There ain't no "just war", there's just war.
There is, as ever, a clue in the conversational hed; "That's enough pointless outrage about Gaza". We established last time round with this that Aaro doesn't usually write these headlines and thinks the conversational ones are overused, but nonetheless, the sofa rule applies and the conversational headline is almost always an indicator that the sub didn't understand the point, or didn't think it was interesting. And who can blame the poor bugger in this case, when, the taste of brandy butter still in the back of his throat, he had to come up with something to describe "Aaronovitch on proportionality".
Aaro begins the thing raging and kicking shit out of strawmen and "Gallowegian" MPs (oh please, my sides), while talking such a line of rubbish about proportionality that he ought to have known (and surely would, if he'd stopped to think for even a second) that he was doing so. These paragraphs are not to be read, however, they have a different function, which is not unlike the function of a big black cloud of ink emmmitted by a squid. That is, they serve to obfuscate an important matter, in order to allow the ink-chucker to make his escape.
The thing is that, with respect to Israel as with so much else, where you stand depends to a very great extent upon where you sit. Aaro wants to write a column about the current situation in Israel and Gaza, and he wants to mention what the facts of the matter are. However, any simple factual recitation of what's happened is going to end up looking like a criticism of Israel. This is because Israel's actions with respect to the Palestinians have been very very morally wrong for a long time, and any even remotely objective historical account is going to end up making this very obvious.
And so, if you have lots and lots of friends who are strong partisans of Israel, write a column for the Jewish Chronicle which has a new editor who is a violent partisan of Israel, and your main gig is writing for the Times comment section, whose editor is also a fairly strident partisan of Israel, then writing a reasonably objective column about Israel is going to be personally and perhaps even economically uncomfortable, unless you make sure to say, up front and loud, which side you're on. And in doing these things, as in flattering royalty, the trowel is probably a better instrument than the mouse-whisker brush. That's the point of the "proportionate" thing - the fact that it's a recycled talking point actually makes it better for its true purpose, as it shows the writer to still be a reliable party man, whereas an original idea wouldn't. You can, as we say, take the man out of the Communist Party, but ...
So anyway, begin reading the column at "Will the Israeli action ..." in para 6, and continue. It doesn't seem particularly mean-spirited or nasty from this point on, but it doesn't make sense either. Time for the Straussian reading mentioned above; I'll take key passages (italicised below), assume that their true meaning is the opposite of the exoteric one and it will all gradually become clear:
"The message that has been given out to Palestinians, time and again, is that there is no clear advantage to be gained from being moderate. It has been all stick and no carrot"
On the face of it, this looks like normal AaronoBlairBirtist liberal imperialism - it's the analytical step beyond the "Where is the Palestinian Gandhi Gambit" into asking; how can we
This would fit in with a Straussian reading of the conclusion, where below I have not only italicised but bolded the four words (best considered combinatorially in pairs) I consider to be key to the whole article:
"If we are to do this then the friends of the Palestinians would be best advised to put pressure on Hamas never to launch another of its bloody rockets and to stop its death-laden rhetoric, and the friends of Israel well placed to cajole it into making a settlement seem worthwhile. All else is verbiage."
The most obvious binary here is (pressure, cajole). Palestinians get "pressure", while the State of Israel has to be "cajoled". Just swapping these two about and considering the consequences is good for hours of Straussian fun. But these are more fertile fields ...
How about (pressure, rhetoric)? Aaro's here expressing a distressingly common view in regional politics; that it's OK to use military and economic force (and when I say "economic force", I'm talking about blockades here - in other words, the kind of "pressure" that kills people) to achieve wholly rhetorical ends. How many dead or ill people is is worth to get some nasty words changed in a document? Personally I think the answer is "none", but I'm in the minority here it appears. If we're taking a Straussian reading here, then the interesting question is; what purely rhetorical goals would justify the shooting of rockets into Israeli towns? My answer is again "none", but it's interesting to consider what taking the opposite position commits you too.
There's also (cajoled, verbiage). If we friends of Israel don't starting cajoling them right away, then the rest is just verbiage? Strip this clause of its, well, verbiage, and you can see right away how daft it is. Cajoling is right next to verbiage, except in the thesaurus. When Aaro says "cajoling", it's obvious that he means the opposite.
Now, this Leo Strauss thing is a bit of a joke, but I actually think that this is the direction in which Aaro's reasoning is going, and the reason this column's so convoluted is that it's largely being written by his psychological self-defence mechanisms against his conclusion. I mean, when you look at a passage like:
This is the great lacuna in our conversation about Gaza and Palestine. We simply have no idea what the arguments inside Hamas are, and how they are affected by Israeli actions.
then your first thought is surely - but on the other hand, we have a great deal of knowledge about what the arguments inside the Israeli political community, and we don't use this knowledge at all. We just assume that the most right-wing factions are the most popular, that their most obvious war-mongering electioneering is sensible policy and that the idiot airpower faction in their army are (despite the number of occasions on which they've proved themselves to be neither) good soldiers and honourable men. Why and when did the brand "Zionist" (which used to be wildly popular on the left, ask Eric Lee or somebody) get taken over by these right wing nuts and dragged through the dirt, and who let it happen? Not a comfortable line of thinking to start going down if you want to keep on good terms with Stephen Pollard ...
But in the end, go down this line we must, particularly if Aaro is to achieve his laudable ambition:
"Will it, in the long term, relieve Israeli citizens from the threat of arbitrary extinction?"
By which he of course means, "relieve Israeli and Palestianian citizens" doesn't he? I'm sure he does.
Best wishes to all our readers for a Happy New Year.
 A family relation of this tactic is Peter Dale Scott's "negative template" strategy for getting clues in official coverups; when someone like Dick Cheney is absent from the official record of 9/11 at a number of points where one would really have expected him to be at the centre of things, that's interesting. Note also that there is textual support for the use of such a reading with Aaro - his Rule of Reversal (in discussing statistics) is a concept he's quite proud of.
 Although even this is not without interest; how much outrage about Gaza would be the right amount, and would it matter if it was pointless or not? I seem to remember that Aaro did actually think that there was a certain amount of compassion that it was correct to feel about Madeleine McCann and her family, but that anything beyond this was unseemly.
 Don't even bother, David Hirsh and his wannabes. It's simply a fact. If Lindsey German were to write an article about Hamas which stuck remotely close to the facts, she'd lose most of her friends. Both Pollard and Finkelstein have written numerous and passionate articles about their political views about Israel and I don't see why I should do them the insult of pretending to be unaware of them.
 Just to make this clear; any reasonably objective history is going to leave the Palestinians looking pretty bad too, but Aaro doesn't have a weekly column on Al-Jazeera and he does in the Times and JC.
 Another binary opposition that might interest a literary critic here would be (Hamas, Israel). These are both seemingly taken as unitary blocks which have no internal politics of their own (a fairly standard feature of Decent politics), but note that the Palestinians are rhetorically represented in Aaro's prose by their most violent and extreme faction, while vice versa, the most violent and extreme faction in Israeli politics is referred to using the name of the country itself. Two ways of obscuring the moderates.