Bomb Fewer Children, Please

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Memo to Israel's defenders: MAYBE TAKE A STEP BACK, OK?

I am hesitant to talk about Gaza in this space for a whole bunch of reasons. It's not like I'm sitting on a secret solution to a decades-old international conflict, But events yesterday, and their conflation with a very commonly-used phrase over the last two weeks, has really set off my dumbdar.

That phrase? "Israel has a right to defend itself."

On its face, it's a very difficult sentence to argue with. Of course Israel has a right to defend itself. I would even be fairly open to the argument that invading, shelling, and bombing the shit out of Hamas in Gaza falls under the heading of "defending itself", even if Israel has a US-financed missle defense shield and Gaza has roofs.

Where I get cranky is when that sentence is used as a "Get Out of Atrocity Free" card. It's not. I mean, George Zimmerman technically has the right to defend himself, but that doesn't mean we can't criticize the manner and degree to which he does it.

Yesterday, Israel shelled a United Nations school in a refugee camp, killing fifteen people and wounding dozens more. According to the U.N., they'd told Israel what the school's coordinates were. Seventeen different times. You'd think one of those times, someone in the Israeli military would have written it down.

So, yeah, Hamas sucks. And yeah, they apparently operate in civilian areas to use civilians as human shields, although that doesn't automatically mean that every single civilian killed in this is automatically Hamas' fault. And in this case, it's not even being defended as a human shield thing.

Israel says militants fired mortars from the "vicinity" of the school. "Vicinity" in this case being a term loose enough to encompass "far enough away that none of the U.N. people noticed it". Maybe we should stop giving John Kerry shit about his sarcastic comments on Israel's pinpoint accuracy now, since it's not even accurate to within one vicinity.

This isn't about who's right and who's wrong and who has a right to exist and who deserves self-determination and who built homes on whose land and who called for the extermination of whom. Within the broader mess, we can, and should, and must, recognize that some shit is seriously fucked up, shouldn't have happened, and demonstrates at the very least a lack of care on Israel's part, and at worst, a lack of caring.

And doing that isn't supporting terrorists, or anti-Semitism, any more than it was anti-American or supporting terrorists when we spoke out against wedding party bombings or Abu Ghraib. You can support someone while holding them to a higher standard. And you should.

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