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Is Israeli Society as Sick as the Regime?

Summary:
In teasing out right from wrong, discriminate we must between acts that are criminal only because The State has criminalized them (mala prohibita), as opposed to acts which are universally evil (malum in se). Israel’s sacking of Gaza is malum in se, universally evil. Gaza is clearly an easy case in ethics. It’s not as though the genocide underway in Gaza could ever be finessed or gussied up.Yet in Israel, no atrocity perpetrated by the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) in Gaza is too conspicuous to ignore. One of the foremost authorities on Gaza, Dr. Norman Finkelstein, calls Israel a Lunatic State. “It is certainly not a Jewish State,” he avers. “A murderous nation, a demonic nation,” roars Scott Ritter—legendary, larger-than-life American military expert, to whose

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In teasing out right from wrong, discriminate we must between acts that are criminal only because The State has criminalized them (mala prohibita), as opposed to acts which are universally evil (malum in se). Israel’s sacking of Gaza is malum in se, universally evil. Gaza is clearly an easy case in ethics. It’s not as though the genocide underway in Gaza could ever be finessed or gussied up.

Yet in Israel, no atrocity perpetrated by the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) in Gaza is too conspicuous to ignore. One of the foremost authorities on Gaza, Dr. Norman Finkelstein, calls Israel a Lunatic State. “It is certainly not a Jewish State,” he avers. “A murderous nation, a demonic nation,” roars Scott Ritter—legendary, larger-than-life American military expert, to whose predictive, reliable reports from theaters of war I’ve been referring since 2002.

Max Blumenthal, another younger, yet important authority on the topic, upends a delusion I had held as a youth growing up in Israel. The doves—as the Israeli “peace camp” was called in common parlance—(Shulamit Aloni and Peace Now were pioneers) had inspired me many decades back. Blumenthal, a guerrilla journalist who has done the shoe-leather inquiry into the occupation, chronicled the strategy of the “peace camp” in Goliath, Life and Loathing in the Greater Israel (2013).

The antitype to the Ugly Israeli are the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem and dedicated journalists such as Ha’aretz’ Amira Haas and Gideon Levi. But, as October 7 proved, the peaceniks, with these few exceptions, generally proceed from backing the Jewish State’s regular and murderous forays into the occupied territories, until the penny drops, or it becomes politically expedient to protest them. (See “Peace Now has not said ‘Ceasefire Now,’” Middle East Monitor, January 12, 2024.)

Even in protest, the Israeli “peace camp,” over the years, has generally been starkly utilitarian: pragmatic, not principled, objecting not to Palestinian “civilian casualties,” but to Israeli “strategic” blunders.

To wit, sensing that the country is in danger of approaching some sort of political precipice; 17 Israeli establishment public figures have, of late, urged the recognition of a Palestinian state. In the words of one Alon Liel they are worried about “Israel’s international [and regional] standing.” Could it be that what we have here is projection; fears for their own respectability in international circles?

That kind of thing: a position self-interested and pragmatic, seldom-principled. Certainly nothing anchored in first principles.

In contemplating the Jewish-Israeli me-only monomania; Lawrence Kohlberg’s stages of moral development come to mind.

The highest stage of thinking and functioning is “Stage Six,” in which the individual reasons and behaves in accordance with “universal ethical principles.” The highest moral development, reasoning from ethics, will forever evade most of humanity. Arrested in some early stage of development, Israel’s public personae reveal themselves as base, unimpressive individuals who’ve yet to attain the ability to reason from ethics.

The banality of evil, if you will.

That the Jewish State is genocidal is not in dispute. But, what of Israeli society? Is it sick, too? What of the Israeli anti-government protesters now flooding the streets of metropolitan Israel? How do they feel about the incessant, industrial-scale campaign of slaughter and starvation in Gaza, north, center and south?

They don’t.

In desperate search for a universal humanity—a transcendent moral sensibility—among the mass of Israelis protesting the State; I scoured many transcripts over seven months. I sat through volumes of video footage, searching as I was for mention, by Israeli protesters, of the war of extermination being waged in their name, on their Gazan neighbors. I found none.

Much to my astonishment, I failed to come across a single Israeli protester who cried for anyone but himself, his kin and countrymen, and their hostages. Israelis appear oblivious to the unutterable, irreversible, irremediable ruin adjacent.

Again: I found no transcendent humanity among Israeli protesters; no allusion to the universal moral order to which international humanitarian law, the natural law and the Sixth Commandment give expression. I found only endless iterations among Jewish-Israelis of their sectarian interests.

For their part, protesters merely want regime change. They saddle Netanyahu solely with the responsibility for hostages entombed in Gaza, although, Benny Gantz (National Unity Party), ostensible rival to Bibi Netanyahu (Likud), and other War Cabinet members, are philosophically as one (Ganz had boasted, in 2014, that he would “send parts of Gaza back to the Stone Age”). With respect to the holocaustal war waged on Gaza, and spreading to the West Bank, there is no chasm between these and other squalid Jewish supremacists who make up “Israel’s wartime leadership.”

If you doubt my findings with respect to the Israeli protesters, note the May 11 droning address of protester Na’ama Weinberg, who demanded a change of government. Weinberg condemned the invasion of Rafah and a lack of a political strategy as perils to both hostage- and national survival. She lamented the “unspeakable torture” faced by the hostages. When Weinberg mentioned “evacuees neglected,” I lit up. Nine-hundred thousand Palestinians have been displaced from Rafah in the last two weeks. Forty percent of Gaza’s population. My hope was fleeting. It soon transpired that Weinberg meant citizens of Israeli border communities evacuated. That was the extent of Weinberg’s sympathies for the “slaughter house of civilians” down the road. Hers was nothing but a lower-order sectarian sensibility.

The grim spareness of Israeli protester sentiment has been widely noticed.

Writing for Foreign Policy, an American mainstream magazine, Mairav Zonszein, scholar with the International Crisis Group, observes the following: “The thousands of Israelis who are once again turning out to march in the streets are not protesting the war. Except for a tiny handful of Israelis, Jews, and Palestinians, they are not calling for a cease-fire or an end to the war—or for peace. They are not protesting Israel’s killing of unprecedented numbers of Palestinians in Gaza or its restrictions on humanitarian aid that have led to mass starvation. (Some right-wing Israelis even go further by actively blocking aid from entering the strip.) They are certainly not invoking the need to end military occupation, now in its 57th year. They are primarily protesting Netanyahu’s refusal to step down and what they see as his reluctance to seal a hostage deal.”

Public incitement continues apace. Genocidal statements saturate Israeli society. The “lovely” Itamar Ben Gvir has provided an update to his repertoire, the kind chronicled so well by the South Africans (this one included). On May 14, to the roar of the crowd, Israel’s national security minister urged anew that Palestinians be voluntarily encouraged to emigrate (as if anything that has befallen the Palestinians of Gaza, since October 7, has been “voluntary”). He was speaking at a settler rally on the northern border of Gaza, in which thousands of yahoos watched the “fireworks” on display over Gaza, and cheered for looting the land of the dead and dying there.

“It’s the media’s fault,” you’ll protest. “Israelis, like Americans, are merely brainwashed by their media.”

Inarguably, Israeli media—from Arutz 7, to Channel 12 (“[Gazans need] to die ‘hard and agonizing deaths’), to Israel Today, to Now 14 (“We will slaughter you and your supporters”), and the lowbrow, sub-intelligent vulgarians of i24—are a self-obsessed, energetic Idiocracy.

These media feature excitable sorts, volubly imparting their atavistic, primitive tribalism in ugly, anglicized, Pidgin Hebrew. And, each one of these specimen always has a “teoria”: a theory.

Naveh Dromi is a lot more appealing in visage and voice than i24’s anchor Benita Levin, a harsh and vinegary South African Kugel. Dromi is columnist for a Ha’aretz, the most highbrow of Israel’s (center-left) dailies. Ha’aretz once had intellectual ballast. In her impoverished Hebrew, Dromi has tweeted about her particular “teoria”: “a second Nakba” is a coming. Elsewhere she has rasped a-mile-a-minute about “the Palestinians as a redundant group.” Nothing crimsons her lovely cheeks.

Such statements of Jewish supremacy pervade Jewish-Israeli media. But, no; it’s not the Israeli media’s fault. The closing of the Israeli mind is entirely voluntary.

According to a paper from Oxford Scholarship Online, the “media landscape in Israel” evinces “healthy competition” and declining concentration. “[C]alculated on a per-capita basis,” “the number of media voices in Israel,” overall, “is near the top of the countries investigated.”
 

Israel has a robust, and privately owned media. These media cater to the Israeli public, which has a filial stake in lionizing the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), in which each and every son and daughter serve. For this reason, avers Ha’aretz’s Gideon Levi, in his many YouTube television interviews, the military is the country’s golden calf.

Mainstream public opinion, Levi insists, molds the media, not the obverse.

Levi attests that right-wing and left-wing media are as one when it comes to the subject of the IDF and the Palestinian People. And in this, Israeli media reflect mainstream public opinion. It is the public that wishes to see nothing of the suffering in Gaza, and takes care never to disparage or doubt the IDF. For their part, military journalists are no more than embeds, in bed with the military.

At least until now, Israelis have been largely indifferent to their army’s orgiastic, indiscriminate bloodletting in Gaza. Most were merely demanding a return of their hostages, and the continuance of the assault on Gazans, punctured by periodic cease fires.

So, is Jewish-Israeli society sick, too?

When “88 percent of Jewish-Israeli interviewees” give “a positive assessment of the performance of the IDF in Gaza until now” (Tamar Hermann, “War in Gaza Survey 9,” Israel Democracy Institute, January 24, 2024), and “[a]n absolute majority (88%) also justifies the scope of casualties on the Palestinian side”; (Gershon H. Gordon, The Peace Index, January 2024, Faculty of Social Sciences, Tel Aviv University)—it is fair to conclude that the diabolical IDF is, for the most, the voice of the Jewish-Israeli commonwealth.

Consider: By January’s end, the Gaza Strip had, by and large, already been rendered uninhabitable, a moonscape. Nevertheless, 51 percent of Jewish-Israelis said they believed the IDF was using an appropriate amount (51%) or not enough force (43%) in Gaza. (Source: Jerusalem Post staff, “Jewish Israelis believe IDF is using appropriate force in Gaza,” January 26, 2024.)

Note: Polled opinion was not split between Israelis for genocide and Israelis against it. Rather, the division in Israeli society appeared to be between Jewish-Israelis for current levels of genocide versus those for greater industry in what were already industrial-levels and methods of murder.

Attitudes in Israel have only hardened since: By mid-February, 58 percent of this Jewish cohort was grumbling that not enough force had been deployed to date; and 68 percent did “not support the transfer of humanitarian aid to Gaza.” (Jerusalem Post Staff, “Majority of Jewish Israelis opposed to demilitarized Palestinian state,” February 21, 2024.)

Scrap the “hardened” verb. Attitudes in Jewish Israel have not merely hardened, but bear the hallmark of societal sociopathy.

When asked, in particular, “to what extent should Israel take into consideration the suffering of the Palestinian population when planning the continuation of the fighting there,” Jewish-Israelis sampled have remained consistent through the months of the onslaught on Gaza, from late in October of 2023 to late in March of 2024. The Israel Democracy Institute, a polling organization, found that, “[D]espite the progress of the war in Gaza and the harsh criticism of Israel from the international community regarding the harm inflicted on the Palestinian population, there remains a very large majority of the Jewish public who think that Israel should not take into account the suffering of Palestinian civilians in planning the continuation of the fighting. By contrast, a similar majority of the Arab public in Israel take the opposite view, and think this suffering should be given due consideration.”(Tamar Hermann, Yaron Kaplan, Dr. Lior Yohanani, “War in Gaza Survey 13,” Israel Democracy Institute, March 26, 2024.)

Large majorities of the Israeli Center (71 percent) and on the Right (90 percent) say that “Israel should only take into account the suffering of the Palestinian population to a small extent or should not do so at all.”

Let us, nevertheless, end this canvas with the “good” news: On the “bleeding heart” Israeli Left; “only” (I’m being cynical) 47 percent of a sample “think that Israel should not take into consideration the suffering of Palestinian civilians in Gaza or should do so only to a small extent, while 50 percent think it should consider their plight to a fairly large or very large extent.” (Ibid.)

In other words, the general run of the Jewish-Israeli Left tends to think that the plight of Gazans should be considered, but not necessarily ended.

On the facts, and, as I have had to, sadly, show here, both the Israeli state and civil society are driven by Jewish supremacy, the kind that sees little to no value in Palestinian lives and aspirations.

LIBERTARIAN METHODOLOGICAL INDIVIDUALISM

Commensurate with the surveys shared above, and as many have quite reasonably concluded, Jewish-Israeli civil society is sick, too. As uncomfortable as it is for the libertarian methodological individualist; the facts dictate, alas, that, on the matter of the mass murder of the Palestinians of Gaza; Jewish-Israeli society does not stand apart from the Jewish State.

But if such generalizations can be made; don’t they betray the libertarian fidelity to methodological individualism?

“No.” Stating statistical verities does not violate methodological individualism.

Methodological individualism does not mandate that aggregate group traits be denied. Rather, methodological individualism correctly practiced means that generalizations are to be considered, while each and every individual is treated on his merit, and not conflated with the group.

Provided they are substantiated by hard evidence, not hunches, generalizations are not incorrect. To the contrary: Science relies on the ability to generalize to the larger population observations drawn from representative samples.

Human action is governed by probabilities and generalities. People make prudent personal and economic decisions in their daily lives as to where scarce and precious resources—one’s life and property—are best invested. They do so based on reliable, aggregated data or on shared common-sense assessments.

When broad statements and assessments about aggregate group characteristic are both true and crucial to our understanding; libertarian methodological individualists needn’t demand that these be expunged from our formulations.

So, while we must take great care as libertarian methodological individualists to separate state from society, and each member of society from the next—treating each individual on his or her merit in our dealings—generalizations about certain group characteristics are, in aggregate, valid. They do not in any way flout the imperative to treat each and every individual as an individual.

We risk disarming ourselves of the firearm of truth, analytical and empirical, if we discard the aggregate group findings surveyed so far.

With shuddering clarity, I can say then, that, in symbiosis, Israel—state, society—and its Anglo-European sponsors share the blame for the sacking of Gaza. Israelis, by and large, have become a solipsistic sorority of Jewish supremacists. Palestinians have paid a terrible price for this systemic Israeli sociopathy.


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