News Release

Self-Defense for Iran?


Loewenstein is faculty associate in Middle East Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She said today: “News reports on the recent spate of cross-border violence between Israel and the Gaza Strip depicted Israel’s extra-judicial assassination of Popular Resistance Committee leader, Zuhir al-Qaisi, as consistent with its ‘right to defend itself’ by claiming that al-Qaisi and his accomplice were planning an attack on Israel. Israeli justification of the targeted killing caused no raised eyebrows in mainstream commentary on the worst violence against Gazans since Israel’s Dec. 2008 to Jan. 2009 invasion, or ‘Operation Cast Lead.’ It is difficult to second guess what really motivated this assassination, especially given the prevailing — if somber — calm between the two areas; nobody questioned the rationale — that the PRC was planning a terror attack — as if IDF officials have only to make the claim in order to line up support for state-sanctioned murder. Journalists typically parroted back the information without seeking to verify it, standard fare where Israel is involved. It is understood that some sources are not to be questioned: That the IDF is revising and polishing its own war plans, against a variety of countries, territories, and ‘non-state actors’ daily has not yet been justification for Hizbullah, Iran, Hamas, or any other ‘enemy’ to strike at Israel preemptively, in ‘self-defense’, though the same logic prevails. What we do is acceptable, right, and good — and the principle of universality was deep-sixed as long ago as the Nuremburg Trials when the ‘supreme war crime’, aggression, was also to have instructed nations on the unacceptability of force for resolving international disputes.

“Some have speculated that Israel used the occasion to stir up a response in Gaza that would allow it to test out its Iron Dome Missile Defense system — a system whose reliability could be paramount if a strike on Iran prompted a similar response from the Islamic Republic, Hizbullah in Lebanon, or a minor faction such as Islamic Jihad in Gaza. (It should be noted, in fact, that Hamas stayed out of the latest round of violence which pitted the IDF against the tiny factions Islamic Jihad and the PRCs.) Perhaps Israel’s ratcheting up of violence – which killed 26 people and wounded more than 70 — was intended to wreck ongoing efforts at unity among the Palestinian political parties and factions, or to send another belligerent signal to Iran now that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has returned less than satisfied from his mission to seek a green light for a strike against Iranian nuclear facilities from the United States. We may never know. What will remain true is that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will go on to condemn ‘pre-meditated actions’ of the military services of a state (Syria) against people it doesn’t speak for (the popular resistance) but over whom it rules, but that where Israel and the Palestinians are concerned such a view is anathema to our national interests and the client states who help maintain their supremacy — especially in the Middle East.”