My political views

Oded Goldreich, January 2003.


The Israeli society has been degenerating morally and intellectually for several decades and reached a disgusting low point. This degeneration is due in part to a global degeneration (lead by the USA), but is actually dominated by a local factor. The latter is the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Thus, the single most important change that should take place is the immediate ending of this occupation. Other recommended actions include

A concrete suggestion: support HADASH, the only political party in the parliament that is committed to all these views. Meretz, the Labor Party and the Arab parties (i.e., Balad and Ra'am) share some of these views (in some cases in very moderate versions) but are not fully committed to all of them.

The occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip

The most dominant source of evil in the Israeli society is the continued occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. This source of evil also contributes to several of the other problems discussed below. For example, the occupation strengthens the militaristic character of the Israeli society, fosters its contempt to human rights, and cultivates reactionary, ethnocentric, racist, and provincial attitudes. In addition, it causes severe economical and social problems and prevents a critical discussion of any other key issue (e.g., Globalization, Privatization and Capitalism).

However, the most evil part of the occupation is the occupation itself; that is, the violation of the most basic human right (i.e., freedom) of three million people (i.e., the Palestinians living in the occupied territories). In addition, Israel's rule of these occupied territories is in clear violation of the globally-recognized duty of the ruler to administer and develop the occupied territory to the benefit of its residents. Needless to say, the settling of the ruler's citizens in the occupied territories is not only implicitly forbidden by the above principle but is also explicitly forbidden by international law (which the Israeli administration disregards whenever it pleases). On top of this massive violation of human rights, Israel's rule of the occupied territories is marked by an increasing number of war crimes ranging from murder (i.e., intentional killing of people without due process and/or sound justification), to causing death and severe injury of civilians in hundreds of cases (by criminal negligence), massive intentional destruction of private and public property (i.e., houses, plants, vehicles, equipment, etc), and the emprisonment and starvation of the entire population.

Typically, the justification offered for these violations and crimes is self-defense ("security reasons"), lack of other choice (i.e., "nobody to talk to") and "common practice" (of other nations). These claims are neither valid nor the true reason for the continued occupation. But even if these claims were valid, a question of balance between legitimate concerns should have been seriously investigated (e.g., balance between the right of self-defense and the harm caused by specific actions taken according to that right). For example, when referring to the intentional killing of certain suspects, the questions are whether it is clear that this particular suspect plans to cause the death of other people and whether killing him/her is the only way to prevent him/her from carrying out this plan. Most if not all the intentional killing by the Israeli army cannot be justified by this defense; they are typically acts of revenge, which are sometimes directed against people that are not even responsible for any "act of terrorism" (but are rather political activists that are considered harmful to the cause of the continued occupation).

The continued occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip does not promote the security of the state of Israel, but rather endangers it. Indeed, alternative and far more effective security measures (at Israel's borders with the Palestinian territories) would require far less (human and financial) resources than those wasted towards maintaining the occupation. The continued occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip is not performed in lack of other choice: Israel can just withdraw from there (as it did from the south of Lebanon) unilaterally and/or after negotiations with the Palestinians. If the topic of negotiation were withdrawal from the occupied territories as part of a lasting peace treaty then there would be no problem to find "somebody to talk to" on the Palestinian side. (The question is who is willing to conduct negotiations of such a realistic and justified agenda on the Israeli side.) Finally, the fact that other nations (mainly at other historical periods) have conducted worst crimes is not a justification for anything. Needless to say, the approval of the current USA administration (which conducts war crimes en route of its attempts to administer the entire world) is irrelevant.

The true reason for the continued occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip is the invested interest of part of the Israeli society in this occupation, the miscalculation of the damage caused by the occupation to the Israeli society, and its disregard of universal considerations (by a large portion of the Israeli society). In particular, the "settlers" have a direct personal interest in the continued occupation and seem oblivious to its cost (in terms of damage to the Israeli society not to mention the Palestinian one). Some businesses also have such an interest. In addition, parts of the Israeli right-wing, which has nothing to offer but hatred of the other and confrontation with it, has an interest in the continued occupation and confrontation that comes with it, and certainly is emotionally incapable in "giving up" anything significant towards a resolution.

The forces in the Israeli society that are truly committed to ending the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip are in clear minority. Given the state of affairs described above, it is a moral duty to refuse to take part in any action that serves the occupation. Such a moral choice also carries the political benefit of making a firm statement to the rest of the society regarding the evil (and cost) involved in the occupation, and puts pressure on the forces that favor the continuation of the occupation. Thus, the moral refusal to take part in the occupation is also an important political step. This makes organizations like Yesh Gvul and Ometz Le'Sarev worthy of special support and respect.

Globalization, Privatization and Capitalism

Capitalism at its current brutal stage is reflected by two slogans: Privatization and Globalization. Privatization, which aims to strip the state from any economical activity (supposedly because it cannot efficiently-perform such activities), is actually the main tool for destructing the structures of social security that were established decades ago by the social-democratic (a.k.a reform capitalist) movement. Globalization acts similarly on a global scale. In both cases, real social benefits (and, in particular, securities) of the entire population are replaced by vague promises (of "prosperity that benefits all") and unrealistic dreams (of social mobility) that are being disseminated by the mass media. Specifically, general prosperity did not follow when pure (rather than reformed) capitalism was given a free hand (at the last 20 years of the 20th century), and the general population has not benefited but rather suffered. As for social mobility, it occurs very rarely unless promoted by non-economical means (e.g., affirmative action). That is, real-life concerns are being replaced by false ideology. This process is not being orchestrated by a small group of conspirators, but is rather developing through the actions of many members of the society (especially by the intellectual elite and the middle class). Thus, the victims of this process contribute to its development.

The arguments in favor of Globalization, Privatization and Capitalism come all from traditional economics, which is kind of circular at least in case of Capitalism that can be defined as the view that everything should be measured in terms of money or cost/merchandise. But there is no reason to agree to the reduction of everything to costs and merchandise. On the contrary, one should object to this view, and in fact almost all people object to this view when it is carried out to the "moral sphere"; for example, people are not allowed to sell themselves as slaves, to hire others to murder somebody, to offer money for a vote in the election, etc. That is, murdering somebody is not allowed even if it can bring about great economical advantages. The same reasoning should be applied to restrict the behavior of companies in the national and international sphere. Working people should not be treated as merchandise, and social rights and securities should not be treated as merchandise. [Human should not be treated as a mean (or an instrument); Kant, Critique of Practical Reason]

Thus we reject Capitalism at its current brutal stage. The alternatives are either to reform Capitalism (i.e., make it more "human" and "sensitive") or to turn to socialism (which, roughly speaking, means giving priority to work and workers over capital). Both alternatives are aimed at improving the well-being of mankind and differ on the question of whether this should be done by influencing the evoloution of the "capitalist system" or trying to replace it. The distinction that sound sematical, may be reflected in different attitudes towards concrete questions (which again reduce to the difference between a moderate change and a radical one). There is a big unjustified antagonism between these two alternatives, which stems from the false belief that struggleing towards one alternative hurts the success of the other. In particular, both theoretical consideration and historical experience show that it is harder to move from harsh Capitalism to socialism than it is to move from reformed Capitalism to socialism.

Human and Civil Rights

The low standing of Human Rights in Israel is strongly related to the need to deny the evils involved in maintaining the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The conflict that arises from the occupation (as well as the induced "Israeli-Arab conflict") is also used to justify the discrimination of the Arab citizens inside Israel, which is also fostered by an identity crisis of the Jewish society in Israel. The latter also prevents any action towards a true separation of religious and state affairs. Instead, secular Jews in Israel develop a hatred towards religious Jews while maintaining an inferiority complex towards the traditional religious Jewish culture.

All these problems are amplified by the lack of a lack of a truly democratic tradition and weakness of the civil society. Instead, the ethos of the state and its army play a major role. In such an atmosphere, equal treatment of women is but a phantom. The same and worst holds with respect to the treatment of other forms of "Others" such as gay/lesbians, Arab citizens and foreign workers.

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