Jeffrey Goldberg Asks a Damned Good Question About the Response to the Gaza War

Jeffrey Goldberg has a great piece in the Atlantic today about the coverage of, and the response to, the Gaza war.  Why is it, he asks, that the war in Gaza is covered in exquisite detail by news agencies around the world while a far bloodier war, right next door to Israel in Syria, rages on.

“I was struck, over the weekend, by the lack of coverage of the Syrian civil war, in which the death count recently passed 170,000. By Sunday night, it had become clear that the weekend in toll in Syria would stand at roughly 700 dead—a larger number, obviously, than the weekend toll in Gaza (and more than the total number of deaths in this latest iteration of the Gaza war to date.) I tweeted the following in response to this news out of Syria: “I sincerely hope the @nytimes covers the slaughter in Syria – 700 dead in 48 hours – in tomorrow’s paper. Very important story as well.”

This was my sincere hope, and it was to my sincere surprise that Monday’s newspaper contained no information whatsoever about the weekend slaughter in Syria.”

Ouch, the Gray Lady had that coming.

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Notes on the Gaza War Part III – Walter Russell Mead and Proportionality in War

Walter Russell Mead has an interesting (if wrong) piece on the attitudes of the American public vis-a-vis the Gaza war.  The gist of his argument is that Americans do not object to Israeli actions in Gaza, because they reject the concept of proportionality in war:

In any case, when Israel brings the big guns and fast planes against Gaza’s popguns and low tech missiles, a great many Americans see nothing but common sense at work. These Americans aren’t mad about ‘disproportionate’ Israeli violence in Gaza because they don’t really accept the concept of proportionality in war. They think that if you have jus ad bellum, and rocket strikes from Gaza are definitely that, you get something close to a blank check when it comes to jus in bello.

Nice theory, as far as it goes.  Mind you, there’s an alternative, and I would suggest, more plausible, explanation.  It isn’t that Americans reject the notional of proportionality, it’s that they don’t believe (quite reasonably, in my view) that Israel’s actions in Gaza are disproportionate to the military goals that it seeks to achieve.  Continue reading “Notes on the Gaza War Part III – Walter Russell Mead and Proportionality in War”

Notes On The Gaza War Part I – War Crimes and the Killing of Civilians

This morning’s bomb attack on a bus in Tel Aviv – for which Hamas’ military branch has claimed credit – drives home the fundamental moral distinction between Israel and Hamas in their ongoing war in Gaza.

For many of Israel’s critics, the death (or wounding) of civilians in Gaza is prima facie evidence of Israel’s evil and a war crime.  Mind you, those critics were notably quiet in response to repeated Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel over the past 4 years or, to the extent they do condemn such attacks, their condemnations are sotto voce and rather late in the day. But today’s events underscore the false equivalence between Israel and Hamas.

Continue reading “Notes On The Gaza War Part I – War Crimes and the Killing of Civilians”