Dear Gideon, To your first point about "there is no other country which faces the existential threats that Israel does" - this true, and a valid point when talking about Israel's need to maintain a strong standing army. However, I would struggle to make the connection between this fact and the reality of the occupation. If you watch another film recently released, 5 Broken Cameras, the army - the security aparatus, do very little to promote security and a great deal to create chaos, and intimidation. I do not see how Iran and Hamas can be justification for this. So do not try and divert the debate away from the truth - which is the occupation is evil, and in terms of length and intensity, is one of the worst occupations post-WW2. Secondly, "while Israel does occupy land - its humna rights record is far far better than almost all arab countries." - I think this is a very silly statement. Very few Arab countries (and Iran) claim to be democracies, and those that do (e.g Lebanon) have drastically improved civil rights. However, Israel claims to a) be a democracy and b) makes it clear to the world that it is not an Arab country. For this reason, why would you seek to compare it? You should surely know, as a Rabbi, that a man walking around pretending to be rightous, and moral, who then constantly breaks these morals is going to be questioned by those around him. Those who have compassion and love for him will pray that he behaves better, for his own good. Of course, those who suffer at his hands, or harbour nothing but hatred for him will never allow him to repent. But, on the whole most of the international community, Arab league (but perhaps not the Arab public) included are willing to allow Israel a second chance if they stop the occupation. Finally, "Take a look at a map and you will see that Israel is a tiny country" - this is true. Very true. But the same is true for Lebanon, a small country with a small and divided population, which Israel over it's 6/7 decades of existence has torn apart through creating refugees, mercilessly invaded, and meddling in it's internal affairs. No consideration was given to Lebanon's security and stability when the Kata'ib were taken to the Chouf, or milita's formed to persecute the Shi'ite in the South, or the Kata'ib given technical support as they entered the camps of Sabra and Chatilla. All of the above were unncessary to Israel's claimed primary aim in Lebanon (prevent Katyusha attacks). Is Lebanon's small and fragile existence worth less than Israel's? Because Israel has certainly acted as if it has.
Clashes between IDF and protesters in Bethlehem and East Jerusalem (Reuters)
from the article: Judaism’s enemy No. 1: Moral complacency among religious Zionists