Last updated April 25, 2013
At the beginning of April, 2013, the Israel newspaper, Haaretz, published an essay by Amira Hass which called upon Arabs to throw stones at Israelis. Such action, she wrote, was a ‘birthright and duty’ of anyone under foreign rule.
Her argument is immoral. It suggests hypocrisy—and, possibly, moral bankruptcy.
We should remember her words. Rock attacks against Jews have increased so much in April that the Samaria Residents Committee has written to Prime Minister Netanyahu appealing to him for help protecting Jews from these attacks.
Consider the concept. Stone-throwing, as practiced by Arabs, is not passive disobedience. It is violence. It can—and has—killed and disabled Jews. It carries the same moral status as shooting a gun at others with your eyes closed; closing your eyes does not make your shooting moral. It does not remove your guilt should you harm someone. You cannot argue that you did no wrong because you didn’t aim at anyone specific; and you cannot claim you have the moral right to shoot because, for a moral person who seeks moral consideration from others, any behaviour designed to injure is morally wrong.
Arabs claim their cause is just and moral. They demand morality; shouldn’t they act morally? Demanding justice, they should denounce unjust behaviour. But as Ms Hass shows us, that’s not the Arab approach.
First, she calls violence a birthright. This means that, by virtue of his birth, the Arab receives an automatic right to be violent. This is extraordinary. There is nothing moral about such a right. When a moral society (Mr Abbas has suggested that his people are ‘moral’) gives one a right, it is to live in peace, or to be safe, etc.; no moral society gives one a right to be violent because a moral society aims to be just. In fact, Mr Abbas has asked the UN to give him that justice based upon moral consideration. He invokes ‘morality’ for his people. But violence is, by definition, unjust. It is the embodiment of a direct, physical injustice. There is no place for injustice in a moral cause.
If Ms Hass endorses violence, she endorses injustice. That suggests that Arab society is intrinsically immoral: do Arabs care more for violence than justice?
Ethicists will tell you that, sometimes, violence can be morally acceptable (see discussions of ‘just war’). But ethicists are extremely careful about such violence because (among other reasons) one man's action to defend himself --the most common justification for violence--can be for someone else an act of criminal aggression; and many agree that, even when violence does become ‘just’, it is a slippery slope. Such behaviour almost always leads to ‘unjust’ outcomes.
The outcome Ms Hass advocates is harm to Israel. That is not, by definition, a ‘just’ goal.
Ms Hass compounds her moral problem by going beyond violence as a ‘right’. She calls it a ‘duty’. This is dangerous. She makes correct and right what is immoral and wrong. Do you understand what ‘duty’ is? ‘Duty’ is most commonly defined as ‘moral obligation’. A moral obligation is commonly associated with doing good. It is associated with ‘beneficence’; that is, kindness.
To associate violence with ‘duty’ is to claim violence is connected to beneficence.
So it is that Ms Hass makes injustice desirable. But her association also defies all definitions of morality: morality does not endorse ‘injustice’. Morality opposes injustice.
Ms Hass endorses injustice.
She can make injustice moral because she has a foundation to so: the Arab cause redefines morality for Jews and Israel. It does this using a concept called, moral exclusion. This concept works--except for one thing: it’s a ‘smoking gun’ for Arab hypocrisy.
Those who study group violence describe moral exclusion as an organized way to justify violence (injustice) against another. It turns immoral and unjust behaviour into a desired group morality. This process posits that a person (Jew) or group (Israelis) is identified by another group (Arabs) as being unqualified to receive the benefits of moral consideration. So excluded, that individual or group can then, morally, be treated with violence (injustice)--because both morality and its corollary justice do not apply to them.
This moral exclusion of the Jew (and Israel) is everywhere in Arab culture. To the Arab, Jews are animals. Jews are Nazis. Jews are poisonous. They are vermin—so, of course, violence against them is morally commendable.
Who protects vermin?
We are all better off when we are rid of them.
Arab morality based upon moral exclusion is ugly. It suggests both hypocrisy and moral bankruptcy. The Arab repeatedly claims ‘morality’ and ‘justice’ as his right. But it is hypocrisy to claim for yourself what you deny to others through vicious, pre-meditated exclusion. It may also be emblematic of a bankruptcy because only the most craven would use that hypocrisy as a lever to elicit sympathy from others while at the same time using it to justify violence.
Ms Hass justifies violence. But she claims a moral cause. Why is she defining injustice as moral?
Is this the point of the Arab cause—to replace morality with injustice?