dinsdag 2 augustus 2011

Thought Police

Moral decisions can be extremely difficult.

Some people point their finger at members of the Jewish Councils of the Second World War or to others who by a wicked enemy were forced into the impossible choice between saving what could be saved or total resistance.

I really would not have known. The most important thing in these matters is, I believe, that we do not too quickly condemn and judge.

There are also questions which are made to look very difficult but which, morally spoken, are cristal clear . For me, the Israeli occupation of the West Bank is such an issue. There is nothing difficult about it, that area belongs to the Palestinians and Israël has no business there. In my eyes therefore there is nothing wrong with a boycott of settlement products - easily distinguished from a boycott of Israel or Israeli products in general.

I am sufficiently historian to understand that these areas are attractive for Jews to settle there. After all in Biblical times Judea and Samaria were key parts of the Jewish territory. There are also safety considerations that hint towards occupation, because Israel’s military position is more firm with the West Bank included. And finally ordinary power and land hunger play their parts.

But these considerations don’t make the issue morally more difficult. Given Israël’s foundation in the UN decision of 1947, in the West Bank Israël momentarily literally exceeds its limits, it does not belong there. Moreover, this transgression of borders causes a lot of damage for Israël at the political-diplomatic level. Its safety position suffers more thereby than can be compensated by physical-military positions.

This situation is bad enough, but I think worst of all may be that since the adoption of the anti-boycott law by the Israeli parliament two weeks ago an open discussion on these issues is prohibited. Anyone who objects to the occupation and for that reason calls for a boycott of settlement products is now in violation of the law.

Here no longer only the Jewish country is at stake, but the entire Jewish tradition. This touches the heart of that tradition. Because if there is anything that characterized Judaism for centuries, it were the culture of debate and the many angles of (moral) positions. One may be in favour or against a boycott, but a free discussion on the subject should be guaranteed. Therefore I can completely identify with the condemnation of the law by the Israeli Council of Liberal Rabbis: “This is an unprecedented dangerous step onto a slippery slope that continuously erodes the Jewish character and democratic nature of Israel”.

Thought police does not suit Israël.