During the recent Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip which saw upwards of 1,300 Palestinians killed -- ostensibly in response to Hamas rocket fire that had killed no one during the previous five months -- Israeli apologists vociferously attacked claims that the brutal assault was disproportionate.
To take but one example, Harvard law professor (and respected torture advocate) Alan Dershowitz took to the pages of The Wall Street Journal to denounce said charges as "absurd":
Israel's actions in Gaza are justified under international law, and Israel should be commended for its self-defense against terrorism. Article 51 of the United Nations Charter reserves to every nation the right to engage in self-defense against armed attacks. The only limitation international law places on a democracy is that its actions must satisfy the principle of proportionality.-----
The claim that Israel has violated the principle of proportionality -- by killing more Hamas terrorists than the number of Israeli civilians killed by Hamas rockets -- is absurd. First, there is no legal equivalence between the deliberate killing of innocent civilians and the deliberate killings of Hamas combatants. Under the laws of war, any number of combatants can be killed to prevent the killing of even one innocent civilian.
Though Dershowitz and Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League will no doubt attack the source as unreliable and probably as virulently anti-semitic, one prominent institution -- the Israeli government -- apparently disagrees with their assessment of the recent war, calling it what it clearly was: disproportionate. As Reuters reports:
Israel vows "disproportionate" response to rockets
JERUSALEM, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert threatened on Sunday a "disproportionate" response to the continued firing of rockets into Israel from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.Glad that's settled.
There have been sporadic rocket attacks by militants on southern Israeli communities and several Israeli air strikes in the Gaza Strip since a truce came into effect on Jan. 18 following a 22-day Israeli offensive in the territory.
At least two rockets struck southern Israel on Sunday, causing no damage or casualties. A wing of al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a group belonging to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction, claimed responsibility.
"The government's position was from the outset that if there is shooting at the residents of the south, there will be a harsh Israeli response that will be disproportionate," Olmert said at the weekly cabinet meeting after the latest rocket salvo.
Meanwhile -- here's Dershowitz in November 2007 demonstrating why he's such a valued mainstream commentator in a column defending torture because, hey, it worked for the Nazis, and imploring Democrats not to fall victim to the "pacifistic" anti-war left:
Hundreds of thousands of Americans may watch Michael Moore's movies or cheer Cindy Sheehan's demonstrations, but tens of millions want the Moores and Sheehans of our nation as far away as possible from influencing national security policy. That is why Rudy Giuliani seems to be doing surprisingly well among many segments of the electorate, ranging from centrist Democrats to Republicans and even some on the religious right.Giuliani, you will recall, did not win a single Republican delegate in his race for the party's presidential nomination (while even the much-maligned anti-war congressman Ron Paul won around two dozen). Too bad punditry is a lot like the Supreme Court: as soon as one's inducted into the august body, the only thing that can get you removed is either death or getting caught in bed with a dead girl or a live boy.
It may seem strange that a candidate, who came to national prominence as the New York mayor, and one with a mixed record in that job, would be the choice of so many on security issues, despite his lack of experience in the national and international arenas. But the post- 9/11 Rudy conveys a sense of toughness, of no-nonsense defense of America.