The Hollow Ethics of Israel’s Liberals

When it comes to Palestinians, liberal Israelis sound little different from Netanyahu’s supporters. Both are concerned about maintaining Israel as a fortress Jewish state

Human rights abuses by their government have so outraged prominent liberal Israelis that, in an unprecedented move, they have launched a campaign of civil disobedience.

Many hundreds have responded to a call by rabbis, pledging to hide victims in their own homes to protect them from Israel’s security services.

With the mood rapidly turning sour, academics and professionals, including doctors, pilots, school principals and lawyers have refused to collude in Israel’s policy of oppression.

This month a raft of respected literary figures, including Amos Oz and David Grossman, reminded Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that it was imperative to “act morally, humanely and with compassion worthy of the Jewish people. … Otherwise, we will have no reason to exist.”

Outside Israel, Jewish organisations have uncharacteristically sounded the alarm as well, warning that Israel’s actions “betray the core values that we, as Jews, share”.

But none of this outpouring of moral concern has been voiced on behalf of Palestinians. Instead the consciences of Israeli liberals have been pricked by the exceptional plight of some 40,000 African asylum seekers, mainly from Sudan and Eritrea.

The Israeli government initiated a programme this month to expel these refugees, who gained sanctuary in Israel from…

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