This video deals with a tense topic, fraught with controversy and passionate perspectives: how should governments respond to terrorism? Israelis have been fighting terrorism since well before the establishment of the State and certainly before Israel’s sweeping victory in 1967. In 1953, just five years into statehood, Israel needed to respond to terrorist attacks from outside its borders, and Israel formed Unit 101, its first special operations team, yet it disbanded quickly after it began its operations. Using this video and educator guide, students will learn why the unit was formed, why it disbanded only months after its creation, and impact it left on the nascent state. How can a country like Israel balance its obligations to protect her citizens and and also engage in warfare with the moral and ethical high ground intact? Can both be accomplished?
Watch this video and use these prompts to ask hard questions and work together to arrive at their answers.
“Only the decision of one who is capable of acting and on whom rests the responsibility for acting or refraining from action can pass the genuine test of morality. We, the bearers of a morality which abominates the spilling of innocent blood, face our acid test only now that we have become capable of defending ourselves and responsible for our own security. Defense and security often appear to require the spilling of innocent blood.”
After viewing this episode, do you think Israel passed the “Acid test” in this situation? Why or why not?
“We can, indeed, justify the action of Kibiyeh before “the world”…We could argue that we have not behaved differently than did the Americans, with the tacit agreement of the British, in deploying the atomic bomb: America saw herself in the fourth year of a war she had not initiated, and after the loss of a quarter of a million of her sons, facing the prospect of continued war in the style of Iwo Jima and Okinawa for an unforeseeable period of time. This fear led to the atrocity of Hiroshima, where 100,000 civilians, mostly women and children, were killed in one day to bring about the quick termination of this nightmare. We, too, are now in the sixth year of a war that was forced upon us and continues to inspire constant fear of plunder and murder. No wonder that border settlers and those responsible for their life and security overreacted and reciprocated with cruel slaughter and destruction. It is therefore possible to justify this action, but let us not try to do so. Let us rather recognize its distressing nature.”
Do you agree with Leibowitz’s assertion that we should not justify this action?
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