Moral Equivalents

Tonight Senetor McCain went off on a pro-Israeli rant on the Tonight Show, which was predictable and expected of a US politician. But one thing got me thinking (which has proven dangerous lately) and I’ll paraphrase until I can find the exact quote.

“Israel has killed civilians in this conflict but they are unintentional as opposed to Hizballah that’s launching random rockets. There is no moral equivalency.”

No doubt civilians have died on both sides, but a moral equivalency? Are we really looking for one?

While Hizballah doesn’t have precision laser guided missiles/weapons or one of the world’s strongest air forces, of the 90 something Israelis killed most are soldiers as opposed to the majority of the 900 Lebanese that have been killed being civilians. But I fully understand Senetor McCainâ??s idea of a moral equivalency being that the 900 Lebanese are mostly civilians and so we must also take into account that they are Arab civilians and there are of course undertones of moral tolerability when it comes to killing Arabs. Rabbi Yaacov Perrin can put it in a better way: “One million Arabs are not worth a Jewish fingernail.”

Questions of morality that reek of manifest destiny. These words are littered all over the media and the tongues of politicians when defending Israel: â??moral equivalenceâ??, â??moral obligationâ??, â??moral rightâ??, â??moral superiorityâ??, â??morality is on our sideâ?? and of course â??the most moral army in the worldâ??. The only time the term is used to describe the Arab side is when it’s used in the following sentence: “morally reprehensible” or “morally bankrupt” and you can guess whom they’re talking about.

A question of morality…

If morality is on one’s side what does that mean? Is it a justification for killing people? Is there really an unstated morality behind killing? It seems to me that when the word “morality” comes up so does God. It may be a coincidence but it makes me wonder: Is God, who is the epitome of morality, choosing the side of one people in support of them killing another people who are deemed immoral? Thus is God on Israel’s side the same way He’s on America’s side? Does God talk to Olmert the same way He talks to Bush?

Because it seems to me that morality is always on Israel’s side, the side that is morally superior and therefore has a moral obligation to kill Arabs the same way that morality is on America’s side and therefore it too has a moral right to kill Arabs because you see Arabs are morally bankrupt and their acts are morally reprehensible. It doesn’t matter who is militarily superior, what matters is who is morally superior; morality trumps artillery and whatever you do with it. And it doesn’t matter who is occupying whom or who is forced to live in what kind of morally reprehensible conditions; these arguments are fruitless, perhaps immoral themselves. What matters is that the void of morality or rather the moral bankruptcy of Arabs, most likely inherited from that crazy desert religion they practice, needs to filled. Arabs need to be taught the ways of morality so that they too can embrace the civilized world and go on to bomb and invade other nations and other people deemed less civilized, perhaps people who are darker in skin color, and teach them how to be moral and how to be civil.

And pretty soon the whole world will be purged from immorality and our children and their children can sleep ease at night.

Because the commandment doesn’t say: “thou shall not kill” it says: “thou shall not murder”. In other words what is considered “murder” is open to interpretation and that of course is set by the media and politics (and wikipedia). Convince enough people that what you’re doing is morally right and murder becomes justified, it becomes an obligation, a categorical imperative; it becomes…moral.

Kind of makes you wonder thoughâ?¦whatever happened to the word â??justiceâ???


  • I read an opinion by an israeli political science professor at Tel Aviv University not long ago in which he basically says that morality is not on israel’s side… He says: There’s practically a holy consensus right now that the war in the North is a just war and that morality is on our side. The bitter truth must be said: this holy consensus is based on short-range selective memory, an introverted worldview, and double standards.

    I am sure there are a lot of people just like him who believe this too, it’s just that their voices are not as heard as McCain and Rabbi Perrin

  • Iman, I expect you’re referring to this article?

    Nas, I think you have a point here about the “moral obligation.”

    I have tried to stay away from the question of targetting civilians by either side. But I do have some questions.

    First, I am unsure of the boundaries between “targetting civilians” and “casual disregard.” Attempts to shift the blame to Hizbullah by saying they “hide behind” the civilian population is one manifestation of that.

    Also, Israel, I believe, considers political supporters or even sympathizers legitimate military targets. This is equivalent to how the US determines who is a “terrorist,” as well as to what I believe is the Hamas argument that as long as military service in Israel is compulsory there are no “civilians.” It also supports the idea of one of Israel’s goals being to reduce Hizbullah as a political force in Lebanon, clear interference in another’s internal political affairs, as well of course as remaining a violation, though it could be no more than the sort of collective punishment as seen in the Territories, also a violation of course.

    Haifa has legitimate military and strategic targets, but Hizbullah’s rockets are not accurate. I do not know if other sites Hizbullah has fired on have legitimate military targets. Given the inaccuracy of their rockets, however, and whether targetting civilians or not, it remains a violation.

    I am not looking here for “moral equivalency.” I really see none. Israel had other options than attacking Lebanon, all other considerations aside.

    I am, however, trying to get some sense of where what truth there may be lies in the question of “targetting” civilians.

  • As soon as the US starts supplying Hizb’Allah with F-16s and laser guided bombs then I will consider what McCain has said.

    How about the idea that there is no moral equivalents because Israel is a major regional power illegally occupying land from three seperate nations? These nations have a right, under international law, to resist this occupation.

  • There’s an easy and ready answer that people like this senator have for what you said about the numbers on both sides. They’ll say that Hizbollah uses civilians as human shields whereas the Israeli army doesn’t.

  • I’m disappointed in McCain’s support for Israel, since he strikes me as a man of integrity.

    But I suppose everyone in US politics will be pro-Israel at one point.

Your Two Piasters: