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Courage to Refuse > Press > Immoral ethical codes - Arik Diamant
Immoral ethical codes - Arik Diamant 02/03/2004
 
 

Israel is fighting two wars nowadays. One is a war of no choice, a difficult, complex war - a war against terror. The second war is stupid and evil - a war that sanctifies land rather than people, that discriminates between the blood of some and the blood of others, that violates the most basic human rights of millions of people. That is the war to protect the settlements.

For some time, there has been a dialogue of the deaf in Israel between those opposed to Israel Defense Forces operations in the territories and those who support those operations; between those who rightfully believe in our right to defend the security of the citizens of the state of Israel, even at the cost of harm to innocents on the Palestinian side, and those who rightfully have reservations about the terrible moral price that such activity exacts.

    

It was against the background of that debate that Major General Amos Yadlin, commander of the war colleges, and Professor Asa Kasher sought to formulate new boundaries for what is forbidden and permitted, in the form of "An ethical code for the war against terror." It is an attempt to build a bridge between morality and security - to return clear moral boundaries to the army and establish moral boundaries to security.

 

In an article in Haaretz ("Those who cry with one eye," February 29), Professor Kasher wrote that both the right and left are characterized by one-way vision, ignoring the victims on the other side. The situation in the territories is complicated, he argued: On the one hand, there is concern that IDF activities could harm innocents; on the other hand, there is a desire and a need to protect Israeli civilians from the danger of attacks.

 

Seemingly, this indeed is a moral dilemma that none of us can claim to be exempt from considering. The one problem with Kasher's argument - which I am sure is motivated by a sincere and genuine desire to do the right thing - is that it has nothing to do with what is happening on the ground in the territories, as the 600 members of Courage to Refuse can testify after serving for long periods of time in the machinery of the occupation and seeing with their own eyes what we are fighting for.

 

Israel is fighting two wars nowadays. One is a war of no choice, a difficult, complex war - a war against terror. The second war is stupid and evil - a war that sanctifies land rather than people, that discriminates between the blood of some and the blood of others, that violates the most basic human rights of millions of people. That is the war to protect the settlements.

 

IDF soldiers know very well that 90 percent of the army's activities in the territories are not related, even indirectly, to preventing terror. They also know that while they protect and guard a lunatic outpost in the heart of Samaria, they are in effect doing nothing for the security of the people of Netanya, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

 

For the purposes of the debate, Professor Kasher makes those two wars identical, with the same moral dilemmas. And that is simply not the case. The war for the security of the settlements is a delusional, brutal war that forsakes the security for Israeli civilians and does not protect them. On the other hand, the war against terror is an existential need for all Israelis, both inside and outside the Green Line.

 

By proposing one moral code for both wars, Professor Kasher is telling IDF soldiers that the flagrantly immoral activities of the IDF in its role as an occupation force in the territories are in fact legitimate. Not for nothing are more and more parents of soldiers saying that they are ready to risk the lives of their loved ones to defend Israel, but are outraged when the best of our sons are sacrificed on the altar of Yitzhar, Kfar Darom and Netzarim.

 

A state ceremony is slated to take place today in Jerusalem, attended by the president of the state. Called "Yesha Salutes the IDF," the event will seat IDF generals next to rightist MKs, and together they will praise the courage of the soldiers and their devotion to the Greater Land of Israel, their opposition to any withdrawals or to "uprooting settlements." At the end, they will sing Hatikvah and send our soldiers to their deaths in battles for the Gaza Strip or Hebron. Our army, the rock of our foundation, the people's army in which we enlisted and in which we served for many years, has become a private army for the settlers.

 

The writing of the ethical code for the war on terror was disconnected from reality. A short tour of the field, standing for a few hours at a checkpoint, watching soldiers accompanying settler children to their schools - any of this would have been enough to persuade Professor Kasher that he actually wrote an "ethical code for the protection of the settlements." And since that war endangers our existence and corrupts our morality, fewer and fewer soldiers are ready to take part in it.

 

The writer is the director-general of Courage to Refuse.

 

Link to the article: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/400035.html


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