There was an important point I missed yesterday and that is the culpability of the civilian population in creating their own situation. The term innocent civilian can be misleading because some of the civilian population are Hezbollah sympathizers who fully endorse Hezbollah’s beliefs and agenda. There are many fleeing Lebanon who curse Hezbollah, but there are others who share Hezbollah’s desire to destroy Israel and kill Jews.
I must admit to loosing a lot of sympathy for the Palestinians when they voted for Hamas. I know the reasons given were that Fatah was corrupt and ineffective. But here’s the thing – the Palestinians knew what Hamas stood for, it wasn’t a secret. The Palestinians knew full well that Hamas used terror tactics against Israeli civilians and they knew full well that Hamas was an Islamist political party that wanted the complete destruction of Israel. And knowing all this they still voted for them. What did they think would happen next?
The argument is put forward that Hamas were democratically elected and that Hezbollah have a clear mandate from the Shi’ite population of Lebanon. True, but so what? This doesn’t mean that the rest of the world has to co-operate. It is entirely conceivable for a population to elect a vicious fascist government into power. How innocent were the Germans during WW2? Evidence has emerged that shows just how ordinary citizens participated in and allowed Nazi atrocities. So, just how innocent are civilians?
I think it’s also worthwhile keeping in mind just what Hamas and Hezbollah want. For a start they don’t want an independent Palestinian state. That would only be a temporary goal on the way to the real objective which, in Hamas’ case is a Pan-Islamist state that includes much of the ME, absorbing Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, etc. They are not genuine Palestinian nationalists. Hezbollah wants to establish a unified Shi’ite theocracy which would unite all Shia under an Iranian style theocracy. They are not nationalists, they are Shi’ite theocrats. A unified Shi’ite theocracy would include Lebanon, Iran, Iraq and be allied to the Allawite minority that rules Syria (the Allawites are a sub-set of Shi’ism).
The disturbing reality is that if Hamas and Hezbollah were to succeed in defeating Israel then they would turn on each other over the spoils, just as Sunni and Shia are fighting each other over Iraq.
It is also worthwhile mentioning that the concept of ‘civilian’ does not mean much in Islam. Under the rules of jihad all Muslims are considered active participants. If they are not active combatants then they are expected to be active supporters. Similarly, all infidels are considered alike. There are a set of rulings under sharia law that permit civilians to be killed. The Western distinction between combatant and non-combatant does not apply. This is why Islamist jihadis have no moral problem in targeting innocent civilians – under their interpretation their victims are all culpable infidels. You are automatically guilty because you are not a ‘pure’ Muslim.
There has been an argument put forward that the Israeli attack is ‘collective punishment’, as if that were an illegitimate reason. There probably is an element of that, after all Hezbollah only succeeded because of popular support. Here we need to consider the principle of reciprocity and argue in return that if you do not want collective punishment applied to you then do not tolerate it being done to others. How then is the indiscriminate firing of missiles into Israel (one hit a hospital yesterday) not collective punishment? How is the deliberate targeting of civilians in suicide missions not collective punishment? Should we sympathize with Shi’ite civilians who applaud these types of actions against Israelis?
And on a final note – the cult of martyrdom arose within the Shi’ites during the Iran/Iraq war (the Iranians were content to allow young boys to become martyrs) and was initially used by Shi’ites in Lebanon and then used by Sunni Hamas. Under the cult of martyrdom it is permissable to allow your own civilians to be killed because they died in a jihad and will automatically ascend to paradise. It is therefore morally permissable to put civilians in harm’s way, even without their consent, because they will become martyrs – in other words, civilians are legitimate weapons.