Thursday, August 03, 2006

More conspiracy noise
Two weeks ago I wrote about Alan Dershowitz's "reasoned" suggestion that we should consider surrendering the principle that collective punishment is wrong. His argument was that there are degrees of guilt and degrees of innocence, life is very complicated, and it's very hard to tell the guilty from the innocent. Having led us that far he allows us to make the conclusion that he doesn't say out loud. That conclusion is that we shouldn't worry about protecting the innocent in a war zone, just blast a way and assume that most of the people who get in the way of your bullets were sort of guilty anyway.

It should come as no surprise to anyone to find out that he is in complete defense of Israel for the Qana massacre and even finds it a bit annoying that the Israelis feel bad about it and accepted responsibility for the tragedy. What is rather interesting, in a morbid way, is that Deshowitz's exoneration of Israel develops some of the talking points of a mild version of the Qana conspiracy theory.
Hezbollah was using Lebanese children as involuntary human shields--surely a war crime. Hezbollah was preventing civilians--who had been repeatedly warned by Israel to leave the battle zone--from moving out of harm's way. Hezbollah sympathizers were shown on TV defiantly tearing up the Israeli leaflets, as if to say "we're staying" Hezbollah had refused to build bomb shelters for ordinary civilians--only for their own leaders. Hezbollah knew (and Israel didn't) that children were in the so-called safe house. That is why it deliberately used the safe house as a shield behind which to five rockets at Israel. Hezbollah used its rocket launchers as "bait" to induce Israel to fire at them in order to increase the chances that Israel's rocket would misfire and hit the "safe house".

Notice how he states as facts things he cannot possibly know, such as the inner thoughts of Hezbollah leaders. Hezbollah knew there were children in the house and intentionally placed their rocket launchers where they would trick the Israelis into killing the children.

The timeline of the events in Qana is still not clear, but it is very possible that the Hashem and Shalhoub families did not take shelter in the building until after Hezbollah had fired their rockets and moved on. The possibility of this has no place in Deshowitz's narrative. His narrative is part of the classic demonization propaganda ploy (which I described here). The enemy must be utterly ruthless and lacking in recognizable human virtues. Keep in mind that the point of demonization is to justify throwing aside our own humanity to exterminate the enemy completely. But then, ever since Dershowitz began writing about legalizing torture, he has been one of the most dangerous voices calling us to surrender our humanity.

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