“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The massacre in Gaza spares no one, and includes the disabled and sick in hospitals, children playing on the beach or on the roof top, with a large majority of non-combatants. Hospitals, clinics, ambulances, mosques, schools, and press buildings have all been attacked, with thousands of private homes bombed, clearly directing fire to target whole families killing them within their homes, depriving families of their homes by chasing them out a few minutes before destruction.

An open letter for the people in Gaza

Paola Manduca , Iain Chalmers , Derek Summerfield , Mads Gilbert , Swee Ang on behalf of 24 signatories
We are doctors and scientists, who spend our lives developing means to care and protect health and lives. We are also informed people; we teach the ethics of our professions, together with the knowledge and practice of it. We all have worked in and known the situation of Gaza for years.

On the basis of our ethics and practice, we are denouncing what we witness in the aggression of Gaza by Israel.

We ask our colleagues, old and young professionals, to denounce this Israeli aggression. We challenge the perversity of a propaganda that justifies the creation of an emergency to masquerade a massacre, a so-called “defensive aggression”. In reality it is a ruthless assault of unlimited duration, extent, and intensity. We wish to report the facts as we see them and their implications on the lives of the people.

We are appalled by the military onslaught on civilians in Gaza under the guise of punishing terrorists. This is the third large scale military assault on Gaza since 2008. Each time the death toll is borne mainly by innocent people in Gaza, especially women and children under the unacceptable pretext of Israel eradicating political parties and resistance to the occupation and siege they impose.

This action also terrifies those who are not directly hit, and wounds the soul, mind, and resilience of the young generation. Our condemnation and disgust are further compounded by the denial and prohibition for Gaza to receive external help and supplies to alleviate the dire circumstances.

The blockade on Gaza has tightened further since last year and this has worsened the toll on Gaza's population. In Gaza, people suffer from hunger, thirst, pollution, shortage of medicines, electricity, and any means to get an income, not only by being bombed and shelled. Power crisis, gasoline shortage, water and food scarcity, sewage outflow and ever decreasing resources are disasters caused directly and indirectly by the siege.1

People in Gaza are resisting this aggression because they want a better and normal life and, even while crying in sorrow, pain, and terror, they reject a temporary truce that does not provide a real chance for a better future. A voice under the attacks in Gaza is that of Um Al Ramlawi who speaks for all in Gaza: “They are killing us all anyway—either a slow death by the siege, or a fast one by military attacks. We have nothing left to lose—we must fight for our rights, or die trying.”2

Gaza has been blockaded by sea and land since 2006. Any individual of Gaza, including fishermen venturing beyond 3 nautical miles of the coast of Gaza, face being shot by the Israeli Navy. No one from Gaza can leave from the only two checkpoints, Erez or Rafah, without special permission from the Israelis and the Egyptians, which is hard to come by for many, if not impossible. People in Gaza are unable to go abroad to study, work, visit families, or do business. Wounded and sick people cannot leave easily to get specialised treatment outside Gaza. Entries of food and medicines into Gaza have been restricted and many essential items for survival are prohibited.3 Before the present assault, medical stock items in Gaza were already at an all time low because of the blockade.3 They have run out now. Likewise, Gaza is unable to export its produce. Agriculture has been severely impaired by the imposition of a buffer zone, and agricultural products cannot be exported due to the blockade. 80% of Gaza’s population is dependent on food rations from the UN.

Much of Gaza's buildings and infrastructure had been destroyed during Operation Cast Lead, 2008—09, and building materials have been blockaded so that schools, homes, and institutions cannot be properly rebuilt. Factories destroyed by bombardment have rarely been rebuilt adding unemployment to destitution.

Despite the difficult conditions, the people of Gaza and their political leaders have recently moved to resolve their conflicts “without arms and harm” through the process of reconciliation between factions, their leadership renouncing titles and positions, so that a unity government can be formed abolishing the divisive factional politics operating since 2007. This reconciliation, although accepted by many in the international community, was rejected by Israel. The present Israeli attacks stop this chance of political unity between Gaza and the West Bank and single out a part of the Palestinian society by destroying the lives of people of Gaza. Under the pretext of eliminating terrorism, Israel is trying to destroy the growing Palestinian unity. Among other lies, it is stated that civilians in Gaza are hostages of Hamas whereas the truth is that the Gaza Strip is sealed by the Israelis and Egyptians.

Gaza has been bombed continuously for the past 14 days followed now by invasion on land by tanks and thousands of Israeli troops. More than 60 000 civilians from Northern Gaza were ordered to leave their homes. These internally displaced people have nowhere to go since Central and Southern Gaza are also subjected to heavy artillery bombardment. The whole of Gaza is under attack. The only shelters in Gaza are the schools of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), uncertain shelters already targeted during Cast Lead, killing many.

According to Gaza Ministry of Health and UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA),1 as of July 21, 149 of the 558 killed in Gaza and 1100 of the 3504 wounded are children. Those buried under the rubble are not counted yet. As we write, the BBC reports of the bombing of another hospital, hitting the intensive care unit and operating theatres, with deaths of patients and staff. There are now fears for the main hospital Al Shifa. Moreover, most people are psychologically traumatised in Gaza. Anyone older than 6 years has already lived through their third military assault by Israel.

The massacre in Gaza spares no one, and includes the disabled and sick in hospitals, children playing on the beach or on the roof top, with a large majority of non-combatants. Hospitals, clinics, ambulances, mosques, schools, and press buildings have all been attacked, with thousands of private homes bombed, clearly directing fire to target whole families killing them within their homes, depriving families of their homes by chasing them out a few minutes before destruction. An entire area was destroyed on July 20, leaving thousands of displaced people homeless, beside wounding hundreds and killing at least 70—this is way beyond the purpose of finding tunnels. None of these are military objectives. These attacks aim to terrorise, wound the soul and the body of the people, and make their life impossible in the future, as well as also demolishing their homes and prohibiting the means to rebuild.

Weaponry known to cause long-term damages on health of the whole population are used; particularly non fragmentation weaponry and hard-head bombs.45 We witnessed targeted weaponry used indiscriminately and on children and we constantly see that so-called intelligent weapons fail to be precise, unless they are deliberately used to destroy innocent lives.

We denounce the myth propagated by Israel that the aggression is done caring about saving civilian lives and children’s wellbeing.

Israel's behaviour has insulted our humanity, intelligence, and dignity as well as our professional ethics and efforts. Even those of us who want to go and help are unable to reach Gaza due to the blockade.

This “defensive aggression” of unlimited duration, extent, and intensity must be stopped.

Additionally, should the use of gas be further confirmed, this is unequivocally a war crime for which, before anything else, high sanctions will have to be taken immediately on Israel with cessation of any trade and collaborative agreements with Europe.

As we write, other massacres and threats to the medical personnel in emergency services and denial of entry for international humanitarian convoys are reported.6 We as scientists and doctors cannot keep silent while this crime against humanity continues. We urge readers not to be silent too. Gaza trapped under siege, is being killed by one of the world's largest and most sophisticated modern military machines. The land is poisoned by weapon debris, with consequences for future generations. If those of us capable of speaking up fail to do so and take a stand against this war crime, we are also complicit in the destruction of the lives and homes of 1·8 million people in Gaza.

We register with dismay that only 5% of our Israeli academic colleagues signed an appeal to their government to stop the military operation against Gaza. We are tempted to conclude that with the exception of this 5%, the rest of the Israeli academics are complicit in the massacre and destruction of Gaza. We also see the complicity of our countries in Europe and North America in this massacre and the impotence once again of the international institutions and organisations to stop this massacre.


Lancet Medical Journal Denounces Israel’s Aggression, Targeting of Children, and Attempts to Kill Gaza – Seven Quotes

Doctors and scientists, on behalf of 24 signatories, in the peer-reviewed medical journal The Lancet,write:
Seven crucial quotes:
  • Gaza is being killed by one of the world’s largest and most sophisticated modern military machines.
  • This is a “military onslaught on civilians in Gaza”
  • These attacks aim to terrorize
  • We witnessed targeted weaponry used indiscriminately and on children
  • We denounce the myth propagated by Israel that the aggression is done caring about saving civilian lives and children’s well-being.
  • Israel’s behaviour has insulted our humanity, intelligence, and dignity as well as our professional ethics and efforts.
  • [S]hould the use of gas be further confirmed, this is unequivocally a war crime for which, before anything else, high sanctions will have to be taken immediately on Israel with cessation of any trade and collaborative agreements with Europe.
The Lancet is a weekly peer-reviewed general medical journal.  It is one of the world’s oldest and best known general medical journals, and has been described as one of the most prestigious medical journals in the world. – Wikipedia


  1. Replies
    1. Who cares ?

      You were challenged to authenticate your claims, you FAILED.
      You are neither who nor what you claim to be.

      Bye- bye "O"rdure

  2. Spam your own site. If you have something to say, do it in your own words.

  3. Academic Lies and Distortions in the Cognitive War Against Israel

  4. To the misled doctors, pseudoscientists and 9/11 supporters in Gaza

    Read more: To the misled doctors, pseudoscientists and 9/11 supporters in Gaza | Hillel S. Maresky | Ops & Blogs | The Times of Israel
    Follow us: @timesofisrael on Twitter | timesofisrael on Facebook

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Referring to Palestinian refugees:
      "We must do everything in our power to ensure that they never return."
      David Ben-Gurion • Address at the Mapai Political Committee (7 June 1938) as quoted in Feuerlicht, Roberta, 1983.

    2. Deuce "Mr Double Standard" ApprovedWed Jul 30, 12:47:00 AM EDT

      Deuce ☂Wed Jul 30, 12:45:00 AM EDT
      Spam your own site. If you have something to say, do it in your own words.

    3. Referring to Palestinian refugees ...

      The a one line quote

      Then the reference to who and where. A single line that tells the truth, spoken by a REAL authority on the matter.

      There's a great power in words, if you don't hitch too many of them together.
      - Josh Billings

  6. The truth?

    Hamas and it's supporters are on the world side of history.

    The people of Gaza? Will rise up and do away with Hamas, even if they submachine gun dozens a day that protest...

    Cool blooded murderers they are.

    They beat people and prevent them from leaving, their OWN bombs murder dozens....

    But censor my posts..

    The truth hurts and you can't handle it..

    1. There is nothing truthful about Israel. It is a cynical criminal enterprise sponsored and supported by the corrupt US Jewish lobby.

    2. You have no title to the blog, you may not hijack it.
      The Elephant Bar is not Judaism, you may not misrepresent it. The owner will not allow it.

      You have an arrangement with Google, you claim to have two blogs. Both are available for viewing and you may blog away, to your hearts content, on the sites that Goodle has provide for you, to manage.

      You have complete freedom to post to your hearts content, all the spam you wish. You are not being censored, you are being edited. There is a difference.

      Rewrite and resubmit. - Get on it right away, "O"rdure.

    3. The blog is now an official blog of anti-Semitic hate speech....

    4. But in a way that is good.

      Deuce finally has lost his credibility to say he is JUST anti-zionist.

      No Deuce has long tossed away that mask...

      Deuce ☂Wed Jul 30, 12:58:00 AM EDT
      There is nothing truthful about Israel. It is a cynical criminal enterprise sponsored and supported by the corrupt US Jewish lobby.


    5. The ones who tore away the mask is Israel and the supporters and promoters that commit the most vile of crimes against humanity. It has been a revelation.

  7. The Secret Report That Helps Israelis Cover Atrocities
    How Israel Spins War Crimes


    Israeli spokesmen have their work cut out explaining how they have killed more than 1,000 Palestinians in Gaza, most of them civilians, compared with just three civilians killed in Israel by Hamas rocket and mortar fire. But on television and radio and in newspapers, Israeli government spokesmen such as Mark Regev appear slicker and less aggressive than their predecessors, who were often visibly indifferent to how many Palestinians were killed.

    There is a reason for this enhancement of the PR skills of Israeli spokesmen. Going by what they say, the playbook they are using is a professional, well-researched and confidential study on how to influence the media and public opinion in America and Europe. Written by the expert Republican pollster and political strategist Dr Frank Luntz, the study was commissioned five years ago by a group called The Israel Project, with offices in the US and Israel, for use by those “who are on the front lines of fighting the media war for Israel”.

    Every one of the 112 pages in the booklet is marked “not for distribution or publication” and it is easy to see why. The Luntz report, officially entitled “The Israel project’s 2009 Global Language Dictionary, was leaked almost immediately to Newsweek Online, but its true importance has seldom been appreciated. It should be required reading for everybody, especially journalists, interested in any aspect of Israeli policy because of its “dos and don’ts” for Israeli spokesmen.

    These are highly illuminating about the gap between what Israeli officials and politicians really believe, and what they say, the latter shaped in minute detail by polling to determine what Americans want to hear. Certainly, no journalist interviewing an Israeli spokesman should do so without reading this preview of many of the themes and phrases employed by Mr Regev and his colleagues.

    The booklet is full of meaty advice about how they should shape their answers for different audiences. For example, the study says that “Americans agree that Israel ‘has a right to defensible borders’. But it does you no good to define exactly what those borders should be. Avoid talking about borders in terms of pre- or post-1967, because it only serves to remind Americans of Israel’s military history. Particularly on the left this does you harm. For instance, support for Israel’s right to defensible borders drops from a heady 89 per cent to under 60 per cent when you talk about it in terms of 1967.”

    How about the right of return for Palestinian refugees who were expelled or fled in 1948 and in the following years, and who
    OR Book Going Rougeare not allowed to go back to their homes? Here Dr Luntz has subtle advice for spokesmen, saying that “the right of return is a tough issue for Israelis to communicate effectively because much of Israeli language sounds like the ‘separate but equal’ words of the 1950s segregationists and the 1980s advocates of Apartheid. The fact is, Americans don’t like, don’t believe and don’t accept the concept of ‘separate but equal’.”

    1. So how should spokesmen deal with what the booklet admits is a tough question? They should call it a “demand”, on the grounds that Americans don’t like people who make demands. “Then say ‘Palestinians aren’t content with their own state. Now they’re demanding territory inside Israel’.” Other suggestions for an effective Israeli response include saying that the right of return might become part of a final settlement “at some point in the future”.

      Dr Luntz notes that Americans as a whole are fearful of mass immigration into the US, so mention of “mass Palestinian immigration” into Israel will not go down well with them. If nothing else works, say that the return of Palestinians would “derail the effort to achieve peace”.

      The Luntz report was written in the aftermath of Operation Cast Lead in December 2008 and January 2009, when 1,387 Palestinians and nine Israelis were killed.

      There is a whole chapter on “isolating Iran-backed Hamas as an obstacle to peace”. Unfortunately, come the current Operation Protective Edge, which began on 6 July, there was a problem for Israeli propagandists because Hamas had quarrelled with Iran over the war in Syria and had no contact with Tehran. Friendly relations have been resumed only in the past few days – thanks to the Israeli invasion.

      Much of Dr Luntz’s advice is about the tone and presentation of the Israeli case. He says it is absolutely crucial to exude empathy for Palestinians: “Persuadables [sic] won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Show Empathy for BOTH sides!” This may explain why a number of Israeli spokesman are almost lachrymose about the plight of Palestinians being pounded by Israeli bombs and shells.

      In a sentence in bold type, underlined and with capitalisation, Dr Luntz says that Israeli spokesmen or political leaders must never, ever justify “the deliberate slaughter of innocent women and children” and they must aggressively challenge those who accuse Israel of such a crime. Israeli spokesmen struggled to be true to this prescription when 16 Palestinians were killed in a UN shelter in Gaza last Thursday.

      There is a list of words and phrases to be used and a list of those to be avoided. Schmaltz is at a premium: “The best way, the only way, to achieve lasting peace is to achieve mutual respect.” Above all, Israel’s desire for peace with the Palestinians should be emphasised at all times because this what Americans overwhelmingly want to happen. But any pressure on Israel to actually make peace can be reduced by saying “one step at a time, one day at a time”, which will be accepted as “a commonsense approach to the land-for-peace equation”.

      Dr Luntz cites as an example of an “effective Israeli sound bite” one which reads: “I particularly want to reach out to Palestinian mothers who have lost their children. No parent should have to bury their child.”

      The study admits that the Israeli government does not really want a two-state solution, but says this should be masked because 78 per cent of Americans do. Hopes for the economic betterment of Palestinians should be emphasised.

      Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is quoted with approval for saying that it is “time for someone to ask Hamas: what exactly are YOU doing to bring prosperity to your people”. The hypocrisy of this beggars belief: it is the seven-year-old Israeli economic siege that has reduced the Gaza to poverty and misery.

      On every occasion, the presentation of events by Israeli spokesmen is geared to giving Americans and Europeans the impression that Israel wants peace with the Palestinians and is prepared to compromise to achieve this, when all the evidence is that it does not. Though it was not intended as such, few more revealing studies have been written about modern Israel in times of war and peace.

  8. On every occasion, the presentation of events by Israeli spokesmen is geared to giving Americans and Europeans the impression that Israel wants peace with the Palestinians and is prepared to compromise to achieve this, when all the evidence is that it does not. Though it was not intended as such, few more revealing studies have been written about modern Israel in times of war and peace

    1. Making "peace" doesn't mean accepting the Hamas or Fatah genocide.

      The Palestinians have had and refused "peace" 6 times, starting in 1948. they refused.

      hamas with it's 30,000 rockets seeks genocide.

      So sorry if Israel doesn't just slit it's throat to make you happy....

    2. You seem to be surprised to hear that there are still problems of 1948 to be solved,
      the most important component of which is the right to return of Palestinian refugees.

      The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is not just an issue of military occupation and Israel is not a country that was established “normally” and happened to occupy another country in 1967.

      Palestinians are not struggling for a “state” but for freedom, liberation and equality,
      just like we were struggling for freedom in South Africa.

      - Nelson Mandela

  9. ...criminal...Right...what a joke...

  10. The official name for Israel’s latest assault on Gaza is “Operation Protective Edge." A better name would be "Operation Déjà Vu." As it has on several prior occasions, Israel is using weapons provided by U.S. taxpayers to bombard the captive and impoverished Palestinians in Gaza, where the death toll now exceeds 1100.

    As usual, the U.S. government is siding with Israel, even though most American leaders understand Israel instigated the latest round of violence, is not acting with restraint, and that its actions make Washington look callous and hypocritical in the eyes of most of the world.

    This Orwellian situation is eloquent testimony to the continued political clout of AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) and the other hardline elements of the Israel lobby.

  11. Deuce ☂Wed Jul 30, 12:58:00 AM EDT

    There is nothing truthful about Israel. It is a cynical criminal enterprise sponsored and supported by the corrupt US Jewish lobby.


    Respectfully, Deuce, that is really insane.


    On another topic - the casualties in Gaza......

    All the figures being quoted in the Press come from Hamas. Have any of you been over to count?

    Hamas has every incentive to pad those figures.

    Cut it in half and you might be closer........

    1. "supported by the corrupt US Jewish lobby"

      Again, the American PEOPLE overwhelmingly support Israel over Hamas. And have supported Israel since the beginning.

      Don't expect that to change.

  12. Deuce ☂Wed Jul 30, 12:58:00 AM EDT
    There is nothing truthful about Israel. It is a cynical criminal enterprise sponsored and supported by the corrupt US Jewish lobby.

    Amazing how when the mask drops... the mask drops...

    1. The important mask that has dropped is that of Israel and her supporters. It is sickening. You have an idiot who is not satisfied with the body count.


  13. Israel - Founded by Terrorists and Sustained by Terrorism

    1. Jack, desert rat, you have forgotten your name again.

    2. Not at all, Robert Peterson.
      It is neither desert rat nor Jack.
      It never was.


    3. "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet"
      is a commonly quoted part of a dialogue in William Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet,
      in which Juliet argues that the names of things do not matter, only what things "are".

  14. I've read Hamas has its headquarters under a hospital.

    Not being well read in the Geneva Conventions........but that in itself sounds like a war crime of some kind to me.

    Anyone know the answer to this?

  15. .

    Learned economists argue that there is no inflation caused by the Fed's easy money policies but of course there is. We see it in the asset bubbles that are the stock and bond market, the same bubbles that are accelerating the rising divide between the 1% and everyone else.

    Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen has said the central bank's goal is "to help Main Street not Wall Street," and many liberal commentators seem convinced that she is advancing that goal. But talk to anyone on Wall Street. If they are being frank, they'll admit that the Fed's loose monetary policy has been one of the biggest contributors to their returns over the past five years. Unwittingly, it seems, liberals who support the Fed are defending policies that boost the wealth of the wealthy but do nothing to reduce inequality.

    This perverse outcome is not the Fed's intent. It has kept interest rates near zero in an effort to combat the great recession of 2008-09 and nurse the weak economy back to health. Many analysts will argue that the recovery might have been even worse without the Fed's efforts. Still, the U.S. economy has staged its weakest recovery since World War II, with output up a total of just 10 percentage points over the past five years. Meanwhile, the stock market has never been so high at this point in a recovery. This is the most powerful post-recession bull market in postwar history, with the stock market up by a record 135% over the past five years.

    The Fed can print as much money as it wants, but it can't control where it goes, and much of it is finding its way into financial assets. On many long-term metrics, the stock market is now at levels that fall within the top 10% of valuations recorded over the past 100 years. The rally in the fixed-income market too is reaching giddy proportions, particularly for high-yield junk bonds, which are up 150% since 2009.

    Greenspan, Bernanke, Yellen, a carnival of fools pushing 'wealth effect' fairy tales and trickle down supply side economics as a panacea for what ails main street when in effect it is just another sop to the rich.

    Are they just this damn stupid or are they part of rat's Illuminati.


  16. .

    2 Armed 'Older Men' Rob Medical Clinic Of VIAGRA Pills............drudge

    If this doesn't have Quirk and Rufus written all over it, I'll eat my hat.

    Actually, I was just trying to help out a fellow blogger.

    Ruf is sitting there with a brewski watching The Bachelorette and all of a sudden out of the blue he grumbles something, crushes the Bud can up against his forehead and then throws the pencil thin disc of mangled metal that remained across the room at the dog. He then yells something about “gotta feed the beast,” turns and heads out the door.

    Had no idea what that meant or where he was going and I should never have followed him but then I had downed a few myself. Next thing I know…well…Hosea 8:7.


    1. .

      I wasn't planning on taking a run today but those cops came out of nowhere.


    2. For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind: it hath no stalk: the bud shall yield no meal: if so be it yield, the strangers shall eat it.

      They trotted off to Assyria:
      Why, even wild donkeys stick to their own kind,
      but donkey-Ephraim goes out and pays to get lovers.
      Now, because of their whoring life among the pagans,
      I’m going to gather them together and confront them.
      They’re going to reap the consequences soon,
      feel what it’s like to be oppressed by the big king.

      "I wasn't planning on taking a run today but those cops came out of nowhere."

      And you're worried about the cops?

      When the big king is going to be down your ass?

  17. July 30, 2014
    Israel Does Not Violate the Laws of War in Gaza
    By Jonathan F. Keiler

    The other day Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, appeared on the "Huckabee Show" on FOX News to make the case that Israel is committing war crimes in Gaza. Huckabee is a strong supporter of Israel, instinctively on the right side of the issue, but could do little but respond with exasperation to Roth’s technical sounding claims of Israeli law-breaking. While the pro-Huckabee studio audience didn’t buy it, Roth’s calm, prim, and professorial accusations against Israel might easily sway a neutral observer who didn’t actually know the law. His weak but carefully articulated claims help establish the pseudo-legal sounding framework which the left-wing media, most of Europe and the Obama administration use to pressure and condemn Israel. It works to encourage Hamas’ own continuing war crimes, rather than promote adherence to the law.

    None of Roth’s accusations are based on a correct reading and interpretation of the laws of war, but his claims need to be debunked precisely, not just ignored or belittled because one supports Israel. Roth and his cohorts have very real influence that is based in part on an appeal to cool legal rationality. The problem is that this coolly rational legal framework, at least when it comes to Israel, is a chimera.

    Roth’s brief against Israel (and by extension that of the Left in general --- to include Obama) is that Israel’s actions in Gaza do not comply with the laws of war, to wit:

    Israel targets civilian structures
    Israel is strictly liable for civilian casualties
    Israel violates the general rule of proportional combat
    Israel disproportionately kills civilians
    Palestinian civilians who voluntarily put themselves in harm’s way are not “human shields”
    Precision military strikes are required when engaging any target in an urban area
    Israel does not prosecute soldiers for war crimes

    1. None of these claims are either factually true or legally legitimate, but when presented calmly and academically, without direct rebuttal, are convincing for many people, and create fodder for op-ed writers and talking heads to muddy the waters or drum up anti-Israel sentiment. What is the actual case with regard to these claims?

      Israel targets civilian structures: A civilian structure loses its protected status when it is used for military purposes. A home that serves as a Hamas command post or hides a tunnel entrance is by definition not a civilian structure any longer. Israel targets such buildings, but does not target structures that are not used for military purposes. A church or a mosque that houses a sniper loses its protected status under the laws of war.

      Israel is strictly liable for civilian casualties: Strict liability is a very limited legal concept that has no little or no place in the laws of war.

      Overwhelmingly in criminal jurisprudence, whether civil or military, the key question is intent. However, in limited situations, strict liability applies, e.g., injuring somebody while driving drunk being an example. It is a way to apply criminal liability to reckless but perhaps otherwise innocent conduct. Within the laws of war the prohibition against “indiscriminate” actions covers this issue.

      The problem for Roth is that Israel is exceedingly discriminate in its actions, while Hamas is completely indiscriminate. To get around this problem Israel’s critics simply assert that causing “excessive” civilian casualties (whatever that means) is illegal. On Huckabee, Roth proposed that killing one civilian for one terrorist might be okay, but not ten. There is no law of war rule to this effect. Suppose the one civilian is an innocent child, and the ten rabid civilian supporters of the terrorist. It is an impossible legal question to resolve and so the laws of war don’t address it. The guilt in both cases is on the terrorist for creating the danger in the first instance.

    2. Israel violates the rule of proportional combat: This obscure law of war was almost entirely ignored by the media, political classes, and academia until the Second Lebanon War in 2006. It is a relatively useless and impractical concept of the law of war, not even mentioned in the Hague Conventions, the 1949 Geneva Conventions, and is noted only in commentary to the 1977 Protocol Additional. As I pointed out several years ago in an article for the Army War College, it is “ambiguous, lacks useful precedent, and as a practical matter nearly impossible to interpret or enforce.” It appears to only apply to Israel.

      Here’s what the proportionality rule actually says: attacks must be proportionate to the military objective sought. That’s it. Nobody mentioned this rule until it became a seemingly legitimate excuse to bash Israel. But it is pointless because almost all competent military organizations, including the Israel Defense Force (IDF), follow the principle automatically for their own benefit. In military doctrine it is called “economy of force.” No competent military leader wants to disproportionately apply force to an objective -- it wastes time and resources. Sometimes by mistake it is done, as, say, in the bombing of Monte Casino during World War II. But even that is not a war crime, because the attack must be intentionally disproportionate, not just a mistaken application of force. Even if you can demonstrate that Israel applied disproportionate force at some point, you would also have to show that misapplication of force was deliberate. Good luck.

    3. Israel disproportionately kills civilians: The proportionality rule has nothing to say about this. Disproportionate civilian deaths have been a fact of war since war began, largely through famine and disease, but murder and massacre too. Modern war has increased risks to civilians due to heavier firepower and increased urbanization. Civilian deaths have exceeded military deaths in many modern conflicts, including World War II, but this in itself is not a violation of the laws of war. The legal question is whether the deaths were caused intentionally or recklessly, not the proportion of civilian deaths to military losses. Thus by correct measure, the legal question in the Gaza conflict is which side has intentionally or recklessly caused the most civilian deaths. The answer to this question is Hamas 6; Israel none.

      Palestinians who voluntarily put themselves in harm’s way are not human shields: Roth is technically correct on this (recently tweeting this claim.) But this is because the laws of war never anticipated the depraved conduct of the Palestinian Arabs of Gaza. Human shields as envisioned by the laws of war are civilians who are coerced by a military force to protect soldiers or a military target. German soldiers in World War I who forced Belgian civilians to march ahead of them committed a war crime. A Nazi plan to shield aerial targets with Allied POWs would have also been a violation.

      There have been instances of Hamas doing these things, but also apparent instances where civilians rushed to a target to protect it from Israeli fire. In the latter instance these civilians were not technically human shields. Instead, they became legitimate military targets, and also war criminals. The laws of war require combatants to wear uniforms or identifying badges or marks. A civilian who takes a military position without properly identifying himself is both a legitimate target and a violator of the laws of war. But he is not, technically, a human shield.

      Precision military strikes are required when engaging any target in an urban area: Roth claimed (without attribution or detail) that Israel attacked a hospital because Hamas place a rocket launcher 100 yards away, and that this attack was illegal because Israel had to use a “precise” munition in such an instance. Of course we don’t know what munition was used, or even if the attack actually took place, but for the sake of argument, let’s assume Israel attacked a Hamas Grad rocket launcher emplaced 100 yards from a hospital with a standard unguided 155mm artillery round. There would be absolutely nothing illegal about such an attack under the laws of war. If the round did not precisely hit the Grad launcher, or shrapnel from the explosion hit the hospital, the legal liability is on Hamas.

      Precision munitions are relatively new to war, limited in military inventories and very expensive. There is no legal duty to use them exclusively in particular instances. As a practical matter though, it is indisputable that Israel disproportionately uses precision munitions, also munitions with reduced explosive force, and engages in a historically to civilians who may be in a targeted area.

      Israel does not prosecute soldiers for war crimes: Israel of course does this. Even the highly biased and anti-Israel Goldstone Report from a previous Israel-Hamas fight acknowledged Israel’s well developed and sophisticated military legal system. What Roth and his like object to is that Israel does not prosecute its soldiers imaginary crimes. As demonstrated above, Roth’s brief against Israel is based on his own inchoate ideations of what comprises the laws of war, not what they actually say. If Israeli military prosecutors were to try an Israeli soldier for violating one these nonexistent or misapplied rules, he would be quickly acquitted because the Israeli military judicial system actually follows the laws of war, not the imaginings of so-called human rights activists.

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    6. And excellent decisions have been made by both authors above.

  18. Deuce,

    Please email me your email. I want to send you something.