Daily Israel Report

Op-Ed: Israel Must Abandon the Obscene "Purity of Arms" Mantra

This military morality, which Jews call "purity of arms", ultimately is a form of surrender, of saying that IDF soldiers' lives are worth less than enemy civilians.
Published: Thursday, July 17, 2014 11:01 PM


Is the Israeli army more Christian than the Christians themselves?  After all, it has, in fact, adopted the maxim of turning the other cheek. In Hebrew it is called havlagah.

The Israeli military disrupt missions against Hamas when in the radar they observe the presence of women and children.

The Israeli military calls the families of Palestinian neighbors of terrorists shortly before launching a raid.

The Israeli military evacuate entire Palestinian areas before an operation, with good manners, not with the nerve gas, like Assad in Syria, or phosphorus, like the Americans in Iraq.

Israeli soldiers heal Palestinians in Gaza in the Jewish hospitals.

The IDF is the only army which employed unprecedented efforts meant to minimize injury to non-combatants, including warning leaflets, phone calls, and non-lethal warning fire.


The object of war is to win. It is to kill your enemies and cause them the maximum level of damage, to crush them into the dust, to make them lose all hope of victory.
The Jewish State is waging a just war by fair means, proportionately, even too carefully, compared with international law that enshrines the right to self-defense.

No other people in the world is forced to similar levels of morality in its wars. But this military morality, which Jews call "purity of arms", ultimately is a surrender.

The Americans didn't win the war in Iraq by these moral means. The Russians didn't silence the Chechen question by these moral means. Only Israel adopted these under the word "proportionality".

The object of war is to win. It is to kill your enemies and cause them the maximum level of damage, to crush them into the dust, to make them lose all hope of victory.

It is immoral to prolong conflicts endlessly by preventing victory. But this is what Israel does.

Compare the current Gaza operation to the U.S. operation in Fallujah in late 2004. During the Fallujah attack, 6,000 Iraqis were killed and  50,000 buildings were destroyed, including 60 mosques. Israel acted differently, letting thousands of Israeli soldiers die needlessly in the Yom Kippur War of 1973, leaving Arafat alive fleeing Beirut in 1982, not crushing the First Intifada in 1987 with all its power, demoralizing itself during the Gulf war in 1991 and reaching the total debacle of the Second Intifada aka the Oslo War.

And the list now includes Hamas.

Jewish soldiers shouldn't be "merciful", must not show "restraint" or follow "purity of arms", but destroy the enemies who come to kill Jews. It is obscene that the Jews' mortal enemies, including prisoners of war, should be treated with such care and populations should be spared even if this care causes greater Israeli casualties.

"Purity of arms" is defeatism in the false clothing of morality.

And a reminder - was it "purity of arms" to use the army to deport thousands of Jews in Gaza?

Israel, the only piece of Western democracy bombed in the twenty-first century, is obliged to win its wars. The Western world, which lived the last war on its own soil seventy years ago, has no right to give moral lessons to the children and grandchildren of those who were abandoned in Treblinka's ovens.

Even in the ghettos of the Second World War, Jews discussed the morality of using weapons against the Germans. And we know how it ended.