Dispatches from the Empire

Bomb First, Ask Questions Later

That’s precisely when you don’t go to war: when your emotions are in hyper-drive. But if you do go to war in such an emotionally fraught moment, when every reservist and IDF soldier is understandably filled with shock and anger, you have to be extra-extra-careful to lay out and enforce clear rules of warfare. You have to over-emphasize the need for restraint, the vital importance of distinguishing between terrorists and bystanders, if you aren’t going to blunder into self-defeating war crimes — as we did in Iraq and Afghanistan and across the torture sites set up by Bush and Cheney.

Netanyahu’s government, of course, did the opposite.

My post from October 13, 2023:

Israel is in an impossible position. Many Palestinians want Israel wiped off the map because Israel forced them out of their ancestral homeland, land they had lived on for hundreds or thousands of years. Much of this Palestinian anger has become entangled with some truly wretched antisemitism, yes, but I cannot in good faith say that Palestinians hate Jews for the same reasons the Nazis did. Yes, some Palestinians do, and certainly the government of Iran does, but many Palestinians just want to go home, in the same way so many Native Americans want their ancestral homeland back, a cause toward which I am sympathetic. (Though remember, Native Americans can travel freely off the reservations and throughout the United States, whereas almost all Palestinians are forbidden from traveling into Israel — or from leaving Palestine at all. They are confined, unable to leave.)

But if Israel uses the attack of last weekend to slaughter Palestinians indiscriminately, it will (if it hasn’t already, in the eyes of many) lose the moral high ground. It will lose, if it hasn’t already, the goodwill and support of so many people around the world.