The key word for those criticizing Israel’s war against Hezbollah and Hamas is “disproportionate.” No one, not even Israel’s strongest critics, can claim that Israel or any other country does not have the right to respond in kind for cross-border military attacks, so instead they claim to criticize only because they believe Israel’s response “disproportionate” to the offense.
However, in this context, using the term “disproportionate” merely serves to create the appearance of saying something reasoned and honest while in actuality saying nothing practical beyond connoting disapproval.
What exactly could an honest person consider a “proportionate” response to repeated attacks and hostage takings carried out by military forces backed by hostile countries? Not one of the major critics, including Bill Clinton, Putin or Chirac have ventured to say exactly what physical action he would consider “proportionate.” Turning rhetoric in to real-world action means assigning numbers to things. How many soldiers, tanks and planes could Israel deploy and still have the critics consider their response “proportionate”? How many casualties could they inflict? Without this information, making a claim of “disproportionate” response is mere harping.
In the real world, a “proportionate” response to any attack is the level of response required to insure that the attack never occurs again. By that reasonable and honest standard, Israel has responded in a restrained and “proportionate” manner. The “disproportionate” critics really want Israel to respond in an essentially ritualistic manner. They expect Israel to engage in some little response that will serve to have their national honor satisfied and then to just let the violence continue.
On the bright side, the use of “proportionate” and “disproportionate” in anti-Israel rhetoric makes it easy to spot the stupid or dishonest critics.