Israel and Hamas: Moral Clarity, Moral Fog, Moral Hypocrisy

November 23, 2012 8:41 am 0 comments

Hamas rally. Photo: wiki commons.

Since the escalation of Hamas missile strikes against Israel began on November 14, there have been three basic kinds of reactions – moral clarity, moral fog, and moral hypocrisy.

Moral clarity distinguishes between the aggressor and the victim, the arsonist and the fireman, and includes the courage to say so.

Fortunately, this latest round of Hamas-triggered violence has evoked voices of moral clarity.

U.S. President Barack Obama has been among them.

On November 18, he stated firmly: “And there’s no country on earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders. So we are fully supportive of Israel’s right to defend itself from missiles landing on people’s homes and workplaces and potentially killing civilians. And we will continue to support Israel’s right to defend itself.”

So has Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper: “We have been concerned obviously for some time about the presence of a terrorist group, Hamas, in charge in the Gaza Strip… [W]e support Israel’s right to defend itself against such terrorist attacks…”

Add to the list German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister David Cameron, and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, among others.

But then there are those who quickly descended into a moral fog. They couldn’t – or simply wouldn’t – allow themselves to leave the 50-yard line.

Their words were so exquisitely crafted that they managed to achieve perfect moral balance, or equivalence, between Israel and Hamas.

For them, there is no distinction between a democratic nation, Israel, that left Gaza to its own destiny in 2005 and seeks only one goal – a peaceful border – and Hamas, a jihadist group that is on the terrorism lists of the U.S. and European Union.

For them, the Hamas Covenant, dripping with venom for Israel and Jews, proclaiming the virtues of death in the service of jihad, and extolling the vision of Shari’a-based rule, is irrelevant to the discussion.

And for them, the fact that Gaza has become an arms magnet, as weapons flow in from the likes of Iran and Sudan, doesn’t prompt any obvious conclusions.

No, for those opting to live on the 50-yard line, the important thing is not to risk making moral choices, but rather to see it all as some extended face-off between the Hatfields and McCoys.

Here are two examples of many from the world of diplomacy:

On November 18, India, a country that knows a thing or two about being the target of jihadist-inspired violence against civilians, nonetheless declared: “We are deeply concerned at the steep escalation of violence between Israel and Palestine, focused around Gaza, that threatens the peace and security of that region.”

And the Swedish foreign minister also walked the morally neutral tightrope: “We need to appeal to both sides to cease all attacks both against and from Gaza as soon as possible.”

In the media, meanwhile, how many headlines have revolved around antiseptic wording like “Hamas-Israel spiral of violence,” or “Hamas-Israel conflict escalates”?

And how about the November 16 front page of the New York Times, which displayed two photographs of equal size – the first of the funeral in Gaza City of Ahmed al-Jabari, the Hamas military commander, and, just below, the funeral of Mira Scharf, an Israeli mother killed by Hamas?

In the same spirit, would equal and abutting space have been given to photos of the funerals of Osama Bin Laden and one of his victims?

Then there is the third reaction – moral hypocrisy.

Among the several candidates, the runner-up has to be Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin.

As the death toll in Syria exceeds 37,000, Russia continues to block meaningful action by the UN Security Council. Still, Ambassador Churkin found the time Monday evening to spearhead a proposed Security Council resolution on the Gaza conflict that included no reference to Hamas’ rocket attacks against Israel.

Yet, without any hint of embarrassment or sheepishness, Churkin had the nerve to criticize the U.S. and its allies who objected to the text, saying: ”Unfortunately it looked like a little bit of a filibustering attempt. Maybe I am mistaken, maybe it’s just a laid-back attitude in a situation where we cannot afford procrastination.

Alas, despite Ambassador Churkin’s valiant efforts, the hands-down winner in this category is Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

He has abandoned the longstanding ties between Turkey and Israel, just as he has dismantled the secular tradition of Atatürk in his effort to lead a new wave of political Islam.

That, in turn, has led Turkey, a NATO member no less, to champion Hamas, an avowedly anti-Western group.

Erdogan has branded Israel a “terrorist state” for having the audacity to defend itself against a group that seeks its destruction. He has vociferously denounced Israel’s use of military force, while never condemning the hundreds of missile attacks against Israel this year alone.

Yet the very same Erdogan has shown no hesitation to go after the PKK, the Kurdish group that seeks not Turkey’s annihilation, but greater rights and freedoms for the Kurdish minority. In taking on the PKK, Erdogan has repeatedly unleashed the full power of the Turkish military, and has not hesitated to cross international borders in pursuit.

An International Crisis Group expert wrote this month: “Erdogan’s response so far [against the Kurdish insurgency] has been a new round of inflexible rhetoric, a military-only strategy on the ground, and a public denial that anyone was on a hunger strike at all [when more than 600 Kurdish prisoners in Turkish prisons are on exactly that].”

Yet Erdogan has the audacity to assail Israel mercilessly for merely exercising its right to defend itself against those who would destroy it.

If nothing else, this latest Hamas assault on Israel provides an opportunity to sort out the who’s who of moral clarity, moral fog, and moral hypocrisy. To say the least, the picture is mixed.

This article originally appeared in the Jerusalem Post and Huffington Post.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Lena Dunham Responds to Charges of Antisemitism: It was Just a Jew Joke

    Lena Dunham Responds to Charges of Antisemitism: It was Just a Jew Joke

    “Girls” creator Lena Dunham responded on Tuesday to charges of antisemitism over an article she had penned for the New Yorker, saying it was all in good humor. Speaking to Variety, Dunham reflected on her “tight-knit Jewish family, where Jew jokes were part of the essential fiber of our communication.” The article Dunham referred to was called “Dog or Jewish Boyfriend? A Quiz,” with options such as “He doesn’t Tip” and “He’s Crazy for Cream Cheese.” Among Dunham’s critics, Anti-Defamation [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Former NBA Star Tweets Article About Jewish Conspiracy to Control Global Media

    Former NBA Star Tweets Article About Jewish Conspiracy to Control Global Media

    Retired NBA player Keyon Dooling tweeted a link on Wednesday to a wildly antisemitic article that accuses Jews of seizing control of the world’s media and using it to promote their own interests. The article, published by an obscure blog in April 2013, highlights six companies it claims are owned by Jews — such as Time Warner, Inc. and the Walt Disney Company – that allegedly “control 96 percent of the world’s media.”  The post includes allegations of “Jewish control” and says [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Rosh Hashanah Won’t Keep the Giants’ Geoff Schwartz From Season Opener

    Rosh Hashanah Won’t Keep the Giants’ Geoff Schwartz From Season Opener

    New York Giants offensive guard Geoff Schwartz responded to an outcry from Jewish fans on Tuesday, saying he will go ahead and play in the season opener despite the fact that it falls on the first night of Rosh Hashanah. “Keep getting tweets about that being the first night of Rosh Hashanah… Don’t know what I’m supposed to tell you. It’s a tough break,” the Jewish athlete wrote, referring to the Giants’ on-the-road game against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, Sept. [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports Jewish Coach David Blatt Has NBA’s Cavaliers Surging at Playoff Time

    Jewish Coach David Blatt Has NBA’s Cavaliers Surging at Playoff Time

    JNS.org – When David Blatt was hired as head coach of the National Basketball Association’s Cleveland Cavaliers last June, he was not often recognized when he walked the streets of downtown Cleveland. What a difference a year makes. Now, Blatt can go few places without being recognized. For good reason. The Jewish coach has the Cavaliers in the mix to win the city of Cleveland’s first championship in a major sport since the Browns won the National Football League title in [...]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports Croatian Soccer Star’s Hebrew Tattoo Causes a Stir Online

    Croatian Soccer Star’s Hebrew Tattoo Causes a Stir Online

    A Hebrew tattoo sported by Croatian soccer star Mario Mandzukic became an internet sensation in Israel after it was exposed on Tuesday during a Champions League match between Ateltico Madrid and Real Madrid A first glance, the tattoo, on the athlete’s back, might leave one with the impression that it was an unfortunate artistic mistake, since the Hebrew letters do not make sense as they are written. However, a closer look at the tattoo shows that it was actually written [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Theater Why an Algemeiner Editor Wrote a Play About a Mass Shooter

    Why an Algemeiner Editor Wrote a Play About a Mass Shooter

    For the past two years, I have served as Opinion Editor at The Algemeiner. I’m perhaps most proud of the paper’s commitment to publishing diverse and opposing viewpoints on the controversial issues of the day. We pride ourselves on voicing different opinions because we know that most issues are not black and white, and because our community is better served by a public debate. In my life outside of the paper, I am a professional actor and playwright. And similarly, [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Commentary In ‘America in Retreat,’ a Real-Life Risk Board

    In ‘America in Retreat,’ a Real-Life Risk Board

    JNS.org – “Risk: The Game of Strategic Conquest,” the classic Parker Brothers board game, requires imperial ambitions. Players imagine empires and are pitted against each other, vying for world domination. Amid this fictional world war, beginners learn fast that no matter the superiority of their army, every advance is a gamble determined by a roll of the dice. After a defeat, a player must retreat. Weighted reinforcement cards provide the only opportunity to reverse a player’s fortunes and resume the [...]

    Read more →
  • Beliefs and concepts Sports Does Working Out With Other Jews Keep You Jewish?

    Does Working Out With Other Jews Keep You Jewish?

    JNS.org – For Daphna Krupp, her daily workout (excluding Shabbat) at the Jewish Community Center (JCC or “J”) of Greater Baltimore has become somewhat of a ritual. She not only attends fitness classes but also engages with the instructors and plugs the J’s social programs on her personal Facebook page. “It’s the gym and the environment,” says Krupp. “It’s a great social network.” Krupp, who lives in Pikesville, Md., is one of an estimated 1 million American Jewish members of more [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.