How a highly developed moral sense can make you miss the point

By Vic Rosenthal

Ami Isseroff, a reasonable guy who is pro-Israel, recently wrote the following:

The [Palestinian] “resistance” and the Israeli inhumanity continue because, in fact, nobody really cares about them. They are both used as “issues” to attract sympathy by Palestinian terror groups and interest groups on the one hand, and by settlers and right-wing Zionists on the others. The Palestinians use the occupation, the confiscation of land and the arbitrary rights violations to delegitimize the existence of Israel. Every settler who insults a Palestinian, every IDF soldier who insults a Palestinian at a checkpoint is a victory for the Hamas. The Israel advocates use Palestinian terror as an issue to delegitimize Palestinian rights. Every suicide bombing, every Palestinian rocket that lands in Sderot is a victory for the settlers. All the issues are “excuses” but they are real excuses. They are quite useful. — Mideast Web, The Occupation is not so moral either

There are several things about this that bother me.

First, Ami is correct that both Palestinian terrorism and unnecessarily demeaning or provocative Israeli actions are nonproductive for either side. But I object to simply placing them side by side like this. Surely Ami knows that the Palestinians, represented by the Fatah and Hamas factions which most of them support, have clearly enunciated in their platforms their position that justice requires a reversal of the events of 1948 — the elimination of Israel. See my recent post regarding the PA unity government platform.

Israelis, on the other hand, by electing the Kadima party whose platform proposed withdrawal from Gaza and most of the West Bank, have indicated that they consider the occupation undesirable and wish to end it. Extremists exist among the settlers, but they are a minority — even among residents of the territories.

Israeli actions, therefore, even reprehensible ones, happen in the context of an occupation that Israelis in general do not want and which continues because of the threat to Israeli security that would come from ending it. Comparing this to Palestinian terrorism, which is aimed at eliminating the state of Israel and may even be genocidal in intent, is odious.

Second: Ami, how do you really know the degree of Israeli “inhumanity”? Palestinian terrorism is well-documented; it’s not hard to count the missiles falling on Sderot or the casualties of suicide bombings. But the propensity of the Palestinians to amplify and even invent incidents (even whole mass murders, such as the “Jenin Massacre”) is well-known. There’s even a word for it, “Pallywood“. I am not saying that unnecessary brutality does not exist; just that the amount of exaggeration and outright invention is enormous.

Many people with highly developed moral senses, perhaps like Ami, are strongly affected by the idea that our own people may be violating the rights of others. But often they play into the hands of those who cynically manipulate them to weaken the case of Israel, which is fundamentally right in asserting the Jews’ right of self-determination in Israel.

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