OPINION

David and Israel

Wars are not won solely on the battlefield, nor are missiles and tanks enough to bring about victory. Wars have also to be won on the field of morality, otherwise they are lost, even if they seem to have been won. By overreacting, and not for the first time, Israel might destroy its enemies from the military point of view (although it is not absolutely certain that this is what it wants, since it has always used the existence of extremist Islamic elements as a convenient alibi), but it is also facing the likelihood of moral defeat. Although the institutions of the international community (UN or G8) have been using delaying tactics or even aligning themselves with Israel, international public opinion is often formed in the absence of those who try to influence it. The images of the bombing of a convoy of unarmed civilians who had just received official assurances they would not be attacked if they left their village are enough to split wide open the most systematic propaganda. So it is no simple matter to persuade people of the need to wipe out the Gaza Strip in order to free an Israeli soldier, or to invade Lebanon, attack it mercilessly and destroy its infrastructure, in order to free two more captive Israeli soldiers. It was the peace groups and intellectuals within Israel itself that were the first to condemn these military operations as unnecessary and illegal. A country’s right to defend itself should not be abused (with an arrogance strengthened by the protection afforded by the sole superpower). The tragedy of the Jewish people should not be used as an excuse ad infinitum to be immune to criticism. Its moral arsenal will be all the poorer if its actions resemble those of a terrorist group rather than a state that respects international law.