The new morality: Palestinian statehood
“Post-Zionism” is the moral argument against Zionism.
view of the west bank Photo: Thinkstock/Imagebank
In the wake of an Israeli government- initiated report presenting Israel’s legal
rights in Judea and Samaria, opponents of settlements argue that the issue is
not about Israel’s legal and historic rights, but about “morality.” I assume
that means supporting “Palestinian self-determination,” “ending the occupation”
and establishing a second Arab Palestinian state west of the Jordan
Anything which inhibits this goal, therefore, is considered
“immoral,” including Jews living in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem, aka
“occupied Palestinian territories (OPT).” “Justice for Palestinians,” aka “the
Palestinian right of return” is also hyped as a moral obligation.
accusation is that Israel/Jews have stolen land and occupy Palestinian
territory. Theft is a criminal and hence immoral act. If that is true, however,
due to Israel’s victory in the Six Day War in 1967 this would also apply to
areas Israel acquired in the 1948-49 war.
While this involves legal
disputes, moral arguments focus on Israel’s denial and abuse of human and civil
rights. Even if Israel’s legal claims were justified, it is charged with
violating “international humanitarian law” and stepped over a moral line,
according to organizations like the ICRC.
As TAU Prof. Chaim Gans wrote
in A Just Zionism; on the morality of the Jewish state, (OU P, 2008), it is a
“moral duty... not to undermine the partition plan of 1947,” “there were
significant justifications for the Arabs’ opposition to Jews’ return to the Land
of Israel,” “Jews have a special moral obligation to understand [it],” and Jews
caused “considerable injustice to the Arabs.”
Accordingly, not only is
Israel unable to survive without a Palestinian state, it should not.
turns Arab political aspirations into a moral crusade. Just as Zionism
legitimizes a Jewish state, Palestinianism justifies another Arab state,
regardless of clear and present dangers. Jewish guilt trades for Arab
victimization, terrorism and incitement.
On what ethical principles,
however, is this “morality” based? Is Palestinian statehood and
self-determination a moral right regardless of its purpose and content? Does it
trump genuine legal and historical claims? According to demographic arguments,
Israel should not control the lives of millions of Arabs living in Judea and
Samaria – or, for that matter, anywhere. That seems reasonable.
mutually agreed upon solution, therefore, was provided in the Oslo Accords and
subsequent agreements in which the area was divided into zones: Areas A and B,
which comprised all major Arab population centers and most towns, were given to
the PA; nearly all Arab Palestinians live under Palestinian Authority control.
Area C, in which over 350,000 Jews live along with an estimated several tens of
thousands of Arabs, remained under Israeli control. Core issues like
settlements, refugees and eastern Jerusalem were left for “final status
Since most Arab communities are separated geographically
under this arrangement, and building in Jewish communities (settlements)
continues, it is argued, Israel still “illegally occupies” the entire area, thus
preventing the establishment of a Palestinian state – which raises the
Palestinians and their supporters argue that they
are entitled to self-determination as much as Jews.
That would seem to
mean a “two state solution,” “two states for two peoples.” Here, however,
“moral” arguments break down.
Muslim/Arab/Palestinian leaders refuse to
accept Israel’s right to exist. Jihadist Islamists control the Gaza Strip
and are poised to take over West Bank areas. Hezbollah threatens Israel from
southern Lebanon. Every Israeli withdrawal ostensibly to advance the
“peace process” has been a strategic failure. Surrounded by hostile Arab
countries in turmoil and civil war, Israel’s survival depends on its ability to
defend itself. That too is a moral issue.
Moral argument for Palestinian
self-determination and statehood, therefore, compete with moral arguments for
Israel’s existence. If the moralists are correct, Israel’s crime was not in
winning the war against Arab aggression in 1967, but its survival and victory in
A recent example of how post- Zionist moralists assert their agenda
appeared in a civics textbook written under Adar Cohen’s direction for the
Education Ministry. In one passage the author writes that there is a
contradiction between Israel’s definition as a Jewish state and its obligation
to give equal rights to all of its citizens. “The establishment of Israel in
1948 turned the Arabs in the territory of Palestine-Israel from a majority into
a minority.” Cohen was charged with “unprofessionalism” and denied
AS LONG as Palestinians are unwilling to renounce their intent to
destroy Israel, and reject reciprocity, why should Israel continue to make
concessions? Opponents of settlements have led us into the trap of believing
that creating another Arab Palestinian state in Judea, Samaria and Gaza will
satisfy Arab demands for Israel’s elimination.
Using “moral” arguments,
moreover, masks an even more confused belief that Israel and Jews are guilty for
alleged “crimes against the Palestinian people” when the State of Israel was
established, the ensuing war and dislocation, Arab refugees, and the failures of
The UN and the media transformed the image of the PLO
from a terrorist organization into a “national liberation movement” and a moral
“One man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter” and
“justice for Palestinians” became incantations of moral
Arguments for a Palestinian state should be made on the merits
of the idea, not on guilt, apologies for Israel’s existence and scorn for Jews
who live “over the Green Line.”
Fear-mongering by some Diaspora-minded
Jews about how the international community might react to the assertion of
Jewish claims and rights is shameful not only because it denies the truth of
these claims, but because it causes baseless hatred and needless suffering to
“Post-Zionism” is the moral argument against Zionism.
Uber-moralists who oppose the Levy Report by offering moral flicks instead of
serious legal arguments ignore reality and undermine the purpose, ethos and
sovereignty of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel.
The writer is a
PhD historian, writer and journalist.