How to think – and not think – about war, peace, and justice:
With the conflict in Israel once again bringing to the fore issues of war and peace, right and wrong, and good and evil, more commentary on these issues is in order. I have already encountered so much threadbare thinking and murky moralising on this – including by Christians – that I need to keep penning pieces like this. So let me again offer some bits and pieces on these matters.
First, a few relevant quotes. Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel said this: “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” And Jewish commentator Dennis Prager stated: “If you acknowledge evil, you have to fight it. That’s why most people choose to deny it – it’s more comfortable.”
Under a social media post from a guy on another topic (urging folks to vote No on the Voice referendum in Australia) came this discussion:
Critic: I’m not going to vote
Guy: vote no! Help us succeed with the no vote
Critic: I’m an anarchist, I refuse give consent to the process.
Of course no Christian can claim to be an anarchist – God has established civil government for a fallen world. But more importantly, by refusing to take a stand on important issues like this, you effectively end up siding with the other side – the bad guys (as per the Wiesel quote above). There is nothing helpful or virtuous or Christian about that! We need to get involved and we need to be salt and light.
A meme some Christians are circulating shows Jesus on the left with the words “Lay down your arms, walk with me and sin no more” while on the right side is a picture of a Jew and an Arab. I answered the Christian pastor who posted it with these words:
This is not the most helpful meme (and most are far from perfect). If one simply sought to say that Jews and Arabs both need to repent and turn to messiah Jesus, well, absolutely – no probs. But this meme unhelpfully conflates what individuals should do with what nations can do. The right of nations to defend themselves is not negated in Scripture, and laying down arms is not a condition of individual salvation. For Israel to lay down its arms would mean its complete annihilation. If Hamas laid down their arms it would mean peace in the region.
We need to keep in mind a few simple facts and figures. Israel is a tiny nation – the size of New Jersey. Gaza is much smaller of course; just 35 miles by 7 miles. But it has 300 miles of tunnels which carry weapons, ammunition, hostages, and so on. And there are 30,000 Hamas terrorists in Gaza. Moreover, the leaders of Hamas are in Qatar.
And Hezbollah to Israel’s north has 100,000 fighters – plus we have Syria, Iran and so many other large Muslim nations that all can get involved at the drop of a hat. Folks in the West who think we can just sit back and let Israel deal with all this are living in dreamland.
This tells you all you need to know:
-The IDF gave lengthy warnings (in multiple languages and all forms of communication) well ahead of time to the people in northern Gaza to head south, until they can rescue the hostages and take out the diabolical terrorists.
-Hamas orders the people to stay – and die if need be.
Just who cares then about the people of Gaza? There is NO moral equivalence here whatsoever.
And BTW, Egypt’s leader Sisi has refused to take in folks from Gaza. He says they “must remain on their land.” So don’t blame Israel for civilian casualties under these circumstances. Because of Hamas and the surrounding Arab nations that have refused to take in Palestinians, sadly they guarantee that there will be collateral damage.
And let me put my cards on the table. If they upset you, feel free to say goodbye. I will not mind. But I have next to no time for these sorts of folks:
-Those who said that what was happening in Nazi Germany was none of our business and we should just butt out – regardless of their aims at expanding their tyranny.
-Those who said that what was happening during the Cold War with the Communists was none of our business and we should just butt out – regardless of their goal of global hegemony.
-Those who say that what is happening in Israel is none of our business and we should just butt out – regardless of the clearly stated aims of political Islam to establish a universal Caliphate and Islamise the world, starting with Israel.
This spineless and amoral isolationism helps no one but results in the death of millions. There are times and places to not get involved in the affairs of others. But what is happening to the tiny, beleaguered state of Israel is NOT one of them.
I was asked by a friend what I thought of a meme on the social media that says we rightly deplore Hamas killing babies, but we are silent on abortion. I replied as follows:
Well, it is accurate, but sometimes when we are dealing with one great evil (Hamas terrorism, etc) it can be counterproductive to conflate it with a separate evil (abortion). If Israel were not right now fighting for its very survival, this could be good to post, but here it seems to muddy the waters unnecessarily. It can be the same with those who insist on having their replacement theology debates right now: they are important, and related, but this may not be the best time and place for them!
I also had some interaction with one fellow who seems quite amiss on all this. Part of my responses were these:
You claim, “No, hamas is not coming for you and me.” Sorry but when folks who really should know better make incredibly unhelpful remarks like this, I must respond. Does Hamas right now have detailed and specific plans to raid Canberra in the coming weeks or months? No, but of course that completely misses the point.
Just as folks actually need to read the Hamas Charter to know about their immediate aims (to wipe Israel off the face of the earth, and then kill all Jews worldwide), so too folks need to actually be aware of what the aims and goals of political Islam are. Let me help the clueless here: their clearly stated aims have always been this: to establish a universal Caliphate, to institute sharia law worldwide, and to eliminate all opposition to Islam and its goals.
Even if it WAS just the obliteration of Israel we are dealing with here, only the completely naïve and uninformed could claim this will have no impact on us and the rest of the world. Hamas is simply the extension, the proxy of Iran, the world’s leading supporter of GLOBAL terrorism. Good grief, get your eyes off just Hamas, and start to see the bigger picture. Sorry, but simply keeping your head in the sand and pretending everything will be just peachy is NOT how any thinking Christian should be approaching these issues.
As I have said before, those foolishly and recklessly claiming that what is happening in Israel right now has absolutely nothing to do with us and that we should just butt out are not much better than those in the 30s and 40s who claimed that what is happening in Germany and Japan has nothing to do with us and we should just butt out. Sorry, but this flight from reality, this Neville Chamberlain-style myopia helps no one, but will harm millions, including millions of innocents.
With all due respect, let me repeat: I strongly recommend that until you actually start to carefully study the Koran, the hadith, and the other key documents of political Islam, you might ease up on your contributions (at least on my page!) since they are really not all that useful to be honest. You are quite good – and not at all ignorant – on so many other important matters, but here I am not so sure if that is the case to be honest. Bless you!
The fellow went on to claim that the Hamas and Israel conflict is an isolated matter, and Israel is quite capable of dealing with them so we have no need to get involved, and so on. Hmm, yet more dreamy-eyed isolationism and lack of any sort of historical and political realism. I answered:
You are still quite wrong about Hamas and the bigger picture. Stop the useless naivety – trying to make fine and irrelevant distinctions between Islamic terror organizations which ALL hate Israel and the West helps no one. And the West IS directly attacked by these groups when it attacks its only clear ally in the Middle East. I do not buy your dangerous neo-isolationism at all. It is Chamberlain BS all over again. And sadly you remain clueless here.
This is NOT just about Israel trying to deal with Hamas only. Hezbollah to its north (a much bigger and stronger threat) is ready to leap into this conflict, as is Syria, Iran and many other Muslim nations. But you just want to sit back and let Israel be obliterated. Good grief, wake up please! You seem to know little about Iran, Islam and the much bigger picture.
This bit of commentary from Mick Hume is worth sharing:
The Hamas massacre of Israelis has exploded two conflicts into public view. One is in the Middle East, where Israel is fighting a life-and-death war against barbaric, baby-and-grandmother-murdering Islamist pogromists. The other war now confronting us is here, in the Europe and America. It is a political and culture war, against those in our societies who hate the West so much that they will even side with genocidal Islamists against it.
Our battle in the West may not be as violent as the Middle East (not yet, at least). But this war on the home front also poses an existential threat to our democracy and civilisation. And it is all the more dangerous because so many of our spineless political leaders refuse to recognise that threat.
We should stand with the Israelis, not only because they are in the right. But also because the Western Left’s reaction to the slaughter in Israel shows how far they have gone over to the dark side. It is surely time we looked upon them as barbarians within the gates of the citadels of the Western establishment. https://europeanconservative.com/articles/democracy-watch/democracy-watch-israel-the-lefts-war-on-the-west/
Finally, this from Islam expert and Australian Anglican minister Mark Durie:
Second, as long as Hamas holds the reins in Gaza, a negotiated peace will be impossible. This, the biggest massacre in one day of Jewish civilians since the Holocaust, has made that crystal clear. No amount of diplomacy can overcome this fact.
The Hamas military commander, Mohammad Deif, declared, on announcing Operation Al-Aqsa Deluge, ‘I say to our pure mujahideen: This is the day that you make this criminal enemy understand that its time is up. Kill them wherever you may find them’. (His last phrase was quoted from the Qur’an’s Verse of the Sword, Surah 9:5). In a similar vein, Hamas leader Ismail Haiyeh declared on the Al-Jazeera Network (Qatar), ‘We are on the verge of victory… Get out of our Jerusalem and our Al-Aqsa Mosque… This land is ours, Jerusalem is ours, everything is ours.’ Such overweening confidence is supported by a fallacy, derived from the Qur’an, that Jews love life while Muslims love death (Surah 2:94-96, 62:6). Hamas does not believe Israelis will have the courage to defeat it.
The intention of Hamas is that, confronted by the horror, Israel will be forced to meekly accept that ‘its time is up’. This is not going to happen. Instead, what lies ahead is a hard, bitter war. This is not a war which can be resolved through a negotiated settlement. Hamas has shown the world, in its own bloody way, that this is a war to destroy Israel together with its people. This logic is not to be reasoned with. Israel does have the right to defend itself. It now has no choice but to make this a war to completely uproot and destroy Hamas. https://www.spectator.com.au/2023/10/after-the-hamas-deluge/