In the 1950s, Regnery published several important books arguing for justice for the Palestinians. These included Freda Utley’s Will the Middle East Go West?, Alfred Lilienthal’s controversial What Price Israel — which Regnery ran by Elmer Berger and Willi Schlamm before publication; both of them urged him to bring it out — and Per-Orlow Anderson’s They Are Human Too. Regnery discusses these books in his Memoirs of a Dissident Publisher, which is available as a free PDF from the Henry Regnery Legacy Project (as is Utley’s book).

That was then. And now? Today we have Fox News, Pajamas Media, and people like Debbie Schlussel, who unburdened herself recently of this bit of bloodlust: “While I want Israel to beat HAMAS, there is only one way to do so–total annihilation of the Palestinians, who are all HAMAS.” Most of the neoconized Right doesn’t put matters quite so bluntly, of course. But follow the logic: they claim that vast civilian casualties are allowed, as long as the IDF only deliberately targets Hamas. Yet the more civilians the IDF kills, the more potential groups like Hamas have to grow. When this is the case, there are logically only two ways to end the conflict: either the killing must stop or it must intensify to the point where the Palestinians cannot fight back at all. (Or as IDF chief of staff Moshe Yaalon put it in 2002, “The Palestinians must be made to understand in the deepest recesses of their consciousness that they are a defeated people.”)

Schlussel advocates slaughter outright; the more respectable Right simply excuses it. Look at the tangled reasoning of an NROnik like James Robbins, who says victory “does not require Israel to use scorched-earth tactics” even as he butchers traditional Just War doctrine. When you say scorched-earth tactics are not “required” while you remove ethical impediments to such tactics, what are you actually condoning? Would an unlimited number of civilian casualties be acceptable as long as they were not “deliberately” targeted?

Conservatives have drifted far from their ethical roots. I recommend Regnery’s book, and Utley’s, as timely reminders that the Right once understood and sympathized with Israel’s predicament without condoning brutality toward the Palestinians.