Faulty Thinking Leads to Really Bad Outcomes

How NOT to think about the Middle East Crisis:

Bad ideas have bad consequences. And when we do not think clearly about important issues, there is often a corresponding lack of moral clarity as well. The outcome of such deficiencies can be devastating. Think wrongly about something like human sexuality and you can reap a whirlwind of bad outcomes.

It is the same in other areas, including geo-politics and international relations. Just as too many folks – including some Christians – can feed on the lamestream media’s version of events when it comes to sexuality, it is the same here. It is as if they only know about the editorial policies of the Guardian, the Age, or the New York Times. And the results of that sort of ignorance and faulty thinking can be hugely problematic.

The number of really quite wrong and unhelpful views on Israel and Hamas right now is a classic case in point. I have dealt with so many of these folks already. A recent comment that came to this site raised a number of issues, so I will seek to deal properly with them in this article. This person is representative of so many others in this rather confused thinking.

So I am not picking on him, but using his comment as a sample of what too many folks are saying. It is full of rather dangerous and confused moral equivalence. Given that he is a Christian, it would have been hoped that he saw things more clearly here, instead of seemingly relying on the secular left media for his information. This is the comment he had sent in:

I for one cannot accept that the deliberate killing of over 11,000 people in Gaza (as of today) can be justified. I wonder how different things might be if instead of responding like for like, the words of Romans 12:20 had been applied. Kindness and compassion instead of hatred and retribution.  I agree that nations have a right and should protect themselves from this Evil and Hamas must be brought to justice and punished. However Israel must also be brought to justice over its war crimes and genocide in Gaza.

Sadly, there is not all that much that is useful or correct here. Let’s start with the “deliberate killing” of x number of Gazans. This is wrong on so many levels. The ONLY ones the IDF are seeking to deliberately kill are the Hamas terrorists. We ALL should support that. But Hamas is deliberately targeting every innocent man, woman and child in Israel – and quite often in Gaza itself.

Hamas, like all the Islamist terror groups, specialises in using human shields, in planting themselves in residential areas, in schools, in hospitals, and even using ambulances to carry fighters and munitions. So of course in those situations, sadly some civilians will get killed as the IDF seeks to carefully target the terrorists.

If these folks want to carry on about war crimes and genocide, there is one group only that is guilty of this here: Hamas, and its backer Iran. Have they been complaining about their atrocities over the decades? Indeed, where is their moral outrage about these realities:

“More than half a million Muslims have been killed in the Syrian civil war. More than 200,000 have been killed by Islamist terror attacks in Muslim countries. More than 24,000 Rohingya killed in Myanmar. None evoked such protest. I wonder why.” (Rabbi David Wolpe)

The sad truth is, in a fallen world, wars are sometimes necessary. I hope these folks think that some are, as in when the Allies were seeking to stop Hitler and empty the death camps. As such, some collateral damage is inevitable. Just war theory (based on millennia of Judeo-Christian thinking) and modern international rules of warfare both state that where possible civilian casualties should be minimised.

But as I just said, when one side deliberately seeks to maximise the death of their own citizens to maximise publicity and sympathy, then it is they who are fully guilty of war crimes. I am baffled how so many folks just do not get this, who just do not see through the propaganda war that is being waged here.

While no analogy is perfect, perhaps a very simple illustration can help us out here: Let’s suppose you and some nearby neighbours live in a remote rural area with police being a long way away. And these neighbours hate you and want to drive you away. (Bear in mind what we are discussing here: the tiny nation of Israel is surrounded by 22 hostile Arab neighbours, many of whom have stated openly that they want to see it totally obliterated.)

So they routinely and repeatedly do all they can to take you and your family out. They might lob large stones through your windows or ram their cars into your home. They might set fires on your property and seek to kidnap, rape and murder your children. So, if in an act of self-defence, seeking to protect your wife and children and home, you start lobbing rocks back at them, does that make you the aggressor?

What if when you do send rocks in their direction, and they deliberately take women and children and put them in harm’s way? Oh, and they bring the media along to witness the casualties mounting because of their deliberate policies. And then the media splashes that to the whole world, enraging them against you and what you have done.

Oh, and would you simply tell you family that it is wrong for you to defend them, so they must just accept what happens to them? Would you insist on ‘kindness and compassion instead of hatred and retribution’? Hopefully like most sensible people, you would recognise that defending the innocent and stopping injustice and aggression is a major part of Christian love and compassion.

Getting back to the Middle East, it is good to hear this fellow thinks Hamas should be brought to justice. But just who exactly is going to do this? International bodies like the UN? You mean the ones who have over and over again condemned Israel for simply existing, while not saying a word about jihadist terrorists? Sure, that will be a great help to Israel. It is exactly because Israel has NOT gotten any significant international support that it has had to bolster its own defences and do what it can to protect itself and its citizens.

As to the one Bible passage appealed to here (as if this is the only one that has relevance), it says this:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
    if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Paul is quoting from Proverbs 25:21-22. In both cases of course, the emphasis is on individuals and how they treat others. These texts do NOT tell us about how governments may act in the international arena. Other passages tell us about that. And that includes the instructions God gave to Israel on how to fight a war (Deuteronomy 20).

Even the Sermon on the Mount is addressed to individuals and does NOT nullify what God said about the state and the use of force. See more on all this here: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2011/04/20/difficult-bible-passages-matthew-539/

In sum, sorry, but there is NO moral equivalence here. Pretending that Hamas and Israel are somehow both equally guilty of “war crimes and genocide” reveals an inability to think straight and apply basic moral reasoning. If we apply this faulty thinking, we will see not just Israel driven into the sea, but every Jew worldwide hunted down and killed. Folks need to read the Hamas Charter for starters if they think this is far-fetched.

As has been rightly said so often, if Israel were to lay down its weapons today, it would soon disappear altogether at the hands of its sworn enemies. If groups like Hamas and Hezbollah laid down their weapons, there would be a real prospect for peace in the Middle East. I know which one I prefer.

When we imbibe of the world’s wisdom and bias, and its long-standing hatred of the Jews and Israel, we do not help the situation. We actually make it worse. We vowed “never again” after we defeated the Nazis and liberated the concentration camps. But mentally and morally fuzzy thinking will simply see a repeat of all this. I for one do not want that sort of blood on my hands.

Let me finish with a quote from Douglas Murray that I just came upon:

Muslims do not love other Muslims; they have no love for them. They have no love for the Palestinian people. None. If they had any, the Jordanians would have taken in the West Bank Palestinians, Egyptians would have taken in the territory they used to run (Gaza), and they would have taken in the Palestinians from Gaza. Why have the Egyptians made sure that not one Palestinian is allowed to leave Gaza? Why? Why do they make sure that their border wall is as tough as anything? What do they mind? One thing: Jews living and Jews winning. It hits them deep in their soul, in their psyche. It’s an ancient, ancient hatred, perhaps the most ancient among the monotheisms, and the deepest and the ugliest, the nastiest, and the one that has been least addressed. And we’ve imported it [into the West].

[1567 words]

9 Replies to “Faulty Thinking Leads to Really Bad Outcomes”

  1. Bravo Bill, very helpful in this fog of woolly thinking. I will be printing this off and carrying it on me for reference! And sending to Jewish commentators… they will be heartened to have such a Christian as you on their side. The poor Middle East, the “Holy Land” We don’t know how blessed we are … except for the growing ignorant (e.g. LGBTQ+ for Palestine, I ask you ?) hypocrites now surfacing in our cities.

  2. From yesterday’s Sydney Morning Herald: “The United Nations’ top expert on the situation in Palestine (Francesca Albanese) has called for Israel to make peace with Hamas despite the October 7 massacre” ( https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/israel-should-make-peace-with-hamas-top-un-expert-on-palestine-says-20231110-p5ej2o.html )

    Hmmm, is this the same Hamas:

    * Whose charter calls for the destruction of Israel and the killing of Jews ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamas_Charter )
    * Whom US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin compared to ISIS (whom he had fought in Iraq and Syria) and said, “what we’ve seen from Hamas, it takes that evil to another level” ( https://thehill.com/policy/defense/4254371-lloyd-austin-hamas-israel-atrocities-isis/ )
    * With whom Israel agreed to “increase the number of workers permitted into Israel from Gaza from 18,000 to 30,000 and to increase monthly payments to Hamas from $10 to $18 million” ( https://www.jpost.com/arab-israeli-conflict/gaza-news/article-772467 ) And this was at the end of September – just a week before Hamas attacked.

    And Israel is supposed to make peace with them?

    During the last major Gaza war in 2014. Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, “criticized the United States for helping to fund the advanced system (Israel’s Iron Dome) and noted that ‘no such protection has been provided to Gazans against the shelling'”. ( https://www.tabletmag.com/sections/news/articles/did-the-un-call-on-israel-to-share-iron-dome-with-hamas )

    It reminds me of a saying of Bruce Forsyth, the host of “The Generation Game”, a popular TV game show from the 1970’s – “Where do we get these people from?”

  3. Bill, At times I wonder whether it is something as simple as something in their drinking water. There are so many examples (if one is to look) of people not even acknowledging that there was an attack on Oct 7th. Even today I saw an article about Amazon selling “From the River to the Sea” merchandise. (It is like selling Kristallnacht T-shirts)


    My girls had a twisted game they would play with their friends where they would raid the pantry and mix random strong tasting concoctions (without telling what was on the labels) to inflict upon their friends & themselves to see who would react the most. (eg Vegemite and chilli flakes). I never saw the attraction for it but it was a stage of their development.

    It would appear that people unconsciously do this with what the media reports. They regurgitate someone or (many someones) else’s vile and ignorant take on what is happening and relay it as truth.
    A paraphrased response to the vilification of IDF over their attempts to extract Hamas from underneath the hospitals and behind human shields is: ” If they are hospitals, why are they firing back?”
    First assumption is that everyone lies. The truth, though infinitely closer to the Israeli side, is definitely not with Hamas.
    I shake my head and lament at the supposedly educated masses that attend US higher education who, like sheep (gone astray?), never think to question the slop they are fed. Sure, question what both sides are stating but don’t swallow it without chewing. If it is unpalatable and once examined and mulled over, it still does not resonate, then it can always be spat out. However, to swallow everything in the same manner as a college beer bong and then expect some kind of sense to be conveyed after wards is just plain stupid.
    Maybe that’s what it is…. Their drinking water is laced with stupid.

  4. Thank you Bill and thank you Denis. That SMH article was one the most offensive and deceitful things I have read for some time. Shame on the SMH for promulgating such clear diatribe.

    I have seen Christians claiming that Israel just went ahead and bombed places irrespective of whether people were there or not but clearly we know from the six-day war how quickly Israel could have responded but they deliberately waited many days before responding, specifically to give people an opportunity to leave – even telling them where the safe places were.

    People appear to be ignoring what we learned from the apparently misfired Hamas missile which hit the hospital. The media was happy to go with Hamas’ false claims that it was from Israel. It is only because we had independent reports from U.S satellites that we were able to learn that what Israel was saying was true and what Hamas was saying and the media reporting, was false propaganda, which only some of the media have since admitted. What we don’t know for sure is just how close the missile launcher was to the hospital to be able to hit it accidentally. Was this also more evidence of Hamas deliberately placing military hardware near to civilians to use them as shields?

    What shocks me is how quickly people bring accusations against Israel saying things like “they that live by the sword will die by the sword” but surely Jesus’ words apply vastly more to Hamas than Israel. Israel has spent years simply shelling out huge amounts of money on their “Iron Dome” defence system and apparently becoming complacent with its effectiveness in protecting them from attack, instead of responding in kind to Hamas. It is Hamas who live by the sword and so end up paying the consequences, not Israel. When atrocities are done in Somalia or Nigeria you don’t hear a squeak but those who are motivated by The Accuser are very quick to jump on Israel.

    Yes we are instructed to overcome evil with good but standing by and so facilitating injustice does not do that. We are called to do justice and love mercy, as this is what our God does but the same God who teaches us this also called for the annihilation of nations that were sacrificing children, promoting sexual sin and doing all manner of injustices. What this all means is that we should be vastly more concerned about our own nation’s wickedness than pointing the fingure at Israel’s clearly necessary defences. I often pray, however, that Israel will have and show wisdom in what it does.

    I can’t help but think that the prophecy that the false prophet will deceive, with signs, those who have the mark of the Beast, is unfolding in front of us. People think that because the signs Jesus gave were miraculous then the false prophet signs will also be miraculous but the word translated signs just means signs or semaphores or things you observe. They may or may not appear miraculous but they will definitely be convincing to the deceived and blasphemers.

    What we do know from prophecy is that eventually Jesus, the Messiah Himself will need to stand on Zion and defend Israel and masses of blood will flow. We don’t know how this will happen but it will happen in such a way that brings glory and honour to God alone. There are multitudes in the valley of decision who need to make their mind up. We definitely appear to be approaching the time when God will pour out His wrath and bring glory to His name. May God help us.

  5. And it should also be pointed out that no one should trust the numbers claimed to be “innocent civilians” killed in Gaza. Those numbers are provided by Hamas and highly likely to be exaggerated. Hamas never admits to any of the dead being their own. All Hamas terrorist deaths are therefore counted as “civilians” and the numbers of “children” killed would also include many young Hamas fighters. Then you have to account for the number killed either directly or indirectly by Hamas themselves.

  6. Hi Bill, see what you think of this petition by Palestinian Christian organisations, it has hi lighted numerous wrong doings made by Israel and their plight and sufferings have not been taken seriously by the Western Christian counterpart. The petition is for western Christian leaders and theologians to repent. I do agree with the general points you hi lighted in your article, but the claims of wrong doings by Israel seems to be mounting from primary sources. In prayers.

  7. Thanks Robin but I do not think much of it at all. It is just rehashing and dishing up Hamas talking points without ever ONCE mentioning actual atrocities and the routine killing of civilians by Hamas, along with Hezbollah, Iran and all the other haters of Israel. The only ones occupying Gaza right now are the Hamas terrorists. The Palestinian people need to be liberated from them. And all the other false accusations and moronic moral equivalence I have already addressed in this piece and so many others. So no, I will not sign it nor share it. It reads just like what the “Christian” supporters of Communism said during the Cold War – they told us Communism was wonderful while America and the free West were evil. They were known as useful idiots. It is much the same here. These are not “primary sources” but those willingly or otherwise being used by Hamas to push its demonic agenda.

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