Where Is Truth to be Found?

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According to this article found at Western Confucian, the one defense offered for Israel's actions against the Lebanese is false.

This is one of the reasons why I rarely bother with the news. Is this article reporting the truth? Is CNN reporting the truth? Does the truth lie somewhere between? How are we to discern justice if we can't know the plain facts of the matter? Where is truth to be found in reporting? Where is enough of the bias stripped away that there is some discernible smidgen of reality? In this case I do not know if it can be because whoever is reporting has such a strong bias one way or the other in the matter.

However, if it is true, what does THAT say about the conflict? We need to be careful to separate the unquestionable right and responsibility of Israel to protect its people from a carte blanche to do whatever is required. We must support Israel as a sovereign nation while reining in the impulse to smash everything around them that might give rise to difficulty--an understandable impulse in an unstable part of the world.

I am a supporter of Israel and of her people, but not one who is willing to say that everything done in the name of defense is defensible. As with so many things I simply don't know, and frankly I don't even know how to find out. Whatever may be the truth I have grave misgivings about the present approach to the resolution of the difficulties between Israel and Lebanon. But I also have no advice to give on how to secure one's homeland in a fair and equitable way.

But back to the point--how do we know the truth?

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Since it isn't possible--ever--to know the whole truth, it is possible to be "safe" only by doing that which is morally licit regardless of any contingent circumstances beyond one's ken and control. In some cases, this may mean not reacting at all to a given happening.
The question then becomes, how "safe" do we want to be?

Dear Rob,

The problem is that I have been chided (gently) both publicly and privately for making a categorical declaration that in the event of war (assuming I choose to allow for a "just war") it is always and everywhere wrong to kill innocent civilians.

Then I'm told that Hezbollah hides behind civilian shields. Then I'm told the Hezbollah does not do so. If I'm wrong in making a categorical statement (a truth I can accept, although it may not be the case this time), how then can I decide, not knowing the facts, the liciety of any given act?

Somehow, I end up coming back to my categorical and saying, in the absence of the ability to decide the truth, the categorical must hold and the death of the innocent is always and everywhere wrong.

But my point here is that one cannot grant a blanket license for protection, and yet that appears to be what we end up doing when we brand anyone who objects as anti-Israel. A curiousity.

Thanks for writing.



My question would be, if Israel cannot be shown to be acting morally, why should we feel any compunction about being anti-Israel? But, in that case, we aren't really even being anti-Israel; we are only being anti-*what Israel is doing* under certain circumstances. Love the sinner; hate the sin.

Dear Rob,

While I don't view nations with the same respect as I do persons, I prefer your second phrasing of it. I don't think I would ever be Anti-Israel (which might imply that I think they have no right to exist) but I could be anti-Israeli actions in this engagement.

Problem is, how do I know that the picture I see or the writing I read isn't a picture of a little girl who was being held up in from of rifle fire as a shield by a combattant, or of a girl burned because she was in a machine gun nest. And if you're being fired upon by someone holding someone innocent in front of them as s shield are you required to forego shooting and die?

Which brings us back to a favorite theme of yours and mine, which is the question of the justness of any war. But I won't go there because we both stand on the same side of that divide and it isn't a particularly popular side of the fence.



[I]t is always and everywhere wrong to kill innocent civilians.

I think you're on pretty solid ground there, actually. If anyone criticizes you for that, then I say they're the wackos.

Rather, two questions arise: (1) what makes a civilian "innocent" (consider, for example, one who aids and abets Hezbollah), and (2) since it is also wrong for a sovereign to allow an enemy to kidnap and attack his subjects with impunity, which is the greater wrong, and which is the lesser evil?

There is absolutely no reason to think that anybody is literally holding small children in front of them as shields. Nor would that be effective. The dead children we see are being dug out of rubble and there are cameras there recording it. The Israelis are not denying that they bombed the buildings in which those children died; they are simply blaming the cause for, the need for, that bombing on Hizbullah. I don't buy the concept of any such need, wheter the Israelis are doing it in Lebanon, or my own country is doing it in Iraq. If I don't know that my action will be just, I refrain from acting.



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on August 3, 2006 11:34 AM.

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