James Cooper

An Open Challenge to the Progressive Critics of Israel

To those who claim to be profoundly disturbed by the suffering of the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank:

I propose a wonderful opportunity for you to make a difference, to actually improve the daily lives of all Palestinians in these territories.  Just imagine:  A sea port in Gaza. The free flow of commercial goods. Freedom of movement.  Freedom of speech and freedom of press.A general broadening of freedom — of peace, of prosperity, and comfort to all sectors of the population.

You can help the Palestinians in these territories to achieve all this and more.  But first, you must consider:

Are you more interested in blaming Israel or in improving the daily lives of the Palestinians?

 Consider the following opportunities you might act on:

  •  Polls consistently show that the overwhelming bulk of Israelis wish to live in peace with the Palestinians.
  •  Israelis understand it is in their self-interest to assist Palestinians in cultivating liberal democratic values, to build autonomous structures free from corruption and belligerence, to help them feel content and prosperous in their daily lives.
  • Under conditions of non-belligerence, Israelis want absolutely nothing to do with Gaza, and would much prefer that Gazans govern their own daily lives.
  •  Under conditions of non-belligerence, Israelis would prefer to ease the inconvenience of checkpoints in order to promote the free flow of trade and commerce between themselves and the Palestinians.
  • The Israeli population dreams of the day it can mobilize in order to share its medical, commercial, and technological know-how to better the Palestinians’ daily lives, both in Gaza and across the West Bank.

But if all that is true, then what’s stopping them?  You are.

You’re to blame for two main reasons:

  1. You’ve presented Israelis with an impossible choice; while
  1. You’ve encouraged the Palestinians to destroy their own lives.

How so?  By telling the Palestinian population lies about what the Israeli population truly wants.  And by continuing to tell those lies, you become the enablers of those Palestinian leaders who use your lies to keep Israelis boxed in with an impossible choice; and you become the accomplices of Islamist leaders who depend on your protests so that they may pursue a war that will only destroy the lives of those they govern.

When Palestinian leaders repeatedly incite their population to use the assets of sovereign governance — of freedom of movement, of commerce, and travel — as tools to extend their capabilities to ideally destabilize or destroy the Jewish state, they leave the Israeli population with no choice but to ensure they never acquire these capabilities — to preempt all attempts to destroy them.

And when, in the face of these ongoing incitements and threats, you call on Israel to take risks for peace, to stop preempting, and to furnish its neighbors with the tools they need to continue the war they have sworn to wage — then you have presented Israelis with an impossible choice.

So long as Israelis remain convinced that Palestinians will use the tools of self-governance to extend their opportunities for warfare – to invest in tunnels and arsenals in lieu of universities and businesses – Israelis will keep on preempting them.  Inevitably, more Palestinians will die.  And so will more Israelis.

There is a way out, however.  Because Palestinians do have a choice:  They can choose to test Israel’s true intentions.  They can stop the incitement, the public calls to martyrdom, and the threats to destroy the Jewish State.  They can educate a new generation in the values of peace.  They can reach out to all Israelis, asking them to help build up a wonderful and prosperous society for the Palestinians and their children – and leave all the political disputes aside for the time being, perhaps for another generation. In the meantime, the Palestinian population can work hand-in-hand with Israelis to better their daily lives, toward the goal of rendering any notion of an occupation as a moot point, a mere political technicality.

All this can start happening today, without forcing a political agreement on parties that are not yet ready for it.  In the meantime, the Palestinians can choose to work with Israel — to encourage all Israelis — to extend a brotherly hand in helping them build better lives for themselves.  Because that’s what the Israelis truly want. And the moment that the Israelis are convinced that it’s what the Palestinians truly want, is the moment that both peoples can start living together in peace.

That is what’s known as moral clarity.

And so, today, you have a choice:

You can choose moral clarity over moral sanctimony. 

You can choose to stop blaming Israel — and to start helping the Palestinians make the only choice that will better their own lives.

About the Author
James Cooper is a practicing lawyer in the Greater Toronto Area. He has written and spoken publicly on matters of interest to the legal profession and to the Jewish community at large.
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