Gaza’s right to defend itself
As I sat down to write this piece, the so-called “Operation Protective Edge” by the Israeli army had killed at least 425 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. The majority of these casualties were civilians, including more than a 100 children, according to the figures by The New York Times. In return, some 13 Israeli soldiers were killed in addition to two Israeli civilians.
Had a Martian descended on our Earth right at this time and looked at these numbers, he would probably conclude that a shockingly unfair battle was going on. Had he spoken English, he would probably be further surprised by another level of unfairness: the way planet Earth’s prominent political leaders framed the conflict. One of them, a famous human being named Barack Obama, for example, had only spoken about “Israel’s right to defend itself,” only to add:
“No country on earth would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders.”
Hearing this, our Martian friend could wonder why the inhabitants of Gaza had to tolerate missiles raining down from outside their borders – especially when these missiles were a 100 times deadlier than those rained down on Israel. If Israel had the “right to defend itself,” in other words, then why does Gaza not have the same right and receive confirmation from Mr. Obama or other masters of the blue planet?
If the answer to that question would be that Israel is a sovereign state that enjoys a seat at the United Nations, but Gaza is not, then things would probably become even more interesting for our Martian friend. He could check human sources, such as Wikipedia, to see why Israel enjoys statehood, while Palestine does not: Palestine never became a state, because Israel simply never allowed it to become one!
After seeing all this, our Martian friend would begin to grasp the nature of the ugly game in our Social Darwinian planet: Here, the mighty rules and their might creates rights for them. That is why only the mighty, and not the downtrodden, can enjoy “the right to defend itself.”
Personally speaking, however, I am of the naive persuasion that rights – such at the right to life – are absolute, regardless of the might behind them or the lack thereof. That is also why I value every single human life, whether it is Arab or Jewish. That is the reason why I have been against all attacks on Israeli civilians, such as suicide bombings or indiscriminate missiles. Similarly, I have always condemned anti-Semites, including a few bigoted idiots in Turkey who recently dared to argue, “Hitler was right.”
I condemn Israel’s ruthless bombardment of Arab civilians with the same spirit. Publicity terms like “collateral damage” don’t blind my eyes, especially when the damage is nothing but predictable and recurrent. I know, after all, that “terrorism” is perpetrated by not only non-state actors, but also states. Israeli General Oren Shachor even offered “Terrorism 101” logic when he unabashedly said: “If we kill their families that will frighten them.”
That is why, in my view, the poor Gazans have a right to defend themselves as much as their mighty neighbors do. I just think they should rely on not military might, but the civil and thus moral high-ground that will highlight their rightness, just like the way Mahatma Gandhi did in the face of British colonialism. Then the Gazans could help even the most blinded human beings, many of those who live in Washington, to realize and become ashamed of the staggering injustice in which they have been complicit.