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The ethical bankruptcy of ‘moral equivalency’

A child stomps on an Israeli flag during a demonstration in Chicago, Illinois, to show support for the Palestinian people on October 11, 2023. Rally marshals stopped the display and attempted to take the flag. Organizers of the event called on the U.S. government to stop supporting Israel, which they refer to as a 'racist, apartheid state.'
A child stomps on an Israeli flag during a demonstration in Chicago, Illinois, to show support for the Palestinian people on October 11, 2023. Rally marshals stopped the display and attempted to take the flag. Organizers of the event called on the U.S. government to stop supporting Israel, which they refer to as a "racist, apartheid state." | Scott Olson/Getty Images

The grotesque, gruesome and obscene atrocities committed by Hamas terrorists against innocent Israelis on Oct. 7 have outraged and nauseated decent, civilized people across the globe.

Let us all be clear: there can never be any justification for murdering innocent civilians (including infants, children and grandmothers, with children being butchered in front of their parents and vice versa).

Those who claim a “moral equivalency” between the Hamas terrorists and the Israeli government betray either a lack of integrity or a seriously demagnetized moral compass. There is no more moral equivalency between Hamas and Israel than there was between the U.S. and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. The U.S., like Israel, was not perfect, but if the Soviet “Evil Empire” had desired peace as much as America did in the Cold War, the Cold War would have ended far sooner and more peacefully than it did.

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Hamas is a terrorist organization dedicated to eradicating the Jews in the Holy Land and “driving them into the sea.” Israel cannot peacefully coexist with a terrorist group that denies the Israelis’ right to exist in the Holy Land.

Some have responded to the dastardly Hamas attacks by claiming that they are emblematic of the “clash” of civilizations prophesied and articulated famously by Samuel P. Huntington in Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order (1996).

Huntington’s thesis was written in response to his former student Francis Fukuyama’s assertion in The End of History and the Last Man that man had come to the end of history in a Hegelian model where human rights and a capitalistic free market economy dominate in a post-Cold War world.

Huntington responded that a clash of competing civilizations instead would be dominated by cultural conflict among civilizational models such as Western civilization and Islamic civilization. Huntington’s thesis is a provocative and interesting theory, but Hamas’ wanton and criminal attack on Israeli civilians is not an example of a clash of civilizations. Hamas’ current blood-curdling assault on Israeli citizens is a clash between civilization and barbarism.

One could make the case that Hamas is worse than the Nazis. At least the Nazis tried to hide their crimes, whereas Hamas promotes their horrible brutalities on social media. Slaughtering infants in their cribs is about as barbarous as it gets.

It would be unfair to besmirch Islamic civilization as being represented by Hamas terrorists. It must always be remembered that 90% of the victims of radical Islamic jihadists are fellow Muslims who refuse to accept their radical, cultic misinterpretation of Islam.

I know how uncomfortable Christians feel when the KKK or some other extremist group perpetrates evil and seeks to wrap themselves with Christianity through burning crosses. I suspect millions of Muslims worldwide are lamenting the terrible Hamas atrocities committed in the name of their Islamic faith.

I am extremely grateful that the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission has taken the lead in releasing an “Evangelical Statement in Support of Israel” in which the numerous Evangelical signees “unequivocally condemn the violence” against innocent Israelis and “fully support Israel’s right and duty to defend itself against further attack.”

The Evangelical Statement proclaimed:

“Since the inception of the modern state of Israel in 1948, Israel has faced numerous attacks, incursions, and violations of its national sovereignty. The Jewish people have long endured genocidal attempts to eradicate them and to destroy the Jewish state. These antisemitic, deadly ideologies and terrorist actions must be opposed.”

The statement further declared, “In keeping with Christian Just War tradition, we also affirm the legitimacy of Israel’s right to respond against those who have initiated these attacks as Romans 13 grants governments the power to bear the sword against those who commit such evil acts against innocent life.”

The statement concluded by proclaiming “the dignity and personhood of all persons living in the Middle East” and their recognition of “the difficult ministry of Jewish and Palestinian believers who labor for the Gospel.” This was followed by a call for American authorities “to take all forms of terrorism seriously” and “to confront evil work to prevent future attacks.”

When one observes the pro-Hamas rallies in our country (as well as others) with crowds celebrating the attacks and chanting “Gas the Jews!” it becomes clear why the Evangelical statement and much more are necessary and imperative.

Make no mistake, these atrocities would never have happened without Iranian financing, planning and encouragement. In addition to their demonic hatred of Jews, they were desperate to derail the developing “rapprochement” between Israel and Saudi Arabia, an event that would devastate Iranian plans to rule the Middle East. The Iranian Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, declared, he “kisses the hands” of the Hamas murderers, rapists and baby killers.

The reaction to these dastardly attacks among left-wing groups in America and around the world is most disturbing and yet instructive.

I have often marveled at the apparent loss of the ability to understand or accept implacable moral evil that accompanies the embracing of the moral relativism of left-wing philosophies.

How else do you explain these left-wing groups celebrating the horrendous blood lust of Hamas? They are celebrating Hamas, which has promoted a society based on hatred of Jews, a society that pays a bounty to mass murderers and their families and has a street celebration whenever Jews are killed.

Is this what American and Western pro-Palestinian supporters desire? Walter E. Block and Alan G. Futerman have captured the dilemma:

“‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!’ chant the useful idiots of elite institutions and parades in the West. Who are these people? Atheists who support theocratic lunatics, democrats who endorse medieval tyrants, feminists who defend misogynists who parade with the desecrated corpses of women, gays who defend maniacs who would joyfully hang them or toss them off the roof of tall buildings? They talk of a secular, democratic and socialist Palestine. As George Orwell observed: ‘One has to belong to the Intelligentsia to believe things like that: no ordinary man could be such a Fool.’ But the world has now seen what ‘from the river to the sea’ actually means. It is nothing less than a remake of Nazi Einsatzgruppen.” 

Abba Eban, the eloquent, long-time Israeli Ambassador (1950-1959) to the United Nations once explained to the U.N. Assembly that there was an Arab refugee problem and it needed to be dealt with humanely. On the other hand, he observed, if the Arabs had won in 1948, there would not be a Jewish refugee problem because they would all be dead. Based on what happened in the few Jewish settlements that were overrun by Arab forces in the 1948 war, he was tragically correct in his assessment.

Cries of “moral equivalency” tell us more about those voicing such nonsense than they tell us about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.    

Dr. Richard Land, BA (Princeton, magna cum laude); D.Phil. (Oxford); Th.M (New Orleans Seminary). Dr. Land served as President of Southern Evangelical Seminary from July 2013 until July 2021. Upon his retirement, he was honored as President Emeritus and he continues to serve as an Adjunct Professor of Theology & Ethics. Dr. Land previously served as President of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (1988-2013) where he was also honored as President Emeritus upon his retirement. Dr. Land has also served as an Executive Editor and columnist for The Christian Post since 2011.

Dr. Land explores many timely and critical topics in his daily radio feature, “Bringing Every Thought Captive,” and in his weekly column for CP.

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