All who do so are immoral letches deserving the loudest of condemnations.
Dr.Manfred Gerstenfeld and Jamie Berk’s newest collaboration was first published at the Algemeiner, but with the footnotes included here, with the authors’ consent.
MORAL NIHILISM: COMPARING MILITARY ACTIONS TO COLD-BLOODED MURDER
Manfred Gerstenfeld and Jamie Berk
Israeli military operations in the past and its reactions to the recent wave of individual Palestinian terrorism have come under frequent criticism from Western pseudo-humanitarians. One often hears false moral equivalence is that of Israeli actions intended to kill only terrorists comparing them to premeditated cold-blooded murder. Sometimes such comparisons are made by prominent officials. In some cases they even abuse the memory of Jews murdered by terrorists by using such equivalences. Two classic cases among many will illustrate this
Possibly soon an agreement may be reached between Turkey and Israel over the Mavi Marmara affair. In this context it may be recalled that U.S Secretary of State John Kerry compared the three killed in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing to the nine killed on the Mavi Marmara flotilla that attempted to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza in 2013.1 Kerry falsely mischaracterized the passengers on the Mavi Marmara as innocent activists and bystanders, much like the actually-innocent Boston Marathon victims, killed by bombs hidden in backpacks.2
However, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs demonstrated that the passengers on the Mavi Marmara had planned all acts of violence prior to the Israeli navy boarding the ship. In addition, video footage shows an Israeli soldier being thrown overboard, and other soldiers being attacked with metal pipes and chairs immediately after boarding, leaving no time to negotiate with passengers.3
Another outrageous example of such false moral equivalence is that of then European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton who compared in 2012 the deaths of innocent people by serial killers and brutal dictators like Syria’s Bashar al-Assad to accidental deaths of civilians due to Israeli actions in Gaza. In a speech to Palestinian youth in Brussels, she abused the memory of the four Jews intentionally killed by the Muslim terrorist Mohamed Merah in Toulouse, France by saying:
“When we think about what happened today in Toulouse, we remember what happened in Norway last year, we know what is happening in Syria, and we see what is happening in Gaza and other places – we remember young people and children who lose their lives.”
Philosopher Jean Bethke Elshtein has pointed out the dangers of false moral equivalences: If we could not distinguish between an accidental death resulting from a car accident and an intentional murder, our criminal justice system would fall apart. And if we cannot distinguish the killing of combatants from the intended targeting of peaceable civilians, we live in a world of moral nihilism. In such a world, everything reduces to the same shade of gray and we cannot make distinctions that help us take our political and moral bearings.”4
The false moral equivalence used against Israel and the Jews has indeed much wider implications for the world at large as they encourage terrorism. 5 As in particular Muslim terrorism has increased greatly since Ashton and Kerry made their remarks this issue merits far more attention in the current public discourse than it actually gets.
In fact the Israeli army has made more moral teaching efforts of soldiers than any other armed forces.6 The exact opposite can be said for terror organizations intended to murder civilians, or in the case of the Mavi Marmara, illegal activists intending to attack soldiers.
1 Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, “The Gaza Flotilla: Facts and Official Reactions,” Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 15 September 2010.
2 JTA, “John Kerry Compares Gaza Flotilla and Boston Marathon Bombing Victims,” The Jewish Daily Forward, 23 April 2013.
3 “IDF forces met with pre-planned violence when attempting to board flotilla,” Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 31 May 2010.
4 Elshtain, Jean Bethke. Just War against Terror: The Burden of American Power in a Violent World. Basic, 2003.
5 Dershowitz, Alan M. The Case for Israel, Wiley, 2004.
6 Amos N. Guiora, “Teaching Morality in Armed Conflict; The Israel Defense Forces Model,” Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Jewish Political Studies Review 18:12, Spring 2006.