In his recent New York Times article "On Questioning the Jewish State," University of Massachusetts philosophy professor Joseph Levine attempts to make the case that we should question whether Israel has a right to exist.

Levine’s main argument is that only certain kinds of groups of people have the right to form a nation. He draws a distinction between ethnic groups (e.g., Jews), which are defined by common heritage, and civic groups (e.g., Israelis), which are defined by common residence in a geographic area. Having drawn this distinction, he contends that the right of a people to form a state "can apply only in the civic sense" and that ethnic groups do not have the right to create a nation because this would violate the rights of other ethnic groups in that area. He thus concludes that Israel does not have a right to exist as a Jewish nation.

But neither ethnicity nor geography is the proper determining factor regarding the legitimacy of a government. The legitimacy of a government depends on whether it adheres to or deviates from the proper purpose of government, which is to protect the individual rights of its citizens. To the extent that a government protects rights, it is morally legitimate; to the extent that a government violates rights, it is morally illegitimate. . . .

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