Is Israel waging a ‘just war’?

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, is scheduled to address a joint sitting of the US Congress on July 24. He will be the first foreign leader to speak to Congress four times.

It will be an awkward time for politicians in both the US and Israel. President Biden is fighting for his political future both in his own party and against Donald Trump. Prime Minister Netanyahu could soon be forced out of office if his coalition collapses.

So Netanyahu is desperate to convince Congress to keep supplying his country with armaments and political support.

A great deal hangs on his speech. The US is not solidly behind Israel. Dozens of Congressional Democrats have declared that they will boycott Netanyahu’s speech. About 40,000 Gazans have died in Israel’s assault, both civilians and Hamas militants. On October 7 around 1,200 Israelis were massacred. How can Israel morally justify a ratio of 35 Palestinian deaths for every Israeli one?

There is an answer to this. It can be justified if Israel is fighting a just war.

In a recent column in the Wall Street Journal, Lance Morrow, a distinguished journalist who used to write for Time magazine, argued that high civilian casualties are simply the price the world has to pay for exterminating vile evil-doers. “A just war, no less than an unjust one, may involve tragic arithmetic,” he wrote.

And according to Netanyahu, Israel is "waging a just war against Hamas, a genocidal terrorist organisation that perpetrated the worst attack on the Jewish people since the Holocaust."

But the war in Gaza is not just simply because Netanyahu says so. There is a vast amount of literature on what constitutes a just war. Most writers agree that just wars involve these criteria:

  • there must be a just cause – countering serious aggression or massive violation of human rights;
  • all other means of settling the dispute must have failed;
  • there must be a realistic prospect of success;
  • the outcome must not be worse;
  • there must be a distinction between combatants and civilians; and
  • the destruction must be proportionate to the damage caused by the aggressor..

Governments have argued that if they can tick all these boxes, or at least most of them, their wars will be just. Just war theory underpinned George W. Bush’s decision to go to war in Iraq.

However, the death toll in Gaza has been so horrific that some supporters of “just wars” are having second thoughts.

That theory was first proposed by the Catholic theologian Augustine of Hippo in the 5th century. Other writers have built on his insights up to the present day. Since just wars originated with Catholics, it might be useful for Netanyahu to know what Catholics think about it today.

The short answer is that they are deeply sceptical.

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A Catholic agency called the Justice and Peace Commission of the Holy Land has just published a paper questioning whether the notion of a “just war” is still relevant in an era of asymmetric warfare and weapons of mass destruction. “We must express vigilance with regard to those who manipulate the concept of just war to suit their needs,” says the document.

The number of Catholics in Israel is tiny – less than 150,000. But Catholics have a deep and abiding connection to the Holy Land and have always lived there. Netanyahu and his cabinet should listen to them. The Commission claims that the idea of a “just war” is being weaponised:

we are outraged that political actors in Israel and abroad are mobilizing the theory of “just war” in order to perpetuate and legitimate the ongoing war in Gaza. This theory is being used in a way in which it was never intended: to justify the death of tens of thousands, our friends and our neighbours.

The document questions the proportionality of Israel’s response to the atrocities of October 7. Describing it as “proportional” is Orwellian:

There are those pretending that the war follows the rules of “proportionality” by arguing that a war that continues until the bitter end might save the lives of Israelis in the future, therefore balancing the scales of the thousands of Palestinian lives being lost in the present. In doing so, they privilege the security of hypothetical people in the future over the lives of living and breathing human beings who are being killed every day. In short, the manipulation of the language of just war theory is not only about words: it is having tangible, fatal results.

And the invocation of just war theory sidesteps the quest for peace:

Another criticism of just war theory is that it can divert the conversation to whether or not a war is being fought ethically and thus avoid confronting the question of whether it should be fought at all.

In the light of the way that wars are being fought in the 21st century, can there ever be such a thing as a just war? Maybe not, says the Commission. “The dubious application of ‘just war’ theory to modern conflicts, especially to those that have dragged on for decades, has provoked thinking that suggests that ‘just’ wars might only exist in very rare cases.”

Even though Saint Augustine’s criteria have been enshrined in the authoritative documents of the Catholic Church, like its official Catechism, the Vatican might be considering modifying or updating them.

In fact, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s foreign minister told the media a few days ago: “There is [such a thing as a] just war, the war of defence, but today with the weapons that are available, this concept becomes very difficult. In fact, it’s being discussed. I don’t think there is a definitive position yet, but it’s a concept that’s in revision.”

Saint Augustine’s just war theory is still valid – but he was thinking of wars between Romans and Vandals – hordes of sword-slashing soldiers attacking each other on the battlefield. He knew nothing of 2,000-pound bombs. It’s time for an update of his theory. 


Michael Cook is editor of Mercator  

Image credits: Bigstock


 

Showing 27 reactions

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  • David Elazar
    commented 2024-07-18 21:52:33 +1000
    “The destruction must be proportionate to the damage caused by the aggressor…” This is total nonsense. In this case the Hamas has been the aggressor. They have been rocketing the Israeli civilians for years causing both material, physical and psychological damage which in some case is difficult to measure. Oct 7th was the last straw. They call for Israel’s destruction and the murdering of Jews. Iran has several terror proxies across the Middle East including Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip, Shi’ite militias in Syria and Iraq, and the Houthis in Yemen., of which they are part of. Their strategy against Israel is suffering and dead Palestinians which, with the aid of the media, has succeeded. All the above make it a very JUST war. A war against the enemies of Western democracy.

    The defeat of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan was not based on proportionality – lucky for us. If it would have been based upon proportionality, we would be speaking either German of Japanese.
  • Michael Cook
    followed this page 2024-07-16 19:41:40 +1000
  • Michael Cook
    commented 2024-07-16 16:16:24 +1000
    to John Reeves — Hullo, Mr Reeves. You may not be accustomed to reading newspapers or magazines. There is no shame in that. Many people live long, prosperous and happy lives without doing so. Indeed, an argument could be made that their lives are more fulfilling and serene if they spend their evenings reading long Victorian novels and Caesar’s Gallic Wars, and never sight The Atlantic, the New York Times, Mercator or other publications.

    Copying and pasting expressions of opinion, with due attribution, to advance an argument is the way that journalism operates. Opinion journalists are not experts and their job, in the main, is to relay the opinions of the experts to their readers. Treating quotation as a professional failing is like sneering at bakers because they buy flour instead of growing wheat and milling the grain.

    To my mind, the publication of the opinion paper from the Justice and Peace Commission of the Holy Land is significant. First, because it comes from people in Israel, people on the ground, who know the local politics, people who have lived with this conflict. Second, because the authors can claim some expertise about just war theory.

    The quotations from prominent Israelis who oppose the Netanyahu government’s policies are important. They show that “Israel” is not a monolithic entity. I’m not sure how that could be demonstrated other than by quoting them. Perhaps you have some other suggestions?
  • Jürgen Siemer
    commented 2024-07-16 06:55:15 +1000
    Dear John, I have just read the summary of Ehud Olmert’s comment. I think that your almost insulting reply to Mr Cook’s statement shows that you do not or do not want to understand Olmert’s point.

    Olmert state’s that total victory is not an option. Now, Netanjahu has defined the victory by the elimination of Hamas. And I agree, that is not a possible option, simply because even if Israel kills all Hamas members, the dead members will always be replaced by new recruits.

    Unless Israel enters Gaza and tries to reeducate and support all Gazans, who are not yet active members of Hamas.

    I suppose that Israel is not interested in that.

    Or unless Israel kills at least 60% of the population of Gaza, or forces these 60% into emigration to, I suppose, perhaps Antarctica.

    The reference to the theory of the just war is, I find, quite obvious: it is the “rightly ordered peace”. Olmert basically says that Netanjahu does not pursue such a peace.

    Since we cannot ask Mr Netanjahu, how would you define such a peace and what would have to be done to get to it. Please remember, that such a peace cannot be another life-long open-air prison.

    Hate like a cancer grows – in such a prison.

    The Palestinians need to be given a door, a door to true peace and respect.

    If I would be the king of Israel, I would demand, that:
    1/ the Palestinians forgive the Israelis their sins,
    2/ the Israelis forgive the Palestinians their sins,
    3/ the Palestinians accept to get baptized and become Christians, and
    4/ Israel grants citizenship to the newly christian Palestinians, and
    5/ Gaza then becomes a new Canton within Israel, and Gaza gets a lot of internal autonomy.
    6/ when Gazans move to Israel, they need to accept Judaism as state religion and Hebrew as state language. Vice versa with Israelis moving to Gaza.
    7/ Since the Jewish Israelis want guarantees for the Jewish character of their state, the new Israel would have to introduce another chamber, in which say 6 Jewish and 2 christian Palestinians Cantons would be represented. Every law for the whole of new Israel would have to find a majority vote in this new chamber.

    Maybe 20 years, and the new Israel will be called the new Switzerland of the levante.
  • John Reeves
    commented 2024-07-16 03:45:05 +1000
    To Michael Cook—Your follow-up to my questions regarding the specific application of the just war theory to this situation does not answer them at all. Instead, you simply cut-and-paste a bunch of quotes from members of the Israeli government who disagree with Netanyahu’s strategy and believe that a different route should be taken. It is to be expected that there will be differences of opinion within the government over what the best strategy is that Israel should take. But nothing of what you have quoted does anything at all to advance the discussion of whether just war principles justify Israel’s actions in this situation. Instead, it is the same lazy cut-and-paste process that was reflected in your article. The issue is simply whether or not Israel’s actions can be justified under the Catholic just war doctrine, not whether what Israel is currently doing is the best prudential decision. Nothing in your response even begins to address this. Instead, your argument in your original article boils down to, “a bunch of guys in the Church hierarchy have issued their opinion that this is wrong, and that settles it because it invokes the term ‘Catholic’.” This is clericalism at its peak, and is using the prudential conclusions of particular Church officials to try and defend something that is and should be open to prudential differences of opinion. Your response below does no better—it just substitutes the comments of Netenyahu’s political opponents for those in the Church hierarchy.

    To J. Budziszewski—Thank you so much for your comments. Your comments are the first I have found to seriously apply the principles of the Catholic Just War Theory to this situation. Unlike Mr. Cook’s arguments, you have actually taken time to state what that Theory is and how it fits into this specific situation. I wish more people would do as you have.
  • Jürgen Siemer
    commented 2024-07-15 16:19:11 +1000
    Dear Mr Budziszewki,
    I have questions for you:
    1. You explain that a just war should lead to a rightly ordered peace, a transquillitas ordinis. Israel is the occupying party here, I am just stating a fact without commenting reasons or justifications. How is the way that Israel wages this war opening a door to such future peace, a peace in which the two nations could live side by side with respect and trade etc.? I believe that the outcome of this war will be even more hate and death, laying the seeds for prolonging the conflict forever. I rather believe that the goal that the Netanjahu government pursues is the total elimination of Palestinian Gaza through a combination of death and emigration. So again, where do you the the path to a rightly peace?
    2. You mention two aspects of proportionality. Can you provide a reference that explains this?
    3. Provided we accept these 2 aspects, pls explain why you ignore the facts on the ground: the total military and economic superiority of Israel, a high-tech nation with the comprehensive support of the USA, over Gaza? Yes, Hamas calls for the elimination of Israel, but they simply have not the means. So, as the factual threat of Hamas’ threat to Israel’s existence is simply not there, do you not have eliminate proportionality from your list of given reasons to justify this war?
    4. The Israeli air force has bombed Syria more than 200 times. The Syrian government forces do not attack Israel, because they know that they are weak and they do not want to provoke Israel to bomb Syria another time. Israel Supports one side in the Syrian civil war, as do also the US and Turkey. And before you mentioning human rights, let me assure you that human rights are not the reasons for interfering in the Syrian civil war. The reasons are oil, a pipeline that Iran and Irak wanted to build together with Syria connecting Iranian and iraki fields to the Mediterranean, and simply the fact that Israel does not like Syria.
    So: in your view, is Israel’s behaviour justified there as well?
  • Maria Elena
    I think that when dumping 40,000 deaths on the IDF, the writer should bring up the fact that these numbers are inflated by Hamas itself and the sad situation that, in most of the cases, the “civilians” were not truly such but embedded HAMAS elements: https://apnews.com/article/israel-palestinians-hamas-war-casualties-toll-65e18f3362674245356c539e4bc0b67a.
    And yes, I think Israel is fighting a just war because it is a survival one. If you have a neighbor that states – and worse – proves he is set to kill you, you need to defend yourself and your family. Enough of opinions that do not allow Jews to live in their homeland along Arab-Israelis.
  • Tom Mullaly
    commented 2024-07-13 20:55:12 +1000
    One is reminded of the tale of the Parisian theologians and the angels purportedly dancing on pin-heads.

    The philosophical justification for Just War is terribly interesting etc. chaps, but is a distinct area of moral theology that can never be properly understood independent of objective historical or current context. Its incredible how much time certain US Catholic minds are currently willing to expend on this particular subject and raises questions in European Catholics, such as I, over just how much influence is exerted on Anglo-American Catholic thinking by what is sometimes termed ‘Christian Zionism’, This is perhaps the (ahem!) ‘doubtful teaching’ – a ‘golden calf’ if you like – that one should really start debating now, as many people, including many courageous religious and secular Jews themselves, are beginning to wake up to the fact that they have been bowing to said calf.

    The whole palava is a moot point anyway for two obvious reasons:

    (i) You are describing as a ‘war’ what other – Palestinians primarily – would interpret as the latest ‘battle’ in an attritous war of conquest and occupation that began nearly 100 yrs ago, and attempts to ‘reread’ the story by beginning on 7 October is therefore irrelevant to the overall moral argument. This of course raises the serious question in all non-American eyes as to why the US is actively supporting in the Holy Land what it rightly condemns in Ukraine, or what my country did to Ireland?
    *The argument about Hamas using the populace as ‘human shields’ is an equally stupid one, given that the Gaza strip is about one-third the size of the county of Cornwall in my native England, but contains over 2.5 million people squeezed into that tiny space, with no escape and literally nothing to lose, even their lives. They are dependent on those raining bombs down on them for their daily intake of food and water, for God’s sake!

    (ii) Neither Islam nor Judaism would AFAIK have (ahem!) ‘strong concepts’, nevermind practices of “turn the other cheek”. Shortly before his death, Bernard Lewis (the great Jewish scholar of Islam) published a collection of essay presciently foretelling much of what is now transpiring, based to a great degree by analysing that very important (theoretical) distinction between Jewish/Muslim V Christian thinking in this regard. Certain Westerners are making some very naive assumptions here about ‘Judaeo-Christian’ thinking that have no basis in objective fact.

    I am no theologian or professor of philosophy, etc., but it’s really very simple, my friends. If Hamas were hiding in tunnels underground, not in Gaza, but within the state of Israel itself, would the death toll and the inhumane pictures we are now witnessing have happened. The answer of course is a big, fat “No”. Therefore this ‘war’ is no way remotely justifiable. Taking the ‘long view’ (post-Balfour Declaration) it is perhaps best understood as an ‘attritous genocide’ being perpetrated by the state of Israel to further its strategic aims, and attempting to use the horrendous recent Hamas attack as the pretext for that.

    One does not wish to impugn the significance of ‘professors of government’ but might I suggest – given how much time we seem to expend obsessing over their demographic trends – that Mercatornet might consult some of our ‘elder brothers’ in the Zionism-sceptical wing of Orthodox Judaism on what their thinking is? The ‘Jewish question’ after all is and always was primarily a ‘religious question’. 500lb bombs can never ‘solve’ it. Only patience, tolerance, dialogue and, most importantly, prayer, can do that.

    Who knows, we might even learn something about ourselves! The state of Israel may win this ‘battle’ but it has already lost the ‘war’. That is clear to all. When this latest golden calf is toppled, what is transpiring now will have serious repercussions, for the West, the US especially. Time perhaps for greater diversity of thought on the matter. We might just spare the Catholic church some future blushes in the years to come. God knows, we’ve had more than enough to be ashamed of in recent times.
  • Michael Cook
    commented 2024-07-13 16:00:36 +1000
    To John Reeves — “What exactly is Israel supposed to do?”

    The idea of continuing the bombing in Gaza until Hamas is destroyed, no matter how high civilian casualties mount, is the strategy of Benjamin Netanyahu and his cabinet. Not all Israelis share it, even the distinguished people listed below. In particular, read what former PM Ehud Olmert has to say (the final comment). He has some ideas on what exactly Israel is supposed to do.

    Israeli military spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari: ““The idea that it is possible to destroy Hamas, to make Hamas vanish — that is throwing sand in the eyes of the public.”
    https://edition.cnn.com/2024/06/20/middleeast/hagari-netanyahu-destroy-hamas-israel-intl/index.html

    Former Israeli National Security Advisor Eyal Hulata: “the military is in full support of a hostage deal and a cease-fire… they believe that they can always go back and engage Hamas militarily in the future.”
    https://edition.cnn.com/2024/07/05/middleeast/idf-former-spokesman-blames-government-war-intl/index.html

    Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak: “The war has revealed the staggering strategic incompetence of the Israeli government and an astonishing leadership vacuum at the top…”
    https://www.foreignaffairs.com/israel/israel-must-decide-where-its-going-ehud-barak

    Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (June 26) “total victory is not an option now and it has not been an option from the day the prime minister first presented it. It was meant to be an impossible goal that would allow the prime minister, any time he chooses, to blame the failure to achieve it on the military ….
    “Netanyahu does not want the war to end, he does not want the hostages to return home alive and he does not want an arrangement in the north that will return residents to their homes. He does not want to stop the mistreatment and killing of Palestinian residents of Judea and Samaria. Netanyahu wants a war that never ends while weakening Israel’s relationships with its neighbors and with the United States.
    Netanyahu wants to destroy Israel, nothing less. The time has come to expel him.”
    https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/2024-06-26/ty-article-opinion/.premium/jaccuse-netanyahu-wants-to-destroy-israel-the-time-has-come-to-expel-him/00000190-50ed-de5e-abd0-fbff50c40000#selection-1357.0-1409.80
  • J Budziszewski
    commented 2024-07-13 14:34:19 +1000
    Since Augustine, Just War doctrine has insisted that war should be undertaken for nothing but the achievement of rightly ordered peace – what he called tranquillitas ordinis. The article “Is Israel waging a ‘just war’?” raises important questions, but includes two errors which make the conversation more difficult.

    According to the article’s summary of Just War principles, taken from the New York Times, the sixth requires that “destruction must be proportionate to the damage caused by the aggressor.” This sharply deviates from the traditional understanding of proportionality, which states that the harm expected from going to war must be greater than the harm eliminated by doing so. Does this change make a difference? Yes. Using the NYT’s interpretation, one might suggest that the Israelis should have stopped fighting when the number of persons harmed by the attempt to eradicate Hamas exceeded the number that Hamas butchered in October. That would be unreasonable. But according to the traditional interpretation, the Israelis would not be in violation of proportionality unless the harms brought about by eradicating Hamas were greater than the enormous harm of failing to eradicate it.

    Second, the article approves the view that invoking Just War doctrine “sidesteps the quest for peace” by diverting the conversation from whether a war should be fought at all to whether it is being fought ethically. Respectfully, I submit that this is untrue. The NYT’s single blurry list of Just War principles obscures the fact that Just War doctrine propounds two sets of requirements, not one. The doctrine includes not only ius ad bellum principles such as just cause and last resort, which concern whether a war may be waged, but also ius in bello principles such as never deliberately seeking harm to civilians, which concern how to wage it. Interestingly, proportionality figures in both sets of principles. The bottom line, though, is nothing could be further from Just War doctrine than the idea that a war which should never have been undertaken becomes just merely because it is fought in the right way.

    J. Budziszewski
    Professor of Government and Philosophy
    University of Texas at Austin
  • John Reeves
    commented 2024-07-13 08:41:09 +1000
    I agree that serious questions need to be asked about whether Israel is waging a just war in Gaza, but this article is just plain lazy in not seriously examining the situation. What nobody in any of this discussion is pointing out is how Hamas is deliberately putting its military weapons, terrorist cells, and terrorist headquarters right in the middle of the Palestinian civilian populations. In other words, they are deliberately putting their own civilians in harms way knowing that the only way Israel can target combatants is if non-combatants end of dying as collateral.

    Under the traditional just war theory, it is not inherently evil if non-combatants die in the context of targeting a military target. Indeed, international law explicitly recognizes this—that a party that destroys a military target but collaterally ends up killing non-combatants as a secondary consequence is not guilty of a war crime, the This makes Israel’s attacks inherently different from the Allied bombing of Dresden and the US nuking of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In both Dresden and the nuking of Japan, we deliberately targeted as many civilians as possible for the horror effect and in an attempt to demoralize the civilian population. This is not what Israel is doing. To the extent that non-combatants have been deliberately targeted, these have been recogznied as wrong by the Israeli government and the perpetrators subsequently punished.

    I have not seen anybody arguing that Israel’s actions do not meet a just war criteria talk about this. The fact is that the Palestinians are deliberately placing their own civilians, their own non-combatants, in as close proximity to military targets as possible. What exactly is Israel supposed to do? If the long-term effect is that Hamas is destroyed and no civilians are deliberately targeted ever again, a very good prudential argument can be made the this is justified under just war theory. And if the long-term effect of it is that Palestinian civilians will no longer deliberately be placed in harm’s way by Hamas, that makes Israel’s case even stronger.

    Lately, all we have been hearing from many clerics is what amounts to de-facto pacifism, something the Church has never taught. Their arguments totally fail to take into account how the Palestinian government has deliberately embedded their military and terrorist bases and groups into the civilian population. This is why the death toll is so high.

    In any event, it is a shame that a deeper discussion about this has never happened. This is a complex matter that deserves to be debated, but the arguments being put forth in opposition to Israel’s actions are lazy and shallow. Such an important topic deserves better.
  • mrscracker
    It wasn’t your post Mr. Jurgen.
  • Jürgen Siemer
    commented 2024-07-13 01:17:51 +1000
    Please explain, what you mean with antisemitic conspiracy inventions in your response to, I suppose, my post, and what reason or proof you have to conclude that there is an antisemitic conspiracy invention.

    I appreciate if we refrain from insults and instead focus together on finding the truth.
  • mrscracker
    I know that anti Semitic conspiracy inventions pre-existed the internet but the internet sure provides a perfect medium to spread them at greater volume & speed.
  • Marilyn Shepherd
    commented 2024-07-12 21:08:23 +1000
    Under the Geneva conventions it is illegal for Israel to attack people who they have illegally occupied for the past 76 years. End of story. In the case of the Palestinians under 1970’s changes to the Geneva Conventions it is a legal right for the Palestinian resistence to resist the illegal occupation.even with armed forces.

    I note some still claim there were rapes, we know that the iDF killed the majority of their own on 7 October and we know that before 7 October Israel had been murdering, oppressing and stealing from Palestinians for 27,650 days without end in sight.
  • Jürgen Siemer
    commented 2024-07-12 15:29:22 +1000
    From zerohedge this morning: the US resumes the supply of 500 pound bombs to Israel.

    From the medical journal The Lancet: it is not implausible that up to 186,000 or even more deaths could be attributable to the current conflict in Gaza. And: according to UN-estimates from February, 35% of the buildings in Gaza had been destroyed.

    Almost 10% of the population of Gaza possibly dead, more than 35% of the buildings in Gaza destroyed.

    Well, if the right to exist is currently relevant for somebody, who is it?
  • Ted Seay
    Hamas is a terrorist organization which is also the duly elected government of Gaza.

    Hamas chose on 7 October 2023 to invade Israel, rape and slaughter civilians, and take hundreds of hostages.

    Hamas then chose to surround its leadership (those not already living abroad enjoying the luxuries which billions of dollars in “humanitarian assistance” can provide) with human shields: Their fellow Gazans.

    If Israel does nothing, attacks such as October 7 will only escalate in severity and multiply in number. Israel has the right to exist. In pursuit of continued existence, Israel has chosen to destroy Hamas.

    Not only do I find this course of action utterly just, I believe all Western democracies should join in and help.
  • mrscracker
    I don’t think Iran is doing as well as all that. If they were they’d behave differently. Power struggles can occur when there’s imbalance and one party feels threatened and overreacts And honestly our hands aren’t clean in that. We messed around in the past with Iranian leadership which has created some of the troubles we see today.
  • Tom Mullaly
    commented 2024-07-12 08:54:51 +1000
    Reading @mrscracker comments, it’s truly frightening to see how effective US/Israeli propaganda is. You would think after the disasters of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, etc., etc., some type of light might dawn, but sadly it seems not.

    Just War Theory is no more than the church trying her best to “if you can’t ban it, bless it”. The context in which the teaching is appealed to is just as important as the size of weapons, etc. What is occurring in the Holy Land is shameful and most definetly not a just war. One doesn’t need a degree in moral theology or canon law to see that. It is the direct result of the greed and abuse of power by Britain, France and the US, and will not end well for anyone in the Middle East or the West. Israel might ‘win’ this ‘battle’ (and that is still far from clear) but they have already lost the war. Iran, one might suspect, will be the ultimate ‘winner’. They are the only ones capable of resisting Western hegemony and (as in the first 1000 years of Islam) strong enough to eventually restore some semblance of order across the region.

    Future historians are going to have the unenviable task of trying to explain how it was that ‘Christians’ and ‘prolifers’ in ‘civilization’ championed and cheered on the slaughter of innocents and the extinguishing of Christianity from its ‘native’ lands. Let’s hope they’re not as judgemental as we.
  • mrscracker
    I think China & Russia are parts of the puzzle also, but Iran is the main player in this power struggle. Israel’s other neighbors are more interested in peace.
  • Jürgen Siemer
    commented 2024-07-12 02:03:47 +1000
    So I suppose the attack was also provoked by Russia, China, and probably also by the Easter Bunny.

    Really thankful that I finally understand how simple the world is structured.
  • mrscracker
    Mr. Jurgen, you didn’t specify who you were asking but I’ll chime in & say yes, I absolutely believe the Oct. 7th terror attack was provoked but not by Israel. It was provoked & funded by Iran to derail the MidEast peace accords with the Saudis & Israel’s neighbors who want peace.
    Hamas & their enablers are just mercenary agents for Iran. No one else in the region wants war & the war would end today if Hamas released the captives & surrendered. It’s that simple.
  • Jürgen Siemer
    commented 2024-07-11 15:40:46 +1000
    In August 2023 APNews published an article about Palestinians detained in Israeli prisons without charge. Haaretz also reported about this practice thereby confirming it. According to APnews there were 1200 Palestinians imprisoned at that time without charge, without a court dealing with the cases and of course without lawyers talking to the detainees.

    We are not taking about Palestinians held with charges and with formal judicial proceedings.

    The number 1200 was an estimate, so the correct number may have actually have been ten or twenty times higher. Who knows?

    This practice is legal according to Israeli law. The police in Israel can detain people including it’s citizens for an undefined period of time. The law was, however, meant for e.g. drunks who needed a night or perhaps a week to get sober and calm down.

    The Palestinians are held for months and years, and most probably not for having drunk too much. And of course, their families are not notified.

    One goal behind the Palestinian raid into Israel last year was to take hostages. I believe that the Palestinians intended to trade these hostages for Palestinians imprisoned in Israel.

    The Israeli “Hannibal”- directive was established before that background.

    Do you still think that the raid of the Palestinians into Israel was totally unprovoked and had noooothing to do with the Israeli occupation?

    In your view, is the Israeli occupation a just cause for the Palestinians to rise up and fight against Israel, similar to the Irish rising up and fighting against England, which I suppose you regard as a just war?
  • mrscracker
    Mr. Bunyan, you & I agree completely. Will miracles never cease?
    :)
    You & I both know that the war would be over in a minute if Hamas freed the captives & surrendered. But they won’t because it wouldn’t benefit them nor Iran who’s funding them.
  • Jürgen Siemer
    commented 2024-07-09 22:27:09 +1000
    One can argue that none of the six points of the definition of a just war are fulfilled, although I concede that the first point is not so clear.

    Anyway, what is the result so far?

    Well, after nine months of death and destruction, Israel has still not achieved it’s goals.

    The suffering of the Palestinians might turn into their victory as the Israelis continue to loose their moral “superiority”.

    The moral aspect is very important, because it justified the hundreds of billions of dollars in military and non-military support Israel has received during the past decades, not only from the US but also from Germany.

    If Israel looses the support from the US and Europe, it’s existence is at risk.
  • Paul Bunyan
    commented 2024-07-09 17:50:27 +1000
    It is a just war, without question. Hamas cannot be allowed to exist. They clearly have no interest in a genuine ceasefire or giving up their violent aims.

    They’re only interested in perfidy, oppressing their citizens and murdering Jews.
  • Michael Cook
    published this page in The Latest 2024-07-09 17:35:04 +1000