Sunday, January 18, 2009

Mediocre Moral in the Middle East

Israel is just about to end a three-week offensive on Gaza. The Palestinians have suffered severe casualties, both militants and civilians, while Israel have only had a few losses. Internationally, Israel has harvested heavy criticism from nations, organisations and the media, as well as hatred from individuals.

For example, in Oslo, Norway, there was a youth rebellion during an otherwise peaceful demonstration. These youth were throwing rocks at McDonalds and shooting fireworks at the police, and they tried to approach the Israeli embassy. They were all full of hate and anger towards Israel; and considering the reports of young children being killed and schools being blown up, maybe they ought to be.

Most people agree that killing civilians is bad. And that killing civilians on purpose is evil. Israel most certainly has done some bad things. But if we trust Israel’s prime minister Ehud Olmert, what they’ve done at least is not evil.

In an armed conflict, the international laws of war are supposed to be held. This is of course difficult, as it is tempting to gain an advantage breaking them. For example, in the 2003 war in Iraq, Iraqi troops waved a white flag and then opened fire on the U.S. soldiers who approached to negotiate. However, breaking the laws of war is only an advantage as long as the enemy honours the same law. For instance, if we use the Red Cross symbol to hide our weapons and forces, the enemy will loose its respect for the Red Cross symbol, and may, naturally, also attack the real Red Cross in our area.

Bombed school in GazaWhen Hamas does not honour these laws of war, Israel is faced with an impossible situation. Morally, who is the less evil; those who bomb the schools, or those who made the school a target?

Read more:
BBC: Bomb blast at Palestinian school
BBC: Olmert declares ceasefire