When a person wants to know about taxes or finance, they talk to or invite some type of expert to discuss the subject, such as a CPA or investment advisor. When people want to know about the law, they talk to a lawyer.
Yet, when it comes to international politics, anyone with an opinion is deemed some type of expert. For example, on the latest blowup in Gaza, many people from the chattering class, who offer no credentials or expertise in what they are babbling about, use the word "disproportionate" to explain Israel's response. They say the Hamas rockets are crude and inaccurate. Let them spend a night or two in Sderot, the village being hit by these "crude" devices. Maybe the day they go to the café is the day they just happen to get blasted by one of these things.
I looked up the term "proportionality” in the context of international law. It does not mean that you cannot bring a gun to a knife fight. What it means is that there must be sufficient effort to minimize civilian casualties and that there must not be an overt and deliberate policy of targeting civilians. Under both international law and the Rome Statute, civilian casualties in and of themselves are not criminal as long as it can be reasonably determined that the casualties were incidental to a military objective and that due diligence was used prior to commencing operations.
“Most of the pundits and critics are academic types who have likely never even been in a fistfight.”
What the chattering class has omitted is that the Geneva Convention and international law also state that it is criminal to store military hardware in a civilian area. Using civilians as cover is also a crime, and the party who stores weapons or launches attacks from civilian areas is substantially responsible for civilian casualties.
No offense, but most of the pundits and critics are academic types who have grown up in white suburbia and have likely never even been in a fistfight or had ethnic tension in school, or even had people regularly egging their house, never mind being in an area rained on with explosives.
Israel gave prior warnings by leaflets, calls and text messages wherever they could, also using bomb-like sounds to give warnings to civilians to clear the area. By doing such, they compromised the element of surprise, but did so anyway, even if it would have given Hamas a way out.
Most of these gasbags cannot define proportionate in any real-world manner; they just say it because it is ingrained in their skulls. Either step to and define what it means in the real world, not in academic or media psychobabble, or step off!
Yet, in international affairs, particularly with respect to the Middle East, we never demand any standard of knowledge or expertise. I have been traditionally loath toward any type of editorial limits, but I wonder if there should be any requirements by newspapers and networks that pundits at least disclose what their education or knowledge is in the area, just like they would a finance expert or economist or attorney. If they are not political scientists by either education or practice, or people who deal with or have dealt with political matters in any way, if they are just Joe Pundit babbling a lot of drivel, maybe that should be disclosed. That way, readers or viewers can know how much stock to put in these people.
Grief for Gaza
My heart goes out to the people of Gaza living in terror and to the Israelis who understand that the violence of their government does not make their lives secure.
I have worked with Palestinian and Israeli women who spent 13 years creating a peace agreement for their countries. I have accompanied Palestinians past armed Israeli soldiers who refused to acknowledge that they are human beings. I have shared meals with Israelis who want true peace and no occupation of Palestine. I have spent time with courageous Israelis and Palestinians who protest the occupation nonviolently.
When I returned to the United States, I saw with new eyes the bias of the U.S. media in explaining the conflict. Sometimes the Associated Press prints completely false statements about Gaza. Research compiled by If Americans Knew (a nonprofit dedicated to awareness of the Middle East) documents the vastness of the bias.
I encourage the Alibi to print stories from Palestine and Israel written by journalists who have no stake in the occupation, such as the Alternative Information Center, hosted by Palestinians and Israelis working together. I encourage people to read Electronic Intifada or the International Solidarity Movement to get firsthand accounts from Palestinians, Israelis, American Jews and other internationals who want peace.
Upstream Without a Paddle?
Your “El Machete” [Re: Jan. 1-7] got his plumbing backwards. The water reclamation plant, which is where Intel water goes to be treated before being discharged into the Rio Grande, is about 13 miles downstream of the San Juan-Chama Drinking Water Project. So, unless Intel water is able to magically migrate 13 miles upstream, there is no way Intel’s water can get into our drinking water.
Please check your facts, or at least a map, before publishing.
Obama Silent on Israeli Massacre of Gaza Civilians
[Re: Forums, “Obama Silent While Palestinian Genocide,” Jan. 3] I got on the Obama bandwagon like many other liberals this past election. I even went and knocked on doors to convince people that Obama would change the way we do business in the world. As a Muslim, I am extremely outraged that Obama has chosen to remain silent while my brothers and sisters are being massacred in Gaza by U.S.-manufactured weapons. I know Obama is not the president yet, but if he can talk about the economy as the president-elect, then he can also speak up for human rights. Human lives are more important than money. The longer Obama remains silent, the more he appears to be a sellout and a coward.
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