Contra Joseph Levine, Israel is a Legitimate State (the Only One in the Region) - The Objective Standard

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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