The media emphasizes the emotional aspect of tragedy, and the public responds with tears and regrets, rarely giving attention to the illogic that caused the tragedy. When illogic is a governing factor in the violence against people, it elevates the calamity to a criminal action. Feeling sorrow for the victim is warranted but insufficient; thought must complement emotion and enforce justice against the perpetrator.
In the war on Gaza, commentary has evaded logical analysis and presented causes and actions as gut reactions to unforeseen events. Logic, the opposite of emotion, may seem cold and indifferent, but syllogism, “a formal argument in logic that is formed by two statements and a conclusion which must be true if the two statements are true,” tells us an inarguable story. Explaining the attack on Gaza by logic, reveals a syllogism of death.
The syllogism goes like this: If “A” yields “B” and “B” yields “C,” then “A” must yield “C.”
Israeli attacks on Palestinians lead to Palestinian attacks on Israelis.
Palestinian attacks on Israelis lead to increased Israeli attacks on Palestinians.
Conclusion: Israeli attacks on Palestinians leads to mounting deaths on Palestinians.
The syllogism does not work the other way, with the Palestinians starting the attacks. The Palestinians have a limited offense, and Israel’s military offenses are unlimited in the punishment they can cause the Palestinians. Fatality statistics in past and present Gaza battles demonstrate that story.
Three Israeli teenagers were abducted and killed by unknown assailants. Compose the syllogism:
Israeli military, without evidence of involvement, arrests several hundred Palestinians, including many of Hamas’ West Bank leaders, and kills five Palestinians during the military operation (A), which leads to Hamas and Islamic Jihad firing rockets into Israel (B).
Palestinian rocket attacks on Israelis (B) (somewhat terrifying, but resulting in only few fatalities, including one which was not from rocket fire, but from a mortar shell fragment. It killed an Israeli man, who had come as a civilian volunteer to distribute food to soldiers at the Erez crossing in the northern Gaza Strip.) lead to Israeli attacks (horrifying and several hundred Palestinians killed) on all Gazans (C).
Israel’s attacks on Hamas instigated attacks by Hamas.
Attacks by Hamas provoked Israel to continue its deadly attacks.
Conclusion: Israel’s attacks (A) led to Israel’s attacks (C), and therefore only Israel can halt the cycle of violence. One means was to revoke the illegal detentions of Hamas personnel, which probably would have halted the rocket barrage. Instead Israel signaled that no matter how the Palestinians react, Israeli attacks (A) or (C) will always occur.
Place the syllogism of death in another perspective:
If Israel was aware that its unlawful reaction to the deaths of the teenagers (A) would provoke revenge by Hamas (B) and force retaliation (C), then it placed its own citizens in eventual harm, and despite its claims to be cautious and humane, was prepared to cause many Palestinian casualties?
The conclusion from this syllogism is that Israel did not expect many, if any civilian casualties from Hamas’ revenge, and did not care that the cycle of violence would cause many Palestinian civilian casualties.
Statistics, not ones from the present conflagration, but previous attacks demonstrate the conclusion of the syllogism. Note the number of children killed in 2012 in the West Bank and Gaza.
Amnesty International Annual Report 2013
The Israeli military continued to use excessive force against protesters in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT); in addition to 100 civilians killed during the November conflict in Gaza, Israeli forces killed at least 35 civilians in the OPT during the year.
Annual Report 2012
Israeli military forces killed 55 civilians in the OPT, including 11 children. Settler violence against Palestinians in the West Bank increased, and three Palestinians were killed by Israeli settlers. Israeli settlers and soldiers accused of committing abuses against Palestinians generally escaped accountability.
Operation “Pillar of Defense” (in the 2012 annual report)
Israeli forces launched a major military operation on Gaza on 14 November (2012), beginning with an airstrike that killed the leader of the military wing of Hamas. In the following eight days, before a ceasefire on 21 November was reached with Egyptian mediation, more than 160 Palestinians, including more than 30 children and some 70 other civilians, and six Israelis, including four civilians, were killed.
These are numbered casualties. Add the violent Israeli actions — arrests, detentions, house demolitions, destruction of crops, usurpation of water supplies, seizure of lands, construction of settlements, barriers to fishing, barriers to daily interchange, harassment, and terror.
And behind the faceless call to oppress, a grotesque mentality that exceeds all moral limits.
The Jerusalem Post has attributed the expression “mow the grass” to Israeli sources. What does “mow the grass” mean? Every once in a while, just as a home owner must mow the lawn to rid the garden of weeds, “Israel will act to mow the grass as frequently as necessary to degrade enemy military capabilities and keep Israel’s rivals off-balance.”
Here are some more expressions attributed to Israeli leaders:
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman: “Israel needs to conquer and thoroughly cleanse the Gaza Strip.”
Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai: “The goal of the operation is to send Gaza back to the Middle Ages, only then will Israel be calm for the next 40 years.”
Michael Ben-Ari: “There are no innocents in Gaza, don’t let any diplomats who want to look good in the world endanger your lives – mow them down!”
Gilad Sharon (son of the former Israeli Prime minister Ariel Sharon): “We need to flatten entire neighborhoods in Gaza, Flatten all of Gaza. The Americans didn’t stop with Hiroshima – the Japanese weren’t surrendering fast enough, so they hit Nagasaki, too. There should be no electricity in Gaza, no gasoline or moving vehicles, nothing.”
These are the people who compose their own syllogism:
If we control all movement into, out of and within Gaza (A), then the Palestinians will have no means to contest us (B).
If the Palestinians have no means to contest us (B), then we will not suffer any violence (C).
This is obviously an incorrect syllogism – the embargo and oppression of the people in Gaza have not prevented them from contesting and Israelis have suffered from violence.
Another syllogism goes like this:
If Israel stops its oppression of the Palestinian people and its embargo on Gaza (A), then the Palestinians will have no need to retaliate (B).
If the Palestinians will have no need to retaliate (B), then Israel will not suffer any violence (C).
The latter may also not be a true syllogism. However, it is worth the test of proof. In any event, if both are not syllogisms, the latter still has more merit than the former.
There are more “ifs.”
If Israel did not have suitable shelters and an Iron Dome Missile defense, would its government have been ultra aggressive?
if Israelis discomfort with going to emergency shelters (contrary to the IDF spokesperson exaggerations, probably a minor number for a minor period of time) prompted its government to unleash a devastating attack on Gaza, what would the government contemplate doing if its citizens were imprisoned in a giant ghetto for decades and generations, unable to move far or engage in free commerce, cut off from most amenities, constantly under surveillance and perpetually fearful of attack?
If Netanyahu locates living survivors of the 1943 Warsaw ghetto, for certain they will give him clues to how the people of Gaza think, feel, hope, and dream.