Morality and realpolitik


Perhaps feeling besieged by the overwhelmingly negative media coverage of Israel’s 60th birthday – which seemed to be more an opportunity to question the Jewish state’s future than celebrate its past – the founding president of the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute, Yehezkel Dror, argues in an essay in the Forward that Israel shouldn’t worry too much about morals when it comes to securing Israel’s survival.

Here is his justification of the use of Israeli nuclear weapons:

…if the threat is sufficiently grave, the use of weapons of mass destruction by Israel would be justified if likely to be necessary for assuring the state’s survival, the bitter price of large number of killed innocent civilians notwithstanding.

But Dror is a bit disingenuous to write an entire piece about the need for realpolitik to supersede Jewish morality and not once mention the Palestinians. In doing so, he ignores the most pressing moral dilemma Israelis face today.

Most Israelis don’t need to decide whether or not Jerusalem’s Defense Ministry should expand trade ties with Beijing or Ankara, but what they should do when facing an angry Palestinian woman at a West Bank checkpoint who could be either pregnant or hiding a bomb, how to feel after reading a Peace Now report that 40 percent of Jewish homes in the West Bank were built on private Palestinian land, or what to tell their children when they see a soldier pull aside Arabs on Jaffa Street in Jerusalem and subject them to tough questioning about where they’re going and why.

Are these measures necessary to secure Israel’s existence? It’s a tough call Dror doesn’t address.

Recommended from JTA