Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Moral equivalence

John Bolton says of Lebanese killed by Israeli bombings, “I think it would be a mistake to ascribe moral equivalence to civilians who die as the direct result of malicious terrorist acts”. Now, to be fair to the creepy-mustached UN ambassador, elsewhere in his comment he distinguished between acts, between deliberately targeting civilians and “the sad and highly unfortunate consequences of self-defense” (I disagree with his assumptions: Israel is indeed targeting buildings and other facilities where it knows civilians are present, and its massive bombing campaign is not an act of self-defense). But to return to that first quote, what he is saying, which I don’t think is just sloppy speech on his part, is that he denies the moral equivalence between the innocent Israeli victims of violence and the innocent Lebanese victims of violence. This is similar to what Olmert said last month, that “the lives and the welfare of the residents of the Sderot are more important than those of the residents of Gaza.”

Also, of course, whatever the moral equivalence might be, there’s certainly a huge numerical disparity. If Bolton rejects equivalency, perhaps he can give us a mathematical formula for determining the relative morality of dead civilians, and tell us if the 200 sad and highly unfortunate deaths of Lebanese civilians are worth a) more than, b) less than or c) exactly the same as the 12 Israeli civilians maliciously killed by Hezbollah.

If there’s any hope for the future, it’s the children. Here are some Israeli girls writing messages to be... delivered... to their pen pals in Beirut.

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