Conor goes out on a limb and makes one:

Hamas is a despicable organization. That it triumphed in an election speaks very poorly of the Palestinian polity. But that is different from saying that everyone voted for Hamas because they want to blow themselves up in an Israeli discoteque. The very fact that Hamas performs lots of social service functions implies either that they are by nature philanthropists or that doing so helps them to bolster their popularity.

I have a little less hope for Palestinian society than I do for Iraq in the foreseeable future. But I assume there is some distinction between a Hamas mafia boss and the average Gazan. Of course, that distinction has largely been erased - for the time being - by Israel's aggression. And the blockade and destitution within Gaza - and its emergence as an isolated, battered terrorist-run township - may also have elided the distinction further. But I don't believe the distinction has never existed or cannot exist. Larison, meanwhile, contrasts the Georgia and Gaza conflicts:

...comparison with Western reactions to the war in Georgia is useful. Most politicians and pundits deplored Russian “aggression” and disproportionate Russian actions following the initial Georgian escalation. Indeed, I also said that the Russian response was disproportionate, because it seemed to be so, but for most Western observers the importance of proportionality seems to come and go like the tide depending on the military action in question.

Two years ago and again this year, Israeli military action has appeared to be proportionate to most of the same people who were deeply offended by Russian actions, or else they will insist that proportionality is irrelevant or impossible to define. If the consensus-supporting politicians and pundits are creative, they may argue both things at the same time. What never fails is their willingness to make excuses for one side while falsely claiming that their opponents in the debate are doing likewise. If there is one thing that most of the critics of U.S.-allied governments have in common, it is the desire to get Americans to stop making excuses for their allies when the allies are in error.

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