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Mister Ethics Heads to Jerusalem

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Prof. Asa Kasher, who drafted a code of ethics for Israel's universities.
Prof. Asa Kasher, who drafted a code of ethics for Israel's universities.Credit: Kobi Gideon/BauBau

The role of a military code of ethics is generally to challenge the system, but in Israel, the code drafted by Prof. Asa Kasher embraces it. A code in the spirit of the Association for the Well-Being of Israel’s Soldiers. So it’s no surprise that Education Minister Naftali Bennett has rushed to task him with drafting another code, this time for our brothers the professors.

Don’t worry; it won’t be long before the entire country is ruled by “the code” – each group and its own code. After the professors will come the code for our brothers the teachers. And if no last-minute hitches arise, the campaign will extend to the pharmacists, the builders, the greengrocers and the Arab citizens. Even tomatoes, with the help of the agriculture minister, will be arranged in market stalls according to a code to ensure their national pride.

Prof. Kasher and his codes are no more than a symptom of the way Israeli society operates. After all, even without an official code, a series of codes are built into the political system, on both right and left.

Four years ago the Yesh Atid party was established, and its code of ethics is whatever its leader, Yair Lapid, says it is. It’s a party with no primaries, in which there is only one voice, one vapidity, one stupidity.

Yesh Atid is supposed to be the ultimate representation of Israel’s Ashkenazi tribe, and as such I would have expected it to derive its principles from the heritage of the West, which attributes great importance to the principle of freedom of expression. But so far, all you hear from the party is Lapid. All around him is a suspicious silence, which sparks concern for the health of those in his surroundings.

And when a journalist called up Yesh Atid MK Yael German, instead of getting an answer, the police were sent to arrest him. We must not disturb the leisure of our elected officials. I suggest that the code of ethics for Knesset members say it’s forbidden to phone them. Journalists must wait patiently until the honorable member of Knesset has time to attend to his subjects.

And what about the code of ethics of the opposition as a whole? There’s no doubt that in the era of Zionist Union, it has undergone a sweeping change: Instead of deafening protests, there is the silence of the grave. Just as in wartime, it’s forbidden to disturb the government while it’s governing.

The truth is that I don’t understand the secret of the Tel Aviv University philosopher’s attraction, or how he became a sought-after name for the drafting of “codes.” After studying Kasher’s “legacy,” it turns out it’s not just his magical name that’s so hypnotic, but also his positions. I’ve never in my life seen an ethical person go through fire and water to defend the side which, during the last war, killed more than 500 of the other side’s children. Satan never dreamed of such philosophical chutzpah.

Kasher excuses this mass slaughter on the grounds that the Palestinians were firing rockets from civilian areas. And I wonder, would Kasher give his seal of approval to Hamas firing rockets at Tel Aviv because the Israel Defense Forces are headquartered there? Philosophy blushes!

I haven’t yet heard Kasher’s opinion on what’s going on around him – that is, the settlements and the occupation. But really, why bother? It was enough to hear him criticizing the army’s Hannibal Procedure (for how to respond if a soldier is taken captive) because it endangers a single Israeli soldier, yet not uttering a peep about the hundreds of Palestinians who were killed due to that same procedure. That says everything you need to know about his warped ethics.

On the other hand, I don’t understand rightists’ obsession with wrapping every injustice in a cloak of morality. Why all this self-righteousness? Will it help them in the court of history? And to the God-fearing, I would ask: Will Kasher save you when you stand before the Creator of the Universe and are asked to explain the bill that legalizes the theft of Palestinian land for the sake of settlements?

With the occupation’s 50th anniversary rapidly approaching, even 1,000 Asa Kashers won’t cleanse you of your injustices.

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