Beyond Political Dermatology

Moral egalitarianism, moral relativism, the education of israel's higher echelons.

Prof. Paul Eidelberg

OpEds Paul Eidelberg
Paul Eidelberg

Most lacking among right-minded political analysts, whether academics or journalists, is philosophical understanding of the government‘s territorial policy - that they often criticize.

It would hardly occur to such analysts to correlate the “Two-State Solution” of the Israel-Palestinian conflict to Martin Buber’s book “Two Kinds of Faith,” even though a clue their kinship appears in Martin Buber’s advocacy of a bi-national state in Palestine to accommodate the competing claims of Jews and Arabs regarding this land.

In "Two Kinds of Faith", Buber, perhaps the most influential intellectual of pre-state Israel, contends that the neither of the two faiths mentioned in the book, namely, Judaism and Christianity, can be deemed superior to the other.  What underlies Buber’s contention, and what connects it with the “two state solution” regarding Jews and Arabs?

The answer is the invisible doctrine of historicism or historical relativism whose father is the German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Hegel (1770-1831). Hegel’s historicism or historical relativism, which overwhelmed Europe, was imported into Israel, specifically, into the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, by Martin Buber, the German-educated Jewish intellectual who married a non-Jew.

It is no mere coincidence that the author of "Two Kinds of Faiths", who said “There is no scale of values for the function of peoples [and that] one cannot be ranked above another”—conveyed the same of historical relativism in testimony before the Anglo-American Inquiry Commission in 1947. Thus, speaking for himself and Dr. Yehuda Magnus, the first president of the Hebrew University, Buber declared: “We do not favor Palestine as a Jewish country or Palestine as an Arab country, but a bi-national Palestine as the common country of two peoples.” 

Buber’s relativism engenders cultural and moral egalitarianism. Accordingly, Hebrew University professor Yehoshfat Harkabi, the reputed mentor of Shimon Peres, dedicated his book, "Arab Attitudes to Israel", to “Jews and Arabs” alike, even though the book is replete with hundreds of quotes from diverse Arab sources, all vilifying Jews and Israel in the most lurid terms and promising the eventual annihilation of the Jewish state!

The moral egalitarianism, which underlies Buber’s “Two Kinds of Faith,” ignores Christianity’s record of violence toward Jews. The same moral egalitarian appears in Harkabi’s dedication of his book to Jews and Arabs. Nor is this all.

While Jews were being reduced to body parts by Arab suicide bombers in Jerusalem, Sharon said in that interview that he does not think in terms of “black and white,” meaning in terms of good and evil.
Harkabi served not only as a Director of Israel Military Intelligence, but also as the head of Israel’s Command and Staff School. Both Ariel Sharon and Ehud Barak—former prime ministers of Israel, were graduates of that school. Both were tainted by moral relativism. Suffice to mention a statement Sharon made in an April 2001 interview with Ha’aretz Magazine. Thus, while Jews were being reduced to body parts by Arab suicide bombers in Jerusalem, Sharon said in that interview that he does not think in terms of “black and white,” meaning in terms of good and evil.

Moreover, if any one person can be called the “father” of the Oslo “peace process,” it is none other than Professor Harkabi, who advocated the creation of a Palestinian state even though the charter the Palestine Liberation Organization explicitly calls for Israel’s annihilation!

No wonder—and as one eminent journalist has observed—Israel’s military echelon has made mistake after mistake during the past two decades: for example

(1) when Israel, under the premiership of Ehud Barak, withdrew from the security zone in Lebanon and thus gave free reign to Hezbollah in Lebanon;

(2) when Israel, under the premiership of Ariel Sharon,  withdrew from Gaza;

(3) when Israel, under one prime minister after another, has pursued a policy of self-restraint vis-à-vis the PLO-Palestinian Authority;

(4) when Israel, under prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, sabotaged an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

The trouble is that these mistakes were not mere mistakes or simply due to the miscalculations of this or that military leader. To report these mistakes as mere mistakes is nothing more than political dermatology than obscures their etiology. These mistakes are manifestations of SYSTEMIC flaws rooted in the education of Israel military echelon. Their education has been education corrupted by the university-bred doctrine of moral and cultural relativism clearly manifested in the writings of various Israeli professors of whom I have mentioned only one, and can name others.

 Hence, it is futile to carp on the “mistakes” or “miscalculations” of this or that general officer. Such criticism goes no deeper than dermatology. Needed is brain surgery to remove the tumor of moral and cultural relativism that has paralyzed minds of Israel’s military echelons, which has emasculated their will or softened their spines.

Israel’s political analysts should probe more deeply than political dermatology. They should expose the foreign academic doctrines that have emasculated the mentality of Israel military and political elites, above all, German historicism and its derivatives, moral and cultural relativism.