Thursday, January 08, 2009

Compassion for the Cruel

A guest post by Lurker:


"He who is compassionate to the cruel will ultimately be cruel to the compassionate."
-- Midrash Tanhuma Metzora 1; Yalkut Shimoni I Shmuel 121

DovBear asked us to consider a "thought experiment", in which we consider "the sacrifices of safety and comfort being made by those living within range of the Hamas rockets [as] a price that should be paid in order to deliver significant benefits to the whole country".

For the record, I categorically reject the absurd notion that letting people live this way has any benefit at all for the State of Israel. But that is not really the point of this post.

I would like to lend my assistance to the "thought experiment". Please watch the following video, which was shot in the area around a Sderot school, just as the "Color Red" alert sounded, signalling that a Kassam missle from Gaza was about to fall. It is only 40 seconds long:

As you conduct DovBear's "thought experiment", please consider the following: What you just watched has been happening several times a day in Sderot, on average, for the last few years. From the moment the alert sounds, one has a maximum of 15 seconds to get oneself (and one's children, babies, elderly parents, etc.) into a bomb shelter. And the threat never goes away -- it is constantly hanging over each and every person 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Every waking moment in which this is not happening, is spent in fear that it might be about to happen. As a result of this constant fear and tension, residents of Sderot have been developing severe behaviorial disorders. This is most common and obvious in children. The are some children who have withdrawn permantently into noncommunicative shells, and others who lash out repeatedly in violence. Older children regularly wet their beds, and some go for more than a week at a time without sleeping. Needless to say, their education system has been decimated.

Now ask yourself these questions:
  • Would I be willing to live this way?
  • Would I be willing to let my own children live this way?
  • Would I be willing to let other people's children live this way?
DovBear suggested that we should consider accepting that the residents of Sderot (and Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ofakim, etc.) will just have to live this way, in order to preserve "the very principles that make Israel worth protecting".

He asks us: "Is this thought experiment monstrous?"

The answer is most definitely "yes". It is incredibly monstrous. And this is why:

There are no principles that could possibly justify choosing to allow our own people to live in a terrifying hell like this. And any ethical system that promotes such an idea is thoroughly immoral and evil.

The primary purpose of the State of Israel is to allow Jews to live freely and securely in their homeland. This is the core "principle that makes Israel worth protecting". If an enemy attacks us, then the correct, moral thing to do is to fight back and defend ourselves, and to do everything in our power to remove the threat. And if we fail to even try to fight back, then we have betrayed ourselves, and the most fundamental purpose of our State. We would thus become evil and immoral, and would no longer deserve to have the State.

Haza"l knew very well that Jews are naturally inclined to show compassion, even to their enemies. That is why they warned us that blindly following the dictates of such compassion can, ironically, lead to terrible cruelty against others who truly deserve our compassion. This is precisely what they meant when they declared that "he who is compassionate to the cruel will ultimately be cruel to the compassionate". To abandon our fellow Jews -- men, women, and children -- to the terror seen so vividly in the video above, in the name of some supposed ethical "principles" -- would not be moral at all, but rather a complete twisting of morality. It would be a horrifying realization of that evil and cruelty that Haza"l were warning us against.

[I anticipate that there will be those who condemn the position I presented here as immoral. Among Jews in particular, such people are almost to be expected. They represent the actualization of the very twisted morality of which Haza"l were speaking.]


Buy DB's book. (I personally recommend it.)
Buy the other guy's book. (please)
Buy DB's wife a gift (please)


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