Do Palestinians have a right to self-defense?

I ran another piece in The Week this morning:

Israel has the right to defend itself. What about the Palestinians?

Early in Israel’s latest round of hostilities with Hamas, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a statement: “No country in the world [would] agree to suffer relentless missile attacks and infiltration attempts.” His words have since been repeated frequently, usually in support (qualified or un-) of Israel’s operation in Gaza.

There is an inarguable truth here: No country would sit idly by under such circumstances. Every state, and every citizen in those states, has a universally recognized right to self-defense.

But what — the question is almost never posed — of the stateless?

The Palestinian people are routinely expected to suffer precisely what Netanyahu describes as insufferable. They’re routinely expected to tolerate relentless attacks and infiltrations, and do nothing.

Let me be very clear: Hamas is not a defensive force. In its resistance to occupation, Hamas has used terrorism and rocket attacks on civilians; both tactics are not only despicable, but they’re also war crimes. When Hamas engages the Israeli military, it could be argued that such engagement is, at least, legitimate (armed force against armed force), but Hamas was not conceived as nor does it constitute a defensive force.

To read the rest, please go to The Week.


  1. Diana McDougall

     /  August 7, 2014

    Your writing has been like breath of fresh air in an area that feels low in oxygen…I do wonder though…have you ever written on the fact that many of the Gazans might have themselves( or their near ancestors) lived in what is now Israel a mere 60 years ago? Israeli culture which is so strong on remembering seems to forgotten that when they arrived the land was not empty. People were removed at gunpoint and were indeed stripped of their movable possessions as well.

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