Today I wrote a letter to President Biden. (It’s easy online with this link.)
My letter to President Biden:
I hope Israel’s attack in Gaza today was included in your daily briefing.
I’m sure you’ve been informed about the killing in May 2022 of Shireen Abu Akleh, the acclaimed Palestinian-American journalist, by an Israeli military sharpshooter. Today’s military action came without warning and was apparently a preemptive strike to kill Tayseer al-Jabari, a top Islamic Jihad commander in Gaza. The deaths of a 5-year-old child and other civilians were “collateral damage.”
And then there was the U.S. drone strike in Afghanistan earlier this week which killed Ayman al-Zawahiri, al Qaeda’s leader.
Each of these killings – a journalist, and a child, and a military strategist (ie., a terrorist) – were premeditated and the result of military action. My question to you, as the commander in chief of the U.S. military, is there a difference between lawful and legitimate murder, and unlawful terrorism? If there is a difference, does it depend on who the target is? What factors distinguish between lawful and legitimate murder, and unlawful and despicable acts of terrorism?
If the answer is — “it depends on the eye of the beholder” — would a military strike in the heart of Tel Aviv or New York City be lawful if the target was deemed legitimate by the military strategist perpetrating the attack?