Demands For Proportionality Are Meant to Handcuff Israel

Leftists are highly focused on the subject of proportionality in Israel’s ongoing war against Hamas. Relying on dubious casualty statistics from within Gaza, they claim that Israel has gone beyond a “just war” into a “genocidal” war because they are not acting “proportionately.” This is a specious argument. Wars are ugly, but Israel is waging its war in the most humane way possible. Still, there is an entire industry of anti-Israel and anti-Western activists seeking to bind the good guys with rules guaranteed to stymie their success on the battlefield.

One of Hamas’s most powerful weapons is the willingness that its supporters in the West show when presented with Hamas’s claims about civilian casualties in Gaza. These numbers are designed to enrage an uneducated and unsympathetic group of similarly inclined sheep. They’re also almost certainly fake. It’s unlikely that Gaza, which is in disarray, can instantly have accurate casualty counts. Moreover, the numbers are clearly gamed.

Currently, Israel is killing about 1.7 civilians per terrorist. However, according to Lauren Leatherby, this constitutes a “historic pace” when it comes to civilians killed during wartime. She then compares Gaza to Ukraine, where troops went out to meet the Russians in the field. In fact, considering that Hamas has embedded itself among civilians (hospitals, schools, apartment buildings), this is an extraordinarily low number of civilian casualties. So, what are we really talking about here?

One quickly discovers that, in the context of Israel and war, proportionality’s meaning is an endlessly flexible word that’s simply meant to limit a disfavored party’s ability to wage war effectively.

Image: Handcuffs by wirestock.

Think about this for a moment. The actuality of war is not being challenged—instead, just its intensity. Proportionality is a strange construct that attempts to civilize something that cannot be civilized, e.g., death and destruction. War is legal and legitimate when done in self-defense. Israel is fighting to win in a manner that creates the fewest number of casualties on her own side, along with a swift resolution to a war she did not begin. She must do so because she faces an existential threat.

For an example of how one responds when one (rightly or wrongly) does not perceive an existential threat, look at how President Biden’s administration responds to Iran’s proxy war against America. By the time you read this, our country will have been attacked in Syria and Iraq over 100 times. America’s measured response is generally to break a few of the enemy’s things and avoid killing few, if any, of the attackers.

Has this relaxed approach set our enemies back on their heels and forced them to reconsider their attacks? No. Instead, it encourages them and invites our enemies to believe they can act with impunity. Sooner or later, a lot of Americans will be killed. Only then will we “take off the gloves” and hit something more vital to the Iranians and their proxies—and when we do so, we’ll abandon any pretense of proportionality. (Or at least, I hope we will.) The political reality of dead Americans on TV screens will override the rules now being applied to Israel.

Proportionality is a game fools play. Not only that, but a country that indulges in such an idea is advertising itself as a target, provided that the enemy keeps its attacks below a certain threshold. The Romans understood that lessons must be simple and unfailing. Kill a Roman, and Rome will kill a thousand of your people. Or, as President Teddy Roosevelt said way back in 1900, “Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.”

Or, going higher, there’s God’s law: “Whoever takes a human life shall surely be put to death.”

At a very fundamental level, Israel cannot conduct an effective war using exquisite surgical strikes against an enemy that hides among civilians. Israel possesses the moral right to kill those responsible for torturing, murdering, and kidnapping her people—and she has no moral responsibility to those who shelter them.

Dozens of universities, with academics ensconced in their safe ivory towers, have generated endless treatises on the importance of protecting non-combatants in those wars. The only thing they ignore is how to wage war successfully with that admonishment in place. The brutal math of war stems from a classical truth: War is about killing people and breaking things.

Today, beginning in 2013 with the Obama administration, the Joint Chiefs of Staff have a different goal, which is to wage a sort of war to kind of win. Or, as they said, “Advance and defend US values, interests, and objectives.”

By switching from a focus on destroying your enemy to one of proportionality and strategic patience, we lose wars, we lengthen their duration, we spend vast amounts of treasure, and coincidentally, far more people needlessly die. Inevitably, we lose the support of the American people early in the process when there is no logical endpoint. Through this failure, we see the most powerful military on earth predictably losing large and small engagements. Worse, we allow our enemies to define the political narrative, demonstrating we have lost the will to be a dominant country.

Israel is held to a different standard than Hamas or Iranian aggressors. Israel, by shortening the course of the war, intends to achieve four vital objectives:

1.    Fewer innocents are killed than in a prolonged war.

2.    Hamas has less chance to dictate the course of the war and possibly escape justice.

3.    Israel has a better chance of not having the clock run out on them through intense international pressure for a cease-fire.

4.    Hamas is defeated, and the threat is avenged. This is an essential deterrent to those who might follow.

History reinforces to us that passivity invites aggression. What becomes painfully apparent is the double trap that free nations like ours face when forced into combat. Enemies have schooled themselves in a new kind of asymmetric warfare, i.e., the battle of the false narrative they use to obfuscate the truth.

God Bless America.

Allan Feifer is an Author, Businessman, Thinker, and Strategist. Read more about Allan, his background, and his ideas to create a better tomorrow at

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