Who are the Bad Guys?

Maj. Gen. (res.) David Ivry on the conscience and ethics of the IAF pilots and the conditions under which they operate. "We are allowed to kill the enemy only after he had already killed us"The conscience and ethics of the IAF pilots

"If someone comes to kill you, rise up early and kill him first!" This wise saying by our Sages of Blessed Memory has been valid for centuries.

In the modern era of the 21st century, however, this age-old saying no longer conforms to the humane norms allowed to a small state like Israel. It is still applicable, however, to superpowers or to any nation capable of gaining a majority vote at the UN Security Council.

We know fairly well where the launchers and the rockets threatening our homes are located. We have the tools, the ability and the precision-guided munitions to hit them before they are launched at us. But Israel imposes on itself norms that are more stringent than the norms imposed on any other nation so as not to implement the saying “If someone comes to kill you…” quoted above – as most of those launchers are deployed in such sensitive locations as hospitals, schools or any other installation where people not actually involved in the military aspects of the conflict are present as well.

Apparently, the more Israel imposes humane restrictions on itself, the more it is required to conform to even more stringent norms, simply because the casualty statistics on the Israeli side are low according to the world’s moral norms.

So, it is no longer sufficient for us to warn the human shields and give them an opportunity to distance themselves from the target. Now the world demands that we only respond after the launches, namely – we are allowed to kill the enemy only after he had already killed us.

These are the conditions under which the pilots of the Israeli Air Force operate. Columnist Gideon Levi of the Ha’Aretz newspaper preaches to us. As long as he speaks, with much grief, about the misery and suffering this war inflicts on the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip, it is a truth that, however reluctantly, we must accept as a true reminder, despite the fact that the solution to this misery is in the hands of Hamas. If they stop launching rockets, Israel will always be ready for a cease fire.

But, Mr. Gideon Levi, as the New Testament says: “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7). Among the IAF pilots you will find many ethical, moral people whose sensitivity to the suffering of their fellow men is not in any way inferior to yours. Some of them patrol the sky over the Gaza Strip for hours on end, and during their shift rockets are launched at their homes, endangering their children. Nevertheless, they show restraint and refrain from executing the obvious command of hitting the launchers and launching detachments, as they cannot be certain that the target area does not contain uninvolved parties, while the rockets being launched out of the Gaza Strip are not selective – they are intended to hit anyone in Israel, including the elderly and the children.

Dear Mr. Levi, please ask yourself: maybe you are not familiar with the IAF pilots. Maybe you do not know what you are writing about. Maybe they are convinced that every reasonable measure is being taken to prevent suffering and damage to the uninvolved. So, despite being men of conscience and ethics, they understand that they are on the side of the Good Guys, as the pilots of other air forces would not have conducted themselves in this way.

Mr. Gideon Levi, you use moral to justify your political views. By doing so, you are using moral selectively, and anyone using moral selectively is immoral. Therefore, Mr. Gideon Levi, to me you are definitely a Bad Guy, and when you point your finger at the pilots, always remember that three of your own fingers point right back at you.