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Humanitarian Crisis

Article’s tags: Gaza / Hamas, October 7

A lot of ostensibly well-meaning people have been calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. They pontificate about proportionality, get themselves interviewed on TV while wearing yarmulkahs donned just for the occasion and issue naïve tweets misinterpreting the rules of war. They're wrong of course. They either don't understand the risks of allowing Hamas to re-arm, or they do understand, and they just don't care.

They think that calling on Israel to make an accommodation with evil demonstrates their own empathy, but they don't see that the terrorists are playing on their compassion and using them as the useful idiots who have helped ensure that the suffering in and from Gaza continues. In fact, the real victims of any premature ceasefire would be the very people they're ostensibly trying to protect. If Israel was to stop fighting now, with the hostages still stuck in Gaza and Hamas still in power, it would just encourage repeat attacks and mean that the suffering and terror of ordinary Gazans would be perpetuated for decades to come.

But although I disagree with those agitating for a too hasty ceasefire, I can actually understand why some people are calling for a cessation of hostilities. Many of those speaking up and urging us to 'give peace a chance' are not consciously siding with the terrorists. Some of them are probably good people who have just been blinded by the propaganda. It sounds noble to speak up for the so-called non-combatants and view the more technologically advanced society as colonisers. Nobody normal wants to see innocent people suffer and Jews have traditionally been willing to risk their own casualties just to protect to the greatest extent possible the human-shield civilians that Hamas so cynically deploys.

Our father Avraham made the same wrong calculation. When informed by G-d of His plans to destroy Sedom and Amorah, Avraham spoke up in their defence. 'How can a just G-d act so unjustly?' he protested. Surely there are some innocent civilians living in the city. Spare the righteous and give the locals one more chance to demonstrate their ability to coexist with the Jews.

Hashem said no. It's too late now to speak up for the 'innocent bystanders'. The time for them to demonstrate righteousness has passed. Now you agitate on their behalf? Where were you when their society was practicing indiscriminate rape, wholesale torture and random acts of violence? Why did you not care for the 'innocent local civilians' when their genocidal overlords were practicing mass cruelty on their own people? There was a time to negotiate with evil, but that time has gone. Now is the time to rain 'fire and brimstone' down on the sinners and eradicate those who have chosen the path of evil.

It sounds somewhat cruel. How can a good G-d act so vengefully? Even with the best of intentions and the most precise weapons, some people will be caught up in the tragedy. However, you need to destroy the murderers in order to allow the rest of their society to start fresh again. If the rulers of Sedom can be removed, the survivors will eventually be able regenerate. Sometimes even a compassionate G-d or a democratic society must act now to eradicate evil. When there is no alternative, the duty to uproot terror and remove the guilty ones outweighs the distress called to those collaterally damaged.

We can understand and sympathise with Avraham. It is only natural to demonstrate compassion in times of tragedy. Of course, we grieve when any innocent person is caught up in the maelstrom that the wicked ones unleashed; but we have to be clear who is ultimately responsible for the destruction. It was the sinners and sadists of Sedom who started the cycle of violence and nothing Avrohom could say on behalf of the righteous would mitigate the tragic need to surgically remove the terror brigades from our midst.

Note what Avraham did next. After his prayers were refused and the immoral Sedomites were destroyed, Avraham devoted the rest of his life to practising random acts of goodness and kindness. He provided humanitarian food to Jews and non-Jews alike, planted orchards and established free hostels for all who passed by. He preached morality and rewrote the textbooks to train people in the ways of faith. He fuelled the regeneration of the area and became a harbinger of hope to all.

This is the tradition that Avraham established and it is this model that his descendants emulate till today. No one needs to teach us about morality or preach compassion to the sons and daughters of Avraham. No one craves peace more than us. When the wicked people are rooted out from their tunnels of hatred and the innocent captives return home, then we will be free to manifest our natural path of compassion to all.

We reach out with a hand of friendship and request the support of all truly good people. We look forward to a time when Hashem has finally eradicated terror and suffering and entrusts us with our eternal task of modelling kindness and generosity to all nations of the world.

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