Friday, July 14, 2006
Israel and Its Enemies: The View from My Own 'Religion of Peace'
How many attacks must Israel absorb before fighting back? Here's my scriptural view.
The same Big Media Acronyms who keep telling us Islam is a "religion of peace" simultaneously deliver an endless stream of news about Muslims blowing up things and people. Lately, it's the state-supported (or in one case, state-running) terrorist organizations Hamas and Hezbollah who are making the news with their attacks on Israel.
I have my own "religion of peace," the distinctive "Mormon" brand of Christianity. Many of my readers know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints -- with a name that long, no wonder we usually hear "Mormons" instead -- has a few books it accepts as scripture in addition to the Bible.
Founder Joseph Smith offered one passage in one of those books as the divine response to mob violence against early Mormons -- attacks which are difficult to distinguish from terror in some ways. In light of the latest attacks on Israel and the measured fury of the Israeli response, let's weigh the situation against Mormon scripture for a moment. Other passages of scripture might be brought to bear, but this is the one I find most relevant. My commentary -- midrash, if you will -- is in [brackets]. The reference is Doctrine and Covenants 98:23-38.
[The first time you're attacked, bear it with patience, and I will bless you. If you don't, I'll consider it as if you deserved what you got.]
[Bear it patiently the second and third times, too, and I will reward you abundantly.]
[If I -- meaning God -- haven't taken care of your enemy by this point, give that enemy one more warning yourselves. Then . . .]
[The fourth time, the enemy is yours to do with what you will.]
[If you spare him the fourth time, I'll bless you even more.]
[But you don't have to spare the enemy the fourth time. You are justified in destroying him.]
No matter how liberally or conservatively you number the attacks on Israel since September -- or even since last month -- by this very patient doctrine Israel would be justified in destroying its attackers.
First, by democratically electing Hamas, a terrorist organization, the Palestinians as a people have forfeited any claim to Israeli mercy. It's hard to see why Israel should not liquidate the Palestinian state from which many attacks are launched -- not that I think they will, but I think they would be justified. They could ship all the Palestinians who will go peacefully to somewhere in Jordan (and international aid given the Palestinians could be switched to Jordan, too, in fairness), execute those who will not go peacefully, and repossess the land as part of Israel.
Second, I think Israel is justified in inflicting serious harm on Lebanon, Syria, and Iran, which harbor and fund Hezbollah.
Not all that is justified is wise or prudent or merciful. But the Arab world has been at war with Israel for decades. What soundly reasoning person would insist that Israel is not allowed to act sometimes as if it's in the war, too?
Copyright 2006 by David Rodeback.