Israel is today a superpower in the Middle East. Despite denials to the contrary, Israel is also most probably armed with nuclear weapons. The nuclear reactor at Dimona (Negev Nuclear Research Center) became a target of three Hamas rockets in the current conflict. The 3,000 rockets fired at Israel have had no military value. On the contrary, they have served to harden hearts including moderates among the Israelis.
It has taken Israel sixty-six years to attain its current position. The process has also been a moral tragedy as some people have observed.
During the 1948 War of Independence, The Six Day War in 1967 and The Yom Kippur War in 1973, Israel decisively prevailed over every Arab army and effectively established itself as a power of the Middle East. Furthermore, the Entebbe hostage rescue in 1976 created a myth of Israel’s invincibility. All of these developments transformed Israel from a victim to a victor.
Obviously no one wants to be a victim – particularly perpetually – and Israel is no exception to the ideal. Yet, repeatedly the Hebrew Bible invokes the Israelites to practice justice “because you were slaves in Egypt” (Deuteronomy 15:15; 24:18, 22). One hopes that those who have known injustice and suffering will not inflict the same on others. This is a purely moral not a legal observation.
That is what saddens those of us who love Israel. The occupation of the Palestinians and the actions that develop from such occupation jeopardize administration of justice. The balance between what is legal and what is just or moral when responding to any reaction to occupation is never well defined.
That is the dilemma Israel faces and it is a dilemma it will continue to deal with as long as the occupation continues.