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Israeli 'proportionality' remains undefined

Leonard Goldstein's July 27 letter is an attempt to respond to “those who criticize Israel for what they call (a) 'disproportionate' response' to … Hamas rocketing.” But his disingenuous response simply avoids the subject, resorting instead to a recitation of alleged past Palestinian sins. Clearly, the history of this tortured conflict provides ready ammunition for either side to blame the other for almost any excess in violence, and Goldstein takes full advantage. But what is the evidence he offers to support his claim of proportionality?

I will not attempt to excuse the thousands of rockets launched from Gaza into southern Israel, or even to explain them. But what damage have they actually done? They are relatively small, technologically unsophisticated, launched blindly and land mostly in open farm land around small villages. Goldstein's complete omission of any evidence of the little damage they have caused is ample testimony to their military ineffectiveness. They have, in fact, killed only one or two people and damaged a very few buildings.

On the other hand, the Israeli Defense Force has used precision-guided munitions, including heavy artillery and bombs dropped from aircraft aimed at specific targets that they claim are Hamas command centers, launch sites and related military facilities. As of this writing, the IDF has killed some 1,200 Palestinian civilians, including mostly women and children, according to observers from the United Nations and International Red Cross. What, indeed is “proper proportionality”?

Hillel the Elder, a famously revered rabbi born about a century before Jesus, was once asked by a heathen who wished to become a Jew for a concise summary of Judaism. His reply, according to the Jewish Encyclopedia, was “What is hateful to thee, do not unto thy fellow man: this is the whole Law; the rest is mere commentary.” What, one might wonder, would Rabbi Hillel consider to be “proper proportionality”?


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