How not to respond to Hamas’s assault on Israel

How not to respond to Hamas’s assault on Israel

Benjamin Wittes writes:

The reason I don’t write about Israeli-Palestinian matters much is that the more time I have spent with them, the less I think I have anything useful to say on the subject. The process of spending time with the actual conflict has humbled me to the point that I am these days much more interested in asking questions than I am in making pronouncements. I am much more interested in conveying information than I am in telling people what I think—when I even know what I think, which is increasingly infrequent.

One thing I do know what I think about is murder.

I’m against it.

I’m not, to be clear, always against war. And I accept that civilians sometimes get killed in warfare and, tragic as that is, it is an inherent part of the enterprise.

But the intentional targeting of civilians is always unacceptable. It is unacceptable when Russians do it Ukraine. Full stop.

It is unacceptable when Israeli settlers target Palestinian civilians with violence. Full stop.

And it is unacceptable when Palestinians, using thousands of rockets and hundreds of gunmen, indiscriminately kill hundreds of Israeli civilians. Full stop.

Beyond this rather banal insistence on the most basic premise of the law of armed conflict, I am not certain what the right way to respond to the horrific, murderous surprise attack launched last night from Gaza is.

But I was surprised today at how many people, on social media and in published essays, seem to leaping eagerly to wildly inappropriate responses to an incident of organized, intentional mass murder. Some of the following respond to statements from the political right. Some respond to the political left. Some respond to domestic American political inappropriateness. Some respond to nonsense circulating within the Jewish world. What unites it all, in my view, is the urge to speak quickly, at the risk of being wildly inappropriate in the face of mass murder—rather than to listen, to learn, and to defer speaking until one actually knows something worth saying. [Continue reading…]

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