Don't Confuse Reticence Respecting Hamas's Invasion of Israel and the Israeli Response with Indifference

As the publisher of and a principal writer for a blog of "Opinionated Views on Law, Politics, Economics, and More," I might be expected to weigh in on the horrific events of the last several days in Israel and Gaza. Although I do not teach the international humanitarian law of war, I know a fair bit about it and have written about its application to prior, smaller-scale conflicts between Hamas and Israel. The 2009 essay just linked, this 2021 essay, and indeed most of my writing about past episodes of conflict between Hamas and Israel focus on whether Israel's use of force in these conflicts violates international law. I have not written much about the lawfulness of Hamas's activities because they are so plainly unlawful.

I have also from time to time expressed views about the broader conflict between Israel and Palestine, including (e.g., in this 2013 essay) discussion of internal divisions among their respective supporters, more frequently focusing on divisions among supporters of Israel, about which I, as a largely secular American Jew with a social network that includes more conservative and more religious Jews in the U.S. and Israel, know more than I know about divisions among Palestinian opinion. Looking back on some of my prior essays from the current vantage point, I fear that what I thought had been clear-eyed pragmatism was unduly optimistic about the prospects for a negotiated resolution.

Accordingly, readers might reasonably expect that I and/or one or more of my co-bloggers would be quick to express views about the latest war. And we may yet. However, for now, I find myself almost utterly devoid of anything insightful or useful to say. Indeed, I cannot even muster the emotional energy to explain my reticence, except to say that I find myself in agreement with the views expressed by Ben Wittes on his substack on Saturday--which include a plea for restraint in offering opinions.

Before too long, my co-bloggers and/or I will likely have something substantive to say about the war in Israel and Gaza. In the meantime, I caution readers not to confuse reticence on the subject with indifference. It more nearly reflects the opposite reaction.