"She provoked me." That is a standard defense. She cursed me, she slapped me in the face, she even kicked me in the knee with her sharp-pointed shoes, and it did hurt. Can you expect me not to react? By the way, since I punched both her eyes black, she has stopped attacking me, either verbally or physically.
But no court, be it in the US, Argentina or Israel, would accept that defense. The judge would tell the defendant that while his wife has the power to cause him a modest amount of pain, he has the power to kill her with his fists. The overwhelmingly stronger side in a conflict has a greater obligation to show restraint than the side that is basically unable to cause any actual harm. If the husband doesn't want to be kicked or scratched, he must seek an arrangement, for instance by leaving the house (leaving the house altogether, not just one room) and paying support money to his spouse and children.
That is, in a nutshell, what judge Goldstone has told Israel. Hamas' attacks were mostly a nuisance, with people in Israel being more likely to die as bystanders in drive-by shootings from internecine Jewish mafia warfare than from a Qassam or a Grad. Few Israelis took Hamas' toothless rockets seriously; on the contrary, bloodthirsty Israeli Jews flocked to Sderot to watch the carnage live undeterred by the (extremely low) chances of being hit by one of the enemy's imprecise devices. In that context, Goldstone affirms, the amount of death inflicted by Israel is unwarrantedly disproportionate. He's being hated a lot for saying so, and, more to the point, for being a Jew who says so.
Another defense wife-batterers usually put up is, "I don't know how this could come about." The wife is bruised and bleeding and has missing teeth and two or three broken bones, yet the guy doesn't know how it all happened, as if he was seized by supernatural forces he had no control over. This is what the Israeli government says re the continual illegal outpost expansion in the West Bank. It just happens; the IDF can't do anything. As Haaretz reported a few days ago, quoting a defense official:
"The settlers are very much in tune with the ticking political clock," the senior defense source said. "You can sense it on the ground, with the infrastructure work that is being done, but also in more minor things. They are acting without any legal authorization and are ignoring the state.
"The approach at this time is that whoever can, goes ahead and builds," the source continued. "It begins with the official leadership of the Yesha Council [of settlements] and ends with the hilltop youth."
The source is fully aware of the hindrance this means in terms of an eventual evacuation as part of a two-state solution:
He pointed out that the phenomenon of unbridled construction is evident in both the more established settlements and in the illegal outposts.
"Whoever can, lays the floor in preparation for constructing a building; and in factories they add extensions to roofs. In some settlements, they've built factories for rapid construction of caravans on site, so that they can bypass the ban - on transporting caravans - which was issued by the Civil Administration. Everything was done with the intent of creating a critical mass in many different locations at once, which will make evacuation in the future [more] difficult," he said.
Note how this security source speaks of it as if it were fate-ordained. It's all illegal, he has no qualms admitting that, just like a wife abuser admits that battering his wife is also illegal. But then he describes the process as something that just goes on, as if the defense establishment he belongs to had no power whatsoever to stop it.
Mr. Unnamed Official, I believe Israel has a procedure to deal with illegal construction. What was the name for it? Oh, yes -- house demolitions. As for those factories where they make the caravans, here's an idea you may have not thought of -- factory demolitions. Is it too much to ask why you are not using your army's proven capabilities for removing lawbreakers from where they're illegally residing? Can you be seriously describing with a straight face the criminal actions of Israeli citizens without facing up to the fact that it's your duty to stop them -- very much like a violent husband describes the abuse he inflicted on his wife while maintaining that he wasn't actually aware of what he was doing?
Who is going to jail wife-battering Israel? Although Richard Goldstone is a judge, he cannot convict the offending country. There's only one judge who can. A judge who for a while seemed to have gathered the courage to indict Israel over its "unwilling" expansion in the West Bank. But he finally showed his true colors and dropped the case. Shame on you, Judge Obama, for letting shepherd-clubbing, grove-burning, land-grabbing Israel to walk free once again, in spite of the harm it visits on the wife it forcibly took.