Saturday, June 5, 2010

Loosen the blockade

Freud's Little Hans, in the famous case study of that name, said: "Doing's not wanting, and wanting's not doing," or something to that effect. Adopting (or adapting) this syntax, one might say: "Moral's not (necessarily) legal, and legal's not (necessarily) moral."

In more standard English: Some people may have had time to absorb the dueling salvos of pundits and experts, self-appointed or otherwise, about the legality of the Gaza blockade. I have had neither the time nor inclination to do so. I glanced at a Charles Krauthammer column, which I couldn't bring myself actually to read, which cited a piece by Leslie Gelb that apparently defends the legality of the blockade. That view, however, is strongly disputed here, on the grounds that Israel remains in "effective" occupation of Gaza, controlling among other things its airspace and territorial waters, despite the 2005 withdrawal of settlers.

Apart from the question of its legality, the blockade in its current form is politically and morally bad, restricting as it does certain essential humanitarian items including medical equipment. The Obama admin. is apparently bringing some pressure to bear on Israel to reconsider how the blockade is administered, and the Israeli government itself is reviewing the matter. A loosening would be only a temporary improvement in an awful situation, but that would be better than nothing. All this is certainly not to deny Israel's legitimate security concerns vis-a-vis Hamas, but there must be a better way of balancing the considerations than the situation that exists now.

In January 2009, in a comment attached to this post, I expressed the view that an action (or actions) could be immoral even if lawful under international law, and I'm basically just reiterating that.

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