The ‘morality loophole’ that fuels Israeli violence against Palestinians

A wave of violence by Israel’s military and armed settler movement has provoked Palestinians to protest and defend themselves, resulting in more violence.

While seven Israelis were killed by a single Palestinian late last month, more than 40 Palestinians have been killed by dozens of Israelis since the beginning of the year. Yet, when you listen to the rhetoric coming from the Israelis, it only focuses on their deaths and avoids any accountability for the killings that have taken place throughout the Occupied Territories.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, along with many members of his Cabinet and the country’s Jewish leadership, have denounced the “targeting of Jews” as an act of “antisemitism.” Ironically, there appears to be no word for the killing of Christians and Muslims, so Netanyahu, the Israel Defense Forces and the radical armed Israeli settlers avoid worldwide censure.

That imbalance in rhetoric strengthens the support of Israel’s apologists and seemingly weakens the moral power of those who speak out against its killing of non-Jews. The Israelis exploit this “morality loophole” to exaggerate their suffering and fuel greater sympathy, while downplaying the suffering of Palestinians, making it easier for them to blame the conflict on the Palestinians.

This morality loophole is also used by the Israelis to bully the mainstream news media into embracing their propaganda lie that all Israeli Jews who are killed are innocent victims targeted because they are Jewish, while all the Palestinians they kill are “terrorists.”

The truth is that every violent Jewish settler is a terrorist. They can injure and kill non-Jews with impunity and only rarely are they held accountable for their crimes. Every Israeli soldier who shoots a civilian protester is also a terrorist and should be prosecuted as such.

Soldiers should be held to a higher standard. They are not only trained but they are also equipped for conflict and are expected to conduct themselves in a more restrained manner because of the higher caliber of their power. Protesting Palestinian civilians, however, are not trained in conflict, nor are they equipped to engage in it.

The well-trained police and military are morally and legally bound to act in a civilized, restrained manner when dealing with civilians. Untrained civilian protesters will be more emotional and do not have the same high standards to uphold in conduct. But that imbalance in power is often pushed aside by Israel, which casts Israeli soldiers and armed settlers as if they are victims of violence, when in fact they are the perpetrators.

Palestinians need to redefine the hate-driven violence that Israel’s military and armed settler groups use to target non-Jews.

Ray Hanania

This reality is recognized in nearly every democratic society. It is the fundamental principle that defines how democracies must conduct themselves, which is why, in America for example, armed police who cause the deaths of civilians are held accountable. The most recent case was that of Tyre Nichols, who was killed as a result of being restrained by police in Memphis.

Nichols resisted the police and they were brutal in their efforts to restrain him, causing his death days later. Ironically, many American police officers receive training from Israeli security consultants and the Israeli military.

The difference between American democracy and Israel’s so-called democracy is that, in the US, civilians are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. In Israel, civilians can be targeted and killed and they are referred to as “terrorists” without the authorities ever having to provide any evidence. Israel’s morality loophole allows it to cover up this flaw in its legal system — a flaw that the pro-Israel media intentionally ignores and that the mainstream Western media rarely covers.

This morality loophole is not driven by the legal aspects of the international rule of law. It is driven by public perception, which makes it easy to manipulate and advance.

Palestinians need to address this loophole and redefine the hate-driven violence that Israel’s military and armed settler groups use to target non-Jews. We cannot call it antisemitism, a term that once had a deep and serious moral consequence but which has been hijacked by Israeli extremists for political purposes, diluting its meaning.


It needs to be a nonreligious term similar in power to “Islamophobia,” which refers to the hatred of Muslims. Israeli politicians play a clever game with Islam by targeting “Palestinian Arabs,” while claiming to respect the rights of Muslims, many of whom are not Arab.

Israel is not at war with Muslims or Christians. Israel’s war is against Palestinians and they will do anything possible to separate one from the other. They hide behind their “love” for Muslims and Christians to undermine any criticism of their intolerance of Palestinians. It is a very intricate and sophisticated policy that must be challenged.

One thing that is for sure is that Muslims and Christians need to recognize their affinity with Palestinian Arabs. They cannot walk away from them and allow Israel to brutalize the Palestinians while claiming to embrace Islam, Christianity and the Arab world.

I am not sure what would be the proper term for this hate-driven Israeli government obsession, but it surely is an ugly one that must be urgently identified and labeled.


• Ray Hanania

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