By Eitan Diamond
I am a humanist and therefore wish there was no need for boarders, that all the fences that come between us were torn down, that countries should cease to be, that there be an end to war, that we should all just get along and live in peace in the State of Man.
I cherish freedom and therefore would there were no need for government, that none should wield power over another, that we could each do as we please and that no one should be sorrowed by the force of law.
Sadly, we live in a world where there is not only love, but also much hate. We divide between that which is ours and that which is other. The other is danger, imagined or real, and we guard ourselves from it. We build walls and seek sanctuary in the belly of monstrous leviathans of our own creation. To these monsters - States, Sovereigns - we yield our liberty. We empower them to exercise violence and in return we are promised order, justice and security.
Israel is not evil. States are man's creation, and if there is evil about them, this evil lies in Man. In his propensity to hate, his lack of empathy, his intolerance, his inability to care for the other as he cares for himself and for that which is his. Given this evil - and who could deny that it is indeed given? - the State is necessary. Not an ideal, but a necessity - a necessary response to evil. Israel is not a utopia. Like all states it distinguishes between citizen and non-citizen. Perhaps even more then most, it maintains, nurtures and celebrates the mythic ethos of a collective identity thereby expanding the divide between "us" and "them", friend and foe. This divide, however, was not created by the Jewish state. Jews were marked as the other, the enemy, and hated for it long before they had a state to call their own. The hatred from without and the terrible, incomprehensible, evils visited in its name are in fact the very thing that made, and continue to make, the need for Israel apparent. While the world is as it is and not as it ought to be, this need will persist and as long as it does I believe it just that Israel continue to be.
I accept that the state protects me and those dear to me and I'm grateful for the fact. I see that it brings stability and order and that it allows for co-existence and co-operation. I realize that in order to do all this, the threat, and actual use, of force are often necessary. It is not so much for fear of this force, but because I consider it just, that I pay taxes and that I have willingly served in my country's army.
But I am, as I said, a humanist and I do cherish freedom and because of this I must question before I do as I am told. Not all state force is exercised to serve a just end and even when the end is just the means towards its realization are not always so. When the state commands me to do what is blatantly wrong I believe I am bound by justice to defy its command.
Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza is wrong.
It is not just. The forceful domination of the Palestinian people and the violence and humiliation which they are forced to endure are evil. This evil breed's further evil, feeding the hatred that has produced murderous acts of terror and taken the lives of so many of this land's inhabitants. Had this evil been committed so as to prevent one greater still - had human interests been weighed up against each other, suffering for suffering, blood for blood - it might have been possible to defend it as a necessary, though unfortunate, means to a justifiable end. This, however, is not the case. Here evil is committed because some suffering - that of the Palestinians, the 'others' - is not even placed on the scale. The occupation is perpetuated by a government that values one human over another. If justice is blind, this is not justice. The occupation is perpetuated by those who value land over the lives of other men. This is wrong. It is not goodness. It is not righteousness. It is immoral.
It threatens security. Because the occupation is immoral it is also weakening. A state's might is comprised of the might of its people. When people fight for what they believe to be right they do so with vigour. When, on the other hand, they are required to do what is wrong, they cannot but question, they will hesitate, they will be less willing to risk, they will not sacrifice all, their collective force will diminish and the state will grow weaker. In defence of the occupation Israel's citizen-soldiers are required to degrade and humiliate Palestinian civilians. They must strike at any danger and must do so swiftly least it strike first upon them, and so they are light on the trigger and maim and kill not only armed foe, but also any innocent who happened to get caught in the line of fire. These things I know because I have seen them. I have seen how they corrupt. Do this much longer and it will erode at the moral edge which gave Israel strength until there is nothing left of it. While Israel is weakened by the wrong it perpetuates, its enemies are strengthened for they can harness rightness to their side.
This is why I refuse to obey. While I accept the authority of the state as a source of security and justice I will not do so when it transgresses against these very things. The occupation of the territories threatens all the values that give right to Israel's being. I will not lend my hand to such a wrong. Instead I will do as best I can, and persuade as many others as I can, to bring it to an end.