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Word Selection

Monday, 12 January 2009

If any more musicians give into their obligation to speak out against the matzav, I’m going to be forced to limit my listening to my dead white guys (e.g. Handel, Bach, etc).

I mentioned Brian Eno (of Roxy music fame) earlier this week. Now Annie Lennox has made it her mission to speak out against the atrocities being visited upon the innocents, calling for an end to the “slaughter and systematic murder” of Arabs living in the area.

Claiming to be horrified by the tragic civilian deaths on both sides, I have to wonder why she didn’t feel it necessary to raise her voice at any point during the past eight years that Hamas was firing upon the civilian population in Israel.

A few misconceptions require some clarification.

Proportional Response
With the number of casualties rising with every passing day, Israel is being accused of delivering a disproportionate response.

Did you know that “proportional response” is an official military term? According to the US Army Counterinsurgency Handbook,
“proportionality requires collateral damage to civilians and civilian
property not be excessive in relation to the military advantage expected to
be gained by executing the operation.”
The definition makes no mention of the sophistication of the weapons. Nor of the number of deaths. No score card of who has sustained the greatest casualties.

Over 11,000 mortars and rockets have been fired upon the civilian population of Israel these past eight years. What would be the proportional response to such egregious actions? This was not Israel’s first response to the violence nor was it the desired reaction. But the targeted assassinations of Hamas leadership have failed to prevent further qassams from killing, maiming, terrorizing the residents of Sderot.
The sole objective of Operation Cast Lead is not to kill the people of Gaza but to protect Israelis by putting a permanent end to the violence. There is no question that the death of innocent Palestinians is a tragedy, but that is not he question. The question is whether or not the Israeli response is excessive.

If the IDF had this reaction to one qassam or one katusha, the answer would be a very different one. For this reaction is in response to the thousands and thousands of rockets fired into the sovereign land of Israel.

The media continues to refer to the Gaza Strip as being an occupied territory but it fails to take history into consideration.

Israel technically does not occupy Gaza and the West Bank. A country cannot occupy land that it already owns. The areas in question were assigned to Israel as a part of the british Mandate established by the League of Nations and upheld by the successor organization to the League of Nations, the United Nations, under Article 49 of the UN Charter. When the British Mandate came to an end in 1948, Israel was attacked by Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Lebanon. When the fighting ceased in 1949, Egypt occupied Gaza and Jordan occupied the west Bank. Interestingly, these seizures of land were never recognized by the international community INCLUDING the other Arab nations. The only exceptions being great Britain and Pakistan. It came under Israeli control as a result of a defensive war in 1967 — which, under international law, it a legal means to acquire territory. (As opposed to the offensive war, which was the method by which Jordan and Egypt occupied the land in question.) In other words, Israel did not acquire the territories as part of any imperialistic campaign.

To apply the term ‘occupied’ is simply
Inaccurate and meant to be inflammatory. Given that both the Israels and Palestinians can make legitimate historical claims to these territories, a more honest and appropriate term is ‘disputed.’

Language is powerful and the misuse of words can mislead, confuse, and inflame.

אלהי, נצור לשוני מרע ושפתי נדבר מרמה.

Dear God, protect my tongue from evil and my lips from speaking deceitfully. (From the daily liturgy, based on Psalm 34:14)

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