How much blame do the citizens of Gaza deserve?

I just came away from a heated discussion about the current Israeli attack on Gaza and I need some perspective.

From what I understand, the rockets from Hamas haven’t killed all that many people. The Israeli strike on Gaza has killed about 1,300 people. I argued that this was a disproportional response. To which I was told that it was either that or the Jews could keep on dying.

What about the civilians that did not fire the rockets I asked? To which I received an interesting point. Hamas was democratically elected. The people who elected them knew that Hamas wanted to destroy Israel and elected them anyway. Hamas started launching rockets on Israel since their takeover in June 2007. Israel then began to cut off supplies and travel to Gaza leading to outcries that they were punishing Gaza civilians. The rockets didn’t stop so Israel now attacked Gaza.

If the civilians of Gaza willingly elected a government that wanted the death of Israel, do they deserve to be attacked by Israel?

If they don’t support Hamas then why not overthrow the government or elect someone else? Why should Israel respect a population that voted to have them wiped off the face of the earth?

Before anyone makes any Bush analogies, this situation is different. Bush did not run on a platform of invading Iraq. The country did not vote to attack and destroy another country for religious reasons.

So how much are the citizens of Gaza to blame?

They are to blame precisely as much as the citizens of the US are to blame for the war in Iraq. If you think that it is okay to kill US citizens as punishment for US actions in Iraq, then the same applies to Palestinians in Gaza.

The whole “you deserve your government” argument doesn’t carry much weight with me. People vote for a particular party for a variety of reasons not necessarily related to a party’s particular odious policy (e.g., they think the party will stamp out corruption, or be effective in social policy; or perhaps they think the party is the lesser of two evils, and they vote for the party while holding their nose). Besides, it’s not like a bomb asks you who you voted for before it kills you.

ETA–I know you said not to mention Bush, but Americans re-elected Bush in 2004 after the Iraq war was in full swing. But I’ll shut up about it now.

The problem is, by that standard, a proportional response would be if Israel indiscriminately launches a rocket for every one of Hamas’ indiscriminately launched rockets. That’d be a war crime. So we’re left with a situation where effective self defense is ‘disproportional’ and thus not allowed, and a proportional response is a war crime and thus not allowed.
Not exactly a good position to be in.

With that being said:

You’re conflating two separate issues.

First, by voting in Hamas, they are responsible for being led by Hamas. Part of a democracy is the freedom to make your choices and the responsibility of living with the repercussions of those choices. It doesn’t matter if they supported all of Hamas’ policies or not. When you choose your government, they’re the people who represent you. But not everybody voted for Hamas in any case, and Hamas most likely would have staged their coup even if they weren’t elected. So even if we used that as a standard, we couldn’t say that all Gazans (or Palestinians ,or whatever) chose their leadership. Of course, they’d still have to live by the consequences of that leadership.

However, Total War is illegal for good reason. You’re never allowed to directly attack the civilians of an enemy population without violating international law. Even if they vote for someone who declares war at you, you must still restrict your military campaign to their military and dual use targets (roads, bridges, power plants, ec…)
But by the same token, Israel was not attacking the civilians of Gaza. Simply because more were killed than Israelis doens’t mean they were the target of Israeli attacks. And international law makes clear that the target of the attack matters. One civilian killed because he was standing in front of a rocket launcher is not a war crime. One civilian killed because a nation deliberately, knowingly and/or wantonly bombed his house with no military significance is a war crime.

That is a very good question, and there are a few parts of the answer. To begin with, Hamas ruled by force and fear, even against their own people. Overthrowing them would take quite a lot. But yes, as Hamas repeatedly has made clear, as long as they lead/have power, there will be only war as they accept no possible peace. They’ve recently even said that they will not agree to reconcile with Fatah unless Fatah renounces peace as an objective (you can’t make this shit up).

Unless and until Hamas is defanged, Gaza won’t know peace.

Nowhere on Bush’s platform did it say he was going to kill Iraqis for no good reason. If your voting for Hamas it’s pretty clear what policies you are getting.

It’s like if some town decided to vote the KKK onto their city council and then their government started lynching black people. How responsible are the citizens for this?

I’m sorry but citizens have to look out for their government. Democracy can’t really work if citizens are not held responsible. I’m not saying they should be targeted, but the consequences of war are all on them.

Do they hate Israel so much that they won’t overthrow Hamas? I’m sure Israel is very willing to help. Does anyone in Gaza really believe they are better off by letting Hamas launch rockets at Israel?

Force and fear are one aspect of Hamas’ power, but overthrowing Hamas should beat getting slaughtered by the Israeli army, no?

In the first place, isn’t this kind of glossing over the fact that most of the Palestinians who elected the current government are not in Gaza? Attacking a subset of the population because of the political choices of the electorate as a whole doesn’t seem fair.

In the second place, this attitude of “your refusal to recognize me justifies me in attacking you” seems rather like special pleading. How about other countries that don’t acknowledge the right of some rival nation to exist—China and Taiwan, for example? The People’s Republic of China maintains that Taiwan doesn’t have a right to exist as a separate nation but is actually part of mainland China. Meanwhile, Taiwan counter-claims that it’s really the PRC government that is illegitimate and that Taiwan is the true legitimate government of mainland China.

Would the Chinese government be justified in attacking the citizens of Taiwan, on the grounds that the Taiwanese citizens are complicit in a government that “wants the death” of China? Or vice versa?

There are arguments to be made on both sides of the Gaza conflict, but I think the particular argument offered for debate in your OP is not a valid one. Voting for a government that is politically opposed to the official existence of some other nation is not enough to relegate the voters to the status of enemy combatants who are ipso facto legitimate targets of military attack by the other nation.

So, whatever you conclude about the rights, wrongs, or culpability of the citizens of Gaza, I don’t think you can reasonably argue that the mere fact of having voted for Hamas would be sufficient to justify attacking them.

Fair enough. But again, not all of the Palestinians voted for Hamas, so to make all of the Palestinians in Gaza responsible for the actions of Hamas doesn’t seem right, either.

It’s easier to say than to do. The only people who even had a chance of overthrowing Hamas were Fatah, and they don’t have any power in Gaza at all. I suspect that even the suspicion of anti-Hamas treachery (much less outright rebellion) can be a death sentence in Gaza.

I recently read an interesting article by Stathis Kalyvas on disproportionate response of the sort practiced by Israel (although he wasn’t writing about Israel). He argued that in such cases, where a government practices disproportionate violence against an insurgency, this will only cause civilians to oppose the insurgency when the government also controls the territory where these civilians live, and can therefore offer them protection. If the Gazans act against Hamas, they will likely be killed, and Israel cannot and will not protect them. So an ordinary Palestinian in Gaza can either (a) do nothing, and hope that he will not be killed by Israel (odds are that he will not, since obviously most Gazans are not going to be killed or injured no matter what Israel does), or (b) act against Hamas, and face almost certain death. You can hardly blame them for choosing (a).

Nobody who asks this question seems to have an answer to “what SHOULD Israel have done?” other than vague hand waving. What should ANY government’s response be to another government launching rockets at their cities, when the offending government has made it clear that diplomacy is not an option?

Nowhere on Hamas platform did it say they were going to kill Israelis for no good reason. If you’re voting for Bush it’s pretty clear what policies you are getting.

Buried in your answer are assumptions about whether Bush’s war was for good reason, same as for Hamas.

And again. Hamas will not accept a peace that leaves the status quo. Israel is in a position to say that all it wants is peace because that is the only thing it lacks, it having decades ago achieved its major goal.

Baby Brother Palestine keeps ineffectually hitting and scratching at Big Brother Israel, provoking the latter to hit back hard. Big Brother Israel is more than happy to have Mummy step in and separate them because he has the toy.

Well… if you count that its stated desire is to kill them because they’re Jews as a good reason

Lucky then, that all the major negotiations Israel has ever engaged in with the PA have been aimed at dramatically altering the status quo.

Ignore the silly rhetoric. At base, Hamas wants what it wants and gets the support it gets not because of some genocidal impulse but because of a fight about territory. You don’t seriously suppose that if the Palestinians were magically given the whole of what now constitutes Israel they would still put into government a party whose platform was to kill Jews do you?

Israel is very happy for you to believe that it’s just about eeeevil terr’ist Palestinians. It distracts you from the fact that they’ve got the toy.

Dramatically as in they give away a few small things, while keeping the toy.

So what you’re saying is that Hamas will keep on fighting until it takes contol of all of Israel?

My question was a reductio to demonstrate the error in the suggestion that it is, for the Palestinians, just about killing Jews.

I suspect that a very much less than total degree of territorial change would be sufficient to suck support from Hamas extremism.

Well, even its talk about wanting to kill the Jews because Palestine is a Waqf due to Muslim conquest and all of it belongs to Muslims and cannot be divided is also a silly reason.

I must admit I’m a bit confused here. You seem to admit that Hamas wants to destroy Israel, to control the entire region, and will accept nothing but the complete annihilation of Israel via military force as its goal.
What, then, do you see as its ‘good reasons’ for that desire?

Ah - so what you’re saying is that Israel should make Hamas stronger out of the hope that it would thus make it weaker. That’s very Zen.

This is true as far as it goes. However the rhetoric serves a number of other purposes. Probably the main one is to brutalise its own population, so that it’s military can daily engage in atrocities as the most natural thing in the world. It takes a lot to make that happen and the Israelis do it by forever invoking a second holocaust on the doorstep.

A second Holocaust? Hmmm, I wonder why?
This is the part where you tell people not to look at PMW because the truth is icky and they’d be much better off now knowing it.

Or you could tell us again about how Hamas has “no malice” towards Israel or the Jews. We haven’t had a good comedic apologia from you in support of Hamas in a while.

It certainly doesn’t seem like an impossible event. Why do you think it’s not a possible event?

But one that sounds very similar to the sort of silly reasons that Israelis want to live in some Ogfersaken patch of desert. My point is that they both want the toy not that either has that great a reason.

Try to refer to my posts in relation to my position. I’ll give you a clue: the piles of straw with “Alessan” written next to them aren’t my posts.

The vicious circle inherent situations like that which we are discussing is that each side sees themselves as having no choice but to do what they do because of the actions of the other. And, the more extreme elements on each side:

1/ talk up the need for more and more extreme action, on the basis of the other side’s extreme action, and

2/ pour scorn on any perceived weakness or “backing down” on the basis that it is rewarding or giving in to the more extreme elements on the other side who (they say, often justifiably) don’t deserve it.

… and we all go blind.

I’d disagree with you on that, especially since Zionism began as a secular and not a religious movement, but I’d wager that “x sounds like y” isn’t an argument to be had so much as an aesthetic.

Please define your terms. You’ve talked about a “toy” and parents, siblings, etc… At first I thought by “toy” you meant all of Mandate Palestine, but it seems you don’t mean that. So Israel and Hamas want different things, but you refer to them both as the same thing. I’m not getting your analogy. Can you elaborate?

Does anyone here think that you are a wife beating pedophile? It certainly doesn’t seem like an impossibility. Why would you think it’s not a possibility?

I can play with your words too, sunshine.