Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, August 16, 2006

Israel fails to meet tests for a 'just war'


David Bernstein justified the civilian deaths in Lebanon and regretted that we do not use "the concept of 'just war,' a time-honored moral framework for judging parties at war" ("Even just wars kill civilians," Crossroads, Aug. 13). If he did use that "just war" theory, he would find that Israel has violated its key principles.

The first "just war" test is proportionality. The response to an attack must be proportionate to the attack, not to imagined future attacks. Bombing Lebanon back into the Stone Age is not proportionate to the Hezbollah attack that seized two Israeli soldiers.

The second "just war" test is non-combatant immunity, which forbids attacks on the roads and bridges needed for civilians to escape. It also forbids cutting off food, water and medicine to civilians and electrical power for hospitals - all of which Israel has done.

The third test failed is called the jus ad bellum, the right to go to war. You do not have this right when there are alternatives to the violence of war. In this case, there were alternatives: The return of Lebanese prisoners and an end to the provocative occupation of Lebanese territory would have led to a solution short of war.

The failure to meet these tests proves that Israel's ferocious response to the initial Hezbollah attack is unjust and immoral.

Daniel C. Maguire

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