Someone with the tag "Kung Fu Jew" left this comment on a previous post
I think we need to acknowledge that warfare is indeed changing since Israel's inception. But all I'm sensing here is disgruntled complaints about how it's not fair that Israel can't play by the older, more barbaric set of rules. Or how other countries can get away with it, but Israel can't. Suggesting that we lower the bar for Israel, not raise it for other countries, strikes me as wrong.There is a necessary adaptation to a new contemporary understanding of war that the world must make. Changing our international laws of war to account for guerrilla terrorism is part of that. But at least America's public voted down Bush's version of the answer. (And largely Israel's answer, by similarity.) I also think it's fair to say that Israel can't be sympathized with for trying to fight an unjust war justly. Having done work in the territories, I can say that I don't need the majority voices to tell me that what goes on there is unacceptable. I have eyes, it's pretty plain to me that settlement expansion and a majority of the security barrier are not for security at all. There is no just war Israel can fight until the occupation is over. And I feel comfortable with that.
Short and pungent.
Kung Fu blogs at Judaism Without Borders. So here's my response.
Israel plays according to the laws of war. It is more scrupulous about it than any other country, as I document on this blog with regularity.
The problem with the criticism of Israel which pretends to be based on international law is that it isn't. It's based upon an imaginary version of international law – and yes, this imaginary version is not used for any other country. This is hypocrisy and antisemitism, both.
America's public is just fine with the fact that its own way of waging war is far less scrupulous about the laws of war than that of Israel, again a point I make regularly on this blog. Moving from the Bush to the Obama administration has not changed this. Collateral damage is acceptable to Americans to a degree Israel would never dream of; Obama has no intention of changing this because it's the American way of war, though in Afghanistan at the moment the Americans are beginning to be more careful: for tactical reasons, not moral or legal ones.
Settlement expansion in the West Bank is far more limited than you think. The security barrier incorporates less than 5% of the West Bank. Moreover, it has proved to be wildly successful in saving lives.
The war isn't about the occupation. Israel offered to disband most settlements and end the occupation in July 2000 and the Palestinians answered with a wave of suicide murders. Israel unilaterally ended its occupation of Gaza in 2005, and the Palestinians answered with thousands of rockets at civilians. In both cases the Palestinian violence eventually ended when Israel responded with effective violence, thereby proving that its reaction had been proportional to the threat – which takes us back to international law.
The war is about Israel's right to exist. Even prominent Palestinian apologists such as Agha and Malley now admit this. The Palestinians, to give them credit, never said otherwise. Never. Our problem was that we weren't listening to what they were saying quite openly.