by Jeff Fecke • Michael Goldfarb comes out in favor of killing children to make a point. In reaction to news that Israel, in the process of killing senior Hamas leader Nizar Rayan, also killed Rayan’s four wives and nine of his children, Goldfarb says this:
The fight against Islamic radicals always seems to come around to whether or not they can, in fact, be deterred, because it’s not clear that they are rational, at least not like us. But to wipe out a man’s entire family, it’s hard to imagine that doesn’t give his colleagues at least a moment’s pause. Perhaps it will make the leadership of Hamas rethink the wisdom of sparking an open confrontation with Israel under the current conditions.
As Matt Yglesias correctly notes, “he’s not saying that it’s sometimes okay to kill a bad guy’s innocent children as part of a military operation directed against the guy. He’s saying it’s better to kill his children than it would be to avoid killing them.”
There’s a word for people who think killing children is a good way to achieve a political end. Those people are called terrorists.
As some of you may have noticed, I’ve attracted a troll of late, one who appears convinced that I’m totally in love with Hamas and totally hate Israel because I’m critical of the Israeli incursion into Gaza. Sorry, Nachman, but I’ve got no love for Hamas; an organization that targets civilians is reprehensible, and Hamas is only going to drive its people further into degradation, until and unless it renounces violence and begins dealing with Israel as if Israelis have a right to exist.
But the sentence can be reversed. When you advocate killing, not just your enemies, but your enemies’ families, you’re on no higher moral ground then the cowards lobbing rockets into Israeli neighborhoods.
The fact is that too many on both sides view the other as subhuman. One cannot express satisfaction at the murder of children if one views them as children, and not simply pawns in a game. One cannot target civilian neighborhoods with death if one views those as neighborhoods full of human beings, rather than targets who need to be eliminated. Time after time, whether we’re talking about the 1948 ethnic cleansing in Palestine or the Passover Massacre, belligerents on both sides have chosen to view their opponents as others, as aliens, as non-humans.
Well, I’m sorry, but both sides are made up of people, people with legitimate claims on the same land, people who deserve what all people deserve: the right to live in dignity and peace, secure in their lives, free to live their lives according to the dictates of their consciences. There are too many on both sides of this conflict who simply do not believe this applies to the other side. But the truth is that both Israelis and Palestinians must be treated as humans, first and foremost. And both groups can only be secure when both groups recognize that. Until then, we’ll have more massacres, more attacks, more counter-attacks, more solemn moralizing that the other side deserves death because of what they’ve done. And all it will lead to is more death, more destruction, more hate, and more fear.
Originally published January 4, 2009