Jonathan Rosenblum offers some common sense in the Jerusalem Post:
European criticism of Israeli military responses to attacks upon Israel and its citizens has become so formulaic that the various EU officials and foreign ministers can probably recite it in their sleep.
First comes a ritualistic acknowledgment of Israel’s right to defend itself, followed inevitably by the accusation that the particular Israeli response was disproportionate. So automatic is the second statement that it completely vitiates the first.
The Europeans never bother to explain what response they would consider proportionate, or how those actions would obviate the threats to Israel’s civilian population. After the Sbarro bombing, for instance, would the proportionate response have been to send an Israeli suicide bomber into a Ramallah pizzeria?
How do the Europeans know that Israel’s actions are disproportionate? The “asymmetry in the reported death tolls,” explains The New York Times’s Steven Erlanger, in a July 19 news story. In short, there are too few dead Jews.
THE RELIANCE on death tolls to determine the propriety of Israeli military action is more than a little problematic. First, it turns warfare into a weird kind of boxing match in which you can only hit your adversary as hard as he hit you. That is not how either boxers or nations fight.
American UN ambassador John Bolton rightly ridiculed the European view of proportionality earlier this week. If Hizbullah kidnaps two Israeli soldiers, he asked, does that mean Israel can do nothing more in response than capture two Hizbullah operatives?
Something close to that view does, in fact, prevail among critics of Israeli military action. News stories denigrate the destructive capabilities of Palestinian weapons, for instance, and downplay the impact of those weapons on Jews living under their threat. Thus the Times’s Erlanger quotes a Gaza resident who characterizes Kassams as nothing more than “needle pricks,” even as he insists on the Palestinians’ inalienable right to continue delivering those needle pricks.
To limit Israel’s response to such “needle pricks” – actually it is usually far less, since Israel would never fire Kassams into Beit Hanun – constitutes an open invitation to aggressors, since they know in advance that they will never pay a higher price than the damage they inflict.
A MERE count of body bags further ignores the fact that those bags have a provenance. Many other questions have to be asked – for example, are the bodies those of combatants or civilians? If they are of civilians, were they killed because the enemy embedded military targets among the civilian population?
It is also relevant to know who started the fighting. How many Lebanese would have been killed by Israel in the past two weeks if Hizbullah had not attacked Israel within its internationally recognized border?
Read it all.