Yet, Human Rights Watch has slammed Israel over “abusive arrests” of Palestinian children as young as 11. In a report released on Monday, "Israeli security forces have choked children, thrown stun grenades at them, beaten them in custody, forced confessions without the presence of parents or lawyers, and failed to let their parents know their whereabouts."
What allowed the Israeli forces to morally justify carrying out acts that they normally find abhorrent? Situational ethics. Situational ethics proponents argue that high ethical ideals are vague and unrealistic. They have little to do with having to deal with tough real life situations. Sometimes the situation, not principles, should dictate action.
“Sometimes you gotta put your principles aside and do the right thing”.
Conflict between principles and situation
Are we required to choose between adhering to rigid principles or going down the slippery slope of giving up those principles in certain situations?
President Obama has been reluctant to use military force and said, “Where force is necessary, we have a moral and strategic interest in binding ourselves to certain rules of conduct.” This is opposed by situational realists who support torture believing that the ends justifies the means.
An Ethical Individualist always stands on principles
The deed of an ethical individualist is never determined by the external situation. If that was the case the deed would not be determined by the individual, meaning it would not be ethical or free. Of course she is aware of the situation but “does not allow herself to be determined by it”. POF 9.6
The situation is conceptualized to understand the context and circumstances of the event. Within the conceptual sphere, free from personal or ethnic bias, an ideal principle is selected (Moral Intuition). The principle is universal so imagination needs to translate it into a specific situational goal that fits the event (Moral Imagination). In this way you are able to stand on your principles while your action is suited to the specifics of the situation.
What about flexibility? The principles and goals of the ethical individualist are not set in stone. If changing conditions or new knowledge calls for a different approach the ethical individualist can adjust from moment to moment, without compromising an ethical life.
“My mission, at any one moment, is that which I choose for myself. I do not enter upon life's journey with fixed marching orders.” POF 11.7
"To let our moral substance (our moral ideas) express itself in our life is the moral principle of the human being who regards all other moral principles as subordinate. We may call this point of view Ethical Individualism." POF 9-7
The highest principle of an Ethical Individualist is to express one's moral ideas in life. That is, to take ethical action. We were all grieved over the Israeli bombing of the Gaze Strip in 2014 which killed 1473 civilians, but how many of us did anything about it?
Over 500 children were killed, 3374 injured with 1500 orphaned, twenty-two schools were completely destroyed and 118 schools damaged.
You can be sure that the widespread Israeli campaign of violence to weaken and terrorize the Palestinian people has successfully left the soul of every surviving Palestinian child with deep wounds and traumatizing memories. Even after years have passed, such unresolved trauma can trigger symptoms that profoundly disturb the development of children and adolescents.
We all know that what is being done to the Palestinian children is not right. Thankfully, there are some who are taking direct action. The Friends of Waldorf Education sent a crisis intervention team to Gaza to help the traumatized children.
By providing stabilizing actions on the basis of Waldorf education emergency pedagogy, they are aiding the traumatized Palestinian children by providing ways to process the traumatizing experiences. These emergency pedagogic interventions help prevent potential long-term post-traumatic stress disorders. The Ethical Individualist is an ethical activist.
note: Rudolf Steiner was a critic of his contemporary Theodor Herzl's goal of a Zionist state, as well as of any other ethnically determined state, as he considered ethnicity to be an outmoded basis for social life and civic identity.
Jewish Daily Forward
Benjamin Netanyahu’s surprising and decisive victory in the Israeli elections has created a wrenching dilemma for many American Jews: how to continue to love Israel while a government that violates many of our community’s values is in place.
This may not be an issue for those who unequivocally support Netanyahu’s aggressive, nationalistic stance, and cheer the fact that he won by dismissing the two pillars of American Mideast policy: the creation of a two-state solution with the Palestinians and the pursuance of a nuclear deal with Iran. The Bibi chorus of our community is already gloating, excusing the candidate’s offensive words about Arab voters, quickly accepting his “clarifications” and falling back on the ancient pull of peoplehood to rally American Jews once again.
It may not work so well this time.
The denial of Palestinian statehood aspirations and the blatant resort to racist statements that Netanyahu expressed in the last days of his campaign won’t soon be forgotten or reconciled, no matter what he now says.
Thus, the dilemma. For years we have been told that we must put aside our liberal values – the values that have allowed us to prosper into the Diaspora’s largest, most proud and significant community – when it comes to Israel. Ignore the occupation. Ignore the domination of an ultra-Orthodox rabbinate.
The occupation and settlement growth can’t continue indefinitely without dramatic change or renewed violence. For one thing, Israel’s already fraught diplomatic and economic relations with Europe will certainly worsen.
It will be harder to contain the growing resentment on college campuses and the growing alienation of many younger Jews. And it will be much harder to support the unquestioning amount of U.S. financial, military and diplomatic aid that Israel receives every year when its government sometimes works against American interests and policies.
The question now for us is how to maintain a genuine connection to Israel and what we believe are its deeply grand and humanistic values while distancing ourselves from a leader who stands for the opposite.
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