Moral Relativism and Ethical Inversion in Gaza
I remember the day that I made a decision to invest my energies in spiritual rather than political activism. I was on an anti-apartheid march at the University of Witwatersrand, and as we emerged from the campus into Braamfontein, I noticed that some demonstrators had joined with a broad banner at the head of the procession. Painted in quick, broad strokes, it screamed “Zionism = Apartheid.”
Since that moment, the thrust of my life has been to seek change through spiritual rather than political activism.
I think that all anti-Zionism has a spiritual root of antisemitism. But the moral relativism and ethical inversion that is rampant in the global perception about Israel is so widespread, so deep and so intense, that it strikes me as having extra-ordinary spiritual implications.
Someone I very much respect once videographed the Dalai Lama, and asked him for a message to the Israeli and Palestinian people. The summarized, distilled version of the Dalai Lama’s message was this: “Regardless of your past history, the current reality is that you have to live side by side.”
At first glance, these words seemed innocuous. But when I thought about them more, I realized that the Dalai Lama was taking no position on who was right, and who was wrong; he acknowledged the historical narratives of both people, and pointed no fingers at who was primarily to blame for the conflict.
I disagree. I believe that the need to acknowledge everyone’s narrative as equally valid has stuck us in the muck of moral relativity, and worse — ethical inversion.
When Israel left Gaza in 2005 — it left. There is no longer any “occupation.” American Jews even found a way to gift the Palestinians in Gaza with greenhouse irrigation systems. Yet within a month, looters had stripped those greenhouses, and began destroying the conditions for peace.
Since the Gaza withdrawal, terrorists have fired more than 11,000 rockets into Israel — all of them targeting civilians. Hamas’ terror tunnels cost hundreds of millions of dollars to build, yet Hamas builds them instead of helping its people. Hamas has also used schools, hospitals, mosques and homes as weapons caches and launching pits for missiles. And to ensure that those terror tunnels and missile launchpads are filled to the brim with eager terrorists, the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas have indoctrinated their children to hate and kill Israelis; they’ve also given them the weapons training to do it.
And it’s not only the Israelis who have noted the immoral and (according to international law) illegal use of missiles by Hamas. Ibrahim Khraishi, the Palestinian representative to the UN Human Rights Council acknowledged that, “The missiles that are now being launched against Israel, each and every missile constitutes a crime against humanity.” Hamas also encourages the Arab residents of the Gaza Strip to become victims of Israeli self defense actions, and then gleefully uses the tragedy to its advantage, issuing social media guidelines that dead terrorists should always be referred to as “innocent civilians.” In the words of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: “We use missile defense to protect people. They use people to protect missiles.”
Yet throughout the decades-long conflict, Israel has always adhered to international law. Prior to bombing, Israel’s military has prewarned Gazan residents by dropping leaflets, via direct telephone calls, and with roof knocking.
To boot, even during the current hostilities, Israel allows foodstuffs, medical supplies and more into Gaza, and continues to provide Gaza with electricity — even though Gaza alone owes the Israel Electric Corporation NIS 220 million, $64.15 million (which is just a fraction of the staggering NIS 1.5 billion, $437.38 million, of unpaid Palestinian debt.)
In the words of former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee: “Not one of the Palestinians would have died if Hamas didn’t insist on firing rockets into Israel and then using civilians as human shields. … I’m not saying this because I’m a Jew. … I’m not a Jew. I believe there’s a difference however between good and evil. And I would never tell good to restrain itself. Nor would I ever treat evil as if it were the same as good.”
Huckabee is a far cry from the Dalai Lama. But sometimes we must take a position on who is right, and who is wrong. We shouldn’t always point fingers at who is to blame, but what is one to do when confronted with facts like these? How do you live side-by-side with millions of people who want you dead?
As much as Huckabee’s musings seem hostile, there is not a moral equivalence between the two stances that pave a path to peace.
Shimona Tzukernik is the creator of The Method, a therapeutic application of Kabbalah for individuals and corporations seeking spiritually based transformation. Known as “The Kabbalah Coach,” she has counseled hundreds of individuals, and now offers coaching certification in The Method.