A Call for Morality

As the Gaza war winds down, and as the extent of the death and destruction becomes evident, many critics of Israel are charging that Israel was wrong to attack the Hamas regime at all. It is important to distinguish between the conduct of the war and the circumstances that made Israeli action inevitable and necessary, even in the eyes of many Israelis who believe that this war was conducted longer and more violently than was needed in order to achieve its goals.

The statement below was written by Yoel Kretzmer-Raziel. Kretzmer-Raziel is a teacher and Torah scholar who lives at Kibbutz Ein Tzurim, near the border of the Gaza Strip. It is currently circulating by e-mail and I have translated it with his permission.–HW

Yoel Kretzmer-Raziel

The Cast Lead operation has been underway for nearly three weeks in the Gaza Strip. The moral justification for launching this operation is clear to us. Over the course of the three years following Israel’s evacuation of Gaza, Palestinian society faced a choice of which path to choose. The Palestinian leadership in Gaza chose to continue firing into Israeli territory and even to intensify its attacks, and to work to the detriment of the welfare of the Gaza Strip’s population. Had this society wished to do so, it could have created a new and entirely different situation. Israel has no interest in continuing the blockade of Gaza Strip and, had the Palestinian leadership not chosen to fire into Israel, an entirely different set of regional circumstances would have come into being.

The logic of defense requires that pressure be applied to prevent attacks on our citizens. We take no position here on which is the correct defense strategy for achieving this goal, nor do we address the diplomatic outcomes produced by the military operation. Rather, the moral issue is our concern. Clearly, however, successful diplomacy requires that the other side understand our willingness to use force.

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Tough Love: The Moral Choices in the Gaza War

Haim Watzman One series of questions posed to Israeli soldiers in discussions of war ethics goes something like this: If you were ordered to blow up a house where a terrorist commander was hiding, and you had reason to believe that enemy civilians were in the house, should the order be refused? If you were … Read moreTough Love: The Moral Choices in the Gaza War

War Ethics In A War Zone (2)

Haim Watzman

In response to your last post, Gershom, we don’t disagree about most of the big issues. Of course soldiers, like national leaders and citizens, must make moral judgments, and must make them frequently. My point my previous post was that people in all these categories inevitably make these decisions with imperfect—often woefully imperfect—information. I admire Walzer’s effort to establish practical guidelines for how to conduct war and conflict justly and I largely agree with him.

But I think he is at times overly sanguine about people’s ability to make educated judgments in real time in situations of conflict. Indeed, he acknowledges the difficulty. At the beginning of Chapter 19 of Just and Unjust Wars (p. 304 in my paperback of the 4th edition), he writes:

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