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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