Moral Clarity?

26 Adar Bet, 5776, Jerusalem Hanoch Ne’eman

Moral Clarity: it’s one thing to talk about it, another to do it.

When our PM addressed the AIPAC conference in Washington via satellite before Purim, he spoke of “moral clarity”, a phrase our Ambassador to the US also uses. In the same speech, he spoke a lot about terrorism, and how PA President Abbas incites it. Then he said he is ready to meet and negotiate with Abbas at any time, without preconditions. Does that make sense? It does not. Is that “moral clarity”? It is not. Rather it is what Kissinger calls a “calculation of interest, not a moral judgement” (Diplomacy, 547).

Our PM calculates that it is in his interest to appear “moderate”. Hence he says, “I am prepared to negotiate”. Likewise he calculates that it serves him well to repeat, “I believe the best solution is two states for two peoples”, even though he may not believe it. The same goes for our Ambassador to the US. They think this moral unclarity makes them look good, something politicians are quite concerned about.
However, this moral dissembling has a price. Namely, it sends people, Jew or Arab or otherwise, a message. The Jews do not have a right to all of Israel. This encourages Arabs to fight us. This encourages Jews to not take responsibility for this country. All these consequences are immoral.
Henry Thoreau, in the first chapter of Walden, says: In the long run, men hit only what they aim at. Therefore, though they should fail immediately, they had better aim at something high.”
Perhaps it is the way of politicians to ask, “What will make me look good today, in the short-term?” But we, who are concerned with the long-term, how should we answer the question “What should we be aiming for?”
We should be aiming for a Jewish State where non-Jews who want to help us build a happy society are fully welcome. We are happy to give citizenship to those we believe are our friends. No state gives full citizenship to people it believes will harm it. If Arabs living in Israel want to enjoy the benefits of full citizenship, they need to earn our trust. We have a right to rule our land, which we do justly, and to grant privileges only to those who deserve them. Saying this is moral clarity and moral policy.

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