“One-Eyed in Gaza”

February 5, 2009

Norm Geras posts an excellent piece. I agree with nearly everything he says here, except that, on the evidence so far available, I do not accept that Israel is guilty of war crimes.

Norm writes:

This is a post about war crimes in Gaza and the widespread public outrage over them directed at Israel. Since it is a long post, I begin by providing a brief map of what is to follow.

In Part 1 I present a sample of the angry public reaction to Israel’s alleged war crimes in Gaza, as gathered mostly from the British liberal press. In Part 2 I consider the source of this anger, pointing to what may be thought to be the most likely one – the great and visible suffering caused by Israel’s recent military action. I argue that the hypothesis that this was the cause of outrage against Israel is not decisively rebutted by a standard argumentative move made by Israel’s defenders: namely, that if Israel was guilty of war crimes, then so too was Hamas, for sending rockets against Sderot and other civilian centres. In Part 3 I go on to show that the claim that anger at Israel was due, or mainly due, to the suffering caused by its military action is open to question nonetheless. If we are examining this issue under the rubric of responsibility for war crimes, then public outrage about them is skewed when directed, as it widely has been, exclusively at Israel. In Part 4 I draw three conclusions from what has gone before. The first of these concerns the implication of the attitudes explored here for the future progress of international law. The second bears on the present condition of the Western liberal-left. And the third is about the alarming worldwide growth of anti-Semitism.

He concludes:

In the outpouring of hatred towards Israel today, it scarcely matters what part of it is impelled by a pre-existing hostility towards Jews as such and what part by a groundless feeling that the Jewish state is especially vicious among the nations of the world and to be obsessed about accordingly. Both are forms of anti-Semitism. The old poison is once again among us.

Read the whole thing.



  1. How elegantly the enemy doth spin.

  2. Who, Norm? A good Marxist and all.

  3. Not into taxonomy. Y’know sometimes you gotta get your nose out of the gutter and gaze at the stars.

  4. The “war crime” refrain is used by an anti-Israeli crowd so frequently and so unthinkingly that it became somewhat of an established fact for them.

    I am not sure that Norm is using it the same way – just for the purpose of the article you quote.

  5. Hamas believes in the principles of the French Revolution. And Israel believes in….

  6. Indeed. Hamas has the principles of the Terror down pat.

  7. Dr. Sherifa D. Zuhur, Research Professor of Islamic and Regional Studies, Strategic Studies Institute, United States Army War College, December 2008:

    “Islamists have long accepted the principles of the French Revolution, but view the West’s lack of support for democratisation where Islamists were strong, or prevailed as in Algeria, Egypt and Palestine after 2006, as hypocritical. HAMAS, then and now, denies the clash of civilisation thesis that became more well-known through Samuel Huntington, and also – importantly – the Al Qa’idist proposal that Muslims must wage jihad against the West.”

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