Friday, August 11, 2006

From: Richard Boswell
Date: Wednesday, August 09, 2006 5:16 PM
To: <>
Re: Ramifications Of The "Debate" Between Alan Dershowitz And James Zogby

I am no expert in this area, but my understanding of the law is that at a minimum force is allowed in self-defense but to no more a degree than is required to neutralize or protect oneself. I think that some of the debate as it relates to Lebanon is that the responses have been disproportionate.
I would not be surprised if the thinking on this applies to what we would expect of the police when they are dealing with a hostage taker. Now assuming that you are correct and the Hezbollah are using human shields, which is different than the situation that might be faced by the police -- rockets being launched -- then force could be used sufficient to prevent the launching of more rockets but also to minimize death and injury to innocent civilians. Based on what I have read, the Israeli military has told civilians to leave, and then declared that anyone remaining is a legitimate target. Many of those departing have been targeted or otherwise prevented leaving.
Therefore there may be some situations in which excessive force has been used and others where it has not. I do not think that this is right and wrong situation. The Israelis are not totally unjustified in some of their response. On the other hand on balance I am appalled at what appears to be a general disregard for civilian life. On the other side, there is nothing that justifies Hezbollah's launching of missiles against the civilian population in Israel. One has to admit however that the missiles launched by Hezbollah are much cruder and less accurate than the Israeli air-strikes. This lack of accuracy does not justify the missile launches but in order to maintain your own credibility it is important to be balanced.
As to the fact that the U.S., being caught in a similar situation would do the same as Israel -- to my thinking this is no justification. I am equally critically of my own government when it kills innocent civilians.

R. Boswell