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Are there ten good men in Gaza?

The war between Israel and Hamas is reshaping the approach of civilized nations to war.  Hamas’s use of human shields has escalated from simply hiding behind a few women and children in a limited tactical encounter to hiding behind millions of people during a long-term siege.  The present situation includes not only immediate deaths from Israeli bombs, but also damage to critical infrastructure that will bring about mass starvation and fatal, infectious diseases over a long-term aftermath.  Millions could die. 

We, as civilized people, cannot help but feel sympathy for young children caught up in the war.  Yes, the responsibility for that harm belongs to Hamas, and to the parents of those children, parents who support and empower Hamas — but we can harden our hearts only to a degree on that account. 

At the same time, some of the guilt falls on those who “peacefully” demonstrate for Hamas, however they mask that support.  Their chant, “From the river to the sea,” is a call for the annihilation of Israel, which is precisely the goal of Hamas and other Islamist extremists.  Hamas is aware of that support and is emboldened by it to resist any peaceful settlement of the conflict, or any moderation of its savagery. 

One common claim among the fellow travelers of terrorists is that every terrorist that we kill inspires ten more to become terrorists.  Were there any truth to that claim, then it would also be true that for every one of us the terrorists kill, ten more would join us in fighting them. 

To interpret George Orwell, civilization depends on uncivilized men, doing uncivilized things.  It requires that some of us must do what the rest of us could never bring ourselves to do.  Or perhaps we could, but only if we could see clearly that it is the only way to prevent barbarians from doing to our own children what Hamas did to Israeli children.

War has never been clean.  It has never been fought by good people free of nagging doubts, free from uncertainty, without at least some sympathy for enemy civilians.  It has long been known in the West that soldiers have to be taught not merely marksmanship, but also to overcome their reluctance to kill an enemy, even in self-defense.  It seems a paradox that it is the good guys who hesitate to do good, while savages gleefully slaughter the innocent.  To quote Yeats, “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.” 

Hamas must be eradicated.  It must be replaced by a civilized governing body that loves Palestinian children more than it hates the children of Jews.  Surely, there must be at least ten good men (see Genesis 18:20-32) in Gaza.  Surely?

Image: hendricjabs via Pixabay, Pixabay License.

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