Are Israeli Jews too nice?

In a 2004 Haaretz interview, left-wing historian Benny Morris who had previously been the darling of anti-Zionists expressed the opinion that Israel’s founders had been naïve.  As Morris put it, “It was a mistake to think that it would be possible to establish a tranquil state here that lives in harmony with its surroundings.”

I think that Israel’s founders were not naïve, but they took the high road even though the Arab attackers had no such ethics.  Yet, if Jews behaved like Arabs, today’s Israel would have been very different.

If Jews behaved like Arabs

If Jews behaved like Arabs, after her victory in 1948, Israel would have expelled all Arab residents (although some Arabs were expelled, this was not an official policy, and the vast majority of Arabs who wished to stay were able to do so).  Since Arab states were expelling Jewish citizens, such an action by Israel would have seemed natural, and today’s Israel would not have had Arab members of parliament in Israel’s Knesset attacking Israel’s legitimacy and defending Palestinian terrorists.

If Jews behaved like Arabs, after her victory in 1967 and the annexation of East Jerusalem, Israel would have expelled all Arab residents from East Jerusalem.  This would have almost been expected since Jordan had in 1948 expelled all Jews from East Jerusalem even though they were at that point a majority.  In fact, if Jews behaved like Arabs, Israel would also have annexed the West Bank and Gaza and expelled all their Arab residents.

If Jews behaved like Arabs, when Gaza terrorists attacked Israel, she would not have responded with targeted strikes that despite Hamas’ extensive use of human shields only result in thousands of victims (including terrorists) over weeks of intense fighting.  Instead, Israel would have killed Gazans indiscriminately, just like Syrian President Assad and Iraqi President Hussein did to their own people.  Hundreds of thousands of civilians would have died within days, but Gaza would have stopped being a problem.

But Jews do not behave like Arabs, should never behave like Arabs, and would never behave like Arabs.  Israeli Jews treat Israeli Arabs as equal citizens, and despite hatred by Arabs, including by many Israeli Arabs, towards Jews, Israel continuously strives to ensure better integration and better equality of Arabs citizens.  This is the real Israel, but she is not rewarded for her good behavior, neither by Arabs nor by most countries who judge Israel unfairly while ignoring the crimes of her attackers.

A sick Palestinian society

Benny Morris summarized the state of the Israel/Palestinian conflict in 2004 by saying, “I don’t see the suicide bombings as isolated acts. […] It is a very sick society. […] It’s important that we strive for a political solution. But in the end, what will decide their readiness to accept us will be force alone. Only the recognition that they are not capable of defeating us.”

Eleven years later, Morris’ words resonate in the ongoing Arab attacks in Jerusalem against Jews.  This raises the question of whether Israeli Jews are too nice for their own good.  While they will never behave like Arabs, they would be justified in taking some unilateral actions.

Israeli Jews would be justified in being less nice


  • Palestinian leadership has repeatedly stonewalled any attempt at resolving the conflict.
  • Every Palestinian leading figure is either involved in terrorism or in incitement.
  • The Palestinian hate culture is as virulent as ever.

Israel would be justified today in:

  • Acting unilaterally and implementing not a two-state solution nor a one-state solution, but a solution designed by Israel to meet her legitimate right to exist in peace and security.
  • Annexing parts of the West Bank and announcing new borders based on her security needs. This would likely include East Jerusalem, large settlement blocks, and parts required for security or for protecting Jewish heritage sites.
  • Enforcing enhanced security measures at the newly declared borders. This may mean ending work visas for Palestinians, at least temporarily.
  • Deporting to Gaza or the West Bank any Israeli Arab involved in terrorist activity and any public figure who promotes terrorism against Israel, starting with anti-Israel politicians such as Haneen Zoabi and Ayman Odeh.
  • Demanding that the PA cease incitement and sponsorship of terrorism, including paying terrorists for life and indoctrinating youth with anti-Semitism and glorification of terrorism, or else be treated as an a hostile nation that will no longer receive financial aid, electricity, or supplies from Israel.
  • Defending herself using greater force in order to better establish a deterrent for any attacks from Gaza or the West Bank.
  • Requiring that anyone living within the new borders of Israel must either pledge allegiance to the Jewish state or leave.

Palestinians would have to make a choice

If such actions were taken by Israel, Palestinians could appeal to Israel for peace negotiations, they could ask the UN to recognize Palestinian sovereignty over the lands vacated by Israel, or they could do the same as they have always done, which is to do nothing constructive and blame Israel for all their problems.

Whichever option the Palestinians choose to pursue, they would no longer be Israel’s responsibility.  If they decide to sign a peace agreement and establish a peaceful state then Israel could have diplomatic and economic relations with them.

A moment of truth for the rest of the world

I do not know if Israel has reached the point where she must take these measures which, while far short of the unethical actions that Arabs would have taken if they were in Israel’s place, are still harsh.  Only Israel’s intelligence services can make this assessment.  However, if Israel decided that such measures are necessary, I would support them.

But who else would support them?  Most of the world’s reaction to Israel is typically hostile and steeped in anti-Semitism; not much support would come from there.  The success of Israel’s actions would hinge largely on support from the West, particularly the United States.

The nations that claim to support Israel’s right to exist would have to decide where they stand.  Would they stand by Israel or would they let down the Jews yet again?

About the Author
Fred Maroun is a Canadian of Arab origin who lived in Lebanon until 1984, including during 10 years of civil war. Fred supports Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state, and he supports the Palestinians' right to self-determination in their own state. Fred supports a liberal and democratic Middle East where all religions and nationalities, including Palestinians, can co-exist in peace with each other and with Israel, and where human rights are respected. Fred is an atheist, a social liberal, and an advocate of equal rights for LGBT people everywhere.
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