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December 11, 2015

HuffPo Argument for Moral Indefensibility of Israel's "Occupation" is Indefensible

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Alon Ben-Meir, Senior Fellow and professor of international relations and Middle East studies at NYU’s Center for Global Affairs, published a Huffington Post opinion piece finding Israel’s presence in the West Bank to be a transgression of the principles of four moral theories. His summations of Israel’s moral violations are weakly constructed and equivocal. He fails to back up with fact the harsh judgments he passes on the Jewish state and instead seems to mold the theories to uphold a finding he’s predetermined. Of course, he completely ignores the fact that Israel captured this territory in a defensive war making it disputed and not occupied. Further, Israel has repeatedly made offers of statehood on this land to the Palestinian Arab leadership, which they admittedly rejected.

Ben-Meir states that Israel treats Palestinians as “objects rather than persons who can rationally consent to the way they are being treated. Israel is coercing the Palestinians physically and psychologically by denying them human rights, through, for example, administrative detention, night raids, and expulsion, thereby robbing them of their dignity and denying them their autonomy.�?

Of course, Ben-Meir does not note that Israeli Jews are also subject to administrative detention. The summer saw the administrative detention of three Israeli Jews on for potentially possessing information about certain arson attacks. He may take issue with the broad concept of administrative detention, but to present Israel as only exercising that approach toward Palestinians is false. The author claims Palestinian Arabs have been psychologically harmed by the Israeli “occupation�? while ignoring the well-documented trauma of Israelis who live under constant threat of rocket attacks.

Incredibly, Ben-Meir claims that “Israel is making an exception of itself,�? exempting itself “from moral and political norms that the rest of the international community recognizes.�? In truth, Israel is constantly made “an exception�? by the international community, held to a double standard applied to no other country. Further, he discounts the fact that no other country lives under the conditions in which Israel exists; its security situation has no comparison, as no other democracy faces direct threat of annihilation by its neighbors. Faced with lesser national security threats, other countries have acted with far less restraint than Israel.

Ben-Meir rewrites history, making Israel the culpable party in the repeated disintegration of peace talks and moves toward a two-state solution. To Ben-Meir, it Israel’s move to “usurp Palestinian land,�? and not the actions of the Palestinian leaders, that destroyed UN Resolution 242 and the Oslo Accords.

He states that Israel cannot claim to be acting in the moral interest even of its own, recognized citizens. Ben-Meir’s most illogical conclusion is that Israel’s security measures, which impinge on Palestinian rights, are “in fact undermining the security of the state, as is evident from the repeated bloody clashes.�? With extraordinary and brazen victim-blaming, Ben-Meir surmises that the Israelis inability to stamp out Islamic terror is somehow its own fault.

The Israeli citizenry is then taken to task, with “the occupation�? being named the cause of the Israeli people “hardening their hearts,�? a nonsense statement crafted to appeal to the emotional response of Ben-Meir’s readership. Supposedly, Israelis are raising generations who know nothing of moral substance and character as they “continue to commit transgressions against the Palestinians without any sense of moral culpability.�? The evidence that exists to the contrary is, of course, wholly ignored.

Many facts undermine Ben-Meir’s arguments, so he ignores them. But one central fact cannot be ignored: the threats to Israel and the violence perpetrated upon Israelis, as well as Jewish residents of pre-1948 Palestine, precede “the occupation�?. How then is it possible that “the occupation�? is the cause of these threats and violence?

- Rachel Frommer, CAMERA Intern

Posted by SC at December 11, 2015 01:14 PM


i am not claiming that everything here is milk and honey.but noone seems to be able to put through a solution between the palwstininans ans the israelis. i wonder what solution the learned professor has.

Posted by: uzi lowenthal at December 13, 2015 02:00 PM

Anyone , especially an NYU Professor, who thinks removing the settlements will bring about Peace between Israel and the Palestinians, is very sadly naive and mistaken, ie: GAZA. Their leadership wants one Palestine from River to Sea and will only be satisfied when Israel no longer exists.

Posted by: Michael Palmer at December 17, 2015 05:59 PM

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