Ayman Odeh, currently the head of Israel’s Hadash party, maintained for years that in terms of resistance against Israel, he could “not put red lines on the Arab Palestinian nation.” Fellow party members Ofer Cassif, Aida Touma-Sliman and others have refused to unconditionally condemn deliberate violence committed by Palestinians against Israeli non-combatants. In so doing, these members of Israel’s parliament have advanced the evil idea that when there’s a conflict over territory, shooting babies point-blank may be in bounds.
In the aftermath of Hamas slaughtering over a thousand Israeli civilians on October 7th, there seems to have been a sly shift in messaging.
On the 19th, Odeh wrote in the New York Times: “There is nothing in this world — not even the cruel occupation — that can justify harming innocent people. Nothing. I have always categorically opposed harming civilians, and I will continue opposing it with every fiber of my being.”
This may sound moral, but it isn’t.
Instead of offering only conditional condemnations of such atrocities, the Hadash leader is now suggesting that he does condemn them without condition – as long as Israel’s response can be considered no less evil.
There is no moral equation that can exist without intention as a basic element. Intention is, as Israeli author Yossi Klein Halevi put it, “the difference between war as tragedy and war as barbarism.”
Insofar as the goal is to suppress Israel’s credibility in fighting Hamas, muzzling intention makes complete sense. Hamas intentionally targets babies and other non-combatants (with astonishing and horrifying success), whereas Israel does not. If one is bent on fabricating a moral equivalence, avoiding the variable of intention is a must.
Fortunately, most of us Israelis understand that we cannot and should not act according to whatever twisted nonsense Ayman Odeh decides to spew. We know that when smart, capable people are determined to murder us and our children (and succeed in doing so with wild enthusiasm), it is our prerogative and responsibility to prevent them from succeeding ever again.
One can only hope that the New York Times‘ readership understands this too.