There are those who compare Israel’s right to defend itself to America’s right to defend itself. If rockets were to fall on New York, they say, wouldn’t the US defend itself? Or If rockets were to rain down on London or Paris for that matter wouldn’t the same hold true? But they are wrong! Israel does not have that right!
Yes, you read that right and yes, I am a Jew and a rabbi for that matter. So let me explain myself.
A right is something that you have the choice to exercise, and the choice to waive. Say I have a right to a fair trial in court. If I choose to, I can wave that right and admit guilt. I could choose to accept the verdict without a fair trial. I have a right to bear arms in the United States. I may choose to buy a gun and make use of that right. Or I may choose not to exercise that right.
Israel does not have a right to defend itself! because If rockets were to rain down on London or New York, their respective governments would not have a right to attack the offending enemy either. They would have a moral duty and responsibility!!!
The legitimate government of any country doesn’t have a right to defend its citizens. Which, if it was a right, it would be left up to choice; should we or shouldn’t we exercise that right. Rather it is an obligation.
So too with Israel. The democratically elected government of the state of Israel does not have a right to defend its country. It has a moral obligation. That is the primary need for, and mandate of, a government in the first place. If aliens were to descend onto planet earth and state that government may only serve one function and one function only, it would have to be to protect its citizens from attack.
When Israel chooses not to respond to one isolated rocket attack, they are emphasizing that they consider it a right to defend itself. And they are choosing to waive that right. To show some restraint. So they are asked by the international community and media, now that 1000 rockets have fallen on Israel, why shouldn’t Israel waive their right to respond again? It’s only a right that you are being asked to waive a 1000 times! If you can waive it for one, can you not waive it for a thousand?
So too, when Israel compares its actions to the rights of London and New York to defend themselves, they are wrong. London or New York don’t view it as a right to defend themselves. They correctly view it as a duty. No sensible person questioned the duty of the US government to protect itself after 9/11 by invading Afghanistan. People may have criticized that there wasn’t an effective strategy of how to get in and how to get out. But it was a duty to protect the American people. Not a right.
So Israel, you have no right to defend yourself against the rocket attacks from Gaza. You have a duty! An obligation! A responsibility, that you have no right to waive!
If it were viewed as a duty, then after one, yes ONE, rocket attack there should be a warning. And if the warning is disregarded there should be decisive force in response. Believe me, if the enemies of Israel would see that Israel intends to seriously fulfill its obligation to defend its inhabitants, they would think twice (and maybe a thousand times) before testing it and provoking it.
So yes, Israel, you have no right to defend yourself, just like Moscow and Berlin have no right. You have the duty to. And Duties aren’t able to be waived.