Barry Werner

Barry Werner – The assumption of moral equivalency with regard to the Arab/Israeli conflict is immoral

Barry Werner - The assumption of moral equivalency with regard to the Arab/Israeli conflict is immoral

The assumption of moral equivalency with regard to the Arab/Israeli conflict is immoral. from

The assumption of moral equivalency with regard to the Arab/Israeli conflict is immoral

Reasoning by analogy

First analogy

Imagine you come across a fight in which an aggressor is attacking an innocent victim and it is clear who is the aggressor and who is the innocent victim. For simplicity, imagine there are only two people involved. Imagine you see that the victim is able to defend himself and overcome the aggressor. Imagine that the victim manages to throw the aggressor down to the ground and has his foot on the aggressor’s neck. Imagine the aggressor, now on the ground, says “let me up, you’re hurting me”. The victim, the one standing up, says “If I let you up will you stop trying to kill me?” and the aggressor says, “No, if you let me up I will continue to try to kill you.” What is the victim supposed to do? Obviously, he must keep the aggressor immobilized on the floor.

That is analogous to the situation Israel is in. The Palestinian Arabs are suffering because of the occupation (they are suffering emotionally, not materially) but their leadership refuses to assure Israel that if Israel ends the occupation, they won’t renew their program to destroy Israel. Israel has no choice but to continue the occupation until the PA agrees to give Israel good reason to believe that the end of occupation will bring peace, not a renewal of war.

Second analogy

Imagine you could put yourself back in time to World War II and watch the suffering of the Germans and/or the Japanese at the end of the war. Imagine you could watch the fire bombing of their cities and the Red Army taking out its vengeance on Berlin, even the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Could you then logically conclude that the Allies were the bad guys and the Axis powers were the good guys? Certainly not. The evils perpetrated by the Axis powers were of a greater magnitude than the excesses the Allies perpetrated in self-defense.

That is analogous to the Arab/Israeli conflict. The Arabs fought racist and religious fanatical wars against the Jews who were fleeing pogroms in Europe because the Jews were not Arabs or Muslims but yet dared to establish a self-governing sanctuary community in their ancestral land, not as dhimmis but as an autonomous society. Just as in the case of WWII, the evils perpetrated by the Arabs were of a greater magnitude than the excesses the Israelis may have perpetrated in self-defense.

The delusion of moral equivalency

Any discussion of the Arab/Israeli conflict must reflect that moral asymmetry. The attitude of moral equivalency that the left wing takes toward the Arab/Israeli conflict is immoral. (1) The Arabs want to kill the Jews because (2) the Jews want to live in their ancestral homeland in peace. There is no moral equivalency to those two positions.

The left wing respect for the “Arab narrative” is an abomination. Rejectionist Arabs turn history into myth for political advantage and the critical academics of the contemporary progressive world feel compelled to give them the right to reinvent history to suit themselves. There is a corrosive belief among contemporary progressive academics that there really is no absolute truth, and it feels good to them to allow the Arabs to have their own truth. This is anti-intellectual and an affront to the Western liberal tradition.

This moral relativism is suicidal. Western civilization is destroying itself by abandoning its values. Unless we recognize that the racism of the Arab world (that non-Arabs may not have an autonomous community) and the religious fanaticism of the Arab world (that non-Muslims may not have an autonomous community) are intolerable by Western values and we see the Arab/Israeli conflict in that light, we are committing moral suicide.

And it is also extremely important to remember that we are also harming the Arab and Moslem world by tolerating what we should consider intolerable. The reformers of the Arab and Moslem world need the support of the West. Instead, out of a misguided sense of tolerance, the West tolerates the worst elements in the Arab and Moslem world and cuts the ground out from beneath the reformers. The West, by its immoral interference in support of radicals, has actually made it more difficult for the Arab and Moslem world to reform itself.

Common cause

Certainly, the left-wing thinkers I’ve met in Israel are an especially well-informed group, and many of them have an honorable record of courageous participation in Israel’s wars. I know less about the left-wingers outside Israel except that many of them are former left-wing Israelis who left Israel in disgust after the Israeli electorate rejected their political leadership. I suspect that they feel hurt and rejected by the country they loved and tried so hard to help. And, I suspect that instead of asking themselves where they might have gone wrong, they accuse the Israelis who rejected them of being morally inferior. They are mainly knowledgeable and well-meaning people and it is long overdue that the Left and the Right find common cause.

Barry Werner


I was born into an Orthodox Jewish family in Brooklyn, NY and attended an Orthodox yeshiva, but I am a secular Jew today and still have a high regard for Judaism. I enjoy learning about Judaism, Jewish history and history in general.

In yeshiva I learned what it is like to be religious and how to be religious without being a fanatic. I recognize the power and importance of religion in people’s lives and the need to restrain religious fanaticism.

I was born in 1944, when the Nazi Holocaust was in full operation. I grew up when the world was just beginning to comprehend what had happened. When I read about the willing participants to the Holocaust from other European countries, I realized that the Holocaust was not an aberration restricted to Germans, but it represents the depravity that humanity in general is capable of.

I wanted to understand the world as science understands it (which is a rather religious thing to do) so I earned a PhD in Physics at Brandeis University. My PhD thesis was in Astrophysics and my professional career was in Medical Physics. For many years I did research in the fundamentals of Medical Physics and taught Medical Physics in universities.

I made aliyah in 2009.

I am very interested in the Arab/Israeli conflict and especially in the phenomenon of anti-Zionism. I enjoy discussing Israel with left-wingers, right-wingers, Arabs, Europeans, and anyone who is interested in the Arab/Israeli conflict.

The assumption of moral equivalency with regard to the Arab/Israeli conflict is immoral

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