The ‘Disproportionate Force’ Canard

Is Israel Using Disproportionate Force?

Dr. Dore Gold, former Israeli ambassador to the UN, crisply refutes the predictable knee-jerk yet remarkably selective invocation of the ‘disproportionate force’ canard so beloved by gullible media clods and anti-Semitic Euro-trash alike.

[I]n fighting counterinsurgency wars, most armies seek to achieve military victory by defeating the military capacity of an adversary, as efficiently as possible. There clearly is no international expectation that military losses in war should be on a one-to-one basis; most armies seek to decisively eliminate as many enemy forces as possible while minimizing their own losses of troops. There are NATO members who have been critical of “Israel’s disproportionate use of force,” while NATO armies take pride in their “kill ratios” against the Taliban in Afghanistan. Moreover, decisive military action against an aggressor has another effect: it increases deterrence.14 To expect Israel to hold back in its use of decisive force against legitimate military targets in Gaza is to condemn it to a long war of attrition with Hamas.

The loss of any civilian lives is truly regrettable. Israel has cancelled many military operations because of its concern with civilian casualties. But should civilian losses occur despite the best efforts of Israel to avoid them, it is ultimately not Israel’s responsibility. As political philosopher Michael Walzer noted in 2006: “When Palestinian militants launch rocket attacks from civilian areas, they are themselves responsible – and no one else is – for the civilian deaths caused by Israeli counterfire.”15

International critics of Israel may be looking to craft balanced statements that spread the blame for the present conflict to both sides. But they would be better served if they did not engage in this artificial exercise, and clearly distinguish the side that is the aggressor in this conflict – Hamas – and the side that is trying to defeat the aggression – Israel.

Dr. Gold is much too fair to Israel’s media critics who’ve kept silent for years while Israel was on the receiving end of 5,000 unprovoked rocket attacks from Hamas terrorists, only to bring out the cameras when Israel finally responds to generate footage of Israeli strikes against the (cue the violins) “poor Palestinians”® with no explanation why Israel is fighting back.

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