I've been following with horror the news from Gaza (at least as much as my current personal preoccupations will allow, which isn't nearly as much as I would normally focus on an issue such as this.) I haven't blogged about it because I don't really have anything all that original to say about it. And on issues involving the Middle East, one always has to be extremely careful, since so many basic facts (e.g. in the current situation, who broke the cease-fire?) are disputed by the partisans on both sides.
But two American Jews -- Richard Silverstein and an American-born Israeli who writes pseudonymously under the nom de plume of the Magnes Zionist -- have put together a statement, intended to be from American Jewish progressives speaking as such, in protest of Israel's current actions (and our own government's role in supporting those actions). I just signed it, and thought I would urge my readers to consider doing so too.
I will admit I hesitated before signing it. These things are never quite phrased as one would phrase them oneself -- and in particular I found this one to be rather showy and silly in its invocation of (the biblical) Jacob and various Talmudic figures. But whatever. It's basic thrust -- that what Israel is doing (regardless of whether or not one finds the ultimate cause to be an example of jus ad bellum) is criminal in its disregard for civilian lives (i.e. is a terrible violation of jus in bello) -- is clear, is right, and is important to say.
If you consider yourself an American Jewish progressive (I suppose all three of those words are disputable in various cases), then I urge you to consider signing the statement yourself.
(Also, both the blogs of the statement's creators -- Silverstein's Tikkun Olam and the pseudonymous blog of the Magnes Zionist are good places to read articulations about why this war is, in fact, so terribly wrong, and to get links to further information and points of view. I recommend them to those who would agree with the statement linked above -- and recommend them doubly to those who do not.)
Apart from this, I am unlikely to have time to write about the current situation further. But several of my posts from the time of Israel's last war, which also involved disproportionate force resulting in many civilian casualties, are, I think, relevant, so I'll link to them here:
• The Problem with Disproportionate Response
• The Enemy of My Enemy is Not Necessarily My Friend
• Lo Tirtsach
In particular, any potential commentators who want to reply with some variant of "what's wrong with disproportionate force?" are urged to read the first piece prior to commenting, and any commentator who wish to point out that Hamas does evil things too is urged to read the second.
Update: The list of signatories has now been posted here. (I don't know if this means it's too late to sign, or if additional signatures are still being accepted.)