Robby Berman

Crazy-Talk Criticism of Israel

Over the last few weeks I have heard so much crazy-talk criticism directed towards Israel for responding to a war it did not start that I’m waiting for the video to surface called Stupid Stuff Said By Anti-Israel Critics. Below is a five point primer:

1. “Israel’s response is not proportional.”
If one more person tells me that Israel’s response to thousands of rockets launched at our cities is not proportional, I’m going to throw a Merriam Webster dictionary at their head. And I’m not talking a pocket edition. Proportional does not mean equal. As a T-Shirt (which is where I get most of my wisdom from) once read “As an army, if you find yourself in a fair fight, your tactics suck!” We are not morally required to use equal force in a fight. I know the word equality has a nice ring to it but it does not appear anywhere in the writings of Sun Tzu or Carl von Clausewitz.

If someone starts stabbing strangers on the street with a switch blade would it be immoral for a policeman to come armed with a gun to stop him and to use it if necessary? Must the cop come with equal force by brandishing only a knife? If a burly brute begins to beat people to a pulp is only one police officer allowed to try to take him down or can 5 cops jump on him?

Repeat after me: Proportional does not mean equal.

Morality and proportionality allows Israel to use greater firepower than our enemy in order to win the battle. What proportionality does mean is that we are not morally allowed to use excess firepower than is necessary to subdue him. And since we are into week three of this war and Hamas is still launching 60 missiles at us a day, evidently we are not using enough firepower to stop them. Not yet.

Perhaps crazy-talk critics recommend we turn off our Iron Dome missile defense system to allow more Israelis to die to even up the score? To them I say perhaps not.

2. “Israel is killing civilians.”
This statement is true but the implication is false. It implies we are intentionally and purposelessly killing civilians. This can be demonstrated as false by asking three simple questions.
a) Can you name one war in the history of the world that took place in a residential area that there weren’t civilian casualties?
b) Can you name one such war where the number of civilian deaths were as low as they are in Gaza – given the amount of soldiers and the amount of ordinance used in the battle?
c) Can you name one country in the history of the world that during war notified its enemy – in advance – of the exact coordinates it was about to bomb?

Which army in the world uses leaflets, telephone calls, and dummy-missile-tapping on the roof of the designated building about to be bombed to warn the civilians and thus also warn the combatants? I don’t like it when my compatriots say that the IDF is the most moral army in the world because it sounds so self-righteous. But it’s true. Furthermore, what benefit does Israel reap in killing civilians? None. It just results in unjust and hypocritical world condemnation. And if we really did want to kill innocent Palestinians and we did not value their lives would we not carpet bomb Gaza instead of losing over 30 Israeli soldiers?

3. “Israeli is committing genocide.”
People who say this are either mentally deranged – such as the Prime Minister of Turkey, don’t know history, or do not own a dictionary. Give this person a dictionary and a history book and check in with him later. Or not.

4. “Israel should stop what is doing.”
Yesterday in Tel Aviv a young tall beautiful Danish tourist told me this while we were hiding in a dark stairwell seeking shelter from an incoming missile strike from Gaza. This statement is simply stupid because it presumes and/or implies that Israel does not have a right to self-defense. I asked her what would she do to stop a missile attack into Copenhagen from a radical Islamic minority group living in its suburbs sworn to the destruction of Denmark? She said she didn’t know.

How does the saying go when looking for a life partner: Beauty is temporary but stupidity is forever. If you don’t have a plausible alternative option for us that will stop Hamas from launching hundreds of rockets at us daily then don’t open your mouth. Evidently we are doing the best thing that we can think of and the best thing that she can think of.

5. “Israel is to blame because they won’t give the Palestinians a State.”
First, I would throw a history book at them (I’m getting violent lately) showing all our attempts in the past 20 years to make peace and give them a State. We have made mistakes but the historical records show that the bulk of the blame belongs to the Palestinian leadership.

Second, if the Hamas charter states its goal is to kill Jews and destroy the State of Israel (which it does) then what does giving them a State have to do with anything? They are sworn to destroy us even if we give them a State.

Third, this comment offers (an incorrect) a long term analysis looking to place blame when we are looking for a short term solution to stop rockets. The discussion we are having now is not who is to blame but what should we do, other than what we are doing, that will cause Hamas to stop launching missiles at our cities, airports and nuclear facility?

Whenever people talk crazy-talk about any topic (relationships, religion, politics, or relationships 🙂 I always find it helpful to focus on definitions, assumptions and most importantly implications. It helps me tease away the comment to reveal what is rotten at its core.


About the Author
Robby Berman is a tour guide and journalist living in Israel for more than 30 years. He is a graduate of Harvard University (Kennedy School of Government, MPA), Baruch College (MBA) and Yeshiva University (BA). He is also the author of the book Min Taq Taq: A Collection of Arabic Idioms and Expressions in the Palestinian Dialect.