... The "Science for Peace" letter titled "Canada must condemn the violence in Gaza and the West Bank and cease all arms exports to Israel," written by a number of Canadian academics, is full of misrepresentations that are often injected into discussions of the terrorist attacks on Israel. Here are two: "the Israeli response appears to be just as indiscriminate and more importantly disproportionate."
The letter makes the following claims: "The Israeli response to protests and attacks from Gaza has targeted residential areas, basic infrastructure, buildings housing the international media as well as medical clinics and hospitals. The Israeli claim that Hamas militants are using these targets as human shields for their operations does not justify their targeting under relevant laws of warfare that demand civilians be protected from harm."
"Indiscriminate" is redefined as targeting buildings that have civilian uses.
In the letter, "indiscriminate" is defined, or rather redefined, as targeting buildings that have civilian uses. Yet the letter admits that the Israeli strikes are aimed at hostile Hamas terrorist operations and operatives. The Israeli targeting is the opposite of "indiscriminate"; it carefully discriminates between Hamas terrorists and Palestinian civilians, directing its attacks on the former only. It is also true that Hamas was shooting rockets into Israel in the hopes of killing Jewish Israelis, non-combatants, which was not "indiscriminate," but intentional. In contrast, Israel undertakes heroic efforts to avoid civilian casualties by targeting only Hamas and Islamic Jihadist operatives. Israel notifies non-combatants of strikes ahead of time by means of texts, phone calls, and non-explosive signal bombs.
Keep in mind that it is Hamas that places their operations in the midst of their own citizenry, whom they use as human shields. For Hamas, dead Palestinian non-combatants are good publicity, as Europeans and others will blame Israel, as we see in this naive letter.
"Disproportionate" is redefined as killing more of the enemy as they have killed of you.
The second redefinition is of "disproportionate." The letter claims that disproportionality is proven by "the casualty figures of the last week," that is, that many more Palestinians were killed than Israelis. Clearly, the authors do not understand what "disproportionate" means in international law, or they do and purposely redefine the term for partisan purposes. "Proportionate" in warfare does not mean that you can only kill as many of the enemy as they have killed of you. It means that you cannot kill more non-combatants than are necessary for achieving your military goals.
According to Medecins Sans Frontiers, "IHL [International Humanitarian Law] prohibits attacks that may cause 'incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects, or a combination thereof, which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated.' [emphasis added]" In this case, the "military advantage" sought by Israel was the degradation of Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorist military capability so as to preclude future terrorist attacks. As regards their own citizenry, it is the Hamas and IJ strategy to ramp up Palestinian citizen collateral damage for international propaganda value.
The letter also claims that Israel is an "apartheid" state by redefining "apartheid." ... The 2002 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court defines apartheid as "an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups."
The letter claims that "The Palestinian populations subjected to this unlawful ["apartheid"] system [by Israel] have every right to protest and resist." But in Israel proper, there is no distinction in law among the various religious and ethnic groups of Israeli citizens. There is no institutionalized segregation. Jewish and Arab Israeli citizens mix in every sector of society, up to and including the Supreme Court of Israel. Furthermore, Jews and Palestinians are not distinct racial groups. You cannot tell who is a Jew and who is a Muslim or Christian Palestinian by skin color or other physical features. The American race industry's intersectional fantasy that Israeli Jews are "white" and Palestinians "people of color" is literally nonsense. In the absence of racial segregation, there can be no "apartheid" without redefining the word to meaninglessness.
The fact that Israel is a Jewish state with a Jewish majority and Muslim, Christian, Druze, and Baha'i minorities does not make it an "apartheid" state, unless Iran with a Persian majority and a Turkish minority, Finland with a Finnish majority and a Swedish minority, and Canada with an English majority and a French minority are also "apartheid" states.
"Apartheid" has been redefined as refusing to allow your enemies to destroy your state.
To be surrounded by enemies is more or less the common fate of states throughout history. Terrorist Palestinians have consistently attacked Jews, both before and after the formation of Israel. They were not alone, as multiple Arab states repeatedly invaded Israel in 1947, 1967, and 1973, only to be defeated. But the Palestinians remain aggressive terrorists: Hamas and Islamic Jihadists explicitly try to destroy Israel and kill Jews, while the Palestinian Authority controlled by Fatah calls for peace in English and death to Jews in Arabic. "Apartheid" has apparently been redefined as refusing to allow your enemies to destroy your state and kill your population. Many others have faced such circumstances: the Chinese built the Great Wall to keep the northern barbarians outside, while Hadrian built his wall to keep the rampaging Scots from raiding Roman Britain. Defending your country from aggressive invaders is not "apartheid." ...
Redefining words is a way of denying facts and reality in order to advance political goals. Although in a technical sense, all definitions are arbitrary, politically driven redefinitions, such as the examples offered above, are little more than politically motivated lies, the primary mode of contemporary academia, media, and education.
Philip Carl Salzman, a fellow at the Middle East Forum, is an emeritus professor of anthropology at McGill University, a senior fellow at Frontier Centre for Public Policy, and president of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East.