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Lessons in Avoiding an Issue

Silverstein refuses to address the points raised in this post, since I won’t spend 30 minutes of my time reading his blog. Convenient.

 

Despite not reading my post, he feels confident enough to suggest I have lost any moral authority based on this feedback from one of his commenters:

On Dave’s site, he replies that he has no problem with the killing of civilians to bag a terrorist:

 

While I am always opposed to the deliberate killing of innocent people, and saddened by any loss of innocent life, this does not mean that I oppose all targeted killings where innocent people are inadvertently killed. It depends on the situation.

 

And with that, I believe Dave has lost any moral authority he claims to hold. It is better that ten guilty men go free then to let one innocent man be convicted. I should hope that the threshold for killing innocents is greater than that for simply jailing innocents.

And this is typical of the Silversteins of the world. Rather than analysing my statement, and intelligently pointing out why, in their opinion, it is not correct, they merely state it is wrong, and therefore I am not to be taken seriously.

 

The issue is not simply one of killing innocent people to kill a terrorist. The issue is of risking the possible deaths of innocent people in order to almost definitely save the lives of innocent people. If a “ticking bomb” terrorist is about to send out terrorists to commit a terrorist act, or commit a terrorist act himself/herself, and preventing him/her from doing so involves some risk to civilians, then my contention is that it may be worth the risk. It all depends on certain factors including the elusiveness of the terrorist, his/her capability to kill innocent people, his/her role, and the opportunity to capture or kill him/her at another point without harming innocents, weighed against the possible number of innocent people that may be killed by attempting the targeted killing.

 

The same applies even if the killing of the terrorist would almost certainly kill some civilians. Of course, in such a case, the threshold for executing the targeted killing should be much higher (e.g. the terrorist has proved almost impossible to capture, there is no alternative way to attempt the killing, and the terrorist is about to execute a major attack).

 

A further consideration is the culpability of these “civilians.” Are they knowlingly providing a safe haven for the terrorist, or are they truly innocent? This is not always apparent, but may be, based on intelligence reports.

 

The point is that this is by no means a simple issue as my ideological opponents would have you believe, and deserves far greater consideration than is manifest from their comments. To state that I have lost any moral authority displays great ignorance of the situation, and a very primitive view of “morality.”

 

To illustrate the dilemna, I asked the following: if the allies had Hitler in their scopes and knew they could take him out, but perhaps some German civilians would be killed, would you support such an attempt on his life?

 

Here’s another question: When nations are at war, does one army refrain from firing on the other since they might kill civilians? Or do they do what is necessary to protect their own civilians.

 

Judging by the comments of Silverstein and company, the answer would be a resounding no since “It is better that ten guilty men go free then to let one innocent man be convicted.”

 

I would be interested in your feedback on this issue.

About the author

Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
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