Moral and Mental Meltdowns about the Israeli-Hamas Conflict

We need some straight-thinking on this conflict:

As always, when a controversial topic arises, there can be all sorts of moral and mental madness that comes to the fore. This is certainly the case when armed-conflict is involved. The amount of fuzzy thinking and ethical dizziness can be quite staggering to behold.

Of course some people have deeply held beliefs about things, and are simply trying to be true to their convictions. For example, some Christians might feel they must fully embrace pacifism, renouncing not just all war, but all forms of violence – even refusing to join a police force, etc.

I do not fault such people for holding to this, but I do think that they are wrong. And I have often made that case elsewhere. So I am not here so much dealing with folks like that. But the amount of foolish, even dangerous, commentary that I have heard – even from believers – on this current conflict is really quite disturbing.

Please, let my people think! One of the most unhelpful things I keep hearing being pushed is the notion of moral equivalence: the idea that all sides are equally good – or bad – and that we cannot side with any of them. On occasion that might be the case in some situations. But I sure do not see it here.

Indeed, I am getting real tired of hearing so many folks say ‘I do not support Israel or Hamas.’ They might as well say ‘I do not support the Allies or the Nazis.’ This damnable moral equivalence helps no one, and just makes things worse – especially for the victims.

If these folks cannot make a moral distinction between killing babies and raping women and taking grandmothers hostage, and simply trying to protect your country from such barbarism, then they really contribute nothing of help to this debate.

Often there are hardcore libertarians and neo-isolationists getting into all this – even those from the faith camp. But as I have also argued before, because I am a Christian I am not and can not be an anarchist. God is the one who established civil government for a fallen world. If these folks hate all government, then they need to go and tell God that he is wrong.

Of course no government or state or culture is perfect in a fallen world. But some are clearly better than others. Some deserve support – at least more or less – while others clearly deserve censure. If folks cannot and will not bring themselves to condemn what Hamas has recently done, then we inhabit two different moral universes, with nothing in common.

So enough of this useless and harmful moral equivalence. It is poisonous stuff. And it used to be mainly the domain of the secular left. Now sadly too many claiming to be conservatives and Christians are pushing this nonsense as well. It does my head in to be honest.

But much of this has arisen all rather recently. As I wrote at the time when Ukraine was invaded, after a few years of being lied to and shamelessly manipulated by so many politicians, governments, elites and authorities about the Covid capers, many folks started to realise that they needed to start to wake up and begin questioning things more and be much less gullible and docile.

But one can of course go way too far in the other direction. They do not believe anything, and seem to have abandoned clear thinking and discernment for a blank check of doubting everyone and everything. That can be just as unhelpful of course.

I have seen so many folks – Christians included – saying they refuse to admit that any of the crimes perpetrated by Hamas are verifiable or proven, so they will just not speak out on these obvious atrocities that have taken place. They think doubting everything is now somehow the morally superior position to take. But it is not at all.

There is nothing virtuous nor Christian about full-on skepticism – we just cannot go through life claiming we can’t believe anything with certainty. Yes, in times of war truth can take a beating and things can become quite cloudy. But suspending all judgment and pretending Israelis cannot be trusted any more than Hamas is not the way forward.

Yes we should assess all things from all angles, but unhelpful moral equivalence in this area does no good. When claims are being made, say about butchered babies, I will run with what the IDF and others are saying far more than what Hamas and others are saying, unless proven otherwise.

I have no time for this ‘let’s doubt everything and everyone’ mindset. One might as well argue that ‘yeah, the Nazis are not too trustworthy and reliable, but neither are the Allies, so let’s just suspend all judgment.’ I ain’t buying it sorry.

It is the same with other sceptics and forms of skepticism. For example, if Biden says that Hamas is evil, conservative Christians do NOT have to say Hamas is terrific, just because of their dislike of Biden. Um, guess what? Sometimes even Biden can say true things.

If Biden, or other folks like him, comes out and says ‘2+2=4,’ we do not have to scream ‘No it does not! – he is unreliable!’ Sometimes reporters can get things right as well. There is no need to throw the baby out with the bathwater here. That is just foolish.

As I said, the Covid wars helped to wake up so many people to how easily we can be duped and manipulated – certainly by the mainstream media, but even by our own governments. So being more cautious now is a very good thing.

But again, we must avoid unhelpful extremes. When Ukraine was invaded, too many folks had gone from one extreme before Covid of believing far too much, to the other extreme, after Covid, of disbelieving far too much. Neither extreme is helpful or useful.

Indeed, they often just swapped one bit of gullibility for another. So many were making Putin out to be the Messiah and Zelensky the Anti-Christ. Um, both were and are very problematic. And the double standards also continue. As my friend Rod just put it

This time last year: “Putin has a right to fight NATO through Ukraine, which he sees as an existential threat”

This year: “Israel doesn’t have a right to fight HAMAS, who have proven to be an actual existential threat.”

What gives with the double standard? There is no moral ambiguity in the face of an Islamic movement who behead children, rape, kidnap, and murder civilians.

And a related thing seems all rather odd: many of these who (often rightly) say that we have far too many pleas for nuance and shades of grey and points of view when it comes to biblical and theological disputes are now claiming that many things like geopolitical conflicts are far too complex, that there is no black and white, and we must hear all points of view, and so on.

Yes, sadly for some of these folks it was all black and white back then with Ukraine, with no shades of grey, no nuance, no nothing. One side was messianic while the other side was all evil. Now for many of these folks we must be nuanced, we must hear all sides, it is not black and white, we cannot be so dogmatic, etc. – good grief!

While biblical truth claims may well be of a higher order than political ones, in both cases we have mere finite and fallen humans dealing with them. In all cases we need a bit of humility and openness to changing our views if need be. It is always a tricky place to be in. We want certainty in core biblical truths, while being more open about secondary matters.

In the world of politics, current events, conflicts, and so on, we want the same – even if on a lesser scale. We do want to question things, to discern, and not buy everything without some thinking and research. But we should not doubt everything either, and live in a twilight zone of questioning all things while affirming nothing.

And in this case, affirming the obvious truth that Hamas is a diabolical terrorist organisation who should be dealt with just as we did ISIS and Al-Qaeda would be a good place to begin. And as one meme making the rounds rightly says, if you need to “provide context” for things like beheading babies, you likely are not in the same moral camp as we are, and you may want to just stay away.

[1440 words]

16 Replies to “Moral and Mental Meltdowns about the Israeli-Hamas Conflict”

  1. Once again, thank you Bill for your insight and perspective. Entirely agree with you.

  2. I am so troubled by the amount of Christians who, regarding the war in Israel, ‘just don’t want to talk about it’! We are told to ‘pray for the peace of Jerusalem’.

  3. Yes it happens too often Sue. And many have been browbeaten into silence by the rabid secular left and Israel-haters. Sadly that includes some Christians as well.

  4. Shout out to fireside chat 310 of Dennis Prager. If Islamic militants bordering Israel laid down their arms tomorrow, there would be peace. If Israel laid down its arms tomorrow, the next day it would be invaded and every Jew killed. There’s no moral equivalent.

  5. Reading comments justifying what the murderous dogs of Hamas did to innocent people especially children and little babies just makes my blood boil. I asked for prayer on Sunday during our prayer time where people can ask for personal prayer. It was very obvious that most people had no idea what I was even talking about. Our minister always writes down the requests as she hears them. In response to me asking for prayer for Israel and her people was “yes, let’s pray for Israel and the Palestinians for peace.” It honestly took everything for me not to say “that is NOT what I said!”

  6. What should concern people is the Greens, and hence the major part of the Australian bureaucracy including “Our ABC”, actually support Hamas.

    We know how corrupt the bureaucracy is by how the ACT votes and the constant spin and deceit coming from the SBS and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Unfortunately, politicians from both sides but particularly the Liberals, are too scared to oppose the corrupt and powerful bureaucracy and so we are no longer actually ruled democratically. The ABC, in particular, is more than happy to oppose democracy and the rule of law. When you combine this with activist and corrupt judges, who are also happy to go against democratic rule and people should be able to see we are approaching a perfect storm of corruption.

    As the American founders said – democracy is only viable with a moral populous.

    People need to wake up very soon. The indications should be clear.

  7. Bill, thanks very much for your latest posts on the conflict between Hamas and Israel. I really appreciate the way you have explained the situation. I had felt confused since I had come across this view of moral equivalence from other Christians. But I now see this is incorrect. Thank you.

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