Saturday, August 23, 2014

If I Could Make One Point

If I could get a full-page advertisement with just one sentence in the New York Times or Britain's Independent or Guardian, or have one chance to speak to the awful Jon Snow from Britain's Channel 4 news, I would say as follows:

The US, UK and NATO have killed tens of thousands of civilians in Afghanistan and elsewhere, as unavoidable collateral damage and accidents of war; why condemn Israel for doing much less?

47 comments:

  1. Does this mean that because ISIS behead a journalist, rapes women, kills children and crucifies men, that the Israel has permission to do the same? It is faulty logic to say, that simply because the US, UK and Nato do certain things, the IDF has permission to do the same. Whatever the behaviour of either friends, or enemies, Israel holds itself to a higher ethical standard, as its spokesmen rightly point this out when confronted in the media by Jon Snow and others. In a democracy, it is right to hold to account the IDF and the government of Israel, particularly when they have other options available to them, that would not further endanger its citizens, or the State. I don't know what Israel considers a success in Gaza would look like, but clearly at the moment we don't have it, as the missiles are still flying as they did before the military campaign began and no doubt, tunnels are being dug. In medicine, I can tell you that just repeating the same treatment, when the patient does not improve as a result, is not considered a good prognosis for a positive treatment outcome.

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    1. "It is faulty logic to say, that simply because the US, UK and Nato do certain things, the IDF has permission to do the same. "

      The point is that there is nothing immoral about the US, UK and NATO doing it. Civilians always die in wars.

      "it is right to hold to account the IDF and the government of Israel, particularly when they have other options available to them"

      Er, no they don't.

      "I don't know what Israel considers a success in Gaza would look like, but clearly at the moment we don't have it,"

      That just means that Israel's military campaign hasn't gone far enough. It's been held back due to people such as yourself.

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    2. Thanks for taking the trouble to reply to my posting. The fact that civilians always die in wars, doesn't mean that it is moral, that really is faulty logic. If we allow bad things to happen, just because they can and do nothing, we are in deep trouble. I assume you would not feel the same way, if it were innocent Israeli citizens who were being killed. I would feel strongly that it was immoral and the fact that it happened wouldn't make it right. When Nato, which usually means the US mistakenly bombed civilians in Afganistan there were complaints from the Afganistan President amongst others, which perhaps shows that sometimes non-Jews, even Muslims can have a higher moral sense then some Jews and even certain rabbis. The US when it gets it wrong, after an investigation pays some kind of restitution, usually a paltry sum, and may put those who carried out such crimes, if convicted in prison. The case of Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, who pleaded guilty to slaughtering 16 Afghans and was sentenced to life, is one example, but at least it recognises that it was wrong and admits it. (The scandal of Abu Ghraib prison might be another example.) I think the UK does the same. I can recall an incident in which 30 members of a wedding party in Afganistan died, because they were confused by US aircraft for a group of terrorists, as they fired rifles into the air, which is their custom at weddings. Not everything is permitted in war, a point the Torah makes.

      I am flattered if you think I am powerful enough with others to hold back the IDF's campaign. I don't think I am that powerful, but that it is an indication that the Israeli Gov't is not sure what to do, because the military option alone does not provide outcomes that the Gov't has set for itself, such as an end of missiles being fired from Gaza.

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    3. >The fact that civilians always die in wars, doesn't mean that it is moral, that really is faulty logic.

      You're not following what he is saying. He is asking WHY the double standard? Why IF it's understood that civilians die in those places, why wouldn't the same logic be applied to other (i.e. gaza) places? Remember how R' Slifkin worded his question: UNAVOIDABLE

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    4. You are quite right and thanks for drawing my attention to it, I did overlook the words "if" and "unavoidable," but as other replies have pointed out, it is not certain there has been a double standard, because it is difficult to show that the US, UK and Nato have killed more civilians on a like for like basis as the IDF. The point I wanted to make is admittedly an absolutist ethical case that non-combattants should not be included in any targeting at all, precisely because they are non-combattants and calling them "collateral damage", "accidents of war," or "unavoidable deaths" blinds us to this. I appreciate that there are difficult consequences as a result, for example in regard to so-called "human shields," but I am not convinced by arguments in favour of "proportionality," that the potential loss from the use of force is outweighed by the anticipated good to be achieved.

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    5. Moshe Dick writes:
      Actually, they are not "innocent civilians". In the same way that German civilians (and Japanese and others) were never considered "innocent', the "non-combattant" (your word) Palestinian are not innocent bystanders. The majority supports Hamas (as did the Germans supporting nazism) and therefore are as much responsible for attacking Israel as are the non-cambatants. Your absolutist ethicism is just another word for self-suicide and tnak you- Israel will pass on that.

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    6. They are as "innocent" as Israeli civilians when they are killed. Terrorist claim that since the majority of Israelis are actual, potential, or reserve members of the IDF they are legitimate targets, whether they are uniformed combattants, or not and regardless of age, or gender. You have a very appropriate surname.

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    7. Moshe Dick writes:

      Well, when the scoundrel has bankrupt ideas, he (she) turns to insults....perfect description of yourself...
      Actually, from The Palestinian point of view, every Israeli is an enemy- he/she occupies his/her homeland. Hence, their use of any means (bombs, suiclde bombers,rockets,..etc) to free their "homeland". I don't fault them but I also don't fault our (Israeli) response in destroying their infrastructure, without extensive regard to the victims, just like the Allies in WWII or the Americans in pre-liberated Iraq...etc

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    8. I thought you might be interested in the following extract that I found on-line issued by the Board of Deputies of British Jews, jointly with the Muslim Council of Britain. "The death of every civilian is a tragedy, and every effort should be taken to minimise such losses. The targeting of civilians is completely unacceptable and against our religious traditions. We pray for a speedy end to the current conflict and for a lasting peace for all." (http://www.bod.org.uk/live/content.php?Item_ID=130&Blog_ID=1259)

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  2. could you give the terrorist civilian ratio.

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  3. You state : "The US, UK and NATO have killed tens of thousands of civilians in Afghanistan and elsewhere" They would say : where is the proof of this statement ?
    regards

    Michael Stern

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    1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civilian_casualties_in_the_War_in_Afghanistan_%282001%E2%80%93present%29

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    2. playing devils's advocate 20,000 over 14 years = 1,400 a year. israel according to un has killed , 1,400 in 6 weeks

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014_Israel%E2%80%93Gaza_conflict#Palestinian

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    3. How many over 14 years did Israel kill?

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  4. Because Israel doesn't do such a good job compared to the rest of the nations. Not enough of The evil scum are destroyed. + its a (modern) Jewish obsession in trying to avoid civilians. If the Jew obsesses about it and the leaders keep saying sorry every time why would a non-jew say anything less?


    Warren b.

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  5. Because those civilians did not have the privilege to own videocameras like the "poor and oppressed"" Gazans do--who are able to post videos which go viral instantaneously.

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    1. True. ISIS capture and kill journalists. The BBC and Hamas have a love-in, that strange alliance of radical Islam and champagne socialism.

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  6. It's called "whataboutery".

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  7. the difference is that the war with hamas is israels fault for not allowing the Palestinian people to exercise their right to self determination. that's what created this whole mess in the first place.
    john ficheler

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    1. What on earth is your basis for that claim? Hamas is dedicated to attacking Israel, regardless of whether or not they have self-determination. The only difference is that if they had self-determination, they would be even more of a threat.

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    2. yes, but what allowed for hamas to gain so much power? if israel would have given the Palestinians the state they deserve before hamas came to power, none of this would have happened.
      john ficheler

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    3. Mr. Ficheler...what planet do you live on?...as the famous saying goes...if hamas puts down its arms unilaterally, there would be no more war but if Israel puts down its arms unilaterally, there would be no more Israel

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    4. Where does anyone get a "right to self-determination?" It sounds invented to me.

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    5. What do you mean? They keep saying that they want to "did for Allah" so they can get their virgins. Israel helps a few of them to their own determination. Perhaps Israel should do a lot more. 1 way ticket to Muslim "heaven" that they dream about.

      Warren b

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    6. John, you forget that Israel is in this quagmire now exactly because they've allowed the Palestinian people to exercise their right to self-determination--Israel performed the disengagement in 2005 as a unilateral measure to bolster Abbas (who's supposedly moderate) that he could have an achievement to show the Palestinians that negotiations pay off. Hamas took credit for ending the "occupation" in Gaza, and in 2006 the Palestinians elected Hamas.

      I would like it if people commenting on the situation in Israel would say where they live--they are of course entitled to an opinion even if they live outside of Israel. But I think the opinion of someone living in Israel--who witnesses all the consequences of our "negotiations" and "confidence-building measures" first-hand--is simply better informed.

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  8. Remember, Do as I say not as I do

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  9. The deafening silence of the "human rights mafia" which is always excoriating Israel regarding the fratridical slaughter going on in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen now is clear proof that these people are NOT interested in human rights, they simply want to bash Israel. Why is this? One could say it is due to the antisemitism present in both extreme right- and left-wingers. How does the extreme Left justify it to themselves? They will say that the real enemy of mankind is what they call "Empire"...i.e. American-lead globalized capitalism which is responsible for all the oppression of mankind, global warming, wars, repression of women and the such (I am not being facetious). Israel and ZIonism are an adjunct to Empire and thus in order to bring utopia, first Israel and Zionism must go and this will lead ultimately to the toppling of Empire. Anyone, and I repeat ANYONE who opposes Israel and the US is the potential ally of this group. We could also call it the RED-GREEN-BROWN alliance (Marxist+Anarchists, radical Muslims and neo-Fascists and neo-Nazis). This RED-GREEN-BROWN alliance views the radical Muslims as the cannon fodder who will fight Empire for them. Now, you may ask that the radical Muslims also oppress woman and are patriarchal militarists. This doesn't matter. RED-GREEN-BROWN need them to fight Zionism and America. Once Empire is overthrown, then the "progressives" will educate them to be more caring and open-minded.

    What I wrote here is not a parody. This is the way radical anti-ZIonists like Prof. Judith Butler talk. She said she considers HIZBULLAH and HAMAS to be "progressive' organizations even though she admits she does "disagree" with them over women's rights and the such, but all she really cares about is that they fight Israel. This is the only thing that really matters to these radical Leftist fanatics.

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  10. http://www.factsandlogic.org/outstanding_hoffer.html

    The Jews are a peculiar people: things permitted to other nations are forbidden to the Jews. Other nations drive out thousands, even millions of people, and there is no refugee problem. Russia did it, Poland and Czechoslovakia did it. Turkey threw out a million Greeks and Algeria a million Frenchman. Indonesia threw out heaven knows how many Chinese and no one says a word about refugees. But in the case of Israel displaced Arabs have become eternal refugees. Everyone insists that Israel must take back every single Arab.

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    1. Agree completely. You left out the Armenian refugees who survived the Turkish massacres and death marches in 1915, who had no "right of return," either. Hypocrisy, thy name is Turkey. And then there was the "population exchange" between Pakistan and India in 1947.

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  11. it's a bit amusing how the Rationalist cannot rationalize what the world is doing. it seems that everything jewish and holy related can be rationalized, but when it hits a person in their own tuches there's a different response

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  12. Have you ever considered the striking comparison between the UN's disproportionate condemnation of Israel and this blog's disproportionate condemnation of chareidi society? Meaning, there are plenty of things wrong with the (religious) world, yet your blog spends most of its focus on chareidim issues. I'd be curious to see if you can come up with a justification from your end that would not serve as a reasonable response for their side (at least according to their viewpoint)

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    1. couldn't have said it better myself.
      Josh Kahn

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    2. The difference is that R' Slifkin not only says, "Do as I do", but also says, "Do as the Jewish People have always done"

      He calls people out on their own cognitive dissonance. This is an example, not a counter-example, sorry.

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    3. One blog is neither expected nor required to address all of religious society's ills. This blog, as an adjunct of its focus on rationalism, addresses the (non-rationalist) charedi society. That is perfectly reasonable, as is evidenced by its popularity. There is, of course, no comparison whatsoever to the UN.

      The only question is whether or not it should be de-funded. The USA pays for some 25% of its budget, in addition to hosting it. I suppose the belief is that despite its anti-Semitism and left wing bent, it has done a good job of preventing world wars. That is the belief, anyway. So it goes about its merry way, condemning Israel, investigating Israel, etc etc.

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    4. "Have you ever considered the striking comparison between the UN's disproportionate condemnation of Israel and this blog's disproportionate condemnation of chareidi society?"

      No.

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    5. @ DF
      If the focus were solely on the non-rationalist aspects of charedi society, I would agree with you. But I think this blog tends to focus heavily on general issues of charedi society, that is why I feel my point is valid.
      The fact that it is popular to pick on the charedi society may very well be part of the reason the UN likes to pick on Israel out of all the other nations.
      Strong anti-Israeli bias presumably contributes as well, which one may argue exists in this forum. That's really where I'm going with this as you may have guessed...

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    6. You are comparing apples to oranges. A really dumb analogy your are trying to make.

      As for your claim that "it is popular to pick on the charedi society" surely you must be joking. Within the religious world, the picking is a one-way street and it is done by the mainstream charedi leadership and all their media, and they are always picking on the rest of the religious world, implying that anyone who disagrees is not frum. Yet they do not receive it back in kind. And then there is ONE blog which has the gall to challenge their religious premises and you cry foul and play victim. Oh please. That to me says it is popular in the religious world to promote haredism and to pick on the non-haredi orthodox.

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    7. What are you saying - that if its wrong to be anti-Semitic, it is also wrong to be anti-charedi? Are you actually trying to compare the two?

      And what on earth do you mean that " the fact that its popular to pick on charedim is part of the reason the UN likes to pick on Israel." The UN is a collection of political appointees from different countries, few of whom or liked Jews long before the concept of "Charedim" was created. And what does internal orthodox Jewish politics have to do with how Jews are seen in the UN? Muslims and Christians also have denominational struggles. And finally, who says its popular to "pick on" (your words) charedi society? You're reading one blog. If you read Yated Neeman, or old copies of its forebear jewish observer, you would be saying its popular to pick on the modern orthodox.

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  13. I don't think that these journalists think that US, UK, and NATO are in the moral right for the way they wage war. They criticize them as well.
    The difference in the UN committees and Hague, is that these countries are the top dogs who call the shots. It is unfair but that's the way it goes.

    Also, it would be interesting to see the outcome of the State Comptroller's investigation of some of the collateral deaths. Most of them seem necessary, yet some of them seem harder to explain. Israel is a proper democracy and I believe that the outcome of the investigation will be fair - The Kahan Commission did not rubber stamp the IDF in 1982.

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    1. serbs didnt deserve itAugust 25, 2014 at 2:13 AM

      The media never attacked Clinton for targeting Serbian civilians in bombing raids. Yes, he targeted civilians as part of the effort to aid the bosnian muslims (the terrorist KLA) and divide up parts of former yugoslavia.
      So your presumption that they don't think these other wars are ok is simply false. They also didn't criticize obama for ramping up in afghanistan. Pure antisemeti motivations.

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  14. What does this post have to do with Rationalist Judaism?

    Lawrence Kaplan

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    1. Nothing. This blog should rather be called "Emotional Slifkinism" The good rabbi likes to vent his feelings on the topic of the day that concerns him. So for example when the whole jewish nation are praying for our 3 kidnapped boys, the guy posts a pic of himself sleeping with a cheetah. And when the whole jewish nation are in mourning for the 3 holy souls he posts a selfie of himself beaming on a plane in the jungle.
      This is all his emotions that he feels good to vent
      Emotional Slifkinism

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    2. Wow, I guess you come here to vent.

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    3. What, charedi newspapers and rabbis didn't speak about anything other than the three boys for the entire duration of that episode?! Don't be ridiculous.

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    4. It sure is pedantic when someone comes to someone else's blog and implies they shouldn't be posting on certain topics.

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  15. Student V: I post on R. Slifkin's blog all the time. The name of his blog is "Rationalist Judiasm." I think it is a fair question to ask what does this particular post have to do with rationalist Judaism?

    Lawrence Kaplan

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  16. Rabbi Slifkin. A short two word answer

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dahiya_doctrine


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