An article by Alan Dershowitz, Professor of Law at Harvard:
"This chorus of entirely predictable widespread condemnation is the primary reason why no cease-fire will endure. Eliciting condemnation is the essence of the overall strategy of Israel's enemies to demonise and delegitimise the Jewish state in the eyes of the world.
The strategy goes back to Yasser Arafat. When he turned down the Clinton-Barak offer of statehood in 2000-2001, the international community and the media focused its criticism on what Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia rightly characterized as Arafat's "crime against the Palestinian people."
In order to redirect the criticism against Israel, Arafat ordered an intifada of terrorism that included suicide bombings against civilians. When Israel responded with tough measures, much of the world turned against Israel. Calls for divesture, boycotts and war-crime trials increased and criticism of Arafat diminished.
A similar strategy was used by Hezbollah in Lebanon. When it attacked northern Israel and kidnapped several of its soldiers, Hezbollah was initially subject to criticism. Hezbollah then began to fire rockets from densely-populated civilian areas, terrorizing northern Israel. When it counterattacked, inevitably killing civilians who were being used as human shields, the condemnation shifted to the Jewish state.
Now we see a repeat of this strategy in Gaza. Hamas deliberately broke the cease-fire by firing rockets into southern Israel from densely-populated cities, using the areas around schools and mosques as launching points. There is an Israeli air force video showing a Hamas fighter moving his rocket launcher next to a United Nations school, firing the rocket and then running away - hoping to provoke an attack on the school.
Hamas knew that Israel would have to respond - what would any democracy do if its civilians were being rocketed? - and they knew that Palestinian civilians would die in the process. They also knew that the international community and the media would intensify their criticism with every dead Palestinian civilian.
That was their goal: to kill and terrorize as many Israeli civilians as possible; to provoke Israel into killing as many Palestinians as possible; and to generate as much international condemnation against Israel as possible.
For this despicable strategy to work, the international community and media must play its assigned role of uncritically counting and transmitting images of bodies without asking who is to blame for the civilian deaths.
Under international as well as domestic law, those who use human shields are responsible for their predictable deaths, not those who fired the fatal shots.
Consider the case of a bank robber who takes a hostage and fires from behind his human shield, killing and endangering bystanders; a policeman, in an effort to stop the robber from killing more innocent people, fires at him but kills his hostage by accident. Who is guilty of murder? Not the policeman, who fired the fatal shot, but the robber who fired from behind the human shield. The same is true under international law.
Those who condemn Israel for its allegedly "disproportional" response because more Palestinians than Israelis have been killed do not understand that important concept.
A democracy is entitled under international law and under Article 51 of the United Nations charter to stop armed attacks against its civilians. Israel is entitled to take whatever military action is necessary to stop the barrage of rockets that has targeted its civilian population, each of which is an "armed attack" under Article 51. It need not stop its military operation until the rocket attacks stop or are stopped permanently.
It may not take military actions unnecessary to achieve that legitimate military goal, but any military action that is reasonably necessary to stop the armed attacks is proportional, as a matter of law, morality and common sense.
When England was attacked by German bombers and then missiles in the Second World War, Churchill did not hesitate to bomb military targets in heavily populated cities. He went even further, bombing civilian areas as well in retaliation for and deterrence against the bombing of British cities.
A cease fire without real teeth - including international monitors who can assure that Hamas will not use the lull to rearm and reorganize - would save lives in the short run. But unless the international community and media stop playing into the hands of Israel's enemies by blaming the victims of aggression, the Hamas strategy of firing rockets at Israel's civilians from behind Palestinian civilians will be employed again and again. It is a win-win strategy for terrorists and those who support them."
Alan Dershowitz is Professor at Law at Harvard Law School and author of The case against Israel's enemies.
Thanks to Ricky Martin at Biased-BBC for the spot.
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