Dr. Mordechai Nisan
Dr. Mordechai Nisanעצמי

The Ethics of the Fathers, an ancient rabbinic work, teaches not to judge another person until you find yourself in his place. There can always be a reasonable explanation for why people behave as they do, and we often prematurely judge them for what seems to be, but is not necessarily, a dereliction of proper behavior.

We can apply the principle of refraining from being judgmental to states, not just to individuals. Israel is the penultimate object of judgment: maligned, ostracized, threatened, and attacked, delegitimized, and accused of apartheid, racism, ethnic cleansing, expulsion, aggression, and occupation.

The recent International Court of Justice assessing Israel's conduct in the war against Hamas, after the unprecedented slaughter of October 7, provides a litany of misrepresentation, falsification, and disproportion in promoting, no less, the annihilation of the Jewish state. The International Criminal Court followed suit with its decision of May 20 to call for issuing arrest warrants against Prime Minister Netanyahu and Minister of Defense Galant for crimes in the war against Hamas.

Varieties of Conquest

In their colonial zeal the British sailed 7,137 miles to the Cape of Good Hope, the Dutch travelled 200 days to reach Java, while the Spanish navigated 5,908 miles to touch land in Peru. They all sought adventure, markets, and power.

Europeans crossed oceans, seas, and continents, to rule and colonize. Unprovoked and imperious policies subjugated native peoples and undermined local cultures and religion. The British were avid Christian missionaries in the Sudan, and the French promoted a civilizational mission to transform Algerians into Frenchmen. The European enthusiasts failed the test of cultural pluralism, and botched up the progressive standards of diversity and equity.

Israel Faces Warfare

An embattled miniscule country, Israel is the size of New Hampshire, smaller than Massachusetts. Israel has only one sweet lake (the Sea of Galilee), one river 60 feet wide (the Jordan River), and just one major international airport (Ben-Gurion). Its width in the pre-1967 lines was a mere 15 miles. Inclusive of Judea, Samaria, and the Jordan Valley, Israel's total land mass stretches no more than 60 miles from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River, the size of the Greater Washington DC area.

Put Yourself in Israel's Place

I say to all the presumptuous peacemakers, pernicious commentators, and political leaders: "Put yourself in Israel's place."

Since the Gazan War exploded on October 7, Israel's enemies have attacked Metulla on the northern border – destroying homes whose residents earlier evacuated – and the resort town of Eilat on the southern border. On April 13 Iran, the patron of Hamas, fired 300 missiles and drones at Israel. On May 10, a rocket fired from Gaza struck Beersheva in the Negev, and a woman was injured. Two days later a rocket struck Ashkelon, causing injury and damage.

A Palestinian State?

Global attention is riveted for decades to advance the idea of a Palestinian state in the 'West Bank' and Gaza Strip as a solution to the impasse and conflict with Israel. The key component in this formula is Israeli withdrawal.

Previous IDF pullbacks unleashed Palestinian terrorist warfare, as in the aftermath of the 1993 Oslo Accord and following the implementation of the 2005 Gaza Disengagement.

Withdrawal does not produce accommodation, co-existence, and peace between Israel and the Arabs. Israel's withdrawal from south Lebanon 24 years ago, in May 2000, allowed Hezbollah to fill the territorial vacuum and accelerate its preparations for war – as demonstrated since October 8, 2023.

Political leaders and states demand that Israel agree to a Palestinian state – run by Fatah/PLO or Hamas or whoever. Would Western leaders put their trust in the Palestinian Arabs? Would they agree to a Palestinian Arab state contiguous to their capital? Would they overlook Palestinian Arab political ambitions to advance toward total victory?

What would be the American response if attack tunnels from Canada penetrated the United States, with the help of North Korean advisers, Qatari money, Iranian inspiration, and Egyptian collaboration; or if a Chinese missile hits Los Angeles or Philadelphia?

How would France respond were Strasbourg targeted from German territory, or Norway from Denmark, or the United States from Mexico?

Recall how Britain in 1982 defended the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) from Argentinian depredations, and sent its navy 8,000 miles to the south Atlantic to protect 3,000 British citizens. Britain was determined to maintain fishing activity and raising sheep in the distant Falklands.

No country would trade places with Israel.

America, Canada, Britain, France, Germany, and other countries that denounce Israel's conduct of the war in Gaza, and call for an immediate cease-fire that would leave Hamas on its political feet, and holding Israeli hostages, is a callous betrayal of the Jewish people. It also defies the principle of not judging someone else until you are in its position.

Perhaps only when London collapses, Paris burns, and Washington succumbs to Islam, will Westerners begin to understand and empathize with Israel as a victim - and Israel as a victor.

Dr. Mordechai Nisan is a retired lecturer in Middle East Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.