Why We Fight – Michael Dickson
I spent last week with several Israeli soldiers. University students, in their mid-20s and all active reservists, they recalled their battle experiences prior to a major speaking tour of campuses around the world.
Yair told me about being in a battle with Hizbullah terrorists during the Second Lebanon War of 2006. A truck arrived in the middle of the battle. Ten boys, about eight years of age, got out of the truck, armed with guns. In the middle of battle, Yair saw the moral depravity of the enemy and knew in that moment why he fights.
Adam told about receiving a call to his mobile phone from the anguished leader of a Palestinian village at the height of the violent Palestinian intifada. His job was to be a liaison between humanitarian NGOs, Palestinian leaders and the IDF. A Palestinian boy had got his arm stuck in the blades of an olive press in a hostile Palestinian village. While entering the village, the locals stoned their vehicles but after saving the boy’s life, they left to Palestinian cheers.
Lital asked me to consider the case of a pregnant Palestinian woman who was brought to a checkpoint in an ambulance which, once inspected, was found to be carrying concealed explosive devices. ”Take a second,” she asked me, ”to understand what kind of dilemma an 18-year-old soldier is presented with when on the one hand she sees a heavily pregnant woman, apparently desperate to go to hospital, but at the same time fears it is a hoax that will cost others’ lives.” Knowing she faces an enemy that would use a pregnant woman about to deliver as a decoy, and the clear and present danger that Israeli citizens face from this threat, Lital was clear why she fights.
These young IDF army officers will be visiting communities and campuses across the U.S. and the world over the next couple of months. They are not politicians. They are representatives of a citizens’ army of a people who wish to live in peace and freedom, a freedom that must be fought for. And that is why they fight. The writer is Israel director of StandWithUs. (Jerusalem Post)
Fighting Fair: The Ethics of Warfare – Gary Rosenblatt
Moshe Halbertal, a professor at New York University Law School and professor of Jewish thought and philosophy at the Hebrew University, and a co-author of the Israel Defense Force’s code on war ethics, asserts that the Palestinian combatants’ goal is to erase the distinction between civilians and soldiers, making every Israeli a target, anywhere and at any time.
Speaking recently on ”Morality on the Battlefield,” he said an army has ”an obligation to defend its own citizens,” and Israel has a military code of ethics because it wants its army to be victorious and its soldiers to ”feel they behaved properly as human beings.” The Israel Defense Forces considers itself, and is viewed by many, as the most moral army in the world.
In his critique of the Goldstone Report on the 2009 Gaza war, Halbertal asserted that the report, in refusing to admit that Gaza fighters wore civilian clothes and hid among the population, failed to deal with the pressing dilemma of how any moral army should respond to asymmetrical warfare.
In the 2002 battle of Jenin, during the second intifada, Israel sought to root out Palestinian terrorists from the refugee camp and chose not to bomb it out of concern for civilians there. Instead, it sent its forces in on the ground, resulting in 23 IDF soldiers killed.
The most effective and ethical form of warfare is targeted killing, Halbertal said, going after the enemy’s leadership and combatants at minimal risk to civilians, often through the use of drones. In an allusion to the deaths of scientists involved in Iran’s nuclear efforts, he said that ”those making the bomb are agents of threat and can be classified as combatants.”
Halbertal’s sober assessment of Israel’s ethical standards of war left me proud of the seriousness with which Israel takes its responsibility in the ongoing struggle to maintain a moral stance against immoral enemies. (New York Jewish Week)
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