The Spectacle Blog

Clegg: Israel’s Response “Deliberately Disproportionate Form of Collective Punishment”

By on 7.17.14 | 11:08AM

In a radio interview, Britain's Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said Israel's response to Hamas is a deliberately disproportionate form of collective punishment.

To be exact, the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party and junior partner in the David Cameron led coalition government stated, "I have to say though I really do think now the Israeli response appears to be deliberately disproportionate. It is amounting now to a disproportionate form of collective punishment. It is leading to a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, which is just unacceptable."

So I gather that Clegg does not believe that Hamas and Islamic Jihad firing rockets into Israel is a form of collective punishment?

Curiously Clegg does not mention that Israel sends warnings to civilians in Gaza that it will strike and to evacuate the area, but Hamas tells them to stay in their homes. So who exactly is creating the humanitarian crisis of which Clegg speaks?

But, yes, it would be accurate to say Israel's response is deliberately disproportionate. The idea is to get Hamas to stop its behavior and ultimately to stop seeking the destruction of the State of Israel. What does Clegg think would be a proportionate response? A few days ago, Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie wrote about the concept of proportionality in a piece for Time:

There is something bizarre, in fact, about the idea of “proportionality” being used as a moral criticism against Israel. A proportional response by Israel to the attacks of the last seven years would mean that every time a rocket is fired by Hamas at an Israeli civilian center, Israel would respond by firing a rocket at a civilian center in Gaza. Israel, of course, rejected that, then and now. Still, when Hamas violated the ceasefire yet again and got its hands on longer-range rockets, something had to be done.

The best way to evaluate Israel’s action is to imagine how we as Americans would respond to similar provocations. Assume the following: a terrorist group embedded in Mexico that the Mexican government refused to disarm is firing missiles into Houston night after night, endangering American lives. Our government would not wait a week or a month; indeed, it would not wait a single day before taking action to assure the well-being of her citizens. In fact, we need only remember how American forces flew half way around the world to engage in a war in Afghanistan against terrorists who carried out an attack on American soil. The talk then was not of proportionality, but of providing security for our country and stopping those who wished to do us harm.

Nor would there be talk of proportionality by Nick Clegg if Britain faced a terrorist attack such as the IRA bombings of the 1970s and 1980s or the 2005 terrorist attack on London's subways and buses by Muslim extremists born and raised in Britain. Britain was more than willing to travel 8,000 miles to protects its people in The Falkland Islands. If Britain hadn't used disproportional force against the Argentinian army in The Falkland Islands they would be now be known as the Malvinas.

Nick Clegg nor anyone else in the British government is in a position to lecture Israel about proportionality, collective punishment, humanitarian crises or anything else.

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