A Contribution to Moral Clarity

Orwell, blinding tribalism, selective Terrorism, and Israel/Gaza,” by Glenn Greenwald

26 Responses to “A Contribution to Moral Clarity”

  1. Libertarian

    The US and Zionist regimes are nothing more than sociopathical thugs. They believe they can kill and destroy anyone and anything at will and are exempt from respecting anyone’s natural rights. To be a libertarian is to be firmly against the American-Israeli warmongering machine and in favor of individual liberty, private property, and unrestricted trade without regard to statist boundaries. Sadly, the US regime and its Zionist puppet state reject individual liberty, private property, and free trade.

  2. Tom Palmer

    I have to admit that I don’t find such rhetoric at all helpful. It may make the writer feel very smart and hip, but it doesn’t advance our understanding or move anyone else to change position on an important issue. (I should also point out that there is not only one guilty party in this issue. The actions of Hamas to target civilians are completely immoral and, what’s more, a deliberate provocation that was intended to get the kind of response from which the people of Gaza are now suffering.)

  3. If a man brings a small child along on a murder rampage, it is shameful, but it has nothing to do with whether or not the victim can take action to stop the rampage, even if the child is hurt. Likewise, in another context, if a man causes lawsuits to be brought against him, his whole family suffers. Surely we are not to refuse the use of the force of the legal system just because ‘innocent’ people will be affected. The use of physical force is one of degree and typically follows a failure of people to honor the rule of law. One cannot reject the rule of law and then claim that force is also forbidden to the victim. Ideas have consequences. Parents (and cultures) are responsible for what they teach their children and citizens. If they teach them to use children as shields, or teach them to attack purely civilian targets per se, they are poisoning a well that will be cut off and destroyed. It is not our job to re-teach their children anymore.

  4. If I may add briefly to that, I do believe there is a spiritual element to the relationship between the rule of law and force. Those who think that they can abuse ideas and language and then claim the mantle of pacifism as immunity to the enforcement of law by man or the angels of Heaven are in for a surprise.

  5. Alan Gura

    Glenn Greenwald is not exactly unbiased. Here is David Bernstein taking him apart for relying on video footage of an alleged Israeli attack on a market, despite refusing to vouch for the video’s authenticity.

    As it turns out, the video is not, of course, of an Israeli attack on the market, but old footage of what Hamas rockets did to the people of Gaza when they blew up accidentally during a rally a few years back.


  6. Now the Israelis have hit the third UN school (out of 25). This time killing at least 40 people. 650 people have been killed and 2500 wounded. Nearly 40% of the killed and wounded are women and children. This can not be defended by any civilized person. It’s just sad for any human being to watch (I guess that’s the reason why Israel went to such pains to stop journalists getting into Gaza) such brutal acts.

    By the way, I think that “libertarian” is somebody who wants to bring the critics of this war into disrepute, ie most likely somebody who in reality supports the war.

  7. If a man brings a small child along on a murder rampage, it is shameful, but it has nothing to do with whether or not the victim can take action to stop the rampage, even if the child is hurt.

    That isn’t really fair, David. Yes, there is a sense in which the Israeli government “brought along” the children of Sderot when it imposed that lethal blockade on the Gaza Strip. But how could you suggest that this justifies Hamas’ response? Especially when its “action to stop the rampage” is not likely to end Israel’s efforts, and in fact has led to still more Palestinian deaths?

  8. Alan Gura

    I support the shelling of this school, because it was being used to launch mortars. The Israeli response killed not only the human shields, but also the terrorists.

    Here is a video of Hamas terrorists firing mortars from a UN school two years ago:

    Where was the outrage then? Oh yeah, it was only Israelis being hit.

    Of course it is deplorable when ALL civilians are killed. The reponsibility lies with the people who use human shields, not with those who defend themselves against the attacks.

  9. The sins of the father are visited upon the sons. Just look at George Bush (Sr.)… Iran-Contra, his buddying up to Saddam Hussein (1980’s), his war against Iraq (1991), and what not. The sins of the terrorists in Gaza are visited upon their children, not be design of Israel, but by the choices of those who conduct terrorist war from within civilian populations. Perhaps the Palestinians need more abortion clinics so that they have more room for bombs and have fewer children in the way of their passions.

  10. Alan Gura


    Are you seriously proposing that a country deserves to have its civilians shelled because it refuses to trade with an organization committed to the country’s destruction, with a history of sending suicide bombers over to kill that country’s civilians?

    This is almost like saying, we asked for 9/11 because we didn’t recognize the Taliban government in Afghanistan. Or that Cuba has the right to indiscriminantly murder people in Florida, because we do not trade with it. Except that of course, neither Afghanistan pre-9/11 or Cuba, ever, had violently acted on a goal to destroy the U.S.

  11. Alan Gura, it is well known that the Israelis use human shields. You say that you “support the shelling of the school” – well, in a free society you have the right to utter such nonsense.


    Basem Maswadeh knew he was in trouble when an Israeli soldier pushed him into the barber’s chair and reached for the clippers.
    The humiliation of a shaved head – or, more accurately, having chunks of hair ripped out by the brutal wielding of the shears – was the start of an ordeal that culminated with Mr Maswadeh and two friends standing in a Hebron street as Israeli troops shot over their shoulders at stone-throwing Palestinians.

    “The soldiers hid behind our backs as they pushed us forward,” said Mr Maswadeh. “Then they put their guns on our shoulders and began shooting. We felt our eardrums burning, but when we tried to put our hands over our ears, they beat our hands away. The noise was terrible because the gun was right next to my ear.”



  12. Hamas calls for the eradication of Jews from Israel, and imposition of strict sharia law. Given this, and Hamas increasing use of increasingly long range weapons against Israeli civilian targets, what sort of alternative does Israel have to war?

    I suppose the “anti-zionist” pseudo-libertarians could try to explain an alternative approach to deal with Hamas’ call for wholesale slaughter and religious dictatorship, but they are too busy frothing with hatred for zionism.

  13. Tom,

    Could you please write a post detailing what you think Israel should do in these circumstances?

    What do you think would be more moral, effective, and fullfil its duty to protect its citizens?

  14. Are you seriously proposing that a country deserves to have its civilians shelled because it refuses to trade with an organization committed to the country’s destruction, with a history of sending suicide bombers over to kill that country’s civilians?

    I did not “seriously propose” that. Nor, for that matter, did I jokingly propose that.

    For the record, I do not believe any civilian deserves to be shelled. Also for the record, I know the difference trading with Gaza and trading with Hamas. Israel can allow individual Gazans to buy necessities from people outside the Strip without “trad[ing] with an organization committed to the country’s destruction.”

  15. Tom G. Palmer

    A short point: Jesse is quite right to point out that trading with people in Gaza is not the same as trading with Hamas, any more than trading with Americans is trading with the Democratic Party. (I will try to find the time to respond to the question of “what should Israel do?” It’s not an easy question. What people ought not to do is usually easier to identify than what they should do, and this case is no different.)

  16. Alan Gura

    No, actually, it is NOT well known that the Israelis use human shields. What nonsense. Citing to palestinian propaganda outlets doesn’t make it so. Israel constantly gives up the element of surprise by leafleting and making phone calls (!!!!) to targets, warning them of impending attacks. How many warning phone calls has the US Army made in Iraq — well, ANY other army, anywhere — ever made to targets it was considering, giving warning?

    (yes, the guardian is utter propaganda. just look at the glowing obits they gave sheikh yassin and nizar rayan. real, awful terrorists, the worst of the worst, described in terms that would make ahmindenajad blush).

    There is no moral equivalency here. There is, however, a double-standard, as there always is with Israel. And even though not everyone who engages in the double standard is aware of it, or wants to acknowledge it, we all know what it’s based on.

  17. Alan Gura

    If America were controlled by the Democratic Party the way Hamas controls Gaza, and it was committed to the genocide of all Canadians as a religious mission, I doubt we’d have NAFTA.

  18. Tom G. Palmer

    If individual Palestinians could see some future in co-existence with Israel, they might be less inclined to support extremist murderers like Hamas. This is not softening any hearts toward Israel.

    Yes, the Israeli government had to take action against the rockets. No government would tolerate that. And yes, the Israeli government has acted with greater concern for innocents than most others in the world. They do warn people and they do take actions to reduce civilian casualties from what they would otherwise be, often at serious cost to themselves. All of that should be stated openly.

    Alan admitted that the intervention in Lebanon did not turn out well:
    “Tom is correct that the 2006 Hezbollah war did not turn out well for Israel. but not because it was unjustified. Rather the problem was poor management of the war.”

    The bombing of bridges throughout the country and the destruction of much of the infrastructure, including milk processing plants and other quite innocent facilities, inflicted great costs on the majority who did not support Hezbollah. Israel greatly increased Hezbollah’s power. Many predict a similar outcome for Palestinians. We will see. What we do know is that a very large multiple of the number of innocent Israeli victims of Hamas’s rockets are now innocent victims of Israeli military power. It’s not merely regrettable. It’s a horror.

  19. Alan Gura

    Israel has been supplying Gaza with fuel, electricity, food, and medical care since before Hamas came to power. It also withdrew its settlements and bases.

    The notion that Israel should be concerned with a “hearts and minds”program is silly, Tom. It’s not like Israel is going to do anything that will suddenly make the Palestinians love it. Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, all could rocket every square inch of Israel tomorrow if they wanted to. They don’t refrain out a desire for peaceful coexistence, or because of burgeoning economic relations. They refrain because of military deterrence.

    There isn’t a great solution here, just the best and most justified one.

  20. Tom G. Palmer

    I wasn’t actually proposing a “hearts and minds” policy. Their track record is not that great, either. I was thinking of the policy toward Jordan, across whose border trade flows, including water, which the Jordanians sell to the Israelis. When they’re your customers, you’re less likely to want to kill them. And the point is not that no one would harbor hateful feelings, but that there would be some basis for trying to maintain peace and stop those who set off rockets. As it is, under the present circumstances, how many people in Gaza will say, “Ok, we can live at peace with our neighbors, and we will stop the extremists from launching rockets.” The more likely residue of this war is a desire for revenge.

  21. http://www.mcclatchydc.com/world/story/59013.html

    SDEROT, Israel — A tower of white smoke rose from the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun after another Israeli bombardment Monday morning, and a half-dozen Israelis, perched on a dusty hilltop, gazed at the scene like armchair military strategists.

    Avi Pilchick took a long swig of Pepsi and propped a foot on the plastic patio chair he’d carried up the hillside to watch the fighting. “They are doing good,” Pilchick, 20, said of Israeli forces battling Palestinian militants in Gaza, “but they can do more.”

    Somewhere in Beit Hanoun, Ashraf El-Masri’s family cowered in their concrete tenement home, their neighborhood surrounded by Israeli soldiers. El-Masri said that five residents had been killed by Israeli shelling that morning, and the blasts had traumatized the youngest of his nine children into a terrified silence.

    The scenes were separated by less than two miles, but they illustrated the dramatically different perspectives on Israel’s ground incursion into the Gaza Strip on its second full day.

  22. Tom is of course right.

    By the way, Alan, the Guardian is not “utter propaganda” – in fact it’s one of the leading British newspapers. And yes, it is well known that the Iraelis use human shields in an extensive manner.

  23. Alan Gura

    Pravda and Izvetsia were the leading Russian papers of their day. So what. You look at the Guardian’s content, and it is comical.

    I offer no opinion on Fox News, but it is one of our leading news outlets in this country and many people criticize it as propaganda.

  24. Alan, comparing the Soviet Pravda with the Guardian is “comical”. You should calm down a bit.

    By the way – even people of the IDF now say that the shelling of the school was a mistake.

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