The Irrelevance of Proportionality

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published by Quadrant on November 20, 2023 and is crossposted here with permission.

“Everywhere we see true culture vanishing, and what is replacing it is barbaric”  — Romano. Guardini, 1924

Voted into power by the Palestinian people of Gaza during 2006, and with extensive support in the West Bank (Samaria and Judea), but designated a terror group by Western nations, Hamas is a jihadist Islamist mob of fanatics determined to create a Sharia law-based Caliphate free of non-believers. Specific animosity is directed at followers of the monotheist faiths of Judaism and Christianity which compete with radical Islamist ideology over critical ideals of identity, land, religion, and divine promise.

The actualization of Hamas’ intended utopia depends upon fulfilment of an apocalyptic event which would lead to a grand finale at the end of time. This would be the period of redemption and blessing of all faithful devotees of Allah and his prophet, Mohammed. Together with certain passages in the Quran which mention violence against non-Muslims, jihadists embrace authoritative scriptures known as the Hadith. This collection of Islamic writings in Arabic, attributed to Mohammed, contain an overriding prescription pertinent to apocalyptic destiny:

The time will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and the Muslims kill them, until the Jew hides behind the stones and the trees and the stones or the trees say, ‘O Muslim, O Servant of God, this is a Jew behind me. Come and kill him.’

The excerpt describes genocidal intent against which Israel and its people are forced to defend their right to exist. To justify this agenda, Islamism propounds a dichotomous ethical construction for humankind: a glorious destiny for Muslim faithful but with death and destruction for all non-believers. Religious convictions enable radical actors to ignore Western laws regarding ethical war behaviour. Yet, Israel as a democratic nation is bound by the just-war theory and is carefully monitored by Western powers, which compromises their ability to respond as necessary in a permanently hostile environment. In the world’s eyes, it is becoming increasingly difficult for Israel to hold the high moral ground due to unintended civilian casualties in Gaza however much the Israeli military machine, the IDF, complies with traditional rules of war and humanitarian concerns. To the contrary, Hamas eschews any limiting rules of war or considerations of human decency. 

The Ideologies: There are three main intersecting ideologies at play: firstly, that of ‘soil’ — contrasting claims to the land occupied by the State of Israel; secondly, the question of ethnicity — the legitimacy of Abraham’s descendants through his son, Isaac, which effectually establishes Jewish identity as true heirs of divine promises made to Abraham; and, thirdly, the question of religion, resulting in a peaceful Judaism confronted by radical Islamist hate doctrine. Followers of each religion incompatibly claim to worship the one, true, God and redeemer. These factors can be referred to as radical ideologies of soil, blood, and religion, which polymorph to provide jihadists justification for liquidation of all infidels, all non-Muslims.

As with all radical ideologies, whether anti-colonialist, Marxist, Islamist, deconstructionists or race and gender construals, anarchists wish to overturn the existent political order, the culture, their society and, especially, to remove all religious influence from the public arena. To achieve this, they embrace violence or threat of violence, if required. They remain convinced of the moral righteousness of their cause. This is clear from woke hordes in Anglo-American societies acting through anarcho-socio actors like the Black Lives Matter movement, ANTIFA, cancel culture, climate change radicals, and sundry like-minded far-left revolutionaries.

The Land: The ideology of land is partly framed on the principle of decolonisation, applied through an artifice of a nuanced social justice agenda, displaying a typical Marxian dualism of the oppressed (Palestinians, represented by Hamas) against the oppressors (Jews, represented by the State of Israel). The ‘oppressive’ colonial Jewish nationals are relegated to the class of illegal settlers with no historic claim to the land. They are illegal occupants and can, therefore, be expelled from the region, even killed in the quest for justice. Yet, the Jewish nation has clear historic right to their land, Eretz Yisrael; in fact even to areas beyond their present borders. On the other hand, the so-called Palestinians (a convenient name adopted for political purposes) are factually interlopers in the area for they are not a nation as such but a collection of itinerant Arab nomads, of diverse origins, who occupied the disputed area before Zionists secured their ancestral homeland in 1948. The Jewish people’s claim to Eretz Yisrael is not based simply on Zionist ideology, nor an abstract concept of home or even on humanitarian grounds for it is more than that: their claim is founded on an immutable and unconditional Divine covenant (cf., Deuteronomy 30:5 ff; Ezekiel 16:3). Accordingly, the land is their birthright, their promised inheritance, their ancestral homeland. Until that fact is properly grasped, the outside world will struggle to comprehend the nation’s refusal to surrender any part of their land to Palestinian anarchists or anyone else.

From a sociological perspective, the land issue pertains to the concept of home, of fidelity to place, and ideal which James Matthew Wilson describes as “fidelity to God, family, and country.” This iteration of fidelity, he says, is “not merely one virtue among others, but a foundational and formative source of our character.” The late UK Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks emphasized the “concept of family and home is absolutely fundamental to Judaism.”

The home, Eretz Yisrael, the rightful place of the Jewish people, cements their sense of identity, of social order, security, harmony and emotional well-being. In November 2023, Leon Wiener Dow explained the transcendent calling of the Jewish nation to their promised land, a land granted to them for their exclusive use by the Creator. Dow wrote, “It is we who will define ourselves and our relationship to the land. We do not need to fit your binary categories of ownership.” In criticising the two-state idea, Dow perceived the international community’s difficulty comprehending the deep spiritual ties of the Jewish nation to their ancestral land for influential countries, like the US, desire to divide Israel into binary parts: some for the Jews and some for the Palestinians, all in the name of human rights, social justice, and fair play. At its core, these proposals are anti-Zionist (in practical effect, anti-Semitist) for they deny Jewish rights to all of their historic land and thereby continue centuries-long pogroms of the ‘people of the Book,’ forcing them to live amongst the very people desiring their extirpation, as history records.

There can be no possible accommodation between holders of these two conflicting narratives for each is dedicated to paradoxical claims of truth, faith, and justice. The one party is fervently nihilistic in their martyrdom ideal (“We love death as our enemies love life”); the other wanting only peace and a normal existence without constant lethal threats to their existence. Hamas control of Gaza is a case in point. Led by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at the time, Israel, in seeking a peaceful existence, acquiesced to US and international pressure. They were politically forced to expel all Jewish inhabitants from Gaza, handing the territory to Palestinian control. This short-sighted political action created a security vacuum which gave Hamas, and like-minded jihadists, opportunity to prepare for liquidation of their Jewish neighbours. 

Ethnicity: Concerning the ideology of ethnicity (“blood”), both parties originate from a common ancestor: the Biblical patriarch, Abraham, but through two different sons. The Jewish nation stems from Abraham’s legitimate son and heir, Isaac, through his son Jacob and the subsequent 12 tribes of Israel; while Arabs descend from Ishmael, an illegitimate son, whose ancient descendants invariable became mortal enemies of Israel. And, legitimacy is the crux of the matter for the Divine covenant with Abraham was to be fulfilled through Isaac, not Ishmael (cf., Genesis 26:1-5). It is the Jews’ exclusive claims to legitimacy that Islamist radicals cannot accept.

Religion: The question of religion, of faith, of identity of the living God, is the core issue between the Jewish people and jihadist Islamists, although the ideologies soil, blood, and religion are closely interlinked. The struggle is therefore one between orthodoxy and heterodoxy, between the “sons of light and the sons of darkness,” to quote Israeli Minister of Defence, Gallant. Prime Minister Netanyahu similarly describes the war as a “battle of civilization against barbarism.” The battle over truth, life, and faith has origins in the Garden of Eden when the prince of darkness, the Archangel Lucifer in disguise, persuaded Adam and Eve to renounce their faith in, and fidelity to, the Creator God. This conflict has preoccupied humankind ever since.

Proportionality: The aforegoing provides a contextual background to each party’s worldview. The question now arises as what constitutes a proportionate response by Israel to the horror attack on its innocent residents of all ages, ethnicities, and faiths, from babies to grandparents, from Jews to Hindu Nepalese nationals. In this war, Israel committed itself to following Western ideals of a just war, coupled to humanitarian concerns and provisions of the International Criminal Court (Article 8, War Crimes). Without discussing these conditions in detail, suffice it to say that the fanatical jihadists of Hamas and allied zealots comply with none of them.

Hamas uses civilians as human shields, occupies hospitals, schools, and civilian facilities to conduct its terror activities, thereby significantly increasing the chances of collateral damage to innocents. Hamas’ strategy is devoid of humanitarian considerations, of civilized values, and rubrics of a just war. It is difficult to insist on Israel’s compliance with these ideals when the opposing party ignores all such concerns. The current hypocrisy is quite evident when remembering the World War II levelling of Dresden in retaliation for Germany’s indiscriminate bombing of British and European cities. So, too, the purposed destruction of Japan’s Nagasaki and Hiroshima, where most casualties were civilians. Were these acts proportionate or quid pro quo?

In the current desperate circumstances it is wise to remember that Hamas initiated the assaults upon innocents. Israel is not only defending itself, but acting with the long-term goal of preventing future attacks from Gaza, and to achieve peace in the region. This motivation is a seminal requirement of a just war construct. On October 7, Hamas purposefully singled out innocents for slaughter, whereas the IDF avoids civilian casualties as much as humanly possible. Not one civilian has been targeted by Israel, so all innocent civilian deaths and damage can directly be attributed to a combination of Hamas’ policies relating to their use of Palestinians as human shields; their occupation of civilian safe places like hospitals; their purposed shooting of civilians when they tried to move out of the war zone, as recommended by the IDF; their use of ambulances for transporting gunmen and weapons; and their denying hospitals the use of utilities like fuel under Hamas control. Hamas thrives on the rising number of civilian deaths, using this for propaganda purposes in claiming the moral high-ground. Their nihilist and apocalyptic ideology enables them to justify such actions. The international media levy accusations of disproportionate military actions, not against the perpetrators of the assault, Hamas, but against Israel’s military in defence of their land and people. This criticism can be understood as a form of anti-Zionism.

So, to what extend can Israel’s military action be considered proportionate? It surely cannot evoke the Biblical concept of ‘an eye for an eye,’ for in such case the IDF would be justified in killing some 1,200 Palestinian civilians out of hand. What is does imply is the use of appropriate force for self-defence and in executing a military strategy motivated by aims of eventual peace. Israel has articulated such intention, and takes unprecedented steps to minimize civilian casualties. Nonetheless, in the congested environment of Gaza, and with Hamas resolutely endangering Gaza citizens, collateral damage will inevitably occur.

The only conclusion to be reached in these circumstances is that Hamas, not Israel, is the party directly responsible for cases of disproportionate civilian casualties. Accordingly, at this time, the concept of proportionality can be considered somewhat redundant for it is applied only to Israel, not to Hamas. Taking into account the clear justice of Israel’s military action, the focus remains on humanitarian concerns of which Israel is particularly conscious.

Justice: The concept of justice emanates from a Jewish Biblical heritage, and which concept became an integral part of Western civilization’s values. Justice is the root criterion for determining proportionate or disproportionate actions in times of war but, in a Middle eastern context, is subject to whims of ideology and diametrically contrasting worldviews sans associated virtues of mercy and compassion. Here, a sharp divide between Western and eastern values is apparent: one side embraces a violent nihilistic apocalyptic ideology, with a situational ethical stance, in its execution of a vindictive form of  justice; the other commits to grounded Judeo-Christian virtues such as justice traditionally understood, sanctity of life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, security of tenure, justice, peace, and prosperity. The moral, ethical, and religious divide over justice cannot be bridged. It is thus unrealistic to expect permanent peace between Israel and Islamist jihadists, whether Hamas or others.

The Western Liberal Democratic Order: This war cannot be left to Israel alone for all countries embracing the Western democratic tradition are under threat of attack by Islamist radicals, whether in the US or in various countries of Europe for most contain large Islamist populations. The eventuality of internal conflict is only a matter of time. In 2022, for example, Malmö’s Imam, Basem Mahmoud, declared “Sweden is ours. It is ours whether they like it or not. In 10 to 15 years it will be ours.” The imam predicts a cultural and religious change with implementation of Sharia law, all of which would negate Sweden’s classic liberal democratic order with its inherent freedoms.

With significant Islamic populations in their midst, many Western leaders believe they are compelled to criticize Israel’s response. Aside from ethically compromised United Nation agencies and authoritarian nationalist states like NATO ally, Turkey, anti-Zionist/anti-Semitic remarks by Canada’s Trudeau and France’s Macron come to mind as do those by former US President Obama and Norway’s Labour Prime Minister Støre. Lacking moral courage, these prominent personages condemn the IDF response as disproportionate or worse. In the Anglo-American context, the demand for political correctness, together with fear of internal radical Islamist action, was seen in early November 2023 when UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman was summarily sacked after expressing the perceptive opinion that “Britain is at a turning point in our history and faces a threat of radicalisation and extremism in a way not seen for 20 years.” Truth obviously has consequences. In 2009, Dr. Ron emphasised this fact when he concluded, “Truth is treason in an empire of lies.”

In consequence, naïve calls for IDF restraint increase and empathy for Hamas and its Palestinian acolytes grows, while compassion and external support for Israel’s civilian victims becomes sidelined. This is acutely evident in the millions of dollars of humanitarian aid arriving daily for Gaza’s Palestinians, while nothing much arrives for the 250,000 Israeli innocents displaced and destitute due to the October 7th horror assault upon them.

The Final Solution: The existence of Jews in a sliver of their ancestral land in the Middle East acts like a magnet attracting radical state and non-state actors from many quarters, all seeking elimination of Israel’s residents. These jihadists exhibit a uniform anti-Semitic ideology of ressentiment, hatredagainst representatives of the true God of Creation. That is why Christians, as members of the Judeo-Christian tradition, are also singled out for destruction. America, as world leader of the Judeo-Christian-founded order, is considered the ‘great Satan’ and Israel the ‘little Satan.’

The Nazi-era practice of a ‘final solution’ to the question of Jewish existence finds reiteration in an axis of evil headed by Iran, but actioned through proxies Hamas, Hezbollah, Houthi and the like, all of whom seek eradication of Jews from the earth. There is no ideological difference between the Nazi Final Solution program and the widely-applied popularist slogan in support of  jihadists, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” Both Nazi-era ideologues and Islamist zealots desire the same outcome: Judenfrei, a world free of Jews, as if they are a disposable entity without inherent value. Despite world leaders proclaiming that Jewish people would “Never Again” be subjugated to ethnic cleansing, the same leaders wish to compromise Israel’s attempts at a secure homeland by calling for a premature ceasefire or cessation in military action. They ignore Hamas spokesman Ghazi Hamad’s murderous revelation on October 24, 2023, when he said “We must teach Israel a lesson and we will do this again and again. The Al Aqsa Flood attack is just the first time, and there will be a second, a third, a fourth.” He adds, “The existence of Israel is what causes all our pain, blood and tears.”

As history repeats itself, the stark lines between barbarism and civilization are made clear for all to see. To the disgust of the silent majority, those sometimes described as the ‘quiet right,’  international support for Hamas increases vociferously. The nation of Israel, ancestral home of the Jewish people and fount of Western civilization’s moral, ethical, legal, and humanitarian principles, again faces mortal threat from all quarters, as it has done for most of its existence.

Conclusion: In the result, the international community ‘fiddles while the Middle East burns,’ and imposes unrealistic constraints on Israel’s military strategy. It is incumbent, therefore, upon this modest, but pivotal, nation to demonstrate firm commitment to upholding the West’s foundational values and classic liberal democratic order. As Professor Leon R. Kass said in October 2023, “It is left to little Israel to make the first stand against radical evil and the new axis of nations dedicated to the demise of the West. With resolve, courage, and dedication, but, alas, with much more sacrifice, Israel will show the way.” Surely David Ben-Gurion was correct when he declared, “it doesn’t matter what the non-Jews say. It only matters what the Jews do” – a truism, arising from Rabbi Hillel the Elder’s earlier lament some two thousand years ago, “If I’m not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?”

Photo by Picturellarious — Adobe Stock — Asset ID#: 469306917


  • Nils A. Haug

    N. A. Haug, a retired trial lawyer and member of the International Bar Association, the National Association of Scholars, and the Academy of Philosophy and Letters, has a keen interest in political theory. He holds several degrees, including an M.A. (cum laude) in Biblical Studies and a Ph.D. in Theology (Apologetics). Dr. Haug is the author of "Politics, Law, and Disorder in the Garden of Eden – the Quest for Identity" (March 2023) and "Enemies of the Innocent – Life, Truth, and Meaning in a Dark Age" (November 2023). His upcoming eschatological study, "Towards the Eternal City," is set to be released in 2024 and will be published by Academica Press in Washington – London.

One thought on “The Irrelevance of Proportionality”

  1. “The time will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and the Muslims kill them, until the Jew hides behind the stones and the trees and the stones or the trees say, ‘O Muslim, O Servant of God, this is a Jew behind me. Come and kill him.’”

    This is very interesting — and helps explain a lot of what I have seen & heard in academia over the years.

    Without going too deeply into the weeds, as I understand it, Christian belief is that God will decide the time of the Second Coming (of Christ) and there will be a rapture where all the living true believers will simply disappear into Heaven (along with the resurrected dead believers). One explanation is that there will suddenly no longer be anyone in some of the cars going down the highway.

    Nothing about killing infidels, nothing about doing *anything* to cause it to happen sooner.

    And what’s always puzzled me was the claim that Christians support Israel out of hopes of starting some sort of final conflict that will accelerate the Second Coming of Christ — even though I’d never seen anything in Christian theology that *anything* we did could accomplish this, even if we wanted to.

    And then I see: ‘”[t]he time will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and the Muslims kill them”

    That’s a very different belief — the Muslim is OBLIGATED TO kill Jews in a way that the Christian is not (and actually is forbidden to kill anyone). This goes beyond the military tactics of the IDF (and I find it more than merely ironic that it is South Africa — the home of “necklacing” and other barbaric practices — that is alleging that the IDF is going too far) — it’s the attack on *any* Israeli self defense that we are seeing on our college campi.

    But does this attitude extend beyond Islam?

    There is a very clear difference in the value of the individual human life — we could put an end to blockaded highways with snow plows — a double-winged snow plow (common in snow country) could clear three Interstate-highway lanes in a single pass and at 30 MPH. We don’t do this because we are a Western society that values human life — but much of the world doesn’t share our values.

    Are the Jews hated because they are Jews — or because they are Western?

    I never knew that line was in the Koran — and find it more than slightly disturbing..

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