The Numbers War

In military conflict, a superior number of dead does not confer moral legitimacy upon one side over another. The fact that in Hiroshima more civilians died then in any other single bombing raid of World War II did not morally cleanse Japan of the hair-raising atrocities that it had committed in its illegal war on other nations.

Like Hamas, rather than surrender Japan placed its civilian populations at peril for the sake of fanatical goals. And as with Hamas, facing unconditional surrender or complete annihilation, they chose annihilation.

Since the start of Operation Protective Edge, 2,730 rockets have been shot at Israel’s population with the express aim of killing civilians. Affected cities include Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem. .

Yet Israel’s critics point only to the dispartity between numbers of Jewish and Palestinian casualties, the comparatively low number of Israeli soldiers (61) and civilians (3) killed so far in Operation Protective Edge – 64 in all — versus the number of slain Palestinians: over 1,400, among whom hundreds are, again, Hamas terrorists operating from within sectors thick with civilians.

Dismissing Hamas missiles as mere ‘toy rockets’ these indignant “Numbers Moralists” argue that the low ratio of Israeli to Palestinian losses renders Israel’s military offensive against Hamas morally indefensible.

Their unspoken inference is that if a thousand more Jews, particularly Israeli children, had died from missile attack, and thus evened up the score–if Iron Dome had not done its work so well – then everyone from The Atlantic Monthly, the BBC, NPR, the New York Times, the UN and the Obama White House would feel morally assuaged.

Hamas seeks through its supporters in the West to establish a norm among the international community whereby to operate rocket launchers from ones own densely-populated civilian areas and fire thousands of rockets at Israeli men, women and children is not only morally and politically acceptable but the new normal.

Israel finds herself peering through the looking glass at a world gone mad, one without moral bearings, where terrorists are portrayed as saints and where Europe, which once murdered six million Jews, stands helplessly by as right wing and militant Islamic thugs storm synagogues and assault Jewish citizens.

What can Israel do? Not much more then stay on point in Operation Protective Edge: destroy the rocket launchers, regardless of where placed and locate and demolish the tunnels.

For one thing is sure: Hamas’ human shield strategy makes effective public relations in a morally blind world. Hamas will continue the human shield stratagem as long as doing so produces grisley heaps of casualties that discourages well-meaning people from wanting to engage and defeat the militant Islamic organization.

But what of the other side, Israel? What claim has she upon the world’s empathy?

Since her establishment by UN vote in 1948 Israel has endured more ceaseless attack from her neighbors and abroad than any other nation on record.

Israel’s citizens have been shot, stabbed, smothered, drowned, kidnapped and blown up, from Uganda to Munich to Mumbai but in the world of the ‘Numbers Moralist’ all that matters is the day’s head count of Palestinians killed in an  IDF attack on a missile launch site in the densely populated district of Shejaiya.

Since 1948, Israel has known no respite from violence. In the years following her birth murder squads of Palestinian Fedayeen descended to kill and pillage, abducting Jewish women to rape and mutilate; assaulting nurseries such as the childrens’ house at Misgav Am, where Palestinian “Freedom Fighters” shot toddlers in the head and tossed their lifeless diapered bodies from windows to the horrified parents below.

Palestinian operatives murdered Israeli Olympic athletes. They and their proxies massacred Israeli travelers in airports. They hijacked planeloads of Israelis, to such terrifying hearts of darkness as Uganda, then the stronghold of Idi Amin, a dictator who had turned his back on Israel, once an ally, only to court terrorists and feed his political foes to the crocodiles.

Palestinian operatives blew up buses, one after another, year after year, in every part of Israel. They blew up hotels and university dining rooms. They attacked nature photographers, farmers, yeshiva students,sunbathers, college students, retired seniors, shoppers, artists, cafe-goers, pizza eaters and sweaty teenaged dancers in a Tel Aviv discotheque. They blew them all to smithereens with nail bombs built to shred anyone near. They ran along King George Street in Jerusalem tossing hand grenades and firing automatic weapons. They went on shooting sprees down Israeli highways. They killed Jewish children with less compunction then an exterminator shows to mice.

These were not German Nazis or Rumanian Iron Guards or Russian Black Hundreds. They were Palestinians with a grudge, who rampaged through Jewish lives with a ferocity that knew no sating. And they continue to this day on the same course, whether as Islamic Jihad, Hamas or Isis or as a mob storming a Paris synagogue. At day’s end, this infectious frenzy has no endgame—neither statehood or economic self-improvement.

The goal rather, is the frenzy and the killing itself: an addiction to resentment-fueled massacre whose moral justification cannot be found in traditional Islam and so must rely for its rationale upon the distorted sermons of renegade Imams from London to Berlin, Gaza City to Tehran. These so-called holy men invent their own fundamentalist doctrines to justify bloodletting of Jews among followers intoxicated with hate.

In this perverse climate, by the deadly  math of Israel’s foes, not enough Jews have died to even up the imaginary score, or ever will. Not now. Not ever.

About the Author
Alan Kaufman is an American-Israeli novelist and memoirist. His latest novel, The Berlin Woman, has just been published by Mandel Vilar Press. His other books include the novels Matches (Little Brown) the memoirs Jew Boy (Cornell University Press) and Drunken Angel (Viva Editions).