The “D” word came up again today in the news. This time it was the Lebanese prime minister who said it.
If you could cut through all the Kofi-speak to the heart of the matter, what do you think would be a “proportionate” response to the provocations Israel has endured? Do the Israelis have to fire Qassam rockets into Gaza at Hamas? Do Jewish kids have to strap on bomb belts and blow themselves up in Ramallah?
Do Israeli commanders have to get on the phone to UN headquarters and clear their orders with the General Assembly before having their subordinates carry them out?
As someone recently said, it’s like a bank robbery — when the call comes in that three men are robbing a bank, then the cops can only send in three patrolmen to stop them.
Or imagine that you’re woken up in the middle of the night by a burglar in the living room. You grab your twelve-gauge and creep down the stairs very quietly. But when you flip on the light and surprise the burglar, he’s armed with only a knife! What do you do? Why, you drop the shotgun, rush to the kitchen, and rummage through the drawers for a knife. And not just any knife — it has to be no longer or sharper than the one the burglar has!
I say, “To hell with all that! Bring on the Disproportionate Response!”
As an American, I recognize my constitutional right to take whatever measures necessary to protect myself, my family, and my home. If someone comes after my wife and child, tearing him limb from limb would not be disproportionate. If I showed mercy, and subdued him by other means, that would be my prerogative. But I am in no way required to.
It’s the same for Israel. Personally, I think the Israelis have shown remarkable restraint in the face of intolerable provocation. They not only bend over backwards — and take extra casualties — to avoid hurting civilians, they rush the enemy wounded to Israeli hospitals and give them the best treatment Western medicine can provide.
Based on what’s been done to them, they’d be justified in clearing Lebanon and Gaza of people and paving both places over. They haven’t; but that’s their prerogative.
I don’t think Israel’s enemies have seen even the beginnings of “disproportionate”.
Update: Michael Poole comments that James Taranto had a good quip regarding proportionality: "Some have criticized Israel for not responding proportionately to the attacks, but we'd counsel patience. After all, the Israelis aren't done yet."