Life and Death at the Morality Buffet

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This is a post about you. But first, some things about me.

  • I am a Zionist Jew; I support the right of Israel to exist and to defend herself and her citizens.
  • I am also a liberal Progressive; I support the right of the Palestinian people to their own nation, as part of a two-state solution with Israel.
  • Formerly, I supported organizations like Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), which supports BDS (boycott, divest, and sanctions against Israel), and J Street, which does not oppose all forms of BDS, believing the strategy to be the best way to support a two-state solution.
  • I no longer support BDS or JVP, and question J Street’s refusal to oppose all forms of BDS. Instead, I support AIPAC and other definitively anti-BDS, pro-Zionist organizations.

Several things changed my mind, including a deeper reading of history surrounding the end of the British Mandate, the U.N. Partition Plan, and the founding of Israel; research into the Israeli side of the events Palestinians refer to as the Nakba (or “catastrophe”); research into the support, or lack thereof, of Arab block countries for ending the Palestinian refugee crisis over the past 70 years; and research into the multi-generational, persistent civil and pulpit propaganda campaigns in both the West Bank and Gaza that teach Palestinian youth from a young age to hate Israelis based on their religion as Jews and to hope for, or actively seek, their death. (All of which you can Google and draw your own conclusions which need not be my own.)

Meaning, I can understand Israel’s side of the story.

That’s a side that gets lost—on purpose—in the global BDS campaign. That purposeful myopia explains why so often news stories regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict concentrate heavily, and sometimes exclusively, on one people’s perspective. The moral claim of the BDS movement is to seek fairness and justice for Palestinians because fairness and justice should exist for all.

There is an ongoing terrorism stabbing campaign in Israel. In the past week, dozens of Israeli civilians up and down the country have been wounded—and several killed—by lone-wolf terrorists armed with knives seeking to murder them specifically because they are Jews. Most of the assailants have been teenagers, responding to pulpit and Facebook calls to attack civilian Israelis. In one instance, a public transit bus was commandeered and its passengers knifed and shot.

You’ve heard almost nothing regarding this in U.S. media, and much of the reporting you have heard  has either not told the complete story, or has focused on the ongoing lack of a Palestinian state and gratuitously false claims voiced by Palestinian Authority leaders regarding nonexistent Israeli plans to change access for Palestinians to their highly important holy site, the Al-Aqsa Mosque. That’s bad enough, but par for Israel coverage in world media. For English-language coverage from Israel, though, see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Monday on Facebook, I heard from an acquaintance and BDS supporter who went a step further, and justified the killing of innocent civilians.

And therein lies the awesome bigotry of some BDS proponents. Morality is not a buffet. You don’t get to pick and choose which human lives matter and which do not. Last year, my acquaintance like many people around the world—me included—decried the collateral deaths of Palestinian civilians during Israel’s Operation Protective Edge anti-terrorism campaign in Gaza. The long and loud point was allegedly a moral one—civilians do not deserve to die because of political conflicts.

Here’s where you come in. In 2014, you may have supported Israel’s right to defend herself, supported the BDS movement, remained on the fence, been agnostic on the controversy, or not have cared or followed the news at all. All of those positions, of course, your full right to stand behind. But if, like me, you believed the Palestinian civilian deaths were tragic, and that civilian deaths are not an acceptable part of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, ask yourself if you think the same thing about the Israeli civilian casualties happening right now?

This is not a rhetorical question. Those of you who think it is obviously get the point. The murder of innocent civilians is not acceptable no matter the political context. It’s a universal principal, at least according to the many voices who were decrying last year’s Gaza rocket war.

Among the recent dead and wounded in Israel: babies; teenagers; young adults; parents; grandparents. All the same categories of innocent human beings whose injury or death BDS supporters claimed last year to be universally unacceptable. And furthermore in this case not collateral casualties, but civilians specifically targeted for death solely because they are Jews. Bravo to those of you who understand that morality does not depend on extenuating circumstances like nationality, religion, or your prime minister’s foreign policy.

But like my acquaintance, I’m sure some of you do think that the context of the conflict makes the Israeli civilian injuries and deaths acceptable. Reasonable. Justified. After my acquaintance shared their opinion on my Facebook wall on Monday, when I disagreed and asked them to back up their opinion, they refused, told me they had just shared their pro-BDS views “out of conscience,” had decided in advance that we would never agree, and unfriended me.

Besides the fact that their actions meet the definition of trolling, those actions were also cowardly. (Which I told them privately, afterwards.) They are the same actions that they and many others accused Israel of perpetrating—identifying one group of people, and their lives, as more important than anyone else’s, but refusing to offer a moral justification.

Because there isn’t one.

So if you’re of the opinion that Palestinian civilian deaths were monstrous last year, but that the ongoing civilian injuries and deaths in Israel are justifiable this year (a number of my regular readers that I’m certain is relatively few), I have a few things for you to consider:

  • You are supporting a double standard regarding human rights.
  • Double standards by definition cannot be justified on the grounds of morality, fairness, or justice. (As BDS supporters shouted so loudly last year.)
  • That means you aren’t the morally anchored person you think you are. Not this year, and surprisingly for you because of the incompatibility of a double standard with a moral worldview, not last year, either.
  • What you are, by dint of that double standard and the way you’ve decided to apply it, is, in fact, a racist. And not just a run-of-the-mill racist, either. You’re a hard-core racist willing to let people die because, according to you, they’re the wrong race.
  • You know who else is in that hard-core racist category with you? White supremacists. The Creativity movement. Hate groups like the KKK and Westboro Baptist Church. Psychopathic serial killers who take it upon themselves to decide who gets to live and who gets to die. The nazis.

These are your standards and these are your peers. If that disturbs you, it should.

What was your answer again?

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