Once again, ominous events in the Middle East have riveted the attention of hundreds of millions of people world-wide. Once again the sounds of exploding missiles, the blasts of a myriad of bombs, and the sights of smoke columns ascending to the skies have formed an unrivaled focus on the tiny nation of Israel. Again we are reminded of the decisive but, nevertheless, inspiring words of the one, true living God; who is known in Scripture by many awesome names, none more applicable in today’s world than, The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob … expressed succinctly as the God of Israel.
“This message concerning the fate of Israel came from the Lord: ‘This message is from the Lord, who stretched out the heavens, laid the foundations of the earth, and formed the human spirit. I will make Jerusalem like an intoxicating drink that makes the nearby nations stagger when they send their armies to besiege Jerusalem and Judah. On that day I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock. All the nations will gather against it to try to move it, but they will only hurt themselves’” (Zechariah 12: 1-3).
In the numerous articles I’ve read, the recent broadcasts I’ve heard, and the alarming images of war catapulted through cyberspace, it’s clear that nearly everyone who is half-way interested in what’s taking place in the Middle East has some sort of opinion. Most of these opinions hover around one end of a pendulum or another … in dramatic support of Israel or in dismal but dogmatic castigation of the Jews and of Israel.
The stark difference between the mindset, motive, and the very heart and soul of Israel and that of her enemies (specifically the terrorist regimes called Hamas and Hezbollah) was recently expressed in a simple, but insightful statement gone viral through the internet. Though a paraphrase from the original announcement by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, it is almost a direct quote:
“Israel uses rockets to protect its hospitals and children. Hamas uses hospitals and children to protect its rockets.”
There couldn’t possibly be a more profound valuation to describe Israel’s true character; conversely, to expose the malevolent disposition of Hamas. This statement is also the optimum refutation and exposure of the Moral Equivalency expected of and imposed on Israel by the vast majority of nations, as summarily expressed by their leaders.
What is Moral or Immoral Equivalency and How Does It Work?
Frankly, I’d prefer not to use this term if for no other reason than it is an awkward concept to grasp, especially when applied to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. However, in the contemporary context or modern version of an age-old conflict between Jew and Arab, many politicians, philosophers, and social pundits have often used (or misused) this vague notion of Moral Equivalence to bash Israel.
So, let’s begin with a workable definition of Moral Equivalency. Straight from the Internet site of Rational Wiki: “Moral Equivalence is a form of equivocation often used in political debates. It seeks to draw comparisons between different, often unrelated things, to make a point that one is just as bad as the other or just as good as the other….”
The term equivocation in the above definition means to, “…use equivocal language with intent to deceive.” Equivocal means, “subject to two or more interpretations and used to mislead or confuse … of doubtful advantage, genuineness, or moral rectitude” (Webster’s Dictionary).
Essentially, then Moral Equivalency is a process (that has been given a name) to identify what’s happening when someone tries to convince others that what they’ve done or are about to do is morally just and right; conversely, what the other side has done or will do is morally wrong. Either one of these positions are almost always compared to precedents or events in history; and then are contrasted to the beliefs or actions of people representing or involved in the other side of the issue or dispute.
How’s that? “Clear as mud,” you say. Yep … I wouldn’t argue with your conclusion. Sorry, given the fact that an entire book could be written on the subject, this is the best or most I can do in an introductory attempt to explain something that isn’t easily explainable.
Two examples given in the above referenced Website article: “Drawing a moral equivalence between the Holocaust and Israeli policy toward the Palestinians.”
And, “The term Axis of evil, drawing a moral equivalence between Iraq, Iran, and North Korea with the original Axis of World War II.” (This is just being used as an example, whereas the first illustration is an integral part of today’s blog article).
Trivia question: Do you remember who first coined the term, Axis of Evil? Well done. You got it right. It was former US President George W. Bush, in his State of the Union address not too long after 9/11.
Concerning the first example, I was somewhat stunned that it would be used at all, considering the utterly horrific nature of this morally equivalent comparison. Although I certainly knew of this assessment by those who hate Israel and the Jews (in fact I referred to it in last week’s article), I didn’t realize just how wide-spread this morally equivalent (actually immoral and depraved) comparison was until I discovered it in the Website article. Or, until I read some shocking statements recently spouted by world leaders during the preparation of today’s article.
Sadly, ever so sadly, that’s exactly what is taking place in today’s world … the exponential increase of Anti-Semitism particularly in Europe; fueled by unjust, inaccurate, unfounded rants and raves against not just Israel’s conduct in the current Gaza war, but against Jews all over the world.
Of all places, you would think European nations would forever remember the absolutely horrendous results of the Holocaust. Yet, shortly after the latest clash between Israel and Hamas terrorists began, thousands in France took to the streets screaming among things, “Death to the Jews.” In Belgium a sign at a city café in Saint-Nicolas read, “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Jews are not under any circumstances.” In Germany, chants of, “Jews to the gas chambers.”
Did you notice that in each of these tirades, the protestors used the word Jews? Not Israelis, but Jews. That says it all: It’s much more than just deploring Israel’s “disproportionate military response” as a nation. It’s a reawakening of the deadly mindset and straight-from-the-heart hatred of the Jewish race.
Obviously referring to the horrific context of the Holocaust that is not yet a complete generation removed, Dieter Graumann, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, responded: “We are currently experiencing in this country an explosion of evil and violent hatred of Jews, which shocks and dismays all of us. We would never in our lives have thought it possible any more that anti-Semitic views of the nastiest and most primitive kind can be chanted on German streets.”
Though I rarely quote from past blogs, I would like to include a quote from last week’s Eye of Prophecy article entitled, Replacement Theology (Part II). It fits so well with what I found during research of this week’s column.
“There are some who even compare the State of Israel to Hitler’s Third Reich. That is the absolute height of hypocrisy, hatred, and ignorance, given the fact six million completely innocent Jews were murdered in the Holocaust. In past wars and in the current conflict between Israel and Hamas, the Israelis go so far as to warn Palestinian civilians to vacate certain areas, before the IDF targets those areas to attack terrorists (who blatantly use their people as human shields). Are these the tactics of a nation bent on genocide? Hardly. Conversely, Hamas and other Muslim terrorist groups deliberately target Israeli civilians with their rockets, missiles, and suicide bombers. They even use their own people as human shields. Truly in today’s world: Evil is good and good is evil.”
That is the epitome of the appalling use of Moral Equivalency to justify one’s actions by comparing Israel’s treatment of Palestinians to German treatment of the Jews in World War II. The six million Jews that Hitler’s Third Reich slaughtered represented 37 % of all Jews in the world at that time. The numbers alone expose the hypocrisy and stupidity of such correlations. Not to mention the manner in which the Jews were rounded up, interned in ghettos, then shipped off to concentration camps to be gassed in the chambers and burned in the ovens. To compare this to Israel’s actions of clear self-defense against what is now over 2,500 (probably more by the time this article is posted) rockets launched from Gaza into Israel and IDF soldiers killed by terrorists who emerged from tunnels on Israeli soil, is totally ludicrous. More than that: It’s morally wrong to the Nth degree to make such a judgment.
For the most part, the Moral Equivalency Court of World Opinion has rendered a guilty verdict against Israel, while exonerating the Palestinians and/or justifying the actions of terrorists in their “human rights struggle against Israel.”
In other words: Those who hate the Jews and even those who are ambivalent or marginal toward Israel claim the right to make a morally equivalent comparison between Israel (and say Hitler’s Germany) even if the analogy is immorally wrong to the point of being evil.
Yes, there are God-given absolute values (truth and morality) in the world that enable us to distinguish between true/accurate moral comparisons and false/inaccurate equivocations. But that’s a whole different subject for a different day.
World Reaction in the Context of Moral Equivalency
To be sure some leaders from some nations have expressed support and solidarity with Israel because they’ve finally realized just exactly who and what Hamas is. They’re beginning to understand that Hamas in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank want a totally different kind of peace that the Israelis so passionately pursue. They want a “piece” of Israel here and there, with the ultimate goal of killing or expelling ALL of the Jews in Israel.
People in Uruguay and Argentina have actually held demonstrations in favor of Israel. And a few other countries have voiced support such as Canada. Still, the prevailing consensus of ALL Arab or Muslims nations—and to a lesser extent, but nevertheless with imposing numbers of people in many nations all over the world—is that the Palestinians have the higher moral right to use any means possible; including condoning their terrorist leaders to mercilessly fire missile after missile indiscriminately into Israeli homes, hospitals, and marketplaces. Or to emerge from one of the dozens of tunnels built with subsidized funds from the United States and other countries, and shoot or abduct Israeli soldiers and Israeli citizens. Though not from a tunnel, that’s how this current conflict began in the first place … the kidnapping and brutal murder of three Jewish teenage boys, one of whom held a dual citizenship in the US.
As in past conflicts within Israel, once again the media as a whole continues their reporting with an obvious and flagrant bias against Israel in favor of the Palestinian plight. Most of the time, journalists will include quotes from international leaders who have accurately sized up the facts and speak out for the morally right actions of a nation (Israel) to defend itself against terrorist attacks. Many journalists report these statements out of obligation to be at least half-way objective in their reporting. However, when it comes to a general summary of their investigative columns or editorials, many journalists will ignore or gloss over the “essentials” in order to subtlety and surreptitiously say what they really want to say.
A good example is an article posted on 7-31-14 by Associated Press reporter, David Jackson. This is the final paragraph of his article: “…The Israeli military’s offensive has destroyed much of Gaza, as civilian deaths and injuries have climbed. Schools, mosques, homes, marketplaces and the only power plant have been targeted, creating what the U.N. has called a growing humanitarian crisis.”
Whether Mr. Jackson’s closing remarks were deliberate or inadvertent, the result is the same. If you didn’t know that all of the “targets” were occupied either by terrorists or their weapons or both, what would be your conclusion? I know what mine would be: The Israelis are indiscriminately selecting civilian targets. But we know better, don’t we. Even agencies of the United Nations (who are pretty much anti-Israel) have acknowledged that the terrorists and their weaponry have taken shelter in or very near schools, mosques, homes, marketplaces and a power plant.
When you multiply this kind of reporting hundreds of times over … well you can imagine the cumulative distorted images created in the minds of millions who don’t know or don’t want to know, “the rest of the story.”
Next, I’ll quote an Italian Philosopher Gianna Vattimo who verbally and in his writings has described himself as a, “non-violent person.” I’m using this man as a cross-section representative of any given citizen of any given country, albeit one who has exerted a good deal of philosophic and social influence.
Says Vattimo in response to the current war in Gaza, “I’d like to shoot those bastard Zionists.” Then when asked on the air (I believe it was radio, but it might have been television) if he would prefer to see more Israelis killed, his reply was: “Of course!” Further that Israel was, “…a bit worse than the Nazis.” Well, that was generous of him to conclude that Israel was only slightly worse than the Nazis!
This is what none other than the President of a nation (Venezuela) had to say about Israel’s on-going attacks on terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip: President Nicolas Maduro said that these attacks (by Israel) have, “…initiated a higher phase of its policy of genocide and extermination with the ground invasion of Palestinian territory, killing innocent men, woman, girls, and boys. Venezuela also rejects the cynical campaigns trying to condemn both parties equally, when it is clear you cannot morally compare occupied and massacred Palestine with the occupying state, Israel, which also possesses military superiority and acts on the margins of international law.”
Did you catch the scathing indictment that both states and implies lack of any moral correctness on the part of Israel? That no one should even dare to morally compare both Israel and the Palestinians equally. In fact, according to this politician it would be a gross injustice to denounce the Palestinians for any of their actions. Or (implied) if anyone chooses to condemn both sides, the criticism directed against Israel should vastly exceed any reproach against the Arabs of the Gaza Strip. Why? Because Israel essentially has no moral right to “invade Palestinian territory.”
Did he make any reference at all to the thousands of missiles and rockets launched randomly and indiscriminately from the Gaza Strip against Jewish civilians? No, and you never will hear that from national leaders like Maduro and many like him, particularly representatives from the United Nations. Or that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the IDF not to respond to these rockets for ten days, to essentially give Hamas the opportunity to seriously consider the inevitable consequences of these unprovoked attacks against Israeli civilians.
Speaking of the United Nations, over the past several decades more resolutions in the form of sanctions have been passed against Israel than all of the other nations in the world combined. That includes, Syria, Korea, Sudan, Iran, Iraq, Libya, and Nigeria … all of whom have brutally suppressed their own people as well as Christians and Jews. For the second time since the latest conflict erupted, the Human Rights Council of the UN condemned Israel for, “gross violations of human rights.” Only the United States voted against the 29-1 resolution, with several countries abstaining from the vote.
Furthermore, just three days ago, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency found all kinds of weapons stored in one of its Gaza schools, for the third time since the war began! To be sure, this UN agency judged Hamas for keeping weaponry in schools. What else could they do with such obvious evidence? But do you know what UNRWA did with the weapons? They gave them back to Hamas, who undoubtedly moved the weapons to another school or perhaps someone’s house!
More Chilling Evidence
There is so much more unequivocal and undeniable and irrefutable evidence of who started this war (Hamas always initiates these conflicts usually by resumption of rocket attacks on Israel). That Israel’s response was just that … a response. And which side always breaks a cease-fire even those called for by Hamas? At the time of writing this article, at least six cease fires have already been broken, all by the Hamas pseudo-government in the Gaza Strip. In fact, Ron Prosser, the Israeli Ambassador to the UN, replied with this classic statement: “When a cease-fire is called, we (Israel) cease, and Hamas fires!”
In past conflicts Hamas has denied using their own people as human shields, by means of launching missiles from areas of heavy civilian concentration or firing upon Israeli soldiers from such places as schools and shopping areas. Yet, it’s become so overwhelmingly evident that Hamas uses, misuses, and abuses its own people by placing them in harm’s way, that they no longer deny it. In fact, they’re now explaining why they employ this despicable immoral strategy.
Listen to the words of Fathi Hammad, a Hamas member of the Palestinian Legislative Council: “For the Palestinian people, death has become an industry, at which women excel, and so do all the people living on this land. The elderly excel at this, and so do the mujahadeen and the children. This is why they have formed human shields of the women, the children, the elderly, and the mujahadeen, in order to challenge the Zionist bombing machine. It is as if they were saying to the Zionist enemy: ‘We desire death like you desire life.’”
Notice in the next-to-last sentence of his quote what order Hammad places the mujahedeen (Arabic term for holy or jihad warrior). You can bet your life savings that Hamas’ warriors will never be found in front of the woman and children. In fact, Palestinians civilians are not allowed in what few bomb shelters exist in Gaza … only the warriors are allowed in! No, Hamas doesn’t use the millions of tons of concrete provided to them by the US and a few other nations to build shelters. Instead, they use the concrete to build elaborate smuggle and attack tunnels that end up in Israel.
And, perhaps the most shocking statement of all … because it comes from the mouth of the Prime Minister of a prominent Middle East nation. Turkey’s Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan who has no love for Israel out did himself with these inflammatory words: “We have been witnessing this systematic genocide every Ramadan since 1948. Now (Israel’s) barbarism has surpassed even Hitler’s.”
To anyone who has any knowledge whatsoever of Israel’s history in particular and the Middle East in general, we simply consider the source of such a provocative lie. But for those who don’t know or don’t want to know the real story, this kind of blatantly false accusation can easily fit the adage (paraphrasing), “If you tell a lie long enough and loud enough, many will believe it to be true.”
Perpetually, the subject of who’s right and who’s wrong and what is moral and what is immoral flows from this age-old conflict between ancient enemies. Invariably, Israel—even by nations who sometimes support Israel—is either classified as the aggressor or at the very least is accused of a completely disproportionate response, no matter the brutality of the attacks against Israel.
Which will be the subject of next week’s article, i.e. is there such a thing as disproportional retaliation. If so, when is it out of proportion? How much can/should someone or an entire nation do to protect themselves from those who seek to kill and maim them? When are all things no longer fair in love and in war?
Sha’alu Shalom Yerushalayim (Pray for the peace of Jerusalem).
“Pray for peace in Jerusalem. May all who love this city prosper. O Jerusalem, may there be peace within your walls and prosperity in your palaces. For the sake of my family and friends, I will say, ‘May you have peace.’ For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek what is best for you, O Jerusalem” (Psalms 122: 6-9).
Things to Ponder
Scripture is replete with prophetic promises that God in the last days would once again protect Israel from her enemies, and even fight for her. That day began in 1948 and was fully ratified in the Six-Day War of 1967. I suppose people could debate Moral Equivalency issues in the context of the Israeli/Palestinian ongoing conflict ad infinitum. Who’s right, who’s wrong; what’s right, what’s wrong? How much (self-defense) is enough? Israel … whose land is it?
The Bible is very clear as to who’s right and who’s wrong; what is just and what is unjust. Whose land it is because the Lord himself gave it to one people, and only one: The descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
According to Scripture, the time of debate is over. Israel has been reborn as a nation. Great number of Jewish exiles have returned to the land where they now live with children borne to them and children borne to their children. Though there still remains the final spiritual restoration of the Jews to their God and his Messiah, the ultimate destiny of Israel and her enemies has been sealed.
“…When oppression and destruction have ended and enemy raiders have disappeared, then God will establish one of David’s descendants as king. He will rule with mercy and truth. He will always to what is just and be eager to do what is right” (Isaiah 16: 4-5).
Ultimately God will judge between right and wrong use of moral comparisons and between right and wrong, itself.
Because: He IS right (righteousness). He IS just (justice). He IS truth (absolute morality).
You decide. Is the Bible right about God’s provisions, promises, protection, power, and presence for and over Israel?
Please, click on the below video link, to hear one of Israel’s most beautiful songs sung by, in my opinion, the best female vocalist on the planet.
Watch and listen to Ofra Haza sing Yerushalayim Shel Zahav (Jerusalem of Gold)