All is fair, in love and war. At least until recently. I have reserved public commentary on the current Palestinian-Israeli conflict due to a number of reasons. For one, it is not a subject I am expert on. Secondly, it is a topic I feel requires a level of engagement beyond simple tropes and I have found that seldom is one allowed those opportunities from either side of the fray. But I do feel compelled to respond to, in my opinion, a new level of violence that has gone beyond the absurd into the realm of pure carnage.
As I wrote on social media, I am perplexed by the rhetoric that is being foisted up by the Israelis as well as those in support of the incursion. Namely it is the failed logic of knowingly butchering children. Apparently the logic is as follows: Hamas, the alleged and avowed enemy of Israel, has taken human shields, namely women and children, to stand behind, as they launch unjustified attacks on Israel. The Israeli Defense Force, in response to these attacks, feels it is justified in retaliating despite full knowledge of these “human shields”. Much of the world may be inclined to follow this logic up until its end-line, but it is this very last idea that despite knowing that Hamas has such human shields, the IDF is fully justified in retaliating and lethal force, killing innocent children. I have likened this to:
“Imagine a criminal on the street, whether motivated by need or greed, takes an infant or child as a hostage. No police officer would, in the pursuit of “justice”, fire on such an assailant, for the price of such justice would simply be too high.”
As I said, this logic fails me and sadly, cannot end well for the Israelis. As one who grew up with Jewish kids, played with them at school, and to this day, has Jewish friends, I find this troubling, for a group of people, that despite our religious differences, is a moral one. This is not to say that the acts of the Israeli government necessarily reflect an inseparable characteristic of all Jews, I am deeply disappointed. The tragic irony has not fallen on deaf ears: for a group of people who once themselves were brutalized, how could this commit such wanton genocide?
My hope is that the Israelis will come to their senses. And for that, I am reminded by a passage from Don Quixote:
“ … it is the business and duty of historians to be exact, truthful, and wholly free from passion, and neither interest nor fear, hatred nor love, should make them swerve from the path of truth, whose mother is history, rival of time, storehouse of deeds, witness for the past, example and counsel for the present, and warning for the future. In this I know will be found all that can be desired in the pleasantest, and if it be wanting in any good quality, I maintain it is the fault of its hound of an author and not the fault of the subject.” Don Quixote, Chapter IX.
I am also concerned that both parties are being pushed beyond a point of civil return. Again, from Don Quixote:
“Thou art a bad Christian, Sancho,” said Don Quixote on hearing this, “for once an injury has been done thee thou never forgettest it“.
Realistically speaking, with their women and children being indiscriminately killed, how can Palestinians come to forget their injuries? I pray that both sides can someone be brought to reason and good thought. That being said, I was reminded of the following line about what is “allowable” in war, and by all metrics, the IDF has passed what is allowable:
“Hold, sirs, hold!” cried Don Quixote in a loud voice; “we have no right to take vengeance for wrongs that love may do to us: remember love and war are the same thing, and as in war it is allowable and common to make use of wiles and stratagems to overcome the enemy”.
May God provide peace and solace for those who’ve lost loved ones in this conflict. May no one else needlessly lose their life. May those at the helm of the IDF be brought to their senses. May God keep and protect us all.