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Israel's unjust war [Commentary]

Today's talking heads regularly parrot the line that Israel has the right to defend itself, as if the Palestinians occupy Israel and are dominating it with the best military in the world. Then, the undeniable implication, Israel's incursions and bombardments are "just" in other words, a "just war."

In this case, one man's "just war" is another's ethnic cleansing. Do the Palestinians have no natural right to defend themselves from the onslaught of Israel's military, from 50 years of occupation, death, poverty and despair? What is to happen to them when Israel's "just war" is over?

First off, Hamas is committing terrorist acts by launching rockets into Israel, and that is wrong. That said, where is Washington's moral outrage for Israel's actions (as of this writing), killing 1,346, wounding an estimated 6,780, and displacing 240,000 Palestinians? The vast majority of the dead — some 70 percent — are civilians, with 232 of them children. Certainly there was moral outrage over the downing of the Malaysian Airline flight over Ukraine, killing all passengers on board, in July. But for the Palestinian civilians, there seems to be only "hard lessons" and little remorse from Israel's best friend in the West.

Nearly all of the American establishment media, with minor exception, support the Israeli massacre of Palestinians as the "right to defend." Because of this bias, a majority of the American people continue to view Israel's choice to put Palestine under siege and bombard it with sophisticated U.S. weapons as defensible if not "just."

The worst are the self-described pro-Israel liberals. If any other country committed the same humanitarian atrocities, their righteous wrath would surely be felt. But not when it comes to the Palestinians. Case in point: Joe Klein is a liberal, senior writer for Time magazine as well as author of many books. In an appearance on MSNBC on July 24, MSNBC anchor and correspondent Andrea Mitchell confronted him with the magnitude of Palestinian death and carnage. Mr. Klein's face was ashen as he claimed that the Israeli war is measured, recalling a conversation in which an Israeli and now a senior American Peace Now member told him this is "a just war." Here is a journalist, who in any other situation would be skeptical and not rely on a single Israeli source for his analysis. Had he even spoken to a Palestinian leader about the "measured" actions of the Israeli Defense Forces?

The answer is fairly clear.

The purpose of Israel's invasion of Gaza is to prolong occupation and confiscation of Palestinian land. Israel has not engaged in serious peace negotiations with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas despite eight years of peace under Mr. Abbas.

Furthermore, proportionality is clearly violated by Israel's repeated killing and wounding of Palestinians on a ratio of between 10 to 1 and 100 to 1. And when Israel is at war with the Palestinians, they are busy confiscating Palestinians' land and building more illegal settlements. Currently, there are over 600,000 Jewish settlers in West Bank.

The most important principle is "just means." This consists of a.) immunity of non-combatants, b.) greater good, where war should produce greater good than when it began, and c.) abiding by war customs and conventions. Israel violates non-combatant immunity, as millions have seen in recent footage and photos. Based on history, there is no evidence any "good" will come out of this war besides a tighter siege.

Resistance to occupation led to rockets fired at Israel, and Israel needs to respond, but within the confines of a civilized world. The Geneva Convention forbids killing non-combatants and the U.S., Israel's strongest ally, and the United Nations denounce it. And if wartime conventions include not shelling hospitals, refugee centers and basic infrastructure that ensures power and running water to the civilian population, then Israelis are failing on that score, too.

Israel's "peace" is to maintain a greater Israel with no Palestinian state.

That's not "just war," it's ethnic cleansing.

Adil E. Shamoo is an associate fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies, a senior analyst for Foreign Policy in Focus, and the author of "Equal Worth — When Humanity Will Have Peace." He can be reached at

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