We need to challenge rather than parrot cynical Israeli hasbara (propaganda).
Here are considered, well researched responses to five cyncical pro-war arguments often presented by the Israeli government – via Rabbi Alissa Wise, Jewish Voice for Peace – JVP:
1) CLAIM: Israel avoids civilian casualties, but Hamas aims to kill civilians. RESPONSE: Hamas has crude weapons technology that lacks any targeting capability. As such, Hamas rocket attacks ipso facto violate the principle of distinction because all of its attacks are indiscriminate. This is not contested. Israel, however, would not be any more tolerant of Hamas if it strictly targeted military objects, as we have witnessed of late. Israel considers Hamas and any form of its resistance, armed or otherwise, to be illegitimate. In contrast, … with the use of drones, F-16s and an arsenal of modern weapon technology, Israel has the ability to target single individuals and therefore to avoid civilian casualties. But rather than avoid them, Israel has repeatedly targeted civilians as part of its military operations.
Noura Erakat (July 22, 2014):
Five Israeli Talking Points on Gaza – Debunked, The Nation
2) CLAIM: Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005.
RESPONSE: Although in 2005 Israel removed approximately 8000 Jewish settlers who had been living in illegal colonies in Gaza under then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s so-called “disengagement” plan, Israel continues to exercise “unconsented-to effective control,” the legal definition for qualifying as an occupying power. Israel continues to control Gaza’s airspace, coastline, and all of its entry and exit points except for one controlled by Egypt, which has cooperated with Israel in maintaining the siege and blockade of Gaza. This status has been affirmed by the Red Cross, Amnesty International, the U.N., and the U.S. State Department, among others.
3) CLAIM: Gaza proves there can be no Palestinian state
RESPONSE: To grasp the perversity of using Gaza as an explanation for why Israel can’t risk a Palestinian state, it helps to realize that Sharon withdrew Gaza’s settlers in large measure because he didn’t want a Palestinian state.
Peter Beinart (July 30, 2014):
What American Jews Haven’t Been Told About Gaza, Ha’aretz
4) CLAIM: Hamas started this latest assault
RESPONSE: Israel’s assault on Gaza, as pointed out by analyst Nathan Thrall in the New York Times (“How the West Chose War in Gaza – Gaza and Israel: The Road to War, Paved by the West“), was not triggered by Hamas’ rockets directed at Israel but by Israel’s determination to bring down the Palestinian unity government that was formed in early June, even though that government was committed to honoring all of the conditions imposed by the international community for recognition of its legitimacy.
Henry Siegman (July 22, 2014):
Israel provoked this war. It’s up to President Obama to stop it. Politico
5) CLAIM: Israel is acting under self defense.
RESPONSE: All nations have a right of self-defense, including Israel. But that right may be exercised lawfully only in limited circumstances. Israel cannot validly claim self-defense in its recent onslaught against Gaza for two main reasons: First, Israel remains an occupying power under international law, bound to protect the occupied civilian population. Israel can use force to defend itself, but no more than is necessary to quell disturbances. Hence this is not a war – rather, it is a top military power unleashing massive firepower against a penned and occupied Palestinian population. Second, self-defense cannot be claimed by a state that initiates violence, as Israel did in its crackdown on Hamas in the West Bank, arresting more than 400, searching 2,200 homes and other sites, and killing at least nine Palestinians.
George Bisharat (July 22, 1014):
Israel Has Overreacted to the Threats It Provoked , The New York Times
Help fight these lies with the truth, help oppose a policy of collective punishment – add your voice to an open letter to Jewish leaders: Join Rabbi Alissa Wise and over 25,000 others who have signed JVP’s Open Letter to ask the leaders of three major US Jewish organization to take a stand for justice.
In the spirit of tochecha, sacred rebuke, click here to say NO to the immoral, intolerable, disproportionate violence, killing and destruction that the Israeli government has been inflicting on the people of Gaza.