Sunday, July 30, 2006
Civilian casualties and the dual racism
An Israeli airstrike has killed a big cluster of civilians -- more than 50 -- including a large number of children. This is a great tragedy, but the Israelis say that Hezbollah was firing rockets at Israeli civilians from the village that Israel hit -- "hundreds" since the beginning of the conflict. There is not yet any reason to doubt Israel on this. Nevertheless, leaders of countries that have done worse are protesting, and Condoleezza Rice has postponed her next trip. They are pandering to the worldwide hatred of Israel. On the facts known this morning, culpability may just as easily lie with Hezbollah. Of course, it should never go unsaid that Hezbollah targets Israeli civilians without even bothering to justify its attacks on them as incidental to a military purpose. Killing Jews is quite sufficient, thank you very much. Every launch of every Hezbollah rocket into every Israeli city should earn similar denunciations, but they do not. Why? The dual racism that holds Israel to a higher standard than the rest of the world, and Arabs to a lower one. And, by the way, no profession is more culpable in the perpetuation of this dual racism than journalism. Even politicians do a better job of trying to play it fair.
Much in this most troubled part of the world would become more clear if we just held everybody to the same standard of behavior. It can be a high standard or a low standard, but let's just agree on what it is. Does the intent to kill civilians matter, or not? Does the wearing of uniforms matter, or not? Should an army prosecute those of its soldiers who violate law and morality, or hail them as heroes? Let us shake off this habit of giving insurgents a pass in these things because it seems useless to condemn them. It is not. It is corrosive to our civilization, not their's, when we uphold their values at the expense of our own.
MORE: See "the photos that damn Hezbollah" from the Sunday Herald Sun. As Blue Crab Boulevard writes in his post "caught red-handed," every one of these pictures depicts a war crime. Of course, there will be no condemnation from the world, no investigation from Amnesty International. Why? The racism that simply does not expect Arabs to be civilized.
By Litvshe, at Sun Jul 30, 10:34:00 AM:
Thanks for bringing this up. It's sometimes very frustrating to be here in Israel and be trashed by the world press while Hizbullah, Hamas and Fatah get a free pass.
Israel is killing children with my tax dollars. Hezbollah is not. Assuming you pay taxes, you and I are complicit in the deaths of those dead children.
That's the difference. And if you can't see it, you have no moral compass.
By Mark in Texas, at Sun Jul 30, 12:45:00 PM:
Israel is taking the PR hit for the bomb that killed 50 people, more than 30 of them children in that Hezbollah building in Qana. There is now no down side to Israel using a lot more firepower in going after Hezbollah.
Like the war in Iraq, this is an information war where Islamofascists kill people in order to generate press coverage that they view as favorable to their cause.
The pictures and film of the tiny victims at Qana being dug out of the rubble will be shown as often as the news entities schedule to show that sort of image. It will not matter if there are another 50 innocent bystanders killed by accident or as collateral damage. It will not matter if there are an additional 500 or 5000 or 500,000 innocent children killed by the Israelis. The Israelis will get exactly the same amount of bad press and although the film shown on TV will vary, it won't make any difference if they are rerunning the video from Qana.
Therefore, it seems to me that if the Israelis are serious about their own self defense, they should realize that they have taken a PR blow, but that also frees them to take the gloves off and maximize their use of explosives in order to minimize their casualties. Instead of sending infantry into villiages filled with booby traps, prepared positions and shaheed who are hoping to die fighting, drop massive bombs out of cargo planes to flatten those villiages as thouroughly as a small nuclear weapon.
The Israelis have already make it known to the Lebanese that it is very unsafe to be near any Hezbollah individuals or facilities. Demonstrate just how unhealthy that is. The reaction of the world will be exactly the same as what it is now.
1st-Israeli soldiers entered Gaza and killed two Hamas.
2nd-Hamas captured 1n Israili soldier
3rd-Israel attacked civilians and civlian infrastructure, completely destroying the power plant that supplied 70% of the population in that region.
Notice that Israel is first to attack civilians whereas Hamas had attacked MILITARY.
1st-Hezbollah in retaliation of attacks in Palestine capture an Israeli soldier.
2nd-Israel attacks Lebanese infrastructure and civlians
3rd-Hezbollah fires missiles into Israel.
Notice that Israel is the first to attack civilians, whereas Hezbollah had attacked MILITARY.
USA is even MORE guilty than the Jews, as they provide the Apache helicopters and munitions used. In addition, USA provided 100 bunker busting bombs that had NOT BEEN PURCHASED prior to the action in Lebanon. Israel had turned down the offer to purchase these special bombs due to financial concerns. However they changed their mind, and good ol' USA agreed to go ahead with the transaction even though they knew how these bombs would be used.
Today 34 children were MASSACRED while hiding in a shelter, as were another 22 other civilians.
What makes the Jews any different from Hitler? They both take the land and possessions from others, and lock them up in camps, then ensure death at these same camps. You doubt it? If you do then you are simply ignorant.
Israel is in violation of DOZENS of UN Security Council Resolutions (visit UN.org and simply search for keywords 'israel palestine').
While it only took ONE violation for USA to go to war in Iraq, USA stands by and does nothing and even worse, usually uses their VETO power at the UN to PREVENT action from being taken against Israel.
Same deal with Lebanon - they are in violation (reasonably so) of ONE resolution, whereas once again, Israel is in violation of DOZENS of resolutions!
USA provides $3.BILLION annually to Israel in FOREIGN AID. WTF is that about? Israel isn't a 3rd world country!
USA provides ANOTHER nearly $3.BILLION in government loans, grants and combination of corporate and government loan guarantees.
USA provides the equivalent of about $13,000 PER RESIDENT of Israel annually! Plus Apache helicopters, munitions, bunker busting bombs...
And with ONE SINGLE CONDITION, "Israel must NOT use these (vehicles, weapons and munitions) other than for SELF-DEFENSE".
Is BOMBING 34 children self-defense?
Obviously not, so why hasn't USA done something about the misuse of their Apache helicopters used to deliver bombs, not to mention the bombs themselves?
What the hell is in it for the Americans?
I have one word to describe America's complicity in these attrocities - Murderers!
Terry: Israel entered Gaza and killed to Hamas is 1st??? No reason? How about dozens of suicide bombings? How about daily rocket attacks aimed at civilians (yes, including children)?
Same with Hezbollah. Why is it that when people talk about proportionality, they bring up only the 2 soldiers? What about the rocket attacks aimed at civilians. You list those as a 3rd - do you consider Israeli civilians (yes, including children) to be legitimate targets for Hezbollah? Dead children don't care whose tax dollars killed them...
Would Israel have struck this house if Hezbollah weren't hiding behind it? I'm sure you'll say yes, but we haven't tried, have we?
People are killing each other. There is a group (financed by foreigners) that fights behinds their children's backs, aims their rockets at the enemy's children, and openly declares genocide as their goal. And all people like you can talk about is how this is America's fault. For shame.
By Fabio, at Sun Jul 30, 01:42:00 PM:
Terry, you should go back to the basics before ranting: Apache helicopters are not used to drop bombs. I also doubt that bunker-busters were used for this action.
You may think this is nitpicking, but I think your ignorance of the basic military facts is telling.
Anyway, to the main point: insisting on who began the war and on proportionality of the response is childish and utterly divorced from reality.
Annonymous states, "People are killing each other. There is a group (financed by foreigners) that fights behinds their children's backs, aims their rockets at the enemy's children, and openly declares genocide as their goal."
By a 'group financed by foreigners' you MUST be referring to Americans financing Israel.
There is one point Fabio overlooks - Israel has the CAPABILITY to TARGET whereas Hamas and Hezbollah do not. When Israel kills civilians, it is because the civilians are targetted. As were the UN members who were recently murdered in what may end up being a 'mistake', but as 12 raids were conducted in the immediate vicinity of the UN bunker, and MANY requests made to Israel to cease targetting the post, Israel STILL went ahead and destroyed the UN Post, killing a Canadian and three other nationals.
Israel is 'targetting' civilians. Israel is 'targetting' infrastructure.
These are not only crimes against humanity, but are also crimes outlined in the Geneva Convention. It is ILLEGAL to target civilian infrastructure that is necessary for the maintenance of life.
Targetting civlians makes Israelis murderers. Try to justify it and only you, the Americans (which I strongly suspect you are), and the Jews will agree.
By Final Historian, at Sun Jul 30, 02:12:00 PM:
Terry, you are either a moron, or you are evil. I can see no other alternative.
"There is one point Fabio overlooks - Israel has the CAPABILITY to TARGET whereas Hamas and Hezbollah do not."
First, there are limits to how "smart" smart bombs are. They can miss, and they do miss at times. Sometimes they still kill civilians when they don't miss, like when the civilians are in buildings right next to Hizb'allah.
And secondly, Hizb'allah CHOSE, repeat, CHOSE, to acquire weapons which they couldn't aim. No one forced them to acquire over TEN THOUSAND unguided rockets. That was their choice. Those rockets are good for nothing but to attack civilians. They could have gotten surface to air missiles or anti-tank missiles, but instead they got unguided area rockets.
Hizb'allah fires from right next to UN positions. What the hell do you expect the Israelis to do when Hizb'allah does that? That Canadian national who was killed by the IDF wrote to his general that Hizb'allah was using them for cover. Whose fault is that, Hizb'allah or the IDF?
Israel may kill civilians, but not because it seeks to, or wants to. Civilians are dieing because Hizb'allah wants to them to die.
Open your eyes:
Nice dance around the fact that Israel TARGETTED civilians and murdered them. Regardless of what anyone else in the world does, Israel targetted civilians and civilian infrastructure - that's the bottom line.
The Jewish and American opinion is always the same. How about hearing from someone who isn't Jewish or American for a change?
By Fabio, at Sun Jul 30, 02:39:00 PM:
I ain't neither American nor Jewish, for one.
Who said that targeting infrstructure is a war crime? It always sounded OK to me, maybe with grey areas.
Then you have to demonstrate that targeting of civilians is intentional, and not a consequence of tactical necessity. The presence of civilians around a military target does not make it untouchable.
Terry - Canadian:
You're an idiot of the worst order... why don't you just over there add let Al Qaeda/Hamas/Hezbollah cut your head off and you family and friends' also. Just get it over with, it's what you want, based on your comments.
By TigerHawk, at Sun Jul 30, 02:53:00 PM:
Terry - Canadian, even a dog knows the difference between being tripped over and kicked.
Israel has not targeted civilians. Everybody knows that it has the firepower to have killed tens of thousands of Lebanese civilians by now, and utterly depopulated the West Bank and Gaza. Under the circumstances, I find it astonishing that the civilian casualties are as low as they are. You are either dumber than wood, making a disingenuous point for propaganda purposes, or a moral cretin.
More troubling is this idea that the capabilities of the weapons at one's disposal alters the morality of one's actions. This is idiotic for many reasons, not the least of which is that it creates an incentive to build inaccurate weapons. Under your morality, the quality of the guidance system criminalizes the person who pulls the trigger. Huh? That would mean that I am less criminal if I use a hand grenade than a rifle, a bomb belt than an arrow. There's a delightful morality. I trust you do not represent Canada in this, notwithstanding your patriotism.
Even if we accept that Hezbollah has no choice but to use inaccurate weapons, there is no evidence that it is even trying to aim them at military targets. It is spewing them in to cities. More to the point, Hezbollah has not issued any warnings to Israeli civilians, as Israel has done. Instead, it has declared an intention to destroy the entire country, and to bombard cities. If Hez rockets were landing around Israeli military formations and occasionally went errant, or if Israel were hiding its tanks inside residential neighborhoods, Hez might have a defense. But none of that is true, is it? Hez has not even tried to hit Israeli military formations in the targeting of its rockets, it has not warned Israeli civilians to move out of range, and it has declared an intention to destroy Israel entirely. Israel has done none of this, yet you denounce Israel. Why do you give Hezbollah a pass? Is it that different rules apply to Arabs than Jews?
By Purple Avenger, at Sun Jul 30, 03:14:00 PM:
How about hearing from someone who isn't Jewish or American for a change?
How about the editor of the Arab Times?
By Dusty, at Sun Jul 30, 05:34:00 PM:
Final Historian, they did not target civilian infrastructure, they targeted infrastructure that either had dual military/civilian purposes and/or used to be civilian until Hezballah started using them for military purposes.
Also, you have no understanding of the distinctly different meaning for which the word "targeting" can be applied and that's giving you the greatest possible benefit of the doubt about your intent in using it improperly. Intent must be shown, not just results, and you show us nothing.
You degrade the meaning of intelligence associated with the use of the word "historian" in your moniker.
By Dusty, at Sun Jul 30, 05:52:00 PM:
Ibid, Terry wrt to his use of "targeting" ... Whoops, holy cow! I got the commenter mixed up when scrolling back to check source information.
I mistook Final Historian as making Terry's comment. Not there is a defense for this, but in the fog of post commenting, the targeting of people making stupid comments in intelligent areas sometimes has unintentional casualties no matter how careful or accurate one tries to be. I regret the error enormously and hope the injury is slight.
That includes taking back spitting on your moniker, thinking it was Terry's dead and battered body of thought. :)
By M. Simon, at Sun Jul 30, 06:26:00 PM:
So there are a lot of Jew haters in the world.
So what else is new?
When we were stateless we were hated for that. Now that we have a state we are hated for that. Screw 'em.
Idf Israel was serious about cleaning up the scum we would use Hama rules or Black September.
BTW Terry et. al. what is your view of Hizbollah using human shields?
In any case it sd looking like Qana may have been a "work accident". Are you gentlemen down with storing weapons and high explosives where women and children sleep?
And why so few men killed? Where were they?
By Ralph Thayer, at Sun Jul 30, 06:32:00 PM:
The Israeli soldier is fighting to stop the lethal dangers, such as missiles, coming from southern Lebanon to civilians in Israel. He fights from a position between the threat and the people he is duty-bound to protect. Once the missiles stop and the dangers are muted (as in "sustainable cease-fire"), his work is done.
The un-uniformed Hezbollah gunman in southern Lebanon is fighting to project lethal dangers onto civilians in Israel. He routinely takes cover behind, betwixt, and beneath whatever non-combatant civilians, unarmed facilities (UN observation posts), and Geneva conventions ("red cross" on ersatz ambulances transporting armed combatants) may be handy. Hezbollah will not consider its own declared mission done until everyone they dislike is dead or gone.
If, with a magic wand, I could remove to safety from the battleground all non-combatants and leave naught but the men and machines of war, the work of the Israeli soldier would be made simpler while the Hezbollah gunman would find his more dangerous. And while the success of former's mission would still be a practical possibility, that of the latter would be utterly unattainable for want of a nation of people, within reach, to "eradicate."
Behold the difference between a soldier and a murderist.
"Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us." -- Golda Meir, Prime Minister of Israel 1969-1974.
I think that TH has a point when he condemnds the hypocrisy of those who call for "proportionality in war," but I'd like to examine the issue of media coverage for a moment.
Is it really so outrageous to hold Israel to a higher standard than the beasts of Hezbollah? I mean that in the following sense.
Because I know Hezbollah is evil, I expect them to commit evil acts. It is certainly never less horrible when they kill civilians but it is less shocking. However when civilians die as a result of Israel's actions, because they do not intend to kill civilians, and their cause is just, their action is less horrible; but it is however more shocking.
Given that I despise Hezbollah and support Israel in its struggle, does it make me racist, or an advocate of Israel's destruction, that I am more shocked when a bomb that Israel has dropped kills civilians, but I am less shocked when Hezbollah kills?
Shocking is news, horrible (by itself) is not - just think of all the murders that go unreported every day. No one would want to read a newspaper that just reports on all the horrible murders in every poor neighborhood of every city in the country - it just wouldn't be news. However when someone gets killed in a rich neighborhood we are shocked, and it's all over the front page and we eat up the news greedily.
By the same token, can't we understand the coverage of the press: when the dog bites the man (hez kills civilians) that's not news, but when the man bites the dog (israel unintentionally kills civilians), that's news. It may be unfortunate but that is human nature, no?
By TigerHawk, at Sun Jul 30, 07:08:00 PM:
Anon, I agree with your comments, but (a) that does not explain the lop-sided condemnation by governments, and (b) the press might at least make that point. Just come out an say it -- "we do not report atrocities committed by Hezbollah, because they are criminals and we expect no better from them." If your explanation is correct, then professionalism requires at least that simple, straightforward explanation from the press, no?
By Dawnfire82, at Sun Jul 30, 09:17:00 PM:
Ah, but they're not interested in 'professionalism' except as a defense when they're criticized. i.e. "We have to sit and take pictures of Shi'ite militias sniping at American troops from a concealed position," (Reuters I think?) or "we can't say anything to warn the US military when Iraqi Baathists brag about their plans and show us canisters of chemical rounds they intend to use" (Time Magazine... I remember that one very clearly) because they are "professionals."
They're interested in profits and the power to manipulate, and they get both by sensationalizing biased reporting.
Remember the "we can't print that, it's too heroic and we're going for a negative spin on the war" incident? Maybe that was discussed at another blog... In case it was, a print reporter wrote up an in depth (over a period of months) story about Marines he was with fighting insurgents and when he sent in his work with something like 130 photographs his editor rejected it, with the above quotation.
I consider journalists as a group enemies, and many, many other soldiers do as well.