By Ben Stein
Published 7/21/2006 12:09:46 AM
So, now I see that some commentators are saying that Israel's bombing of Lebanese Hezbollah strong points and neighborhoods is "disproportionate." The Israeli campaign, so this story goes, is bullying and terrorizing the Lebanese populace, and this is (so the argument goes) typical Israeli thug behavior.
Let's see. In World War II, the Germans bombed exactly no United States cities or towns. We bombed the hell out of them, day and night, for more than two years, including helping the British with firebombing Dresden, one of the most appalling civilian killings by a free people of all time.
Was it disproportionate? Well, no. The Nazis had bombed our allies, the British, in terror raids for years. They had started a world war. They had created a genocide unspeakable in human history. So, yes, there was horrible killing, but is anyone now saying it was disproportionate? Maybe a few, but not many.
The Japanese bombed exactly zero U.S. cities except for a few stray bombs on Honolulu. We firebombed every city we could find and used the atom bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Was this disproportionate? No, because the Japanese had started a world war and caused unspeakable suffering through Asia and the Pacific. Bombing was what it took to end the war in both Europe and the Pacific.
Now, Israel is bombing Beirut. The Lebanese have been sheltering Hezbollah killers who have been rocketing and bombing Israel for ten years almost every day. The Lebanese have admitted the terrorists into dominant positions in their government. In every way, Lebanon has made itself a haven for terrorists bombing civilians day in and day out in Israel. Is Israel finally standing up and saying enough "disproportionate"? Yes, if you think Israel and Jews should be permanent victims who suffer, bleed, and die in silence the way the Nazis preferred. No, if you believe Jews have the same rights as other people to defend themselves.
Look, if the Israelis wanted to inflict a lot of casualties from the air, they could. They have the second best air force in the world. Clearly, they are showing restraint. Three hundred dead is a lot, and every human's death is sad unless he's a terrorist, but we were killing 30,000 in a few hours in World War II and glorying in it. No news shows were showing German civilians getting fried and saying how sad it was. It was war against butchers and war is horrible, but it's war, and to defend human decency, sometimes war is necessary.
By any historic measure, Israel's response to a decade of torment is extremely restrained -- maybe too restrained. And it can stop any time the Hezbollah says they will use peaceful means to get their aims. I don't hear them saying that. What I hear is a thousand Hezbollah rockets falling on exclusively civilian targets in Eretz Israel. There's your answer about whether Israel's response is disproportionate.
Ben Stein is a writer, actor, economist, and lawyer living in Beverly Hills and Malibu. He also writes "Ben Stein's Diary" in every issue of The American Spectator. You can now subscribe to Ben Stein's Diary for just $1.95 per month. Click here
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