Ehud Eiran, a major in the IDF reserves, sees Israel on a spiral of descent down which it is rapidly losing its sense of humanity. In addition to that, the ruthless defense of a Jewish state — conceived as a safe haven for Jews — has resulted in the creation of a place where Jews live in greater risk than anywhere else on the planet.
In September 1982, after Christian militiamen slaughtered hundreds of Palestinian civilians in Lebanon’s Sabra and Shatila refugee camps, 10 percent of Israel’s total population took to the streets of Tel Aviv to protest Israel’s indirect responsibility. Only a few dozen Israelis demonstrated 26 years later, when the Israeli military was directly responsible for a similarly large number of Palestinian civilian casualties in the 2008–09 Gaza conflict.
It is not only the spread of moral insensitivity I fear. As Dean Acheson observed, there’s something worse than immoral policy: erroneous policy. The apparent inability of Israeli leaders to connect our goals and our means puts the country in long-term jeopardy. Our most profound problem is that 130 years after young Zionists began immigrating to Palestine with the hope of creating a safe place for Jews, we’re still relying on force to secure our existence. Ironically, more Jews have been killed since 1945 in this “safe haven” than in any other place. A future Iranian nuclear device, which may be hard to stop if Israel can’t muster international support more effectively, will take this Zionist failure to new lows.
Actions like the killings aboard the Gaza aid ship do nothing to ameliorate this situation; they only create new sources of resistance. The blockade that brought about the flotilla is dehumanizing, barely justified on security grounds. It is imposed against the same people who hold the key to our legitimacy, at least in the eyes of the millions of Arabs who surround us. The killing of several Turks deeply corrodes Israel’s relationship with Istanbul, the only capital in the region that did not wait for Palestinian approval to engage in a meaningful relationship with the Jewish state. Wide international condemnation has already slowed efforts at the United Nations to tighten sanctions on Iran. How long can our modern-day Sparta live by its sword, when the sword creates new difficulties?