Why Disproportionate
Retribution Is Right

July 7, 2006

Ben Gurion

In his article “The causes of war: Hizbullah’s and Hamas’s grievances” (Jerusalem Post 25 July 2006) Alexander Wright quotes Ben-Gurion as having said that “any attack against Israel will be met with disproportionate retribution.”

Wright* adds that “While the casualties of this war are heart-wrenching, since when is war supposed to be proportionate? When a state is attacked, would it make sense to strike back with an equal amount of force, and give your enemy space and time to fight back? What war has not produced innocent casualties?” (*Research Associate with the Centre for International Political Studies.)


Germany’s initial successes in WW2 were undoubtedly produced by disproportionate attacks. Montgomery’s attack on Rommel at Alamein fell into this category. So did Eisenhower’s “Operation Overlord”.

Israel conquered Egypt, Syria and Jordan by its surprise attack in 1967. Sadat almost won the Yom Kippur War this way – he misunderstood Israel’s resilience and was taken by surprise by Sharon’s unexpected maneuver.

Kofi Annan

Kofi Annan and the other armchair proponents of proportionality never commanded a victorious army. All they are doing is repeating the most recent slogan of the Palestinians who are at their PR best when portraying themselves as victims.

Shock And Awe

Based on the result of wars in the last 50 years one thing is plain: if you want to win a war you should attack by surprise (if possible) but certainly with overwhelming force. That the US still believes this is manifest from its attack on Iraq in the “Shock and Awe” operation.


In a criticism of the Powell Doctrine (April 20, 2001) eminent columnist Charles Krauthammer writes: “If you respond proportionately, you allow the enemy to set the parameters and level of the fighting. You grant him the initiative. In Vietnam, proportionality brought us endless losses and painful retreat.”


In an internet letter July 24, pro-Israel activist Peter Simpson admonishes Sky News for accepting Hezbollah’s figures of civilian casualties. He writes:

“It is pure conjecture to assume that virtually all are real civilians caught up in this conflict or whether most are not in reality Hizbollah fighters/supporters including those who allow their homes and thus their wives and children’s lives to be put at risk through housing/hiding rockets and the like.”

Friendly Fire

In fact Hezbollah have not published their casualty figures unlike Israel which does so daily. Moreover Israel makes military mistakes too as does any army engaged in vicious warfare. Why the world does not accept Israel’s mistakes is puzzling. Haven’t we, sadly and unfortunately, killed enough of our own soldiers by friendly fire?

Where’s The Benefit?

Especially tragic and unfortunate are the deaths of the four UN personnel. I have previously made the point that military actions are taken to produce benefits. Kofi Annan’s hasty judgment in this light is certainly wrong – unless he believes Israel deliberately courted the world’s displeasure. For there was neither any military nor PR benefit.

If Israel did not make a mistake as Annan prefers to believe, would he kindly explain the nature of Israel’s benefit?

Well of course he can’t. Neither can anyone else. Not even the Palestinians can seriously suggest that Israel is so stupid. That we would go to so much trouble just to shoot ourselves in the foot every now and again. (Indeed both feet.) Because apparently, we have an unexplained need to motivate the majority in the United Nations to hate us all the more.

Missiles And Civilian Casualties

Civilian casualties are indeed deplorable. So let us then remember that Hamas and Hezbollah have already shot over 2,000 rockets plus uncounted numbers of mortars into Israel’s towns and cities specifically intended to kill and wound Israel’s civilians. We do not complain that they have not given us prior notice to save ourselves, as Israel has done.

We don’t expect decent conduct intended to avoid civilian casualties, from Arab terrorists.

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