Friday, August 11, 2006

Bibi Bodyblows the BBC

Richard Avrech reports:
BBC: "How come so many more Lebanese have been killed in this conflict than Israelis?"

Netanyahu: "Are you sure that you want to start asking in that direction?"

BBC: Why not?

Netanyahu: "Because in World War II more Germans were killed than British and Americans combined, but there is no doubt in anyone's mind that the war was caused by Germany's aggression. And in response to the German blitz on London, the British wiped out the entire city of Dresden, burning to death more German civilians than the number of people killed in Hiroshima. Moreover, I could remind you that in 1944, when the R.A.F. tried to bomb the Gestapo Headquarters in Copenhagen, some of the bombs missed their target and fell on a Danish children's hospital, killing 83 little children. Perhaps you have another question?"
It's a fine soundbite, and I take his point about civillians often dying during war, but do two wrongs make a right? The British firebombed Dresdon, so therefore Israel should firebomb Beirut? Is that really his argument? If so, why not go one step further? Why not argue that the British pulled out of Israel and left it completely under Israel's control, so therefore the Israelis should abandon the WB and retreat to the 48 line? I don't support that particular policy, but it's where Bibi's argument ends up.

Also, I'm confused about the Copenhagen reference. How can you compare a modern well-equipped army with 1945? The Israelis have satellite navigation, high definition optics, real-time video, laser guided bombs, automated drones, satellite pictures, and night vision. Because Israel is not fighting with the same technological limitations the British had in 1945, the fact that the British made mistakes shouldn't excuse Israeli mistakes.

One hundred years ago, doctors didn't have the benefits of X-rays and anti-biotics. As a result, routine injuries meant death. But would a hospital spokesman in 2006 try to justify a bad outcome by pointing to a medical mistake someone made in 1906? Would he say "Sure we couldn't find the bullet and tried to treat the infection with leechs, but I remind you that in 1906 the British did the same thing."

Of course not.

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