Any country should be judged fairly according to the way it reacts to events. The sign of a mature, and civilised country, is also the way it reacts to threats. Like any person, a person's level of maturity can be seen by how well they react to events; if they react rationally, and with a careful, measured response, this is the measure of maturity.
Applying the same thing to nation-states, we can compare how countries react to events, in particular, terrorism.
This is all provoked by the very recent news of the shooting (killing a number, and wounding many more) of unarmed charity workers on board a boat by Israeli commandos.
First of all, the Israeli foreign minister said that the "Freedom Flotilla" was a provocation to Israeli sovereignty. Regardless of my views of the Mr Liebermann, the foreign minister, this statement is wrong on two points: a group of ships of charity workers sending food and medical supplies cannot be called a provocation; and Gaza is not Israeli territory, so cannot be considered part of Israeli sovereignty.
Whoever gave permission for commandos to attack unarmed civilians (Mr Liebermann?) shows a complete lack of humanity, as well as a disregard for international law, and no right to membership to belonging to civilisation in general.
But let's review the right that Israel has to defend itself against threats to its sovereignty, and terrorism. Let's compare it to other countries with terrorism problems, and let the facts speak for themselves.
In 2006, after the terrorist attack by Hezbollah killed two Israeli soldiers, Israel straightaway bombed Beirut airport, and launched an all-out war against the Lebanese government, destroying much of its infrastructure over a month-long attack ("war" would be a misleading term here, as the Lebanese government had already told its military not to defend itself against Israeli attacks).
The IRA often attacked and killed British soldiers in Northern Ireland and elsewhere during its terrorist campaign; yet the British government never thought to bomb Dublin airport or destroy the Republic of Ireland's infrastructure as a "measured retaliation".
The same could be said of the Spanish government's response to ETA's unending terror campaign.
A blockade has been in place against the Hamas-controlled territory of Gaza for some years now. Israel says this is a fair response against the terror attack by Hamas.
Again, the UK had never considered a blockade a reasonable response to the IRA's terror campaign. And it has never considered attacking civilians who dared to try and "break" the "blockade".
So what's so special about Israel?