Friday, October 13, 2023

No “contextualization” needed

“The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews,
when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees.
The stones and trees will say 
O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him,”
- Hamas Covenant.

Sometimes certain moments in history reveal in minutes what was concealed for decades. And sometimes those moments of revelation come with hearing oneself say the words, “Yes, but …” or “But what about …”

The aftermath of the Hamas terrorist attack on Israel is not one of those times. In this case, saying who is to blame—and who is not—is not factually or morally difficult at all.

“Bothsidesism” is an imprecise label, much like deconstruction or evangelicalism. There are several senses in which an appeal to “both sides” of the reality here are completely right. For one, both sides—all sides—are human beings created in the image of God. We ought to care about the lives and deaths of Israelis and of Palestinians in the West Bank, in Gaza, or anywhere else. An Israeli life is of no more value in the eyes of God than a Palestinian life, and vice versa.

“Both sides” also refers rightly to who is harmed by this atrocity, and the inevitable war to follow. Hamas is killing and destroying the futures of both Israelis and of Palestinians, as the inimitable Mona Charen wisely wrote. That’s one of the reasons we shouldn’t think of this as a war between Israel and “the Palestinians,” but, exactly as Israel defined it, a war on Hamas, in response to a vicious and unprecedented attack.

“Both sides” is also perfectly appropriate when it comes to working for and hoping for a better future for both Israelis and for Palestinians. That rules out the unthinking acceptance of anything the modern state of Israel does (God certainly didn’t accept everything even biblical Israel did!). And it rules out chanting “From the River to the Sea” in Times Square, just as it rules out any viewpoint or program that would see Israel completely eradicated. We want “both sides” (here referring to Israelis and Palestinians, not to Hamas) to thrive and to co-exist.

All of that is far different from the kind of “both sides” language that has been used in some conversations about the morality of the Hamas attack. Hamas targeted innocent civilians. Hamas butchered young people dancing at a music festival. Hamas murdered elderly people and toddlers and babies, reportedly in the most sadistic ways imaginable. There is no “contextualization” needed to condemn that, to recognize Israelis (and innocent Palestinians) as victims here, with Hamas as the evildoer. As President Biden put it, “full stop.” .... (more)

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