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Alan Dershowitz Argues It's Okay to Kill Israeli Civilians

Cenk Uygur / Huffington Post | August 9 2006

According to Alan Dershowitz's logic, it's perfectly acceptable to kill Lebanese civilians because they voted for and support an organization that kills Israeli civilians. By that same exact logic, it's perfectly acceptable for Hezbollah to kill Israeli civilians because they voted for and support a government that kills Lebanese civilians. This is an irrefutable argument.

Dershowitz tells us that the Lebanese had it coming. They are "collaborators." This is the same exact argument Hezbollah, Hamas, Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden make - we can kill their civilians because they support a government that kills ours.

I know, I know, Alan - go ahead and tell me about how the Israelis are perfectly innocent and they never started a thing and they are only victims here. It is the evil, terrorist Arabs that started all the wars - and deserved to have their women and children massacred.

It's ironic that a man who throws around charges of prejudice (anti-Semitism) doesn't mind being blatantly prejudiced himself. For Dershowitz, Lebanese civilians deserve to be killed - read his post - that is exactly what he is saying. But Israeli civilians, I am sure, are God's children. If anyone touches them, they are terrorists.

He claims that many of the "civilians" in Lebanon help, support, house and financially provide for Hezbollah fighters who kill Israeli civilians. Under that logic, all Israeli civilians help, support, house and financially provide for Israeli soldiers who kill Lebanese civilians. So, are they all fair game?

Israelis' tax money directly goes to support the Israeli bombs being dropped on Lebanese women and children. Every man and woman in Israel must serve in the Israeli army (actually the white Jews, Druze and Circassians, but that covers most of the country). And almost every single household has supported an Israeli soldier at some point. Guilty!

Remember I am not making this argument. Alan Dershowitz is. All I am doing is taking his logic about the Lebanese civilians and applying it to Israeli civilians. I do not support his logic. I condemn it.

He also says the Israel has warned the Lebanese that they must move out of their homes, otherwise they could be killed. How considerate. I wonder how Dershowitz would feel if someone dropped a leaflet on his front porch telling him that if he doesn't immediately move out of his house, he will be killed. Would he feel like he got a fair warning and the only appropriate action was to run away?

Let's put that hypothetical question aside for now (and I cannot emphasize enough that it is a hypothetical; he is the one arguing for actual violence here, not me). Let's get to reality. Hassan Nasrallah has gone on television and warned the civilians of Haifa, Tel Aviv and all of Israel that Hezbollah will be firing rockets into their cities. According to Dershowitz's logic, they have been warned and if they stay, they are "complicit."

Israel gives warning. Then kills civilians. Hezbollah gives warning. Then kills civilians.

Actually, so far Hezbollah has killed more soldiers than civilians. Israel cannot come close to saying the same. One of Dershowitz's arguments is that terrorists try to maximize civilian casualties and democracies try to minimize them. Is he calling Israelis terrorists again?

The fact that Israel can annihilate everyone in Lebanon and chooses not to is a small comfort to me. I'm being literal. It shows they are not interested in the death and oppression of all Arabs. That is a little comforting. But I hope to God we have a higher standard for them than that. Dershowitz, on the other hand, seems to take great comfort in this fact. Israel could have killed everybody and since it only killed ten civilians for every one Hezbollah fighter, it is trying to "minimize" civilian casualties.

Here it comes. This is the point when Dershowitz brings out the oldest canard in the book. If it was up to the Arabs, they would kill all the Jews - so every thing we do in "self defense" is justified. Here's the only problem with that idea - history disproves it.

In the past, Muslims and Arabs have ruled over Jews for thousands of years and they never vowed to wipe them all out or carried it out. It was the Europeans under Germany that tried this in the Holocaust. And it was the Europeans that tried this during the Inquisition in Spain. In fact, the Muslim Ottoman Empire took in over 200,000 Jews from Spain when the Christians threatened to kill them all.

Now, some blowhard Muslim leaders claim they are going to wipe Israel off the map. But in the beginning of this conflict, Israel said that they were going to wipe out Hezbollah. Remember, Dershowitz says many of the civilians killed in Lebanon were actually Hezbollah. He argues there's no difference between these Lebanese civilians and Hezbollah. So, in that case he is arguing that there is no difference between the maniacal declarations of Iran's leaders and the declarations of Israel's leaders.

Another point Dershowitz loves to make is that Hezbollah is hiding behind their civilians. They mainly do this by living and operating out of their home cities. What are they supposed to do? Build a camp in the middle of the desert and let Israel blow it away with their fighter jets?

Maybe if Hezbollah had an air force, then they could build independent military structures and try to defend them through their conventional army. But they don't have any of that. They don't fight from the cities because they want civilians to die, they fight from there because that's the only place they have.

I would guess that Hezbollah would be happy to take on Israel in a "fair fight," where they both had equal weapons and fought outside of civilian centers. But demanding that they commit suicide by putting up a naked base in the middle of nowhere with no ability to defend it is not only irrational, it is pointless. No sane enemy would do that.

So, Hezbollah must disarm and jump out in the open where they can be clearly killed by aerial bombardment? Yes, perhaps in the fantasy world Alan Dershowitz lives in, that's how it might go. In the real world of guerilla warfare when there is asymmetrical military power, that is never how it's going to go.

I love how Israel demands that Hezbollah disarm and disband. Yeah, Hezbollah demands Israel does likewise. Why is it that the one position is considered a reasonable outcome and the other is a terrorist demand?

Israel forces 800,000 civilians from their homes, and they are the good guys. They kill ten times as many civilians as Hezbollah (the last count was closer to fifteen times: 524 Lebanese civilians killed by Israel to 36 Israeli civilians killed by Hezbollah), and they are the good guys. Israel occupies, relocates, bulldozes and bombs - no matter what they do, they are always the good guys.

I don't believe that. I dare to believe that both sides should be held to the same moral standard. Hezbollah should never attacks civilians. It is a terrible idea. It is morally repugnant and does tremendous harm to their cause. The same is true of Israel.

I believe the Palestinians would have been a thousand times better served if they had followed the lead of Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King, Jr. People call that unrealistic. That's ridiculous. Gandhi liberated nearly a billion people with this "unrealistic" strategy. Mandela and King liberated their people with little violence in places where there could have been bloodbaths. Yet the Palestinians have chosen leadership that has led down the foolish road of violence and systemic corruption.

If they simply marched peacefully on Israel and demanded to be freed from their brutal occupation, they would have the whole world on their side. Instead, they target civilians. How painfully stupid and morally bankrupt!

And what is Israel's answer? The same -- and more. Hezbollah didn't even attack civilians when they captured and killed the Israeli soldiers at the beginning of this conflict. And Israel responded by killing nearly ten civilians for every Hezbollah fighter (the latest number is 524 civilians killed to 53 Hezbollah guerillas; Israel also killed 29 Lebanese soldiers who were not on either side). Oh I forgot, that's okay because that's just collateral damage. When you do it, it's terrorism. When I do it, it's collateral damage.

Here Dershowitz has argued that they're not really civilians because they vaguely supported Hezbollah (actually, it wasn't really them, it was other people quoted in a newspaper article, but that's good enough for Dershowitz). Those babies that died in Qana - Hezbollah terrorists! Besides they all look the same.

It's again ironic that Dershowitz uses the Holocaust analogy as he claims it's okay to kill all the people in one nationality because they were all probably guilty anyway. That's rich.

Finally, let me say that I am a Muslim who has denounced Islam. I think it is a ridiculous religion (as is Christianity and Judaism). If Muslim fundamentalists gained power, I would be the first one strung up. So, I ask you out of self interest, as well as simple human decency, to stop empowering the Muslim extremists by killing Muslim civilians.

You are doing them a tremendous service. Israel has already driven the Lebanese people into the arms of Hezbollah with their bombing campaign. Please stop before you do more damage to Lebanon, to yourself and to the cause of moderates everywhere. When you indiscriminately kill Muslim civilians you become the best friend of Muslim extremists.

Dershowitz alludes to some ridiculous statistic about how eighty percent of the Lebanese already supported Hezbollah before the bombings. If that's true, why didn't they win eighty percent of the seats in the Lebanese parliament? In fact, they only won the seats in southern Lebanon. The other Lebanese voted for different political parties. Will they do the same in the next elections? Probably not. Because now it looks like the only people defending Lebanon are the Hezbollah fighters. Way to dampen the power of Hezbollah.

If Dershowitz's arguments were simply immoral and racist, the damage could be contained. But the reality is that what he advocates is much worse because it feeds the beast. He adds to the fire of hatred, violence and retribution in the Middle East. And he makes it more likely that we are going to wind up in a world with more extremists and more wars.

And on top of all this, he calls himself a liberal. With liberals like this, who needs conservatives?

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