Joel Haber
Tour Guide, Comic, Foodie, Israel-Lover

The Human Face of Moral Equivalence

When we get caught up in arguments about things like conflict, solutions and media coverage, we sometimes end up tossing around buzzwords and forgetting what they mean — and what the implications of those words are. In the current situation, I feel the need to clarify the meaning of “moral equivalence,” and why it is so evil.

If someone spits epithets at an Asian person due to his race, that is wrong, reprehensible and evil. If someone else beats to a pulp a Latino person due to his race, that is wrong, reprehensible and evil.

Yet they are not equally wrong, reprehensible and evil. And if the Latino were the one who spouted the epithets at the Asian, and the Asian was the one who beat him to a pulp in return, that is not a response that was justified by the misdeeds that started the incident.

This is the flaw of moral equivalence. Moral equivalence recognizes only wrong and right, without recognizing that there are degrees of wrong and right, and that thus, not all wrongs are equally wrong.

If I throw garbage on your lawn, you are not in your rights to burn down my house in response.

But when people focus on things that Israel does wrong in relation to the Palestinians (and yes, there are things we do wrong), this does not justify terrorist murder in response. Occupation is not murder. Even killing someone as they come to kill you is not murder. Killing an innocent civilian is murder.

And if you see these all as morally equivalent, then your are justifying murder. And by justifying murder, you are literally encouraging more murders, since other terrorists have your moral justification to launch their stabbings from.

This is not about left or right. It is not about causes and outcomes. It is not about solutions.

It is about the culpability of anyone who expresses moral equivalence. Palestinian terrorists are no more justified in their actions than were those evil souls who killed nearly 3000 people on 9/11.

So let me put a human face on this for you.

Some of you know me, but some of you don’t. I have never lived in the territories. I have never served in the Israeli army. I have never raised a hand or weapon to hurt any Arab, including Palestinians. I have never said anything insulting or demeaning to an Arab, including Palestinians.

But if, God forbid, I become a victim of terror (which is honestly a distinct possibility these days), anyone who expresses moral equivalence in this conflict will be saying that my injury or murder is justified.

Violence against someone who has never committed any act of violence is not justified. It is burning down a house to repay garbage on the lawn.

That is what “moral equivalence” means. And that is evil.

About the Author
Joel Haber (aka Fun Joel) is a licensed Israel Tour Guide. Born and raised in New Jersey, he spent many great years in NYC, and a few more in LA before making Aliyah in 2009. Interests include Israel, food, and making people happy.