation status really is right at the heart of the problem. Make the people aware of why and suddenly the propaganda that was convincing begins to make them feel dirty.

Kel said...

SP, I agree that unconditional US support for Israel is a major contributor to the problem and that semantics are played regarding the status of the Palestinians and where international law applies to this dispute.

After all the Palestinian Authority have elections, a judicial system and even passports. They have observer status at the UN and are, effectively, a state in all but name; even if they are an occupied one.

All that is missing are recognised borders and we all know why that situation exists.

So, for now, Israel are - as you say - exploiting a loophole. And it's one that many of us would like to see closed as soon as possible.

The notion that one can commit war crimes against a people and then argue that there is no war because there is no state is simply abhorrent. We are almost pretending that these people do not exist.

And, under international law, we have already admitted that they exist because Israel has been named as their occupying power.

As you say, it makes one feel soiled even talking about it.