Dershowitz versus Gaza


Belen Fernandez close reads Alan Dershowitz, in Al Jazeera [via Doug Henwood]:

During the Israeli assault on Lebanon in the summer of 2006, a 34-day affair that resulted in 1,200 deaths – primarily civilian – in the targeted country, Dershowitz used his legal expertise to exonerate the Jewish state for its seemingly immoral behaviour.

In a July 2006 dispatch for the Los Angeles Times, Dershowitz offered a handy conceptual tool called the “continuum of civilianality” to explain why it was that so many purported “civilians” were perishing.

The answer, quite simply, was that some civilians just aren't that civilian-like.

Declaring the very term civilian to be “increasingly meaningless”, Dershowitz posits a far more precise taxonomy according to which two-year-olds fall on the “more innocent” side of the continuum, while south Lebanese residents who remain in south Lebanon in defiance of Israeli orders to evacuate are “complicit”.

Dershowitz's cautionary addendum – “Nor can women and children always be counted as civilians, as some organisations do” – is perhaps useful in explaining such events as the elimination in south Lebanon of 23 persons, most of them children, whose efforts to comply with evacuation orders were thwarted by the Israeli Apache helicopter that fired on their pickup truck at close range.