Everyone Has the Right (Gaza 2014)


Everyone talks about rights. Who’s right? Who has the right to do what? Without a lot of reasoning for now, here’s how I’m figuring it. Pretty much, each party to the conflict between Hamas and Israel is acting more or less within its right. Rights don’t justify any particular or every single action, but they establish general political and legal parameters, hedged in just a little by morality. It’s harsh. Here’s how it looks, schematically:

(–No one has the right to target civilians indiscriminately.)

(–No one has the right to use civilian structures for military purposes.)

–Israel has the right to control its border with Gaza and to interdict arms shipments.

–Hamas has the right to resist siege and occupation by means of force.

–Israel has the right to attack military assets (almost) wherever they find them.

–Hamas has the right to tunnel into Israel to attack (military) targets.

–Israel has the right to enter into Gaza to attack Hamas soldiers, rockets, and tunnel sites.

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics. http://religion.syr.edu
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4 Responses to Everyone Has the Right (Gaza 2014)

  1. dmf says:

    might makes rights…

  2. Nadav says:

    Thanks Zachary.
    That was a very interesting description (and of course odd, in an elegant way) of the Middle-Eastern version of Liberalism, or: of the collapse into the Hobbesian “Natural condition of Mankind”.
    Put differently, this description is telling us something very problematic (and Machiavellistic) about the relation between Ethics and the ‘discourse of Rights’: the rights discourse is apparently (sometimes?) a juristic ‘laundered’ verification of the ‘Natural condition’. Sadly, this description of the ‘rights discourse’ is frequently not far from the truth also on the realm of the interior political-social human affairs.
    So what may be the alternative? A more balanced moral picture, that will take D u t i e s more seriously.

    • zjb says:

      nice! problem though, is sometimes, no matter how Machiavellian, a “right” is the only thing you have to hold onto, politically.

    • Michael says:

      I agree. Both have the DUTY to do their best to prevent civilian casualties and respect the laws of war and morality. Only one party does so.

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