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.

You have 2 free articles left this month

Sign up now for unlimited access

Subscribe Now

Read more at Times of Israel

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

The U.S. Should Recognize Israeli Sovereignty over the Golan Heights

July 19 2018

Since the 1970s, American governments have sporadically pressured Jerusalem to negotiate the return of the Golan to Syria in exchange for peace. Had Israel given up this territory, Iranian forces would now be preparing to establish themselves on its strategically advantageous high ground. Michael Doran, testifying before the House of Representatives, argues that for this and other reasons, Congress should recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan. (Video is available at the link below.)

Between 1949 and 1967, [the period during which Syria held the Golan], thousands of clashes erupted [there]. By contrast, ever since Israel took control of the Golan Heights in June 1967, they have served as a natural buffer between the two belligerents. The last 70 years serve as a laboratory of real life, and the results [of the experiment conducted therein] are incontrovertible: when in the hands of Syria, the Golan Heights promoted conflict. When in the hands of Israel, they have promoted stability. . . .

From the outbreak of the [Syrian] civil war, Iran and Russia have worked aggressively to shape the conflict so as to serve their interests. The influence of Iran is particularly worrisome because, in the division of labor between Moscow and Tehran, Russia provides the air power while Iran provides much of the ground forces. . . . Thanks to Iran’s newfound ground presence [in Syria], it is well on the way to completing a so-called “land bridge” stretching from Tehran to Beirut. There can be no doubt that a major aim of the land bridge is to increase the military pressure on Israel (and Jordan, too). . . .

Would Americans ever consciously choose to place Iranian soldiers on the Golan Heights, so that they could peer down their riflescopes at Jewish civilians below? Is there any American interest that would be served by allowing Iran to have direct access to the Sea of Galilee, Israel’s primary water reservoir? Would it ever be wise to place Iranian troops [where they could] serve as a wedge between Jordan and Israel? The answer to all of these questions, obviously, is no. And the clearest way to send that message to the world is to pass a law recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

As for the claim that the Jewish state’s seizure of the Golan in 1967 violates international law, Doran notes that Washington undermined this claim with its attempts in the 1990s to broker a deal between Jerusalem and Damascus:

The ready American (and Israeli) acceptance of the June 4, 1967 cease-fire line [as the basis for such a deal] is nothing short of startling. That line . . . leaves Syria in possession of territory along the shores of the Sea of Galilee and elsewhere that it acquired by force in 1948. In other words, to win over its enemy, [Syria], the Clinton administration dispensed with the principle of the impermissibility of the acquisition of territory by force—the very principle that the United States has remained ever-vigilant in applying to its ally, Israel.

You have 1 free article left this month

Sign up now for unlimited access

Subscribe Now

Read more at Hudson

More about: Congress, Golan Heights, Iran, Israel & Zionism, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy