What are they REALLY saying?
What do those Jewish academics who condemned Israel for its military action in Gaza really object to?
There are two possibilities.
(A) They might have the position that Israel is fully entitled, even responsible, to try to stop rockets being fired at its civilian towns. This will obviously entail a certain amount of civilian casualties on the other side, but they are of the view that Israel killed far more civilians than it should have done for its strategic needs. This would be the definition of "disproportionate" according to international law (though, as I pointed out, it can be refuted by looking at the actual numbers of combatants and civilians killed).
(B) Alternately, they might be of the view that Israel is not entitled to take any military action at all, even thought there were thousands of rockets being fired at its towns. There are two possible reasons for taking this position. (B1) One is that the very existence of Israel is an ongoing crime, committed by all its citizens. As such, Hamas is perfectly entitled to fire rockets at them without response. (B2) A second reason would be based on the (ridiculous) Western/Woke idea that the weaker party is always correct. As such, since Israel is far more powerful than Gaza, it has no right to try to stop the attacks on its citizens.
Now, which of these positions are taken by the Jewish academics who signed the condemnation of Israel's "state violence" in Gaza?
Of course, if they had any sense of professionalism and responsibility, the letter would have spelled out exactly what they mean (and it would have been backed up with arguments and evidence). But, as already demonstrated, the signatories don't have any sense of professionalism and responsibility - they are like charedi rabbis who sign bans ex cathedra. But perhaps there is actually a reason for the lack of detail.
In my extensive back-and-forth with one of the signatories, Shaul Magid, he kept insisting that the letter was about proportionality. Ye he had no explanation as to why the letter didn't actually specify that. He also had no substantive response to my pointing out that the letter very much indicated otherwise, since it just condemned Israel for its "state violence in Gaza" and said nothing whatsoever about Israel being entitled to neutralize rocket fire (as Western politicians were all careful to point out). Furthermore, he made comments about how Israel has by far the more powerful fighting force - a key indicator of B2 above. I kept asking him how that is remotely relevant to responding to rockets, but he never responded.
So what's actually going on? I'm no psychologist. But I think that the comments about Israel having a superior force are a Freudian slip - as is the wording of the letter itself. The signatories to this condemnation are uncomfortable with Israel taking ANY action against Hamas firing rockets, even that which fully conforms with official "Laws of War" code regarding minimizing civilian casualties. But they can't possibly explicitly admit this - perhaps not even to themselves. On the other hand, while they may think that they are only opposing an (allegedly) disproportionate response, they can't bring themselves to promote a declaration which includes saying that Israel is justified in taking proportionate action against Hamas. To do so would be too uncomfortably pro-Israel, and would also risk alienation among their peers. As such, they prefer to condemn Israel without getting into any uncomfortable specifics.
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