The contemporary moral perplexity is not a recent phenomenon.

      Nearly 3,000 years ago, the Prophet Isaiah mourned, “Destruction awaits those who label evil as good and good as evil, who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness, who exchange bitterness for sweetness and sweetness for bitterness.”

      However, a new variant of moral ambiguity emerged at the start of the 20th century. While there have always been those who distorted the concepts of good and evil, shortly after Einstein unveiled the theory of relativity in the natural realm, Western civilization extended the principle of relativity to the moral realm. As the late historian Paul Johnson noted in “Modern Times”: “At the outset of the 1920s, the notion began to circulate, for the first time at a popular level, that there were no longer any absolutes: of time and space, of good and evil, of knowledge, above all of value” (emphasis added).

      Until then, regardless of being poorly implemented or disregarded, the belief in the West was that moral truths were real. Subsequently, as Johnson articulated, “Incorrectly but perhaps inevitably, relativity became entangled with relativism.”

      Everything became relative — you possess your principles, I have mine; what I think (or more accurately, what I feel) is virtuous is virtuous, and what I deem as undesirable is actually undesirable. This is even pertinent to truth: As the increasingly common saying goes, I have “my truth” and you possess “your truth.”

      Rather than the concept of good and evil, we now have a different set of “ethical” categories: affluent and impoverished, non-colored and colored, occupiers and the occupied, potent and feeble, oppressors and the oppressed. Those included in the latter groups — the poverty-stricken, individuals of color, the colonized, the frail, and the oppressed (real or alleged) — are, by definition, considered good, while those in the former categories are, by definition, deemed bad. One widely acknowledged example is the notion that individuals of color cannot be discriminatory. I was indoctrinated with that absurdity in graduate school during the 1970s, and it has achieved axiomatic status among the highly educated.

      This elucidates the widespread empathy for the Palestinians and animosity towards Israel.

      In a morality-driven world, Israel would receive universal backing. However, we do not inhabit such a world; we reside in a world of alternative classifications, and Israel falls into every one of the “unfavorable” classifications. Israel is perceived as affluent, potent, non-colored, an occupier, and an oppressor.

      This is morally inverted.

      Israel is a contemporary liberal democracy. It boasts a resilient independent press, a thriving opposition, and an autonomous judiciary. Two million Israelis — constituting a fifth of the nation’s populace — are Arabs, who, as per the Council on Foreign Relations, “possess identical legal entitlements as Jewish Israelis.” They have their own political factions, with 10 seats in Israel’s legislative assembly. Furthermore, Arabic, as apparent to any visitor in Israel, is an official language alongside Hebrew. There have even been Arab justices in the supreme court.

      In actuality, the Arabs in Israel are now markedly more approving of Israel compared to The New York Times, most Democrats, and of course, the United Nations. Reuters, known for its left-leaning bias, reported in November that “The Gaza war has dramatically enhanced the sense of solidarity with Israel among its 21% Arab minority.” Furthermore, The Economist reported in mid-January, “Even as war rages in Gaza, Israel’s Arabs are feeling more Israeli … Two-thirds of Israeli Palestinians say they identified with their state, up from half before the war.”

      Israel provides medical care to a considerable number of Palestinians at its medical facilities. In 2005 alone, around 123,000 Palestinians received treatment at just one facility, Hadassah Hospital, in Jerusalem. Israel extended medical assistance to over 4,000 victims of the Syrian Civil War at civilian hospitals, funded by the Israeli government.

      A fortnight ago, John Spencer, head of Urban Warfare Studies at West Point, authored an article in Newsweek highlighting that during Israel’s conflict with Hamas, the nation “has implemented more measures to prevent civilian casualties than any other military in history. … As someone who has served two tours in Iraq and studied urban warfare for over a decade, Israel has taken precautionary measures even the United States did not do during its recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

      “Israel provided days and then weeks of warnings, and opportunities for civilians to evacuate several cities in northern Gaza prior to commencing the main air-ground attack of urban areas. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) also utilized the practice of notifying inhabitants via calls and text messages ahead of an airstrike, as well as ‘roof-knocking,’ a method that involves deploying small munitions on the roof of a building to alert everyone to evacuate the building before a strike.

      “No existing military has ever adopted any of these practices in warfare previously,” Spencer concluded.

      In contrast to Israel’s decency, humanity, democracy, and morality, Hamas, supported by the majority of the Palestinians, is tantamount to the Nazis in terms of morality. It habitually inflicts torture upon Palestinian dissidents of its despotic regime and is resolute in its quest for the obliteration of Israel and its Jewish inhabitants. It takes pride in the immolation of Jewish families and the sexual abuse, rape, and disfigurement of Jewish women.

      With respect to Hamas’ barbarism, Amnesty International reported in 2015 the case of Atta Najjar, a former police officer under the Palestinian Authority:

      “[Najjar] was serving a 15-year prison term imposed by a military court after he was arrested in 2009 and subsequently convicted of ‘collaborating’ with Israel. On 22 August 2014, he was taken out from the prison and executed.

      “There were signs of torture and bullet wounds on his body. His limbs were fractured … his body was mangled as if it had been crushed in a bag. … His body bore approximately 30 bullet holes. He exhibited evidence of incisions around his neck, wounds from knives. … And at the back of his head, there was no brain. Gone … It was strenuous for us to transport him. … He was weighty, like putting meat into a bag; no bones. His bones were crushed. They broke him in the prison,’ recounted his brother, who retrieved the corpse from the al-Shifa hospital morgue on 22 August 2014.”

      Nonetheless, the decency of Israel and the ruthlessness of Hamas are insignificant to a large portion of the world, particularly the Left, the academia, and the media. Because the distinction between good and evil is irrelevant. Only the discrepancy between affluence and poverty, between non-colored and colored, between strength and weakness, between the occupier and the occupied, between the oppressor and the oppressed holds significance.
        

Dennis Prager is a broadly broadcasted radio talk-show host and journalist. His critique on Numbers, the fourth volume of “The Rational Bible,” his five-volume commentary on the first five books of the Bible will be released in October 2024. He co-founded Prager University and can be reached at dennisprager.com.