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Rely on the Justice of our Cause, not on our Weakness

Before the “Swords of Iron” war, Israeli Prime Ministers would accompany visiting foreign politicians to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in order to acquaint them with the extent of the atrocity and show them the holocaust the Jewish people survived. In 2023 Israel changed course; now politicians from all over the globe (along with Elon Musk) are taken on a tour of the Gaza Envelope towns to see the bloodstained children’s bedrooms, witness the destruction, absorb the horror, meet and embrace the families whose loved ones were taken hostage. We are the unfortunate, and whoever remains unconvinced will be shown the “video of horrors”, after which they won’t dare withhold their compassion.

In the liberal world, which draws its ideologies and marching orders from the progressive left in America, it is the weak and unfortunate who are always in the right. Israel has the legitimacy to fight Hamas only because Hamas murdered, raped, and kidnapped Israelis. This legitimate use of power has a time limit though, and Israel’s time is running out. When will it run out? When memory of the victims fades or when tragic pictures start emerging from Gaza, pictures of orphaned children and wounded adults sheltering from the rain in a refugee camp. Then, like in a game of musical chairs, Israel will leave the “poor weak and justified” chair and the Gazans will take their place, being even more unfortunate and thus more justified.

The West’s military conceptions create a paradoxical and morally destructive pattern – the weak party is always right, regardless of historical facts, ideologies, ambitions or actions; there is no distinction between good and evil. The sole criterion is who is the ‘oppressor’ and who is the ‘oppressed’.

The deep tragedy of this framework is that use of force can only come through suffering. Israel paid the price of kidnapped children and 1400 dead for the brief moral justification to fight. Though hard to admit, Israel would not have the legitimacy to fight the terrorists in Gaza without the terrible massacre, since Israel is a strong state. Therefore, by definition, every Israeli action is framed as the aggression of the strong against the weak and one cannot make the case of being both strong and justified.  On the Northern border, Israel hasn’t paid a high blood price, which is why it doesn’t have the justification to launch an attack that would cause significant collateral destruction to Lebanon.

The international legitimacy hourglass is not necessarily an expression of Jew-hatred; the worldview according to which the weak minority must be protected and empowered is a common one in the West. When Grant Napear, a leading American sports commentator and radio host said “All lives matter” in response to the “Black Lives Matter” slogan, he was promptly fired. When Republican Senator Tom Cotton published an op-ed in the New York Times calling for the Army’s assistance in subduing the violent riots on American streets in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death, he was viciously attacked, and the newspaper that platformed him sustained its own share of sharp rebuke. The basic assumption in the progressive world of values is that in a world that is a battlefield between oppressors, meaning whites, the educated, men, etc., and the oppressed, such as women, ethnic minorities, and the poor, the weak minority must always be protected. Overcoming the “oppressors” is a supreme value. Under this equation the Palestinians are the oppressed and Israel is the oppressor.

A traditional moral perception maintains that the weak are not necessarily right; there are standards for good and evil. It is imperative to fight to the bitter end those who raise the banner of genocide and target civilians, it is imperative to utterly destroy those who cheer the sight of captive babies. It is right and moral to use force against evil, be it “weak” or “strong”.

The game of musical chairs is a tragic game that costs lives, the “unfortunate, justified” chair is fertile ground for empowering terrorism. The Palestinians sit on the “oppressed” chair and prepare grenades and Molotov cocktails. Israel is both strong and justified and that is a paradox it is high time the progressive culture learned to accept.     

First published in Hebrew in Makor Rishon

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Dr. Naama Avidan

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