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Does Israel Have A Right To Exist?
Mark A. Goldman                                                            Revised:  12/2/06

The simple answer to this question is "No." Israel does not have a right to exist. But then again neither does the United States have a right to exist. At least not a moral right. In fact, no country has a "right to exist" except to the extent to which you can identify some universal value that gives a nation the right to exist, and even then only to the extent that you can verify that that nation qualifies as having such a right under your universal value system. (See

So let me suggest such a value system: 

"No government or nation has a right to exist unless that government and its people are striving to adhere to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights... and that includes: 
     1).  a willingness to announce to the world and to their own people that that's what their goal is, and
     2). substantial evidence, according to some reasonable standard, that that's what they are, in fact, striving to do."  

Israel became a nation with the support of many countries, but in becoming a country Israel acquired land that was already occupied by people living there people who had been living there for a very long time... people who had no say in whether or not they wanted to give up their homes, their livelihood and their land so that Jews might start a new country at their expense. The only right Israel had in taking over the land was the right of force or power... power granted them by the United States and others for the sake of expediency. 

And if you review history you will see that the borders of all nations evolved in roughly the same way. Each nation had to fight (and in Israel's case the fight was aided by powerful allies) to occupy the land until they could establish for themselves over time that this was their land; and since no one could take it away from them, that was that. Then tradition became the right. And then nations formally agreed on paper to abide by those traditions. The victors in war almost always became land owners and the vanquished became the underclass. If this is what you mean when you say that Israel has a right to exist, then Israel has a right to exist. But there is no moral right that can legitimately be claimed here. 

And what of the United States? By what moral right does our country exist? By right of genocide through the extermination of the indigenous people who were already living here when our ancestors arrived?  

The difference between the United States and Israel is that much of the world sympathizes with the plight of the Palestinian people. Many identify with them because they share a common ethnic background and/or religion, so many people around the world are not disinterested. This makes victory or genocide not so easy to accomplish. Here you have a significant fight on your hands. 

It was easier for our country to exterminate the people who occupied what is now the continental United States because the indigenous natives who lived here had no powerful allies, and they, without support, lacked sufficient technology to defend themselves. Our ancestors justified their behavior by calling American Indians "savages." But American Indians were not savages. We were the savages. We broke every agreement we ever made with them. We did every dishonorable thing one group of people could do to another. We had no moral right to do what we did.

So... will there be peace in the Middle East in our lifetime? It depends on what you call peace. But in terms of what I call peace, there will be none until the truth is acknowledged and told by all the parties who were and are responsible, and surely not until some honorable arrangements, including reparations, are made to those who were cheated.

As for us and our children, and as for them and their children, we have all been cheated. And as for those of us who call ourselves citizens, most of us are cheaters as well as having been cheated. For we fail in our obligation as human beings to acknowledge the truth, because we don't like what the truth sounds like or what the implications might be if we did tell the truth. 

Many of us are simply uninformed, uneducated, brainwashed, and/or oblivious, and for that we have ourselves, our government, and each other to blame. No one is absolved. There is no honor in silence, ignorance, or cowardice... and no peace either.




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