Avi Shamir
Avi Shamir

Leaving Justice Aside

Once again the United Nations has sent out a perfectly ambiguous message and left us arguing among ourselves. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s remark that “It is human nature to react to occupation, which often serves as a potent incubator of hate and extremism” was met by the usual disputation among Israelis. Prime Minister Netanyahu set the tone with his predictable comeback: “The comments of the UN Secretary-General encourage terror. There is no justification for terror.”

The Israeli Left maintains that if we were living under occupation we would also resort to violence. But if the shoe was on the other foot and the State of Palestine was in charge of the land west of the Jordan River, one can imagine that Israelis under Palestinian rule would be just as hopelessly divided as we were under Roman occupation (and still are in our independent state). The hot-headed among us would lob stones, Molotov cocktails and crude rockets at Palestinian soldiers and civilians, citing Biblical claims, while the “intellectual elite” would call for restraint and diplomacy, arguing the benefits of political agreements and good neighborly relations. In the very same spirit of debate that makes the Jewish people so multi-colored, we would be a lot more open about our internal differences than our Palestinian rivals. And we would be hard pressed to come up with a blueprint for Jewish justice.

But back to reality: Let’s assume that in the current Israeli occupation some Palestinians harbor hopes for a “just solution to the Palestinian problem” which can be arrived at by non-violent means. Let’s even say that some of these dovish types were accused of complicity with Israel and accordingly silenced, or worse, executed. Where is Palestinian justice now, with the terrorists, or with the detractors who dared speak against them?

To be sure, Bibi Netanyahu is right when he says that there is no justice for terrorism. But there is also no justice for our miserably failed occupation policy. All occupations breed bloodshed, and all of them end, ultimately, with a negotiated agreement. That point has always escaped Netanyahu and his supporters, who don’t have any more of a monopoly on justice than the Palestinians.

But let’s leave our morally superior sense of justice under the table and decide if it’s in our best interest to prolong our occupation of Judea and Samaria until, in line with the fantasies of the Israeli Right, “the time is right,” as if they expect the Palestinians to magically transmogrify into a nation of lambs.

Justice pales against the real world, and one nation’s misconceived justice amounts to a world-wide headache. Justified or not, world opinion is both against our occupation of the Palestinians and horrified by radical Islamic terrorism. And while the occupation doesn’t justify terrorism, the enemies of Israel use it as a pretext for murder. Ban Ki-moon’s recent statement should be seen in that light.

Our agreements with Egypt and Jordan had less to do with justice than political expediency. In the same manner we can end in our tragic conflict with the Palestinians. They’ll probably build museums for their shahids, just as we did for the Irgun and Stern Gang. Once they grudgingly accept that Israel is here to stay and start going about the business of running their own state, their terror mongers will have less of a pretext, and less popular support, for their insane agenda. And not too many people will visit their terrorist museums either.

About the Author
Avi Shamir is a freelance writer, editor, translator and the author of "Saving the Game," a novel about baseball. A Brooklyn College graduate with a BA in English, Avi has contributed to the Jerusalem Post, The Nation, Israel Scene, In English and The World Zionist Press Service.