The Volokh Conspiracy

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Alan Dershowitz on Israel and Hamas



Noted Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz has a new book out, "Terror Tunnels: The Case for Israel's Just War Against Hamas," a collection of essays that forcefully defend Israel's actions against Hamas, both from before the most recent fighting (Part I) and since (Part II). The book also includes a long debate (about 15 percent of the book) between Dershowitz and John Dugard, a sharp critic of Israel. Here's an excerpt from Dershowitz's conclusion to the book, which I think captures his argument well:

Even if the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas holds for a while, it will probably not last. The international community is doing everything in its power to assure that once Hamas regroups and rearms, it will once again attack Israel with better rockets, deeper tunnels and more effective use of human shields. Hamas will once again deploy its dead baby strategy—placing its rocket launchers and tunnel entrances in densely populated areas so that Israel will have to kill civilians in order to attack these military targets. It will reprise this strategy because it always works. It works because Hamas makes it easy for the media to show the dead civilians but difficult to show the rockets and tunnels behind and beneath these civilian human shields.

The result of this one-sided emotional display of dead bodies is outrage against Israel for causing so many civilians deaths and demands for international investigations and prosecutions of Israeli officials and soldiers. Israel wins the war on the ground, while Hamas wins the war of international public opinion. Hamas then regroups and rearms, while Israel suffers permanent reputational damage for doing what every democracy would do—and doing it with fewer civilian casualties. So why shouldn't Hamas repeat its winning tactic over and over again?