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Israel Does NOT Have the Right to Defend Itself!

November 20, 2012 11:09 am 5 comments

Damage from a Gaza rocket attack on Israel.

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.


  • Rabbi, while I’m sure your analysis is thought to be well reasoned, I believe that you are incorrect, and your logic is flawed.

    It is a right, not an obligation, to do anything, or not to do anything. Everything in this world is about Choice. G-D is not a dictator, and there are no obligations or duties. Throughout the Torah, the theme of choice is presented. There is no duty to Anything or Anyone. Not even a duty to G-D. It is through personal choice that we choose G-D, not through a duty or obligation, and the same is true for everything in life. A person must decide for themselves how they want to act and in what they choose to believe, and it is the consequences of those actions that determines how well they will live their life.

    Israelis and their representative government can choose to live or die, or to defend itself or not, or to respond or not. It is the choice of Israelis living in Israel because it’s their lives at stake, and they can measure their response by reason and logic that fits that particular situation. G-D has given us the ability to reason, and the ability to make choices.

    From the very beginning, from Adam and Eve, everything has been about Choice. And if you choose correctly, you enjoy life, you choose incorrectly, and death follows; and G-D implores us to choose life, but he does not force us to do anything. It is always about choice. Anyone that tells me or others that I have a Duty or Obligation to do something, has attempted to control me in a way that even G-D does not require. And if my beloved G-D does not put any such requirement on me, how presumptuous and arrogant of a human to do so.

    • Shokel

      Thank you for your feedback.

      While it has become fashionable today to say that all morality is a choice and no one should tell anyone else what to do… I wish to present a different argument.

      You say that the Torah is all about choice…
      so let me ask you a question:
      You are outside and you witness a thief about to break into another persons home, do you have a choice whether to call the police or do you have an obligation?
      What if you saw someone attacking an innocent civilian? do you have a choice as to whether to do something (assuming you are able to) or do you have a moral obligation?

      while there may not be an obligation in the western legal system… I think the Torah has what to say about these situations and is very clear. see Leviticus (Vayikra) 19:16 and the commentaries there.

      Let us not confuse the issues. the fact that the Torah tells us that God gives us free will, does not mean that God does not have a list of moral and covenantal obligations for the human race and the Jewish people. the Torah is chock full of obligations of how to live!

      Now, how to enforce these obligations… that is another story. but obligations, they remain.

  • To the Rabbi who wrote this article: I know understand what you are talking about, and it makes complere sence. Israel has a moral obligation or duty to protect herself from her attackers and she has not right to waive that duty as if it was a right. If someone hurts the people of Israel, the government has a duty to protect her people, not a right which can be waived like a choice. Thank you for posting!


  • Levi,

    Very well said. what also gets on my nerves is when the world says “Israel is being disproportionate”

  • The only solution I see to this Israeli occupation is: All Palestinians should just migrate to the United States and start calling it Palestine.

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