Yishai Schwartz makes a terrible argument in support of Israel’s military operation in Gaza:
There is, however, a way out of this paradox. And we find it at the moment we realize that Hamas’ actions have made this war about more than Israel or Palestine; it’s a war about future of morality in armed conflicts. For if Israel declines to fight, we live in a world where terror groups use their own civilians, and twist morality itself, to bind the hands of those who try to fight morally. In this world, cruelty is an advantage, and the moral are powerless in the face of aggression and indiscriminate attack [bold mine-DL].
This is less straightforwardly awful than the op-ed I criticized last night, but it is nonetheless perverse. Schwartz is defending the use of indiscriminate force in a densely populated area by saying that it is necessary to do this to keep us from living in a world where indiscriminate force is used. It is taken for granted that “the moral” should be protected from indiscriminate violence, whereas the population that is now under attack from “the moral” evidently should not. Schwartz makes it seem as if Israel’s government has no choice in any of this, but it does. Terror groups will always try to twist morality to their own ends, which is why they are so despicable, but the answer to this is not to mimic them by carrying out attacks that can’t be justified. Consider this example, and ask yourself if you find this morally defensible:
When the strike leveled a four-story house in the southern Gaza Strip the night before, it also killed 25 members of four family households — including 19 children — gathered to break the daily Ramadan fast together. Relatives said it also killed a guest of the family, identified by an Israeli human rights group as a member of the Hamas military wing, ostensibly Israel’s target.
One could hardly ask for a more clear example of the disproportionate and indiscriminate use of force in this operation than this.
In general, whenever someone tries to elevate a local conflict into something grand and important to the entire world, that person is usually trying to change the subject and mislead his audience into supporting his preferred side in that conflict. If the operation in Gaza is seen as serving a nobler, higher end, that is somehow supposed to mitigate its obvious futility, stupidity, and injustice. The essence of the argument is this: “We have to be prepared to kill these civilians for the sake of future civilians.” If we just pretend that the conflict is a struggle for high-minded principles, that is supposed to make us more comfortable with actions that trample on those same principles and on the dignity of other human beings. One cannot defend “a world in which terrorists cannot use morality to achieve victory” by repeatedly violating that morality. Not only do these tactics make a mockery of the justification being offered for them, but this is ultimately the most immoral of arguments that the ends justify the means.