Comparison/Contrast to “Why Don’t I Criticize Israel?”

by | August 9, 2014

A Facebook friend recommends a Prospect Magazine article by Jeff McMahan: “Gaza: Is Israel fighting a just war?

Here is an article that takes the concept of proportionality advanced by Sam Harris on the subject but comes to a different conclusion. This post is meant to stimulate . . . dialectical thinking, not to arouse tensions. . . . It should then be read in parallel with Harris’s “Why Don’t I Criticize Israel?

McMahan uses a persuasive approach, an examination of the “concept of proportionality,” to answer the question, “Is Israel fighting a just war?” because for McMahan, there are two questions:

(1) Are the killings of Palestinian civilians proportionate in relation to the aim of protecting Israeli civilians?

(2) Are the killings of Palestinian civilians proportionate in relation to the aim of protecting Israeli soldiers?

McMahan focuses on question 1 possibly because of what he says in his strong opening paragraph:

Thus far in the war in Gaza, more than 1800 Palestinians have been killed, most of them apparently civilians. Sixty three Israeli soldiers, two Israeli civilians, and one foreign worker in Israel have also been killed. The great disparity between the casualties on the two sides raises the question of whether Israeli military action has been disproportionate. This question remains important even if the war is now coming to an end. . . .

While comparing and contrasting Harris’ article and McMahan’s article, you will note that McMahan does some comparing and contrasting of his own. He compares and contrasts a statement by Rabbi David-Seth Kirshner, president of the New York Board of Rabbis, and a statement by Osama bin Laden on the topic of the consequences of voting based on the ideology of a particular party and comes to the conclusion

that Kirshner’s view goes beyond bin Laden’s in recognising more numerous grounds for finding people morally liable to be killed.

That’s a strong and bound to be an unpopular assessment.

Take my Facebook friend’s advice; please read McMahan’s article “in parallel with Harris’s.”

h/t: Jaque

3 thoughts on “Comparison/Contrast to “Why Don’t I Criticize Israel?”

  1. Ultra

    There is nothing just about war… it is about revenge, retaliation and brutality designed to inspire fear and submission. If you don’t have the stomach for that… enjoy being a slave.


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