Israel is waging a war, and it has been ever since European Jews entered Palestine and began a campaign to denationalize Mandate Palestine. The continuing siege, occupation, dispossession, and annexation of Palestine are crystal clear examples of the state of war.
Palestinians have every right to resist the siege, occupation, dispossession, and annexation. Palestine has the legitimate right of self-defense and the use of violence to resist violence against itself. If there were no siege, occupation, dispossession, and annexation, then there would be nothing for the Palestinians to resist against. Israel provides the right for Palestinians to fire rockets into Israel. Since Israel has no right to carry out the illegal acts of laying siege, occupying, dispossessing, and annexing the territory of another people, it follows that Israel also has no legitimate right to respond to any resistance – resistance that is legitimate — to its illegal actions.
Israel has the right and the responsibility to uphold international law, and that would require ending the siege, occupation, dispossession, and annexation. It should also require much more: such as prosecuting those culpable for its state’s aggression, issuing a profound mea culpa, and providing restitution to its victims.
Israel and its morally challenged supporters have no leg to stand on in justifying Israel’s indefensible killing and destruction. That the United States, Canada, and many European countries would support a scofflaw state such as Israel speaks to the moral inclination of these countries, the elected representatives, and those who elect them.
In 1933, the ethical scientist Albert Einstein said, “As long as I have any choice, I will stay only in a country where political liberty, toleration, and equality of all citizens before the law are the rule.”1
Obviously that means Israel is not a state where the famed physicist would stay.
Apartheid Israel’s reliance on militarism and violence to enforce its illegal occupation against Palestinians would surely have deeply saddened the pacifist Einstein who would have denounced the current carnage. Einstein disdained the military. He wrote of the:
… worst outcrop of the herd nature, the military system, which I abhor. That a man can take pleasure in marching in formation to the strains of a band is enough to make me despise him. He has only been given his big brain by mistake; a backbone was all he needed. This plague-spot of civilization ought to be abolished with all possible speed. Heroism by order, senseless violence, and all the pestilent nonsense that does by the name of patriotism–how I hate them! War seems to me a mean, contemptible thing: I would rather be hacked in pieces than take part in such an abominable business. And yet so high, in spite of everything, is my opinion of the human race that I believe this bogey would have disappeared long ago, had the sound sense of the nations not been systematically corrupted by commercial and political interests acting through the schools and the Press.2
To be sure there are Israelis with brains to recognize and reject the violence and racism of the state of Israel, who have morally upright backbones to refuse militarism and patriotic indoctrination. The problem is that there are not enough people to resist the evil – not enough of them in Israel or outside of Israel.
Einstein was ahead of his time, and his moral convictions still elude too many people nowadays.
- In Introduction to Albert Einstein, The World as I See It. [↩]
- Albert Einstein, The World as I See It. [↩]