The Elor Azaria Trial and Israel’s Moral Core

After a highly contentious trial, a young Israeli sergeant named Elor Azaria was convicted of manslaughter for the shooting of a downed terrorist. David Horovitz responds to the verdict, the public calls to pardon Azaria, and the ethical quandaries that the IDF—and the Israeli body politic—must face on a daily basis:

Members of Israel’s security forces—primarily our eighteen- to twenty-one-year-old sons and daughters—are required to grapple with moral dilemmas [of the utmost difficulty] all the time, and often with an urgency, a split-second imperative for a decision, in circumstances [that are] unexpected, [with little] recourse to precedent. . . . Facing the ongoing lone-wolf Palestinian terror wave, for instance, our troops must make instant decisions about drivers and pedestrians approaching them at roadblocks, people walking past them on the streets. Are they slowing down? Did they hear my shouted order to halt? What’s in their bags, what’s in their pockets, what’s in their hands? Is that a phone, a knife, a gun? Do nothing, and you may die, and other innocent Israelis may die. Do something, and an innocent Palestinian may lose his or her life, and yours will forever turn on the incident.

The Hamas and other terrorists who target Israelis are seeking to kill us. They make no secret of that; Hamas is avowedly committed to destroying Israel altogether. But that ambition also involves seeking to destabilize our society, to make daily life here fraught, angst-filled, and ideally, from their point of view, ultimately untenable. And it involves corroding our society and its values, attempting to render our efforts to maintain our own morality in the face of their murderous hostility so costly as to be unsustainable. . . .

The struggle not only to keep this country secure, not only to keep its people safe from harm, but to do so while insistently seeking to act morally—even, ironically, as much of the international community despicably accuses us of doing the reverse—is relentless and so very complex. . . .

Azaria’s actions were an aberration. . . . The very fact that [he] was tried, painstakingly tried, in an unimpeachably credible Israeli court of law represented reaffirmation of Israel’s determination to preserve its morality—its insistence on preventing our enemies, our terrorist foes, from reducing us to their cynical, murderous depths.

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More about: IDF, Israel & Zionism, Israeli society, Military ethics, Palestinian terror

How Israel Can Best Benefit from Its Newfound Friendship with Brazil

Jan. 21 2019

Earlier this month, Benjamin Netanyahu was in Brazil—the first Israeli prime minister to visit the country—for the inauguration of its controversial new president Jair Bolsonaro. Bolsonaro has made clear his eagerness to break with his predecessors’ hostility toward the Jewish state, and Netanyahu has responded positively. To Emanuele Ottolenghi, the improved relations offer an opportunity for joint cooperation against Hizballah, which gets much of its revenue through cooperation with Brazilian drug cartels. In this cooperative effort, Ottolenghi cautions against repeating mistakes made in an earlier outreach to Paraguay:

Hizballah relies heavily on the proceeds of transnational crime networks, especially in the Tri-Border Area [where] Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay [meet], but until recently, Brazilian officials were loath to acknowledge its presence in their country or its involvement in organized crime. [But] Bolsonaro’s top priority is fighting organized crime. Combating Hizballah’s terror finance is a vital Israeli interest. Making the case that Israel’s and Brazil’s interests dovetail perfectly should be easy. . . .

But Israel should be careful not to prioritize symbols over substance, a mistake already made once in Latin America. During 2013-2018, Netanyahu invested heavily in his relationship with Horacio Cartes, then president of Paraguay. Cartes, . . . too, had a genuine warmth for Israel, which culminated in his decision in May 2018 to move Paraguay’s embassy to Jerusalem. Most importantly, from Israel’s point of view, Paraguay began voting with Israel against the Arab bloc at the UN.

However, the Paraguayan side of the Tri-Border Area remained ground zero for Hizballah’s money laundering in Latin America. The Cartes administration hardly lifted a finger to act against the terror funding networks. . . . Worse—when critics raised Hizballah’s [local] terror-financing activities, Paraguayan ministers confronted their Israeli counterparts, threatening to change Paraguay’s friendly international posture toward Israel. [And] as soon as Cartes left office, his successor, Mario Abdo Benítez, moved Paraguay’s embassy back to Tel Aviv. . . . Israel’s five-year investment ultimately yielded no embassy move and no progress on combating Hizballah’s terror network. . . .

Israel should make the battle against Hizballah’s terror-finance networks in Latin America its top regional priority.

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More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Brazil, Hizballah, Israel & Zionism, Israel diplomacy, Latin America