Article Library / Structured Jewish World Dialogue

Jewish Values and Israel’s Use of Force in Armed Conflict: Perspectives from World Jewry

  • Diaspora Jews generally agree that Israel is in a difficult position, one that sometimes makes the use of force necessary, and they understand that the circumstances in which Israel has to fight can, at times, cause innocent civilians to be harmed. They mostly blame Israel’s enemies for this, not Israel or the IDF.
  • Their belief that the IDF has a high moral caliber is very strong. Many Diaspora Jews agree with the widespread Israeli contention that the IDF is “the world’s most moral army.”
  • Many Jews’ confidence in Israel’s desire for peace with its Palestinian neighbors has eroded, and this erosion also affects their belief in the necessity of using force. Israel needs to make an effort to persuade Diaspora Jews that it still genuinely wants peace.
  • There is a clear correspondence between the degree of confidence in Israel (whether Israel wants peace, is making an effort to find diplomatic solutions) and the depth of support when armed conflict does erupt. The lower the degree of confidence in Israel, the more deeply eroded the sense that the IDF is acting morally.
  • This correspondence between overall levels of faith in Israel and the degree to which Israel’s justifications for military action are accepted is influenced by pre-existing political views (regarding Israel). Those whose political outlook on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is in contradiction with that of the Israeli government have a stronger tendency to also cast doubt on Israel’s moral conduct in battle.