Justification for a Just War

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi

While the mainstream news agencies are busy covering Black Friday nonsense, smaller news and blog sites have recently reported on comments made by Catholic Cardinal Gainfranco Ravasi, President of the Vatican Council for Culture.  In referring to the recent hostilities between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, he said, “I think of the ‘massacre of the innocents.’ Children are dying in Gaza, their mothers’ shouts is a perennial cry, a universal cry.”

In response to this comment, Israel National News stated, “The Catholic Church high official equated Israel’s operation in Gaza against terror groups with the New Testament story of Herod’s slaughter of Jewish babies in his effort to kill Jesus.”

Whether or not this quote was taken out of context and the Cardinal was merely lamenting the destruction of life is not known. However, it doesn’t even matter because his comments are in step with virtually every mainstream media outlet in this country that label Israel as the aggressor in the conflict.

To know the true reality of the situation is to see that calling Israel the aggressor in this conflict is a fallacy.  According to Catholic teaching, the killing of innocent life is unforgiveable. However, Catholic teaching also states that there are instances where waging war is a just and necessary option.

I want to make clear that I myself am not a war hawk. I am not cheering for Israel to invade and kill her enemies or put Israeli soldiers in harm’s way.  What I want to demonstrate is that according to the Cardinal’s own faith, Israel has a definitive right to defend herself against aggressive attacks.

The full explanation of Just War Theory can be found here.

St. Thomas Aquinas provided the basic tenants of a Just War based on three things:

1)      War must be waged by a lawful public authority in defense of the common good

2)      War must be waged for a good cause

3)      War must be waged with the right intention-not vengefully nor to inflict harm

There are also two methods of waging war: defensive and offensive. Defensive is defending against a direct attack. In this instance, no special moral justification is needed in taking up arms to defend one’s country.  Offensive war, on the other hand, has to be justified.  The conditions for this state of war are these:

1)      A just cause, to correct a wrong to a nation

2)      All other means of defending a nation’s rights have been ineffective

3)      There is a good possibility for success

4)      The good that will be achieved by waging war must outweigh harm caused

5)      War is the last resort

A war is not justified if it is waged in order to gain new territory, increase wealth, subjugate peoples, or expand spheres of influence.

A war is justified in response to an affront to the right of a nation to merely exist, or a threat to its self-preservation, property, or freedom in its own borders.

I’m not going to illustrate all the failed peace treaties between Israel and its neighbors throughout the decades, or the state of the daily, constant threat that we all know Israel lives under. Let’s just say this, Hamas is clearly an illegitimate aggressor that is constantly threatening and attacking a legitimate nation. This legitimate nation of Israel is exercising its right to existence and self-preservation.

The Cardinal would do well to examine Just War Theory as laid out by St. Thomas Aquinas and decide for himself whether it applies in this conflict.  I believe it does.


Bombs, Blame, and Bad Guys



CNN’s Ashleigh Banfield said it herself with the first sentence out of her mouth to Ron Prosor, Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations.  She asked Prosor about how he felt about Hamas missiles landing near Jerusalem for the first time since 1970. However, she failed to ask him how he felt about the sustained rocket attacks on southern Israel from Gaza by Hamas this year alone.  She also failed to ask him how he felt about the constant barrage of verbal threats by Israel’s longtime enemies that share her borders.

Aren’t these good and just reasons for Israel to defend herself against her enemies?  Would our own country not act in a similar fashion if we were constantly threatened and attacked by our neighbors?  Of course we would.

This opening statement was just the beginning of what I saw as fairly evident bias against Israel at CNN.

The transcript of the interview aired on CNN on November 16, 2012 concerning the recent hostilities in the Middle East can be found here.

From the start, Banfield criticizes the fact that the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) has conducted air strikes in Gaza, and that the aftermath of the strikes were causing “children bleeding” and “mothers that are dying”.  She then describes the IDF strikes as a “sledgehammer” approach to the “problem” Israel is having.  It seems she is suggesting the IDF military operation is causing too many civilian casualties.

This is the basic tenor of her interview.  She was aggressively degrading the just nature of Israel defending herself, while ignoring the aggressiveness of the Islamic extremism in the region as the cause of the region’s instability.

Again Banfield blames Israel when she says, “what we have been told is that the trigger for this ground assault and the breach of the Gaza border would be increased missile attacks”.  In other words, if Israel attacked Gaza, Hamas promised to attack more Israeli cities, which is what happened.  It’s kind of like a little kid that’s bullied at school every day. Banfield is saying that if the bullied kid defends himself, he will sustain more bullying because he has now angered the bully. This is reverse common sense.  Common sense tells us that when you defend yourself against an aggressor, this will stop the aggressor or at least deter the aggressiveness.

In another line of dialogue, Prosor attempt to be clear and make a point by saying, “It’s very simple. Missiles are falling…” He is defending his country’s stance that as long as missiles are falling on their cities, his country must defend its citizens. Prosor continues and makes a stark analogy to missiles falling on Manahattan, Paris, and London.  Wouldn’t the US defend itself from such an attack? Banfield confuses his point and suggests that if Manhattan, Paris, and London were occupied (purportedly such as Hamas believes Israel is their occupier) then they would want to fight against their occupiers.

Banfield concludes the interview with discussing the killing of Hamas military leader Ahmed al-Jabari.  Banfield states, “we saw the targeted killing, the assassination of the military leader of Hamas earlier this week that has led to what we’re seeing now”.  Again, Banfield shows Israel as the bad guy, and continues to blame Israel for Hamas attacking Israeli cities.  In actuality, Israel is asserting its right to self defense, as the New York Times reported,

“Israel had already been facing growing tensions with its Arab neighbors. Israel has confronted lawlessness on its border with Sinai, including cross-border attacks. It recently fired twice into Syria, which is caught in a civil war, after munitions fell in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, and it has absorbed more than 750 rockets fired from Gaza into southern Israel this year. The rockets have hit homes, caused injuries and frightened the population. On Saturday, Gaza militants fired an antitank missile at an Israeli Army Jeep patrolling the Israel-Gaza border, injuring four soldiers.”

Banfield closes her interview with Prosor by sayng, “And I hope that both sides in this combat can reach some kind of resolution soon. And my best to, not only your side, but the Palestinians as well.”  Good luck to Hamas, a designated terrorist organization by the Israelis and by the United States State Department, who is bombing Israel as we speak?

Now tell me again who the bad guys are?