This is a guest post by Eamonn McDonagh of Z Word
El País occasionally deigns to run an op-ed piece not totally unfavorable to Israel. Today is one of those days and André Glucksman, the leading French philosopher, gets to extend himself on the supposedly disproportional nature of Israel’s actions in Gaza.
After pointing out the stupidity inherent in expecting the IDF to limit itself to using weapons similar to those used by Hamas, he asks
If it’s not about balancing out the military means employed then what about the ends being pursued? Given that Hamas, unlike the Palestinian Authority, persists in refusing to respect Israel’s right to exist and dreams of annihilating its citizens, do we want Israel to imitate this radicalism and proceed to carry out a gigantic ethnic cleansing? Do we really want Israel to “respond proportionately” to the exterminationist desires of Hamas?
When we examine what underlies the bien pensant critique of Israel’s “disproportionate reaction” we discover that Pascal was right and that “he who tries to pass for an angel turns into a beast.” All conflicts, whether they be latent or on the boil are disproportionate by nature. If the adversaries were able to reach an agreement on the means to be employed and the ends to be pursued they would cease to be adversaries. Where there is a conflict there is a lack of understanding and each side tries to make the best of its own advantages and exploit the weaknesses of the other. Neither side renounces the right to do this. While the IDF “takes advantage” of its technical superiority, Hamas uses the population of Gaza as a human shield and has no time for the moral scruples or diplomatic obligations of its enemy.
To work for peace in the Middle East it’s necessary to flee from the desire to offer unconditional support to a cause, something not only the fanatics who will stop at nothing are prone to, but also the angelic souls who dream about a sacrosanct “proportionality” which would providentially balance out all conflicts.
In the Middle East the fight is not about respecting a set of rules but rather in order to establish them. It’s good to debate the merits of this or that military or diplomatic initiative as long as it’s done without thinking that the problem has been resolved in advance by the good conscious of the world. Wanting to survive is not disproportionate.