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Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Justifying murder

First posted 12/11, 1:40 pm; updated [see below]

It happens so easily you hardly notice it happening. I know I don't. You read an article like this:

About 30 Israeli tanks and armored vehicles pushed into the Hamas-run Gaza Strip on Tuesday, sparking clashes with Palestinians in which five militants were killed, medics and militant groups said.
and you think, "well, it was just "militants" that were killed, I guess they deserved it, being "militants" after all. Later on, you read even more cover, this time courtesy of the news agency itself:
The Israeli military often attacks militants in the coastal territory to try to stop them firing rockets and mortar bombs into southern Israel and has intensified the raids since last month's Annapolis peace conference.
But wait a minute. It's true that some Palestinians are firing rockets at Israel, and you may or may not think that's legal or justifiable or defensible. But there isn't the slightest indication that any of these five "militants" were involved with that. What they were "militant" about was resisting an invasion of their "country" (territory, land, whatever you want to call it) by foreign or occupying troops. Israel tanks came bursting across their border and they fought back and paid the price. That makes them brave, or perhaps foolhardy, but certainly not deserving to die, and it makes their deaths...murder.

In the old days, Israel used to try to justify such actions on the grounds that someone was "on the way to fire a missile." Now they don't bother. Just the fact that they might have been thinking about it, or might know someone who was thinking about it, or they might think about it in the future, is enough.

Update: Let's play "spot the bias" in this AP rendition of the news:

Israeli tanks and bulldozers pushed into the southern Gaza Strip on Tuesday, killing five Islamic militants and trapping hundreds of people in their homes, while another extremist died from an airstrike elsewhere in the territory.
Incidentally, the remainder of the article contains exactly zero information on that airstrike or on the identification of that "extremist."

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