Copyright © 2006 by Jay B. Gaskill
This piece was first posted on
“The Human Conspiracy Blog” July 15th 2006. On July 19th,
I added a “Personal Footnote” and posted the whole thing on “The Policy Think
Site”. Your many comments and notes of
encouragement have been deeply appreciated. We should continue to pray for Israel.
Note: A Chaplain reports from the Iraq desert. Link: http://www.edow.org/news/window/julyaug2006/kenworthy.htm
for Israel, then Peace
Jay B. Gaskill
As a Judeo-Christian,
I firmly believe in the right of the State of Israel to thrive in peace within
defensible borders. As a moral realist, I understand what the actual conditions
of survival entail when you are living amid a sea of resentment-intoxicated
peoples, temporarily unhinged by a malevolent ideology masquerading as a
religion of peace.
Therefore, I must completely dissociate myself from the
pacifist strain of Christianity that has repeatedly called for Israel
to retreat, to refrain from proactive self defense and ultimately … to risk
These otherwise good hearted souls are deeply confused.
Ambivalence toward the truly evil, and passivity in the face
of the real, existential threats it poses to the good and the innocent souls
among us is so profoundly wrong as to border on evil itself.
The current struggle is far more serious than Israel’s
putative friends in Europe seem to acknowledge. How
could it be otherwise when thousands of Israeli children (a large plurality of
all Israeli children) are going to bed tonight in bomb shelters? How
could it be otherwise when the bombing and missile attacks (hundreds of
missiles, one attack barely missing Shimon Perez) are being orchestrated by the
proxies (Hezbollah and Hamas) of a terrorist nation
and its terrorist puppet regime (Syria),
both of which seek Israel’s
ultimate destruction? How could it be otherwise when the nation of Israel,
having been resurrected in 1947 under the aegis of the United Nations
with the support of Europeans, is now on the verge of being abandoned by those
same “friends”? These are the same European states (excluding England)
that were complicit through cowardice and denial when the holocaust was
perpetrated on their own soil. The “resurrection” of this same pattern of
cowardice and denial is dangerous beyond all measure.
I note that Hamas,
the terrorist group that infects the nascent Palestinian democracy, has the
following explicit aims:
will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just
as it obliterated others before it.
- “The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land
of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf consecrated for future Moslem generations until Judgement Day. It, or any part of it, should not be
squandered: it, or any part of it, should not be given up.
- “There is no solution for the Palestinian question
except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences
are all a waste of time and vain endeavors.
And I cannot help note with a sense of disgust the position of leftist, Noam Chomsky, who visited Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah in May.
Professor Chomsky branded the US
and Israel as
“terrorist” states and supported arming the Hezbollah. “I think that Nasrallah has a reasoned argument and a persuasive argument
that they (the weapons) should be in the hands of Hizbollah…”
We have now seen what those weapons can do…
So we should pray for the swift
success of the Israeli Defense Forces in this crisis, for the continued support
of Israel by
the US, and for
the ultimate defeat of all the forces that have aligned themselves against the
prospect of a peaceful, safe and thriving Israel.
It is no coincidence that these same forces wish us grave harm and seek to
overthrow the institutions that protect religious liberty and the blessing of
God save and protect the people of Israel,
the people of the United States of America
and all those peoples who stand for the peaceful coexistence of religions in
the context of civil society.
Copyright © 2006 Jay B. Gaskill
A Personal Footnote:
While I also count
myself among the members of the worldwide Anglican Communion, I must
nevertheless dissociate myself (with great respect) from the implication of
neutrality implied in some of the sentiments recently expressed by Dr. Rowan
Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury.
I have reproduced the Archbishop’s letter to the Churches in
Lebanon of July 19, 2006, adding my own emphasis where the passage links to my personal
comments set out at the end.
Wednesday, July 19, 2006, Writing to the Heads of Churches in the Lebanon, Dr.
Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury said:
The Heads of Churches in Lebanon
Grace and Peace from the Lord
Jesus Christ at this traumatic time for you and the people of Lebanon.
Today, as thousands of foreign
passport-holders are evacuated from Beirut,
I am only too conscious of the plight of those, from all communities, who have
no place of refuge from the violence that has been unleashed. It pains us all greatly to see again the
ancient Christian communities of the Middle East fleeing
the land where they have borne witness for two millennia and to contemplate the
hardships that will be faced by those who stay.
I have been alarmed at the
spiral of violence, the vicious circle of attack and retaliation that has
developed over the last few days. My
prayers and sympathy are with the principal victims, the innocent civilians on
both sides of the border, who now live in terror and are powerless to prevent
the collective suffering at the hands of at the hands of Hizballah
the Israeli military. The
distress felt at the destruction not only of life but also the infrastructure
so painstakingly rebuilt after years of conflict will, I know, be acute and
reinforce the sense of helplessness at being caught up in a wider regional
struggle. My condemnation of this resort to violence is unequivocal. I offer you every support in your efforts to
bring it to an end and allow Lebanon
to be, once again, a living message of co-existence and solidarity between
different religious communities.
Remembering the times we have
met, even recently, I look forward to the chance to do so again in calmer times
- either here or in >Lebanon.
Although our Christian message
may seem, in these dark days, a small voice in a terrible wilderness of
suffering it is delivered in the confidence that God’s purposes for us and his
people will prevail and that purpose is one of peace, harmony and
May our Lord Jesus Christ give
you, as chief pastors of his flock, every strength and blessing in your
Surely, all civilized
peoples who wish to live together in shared peace and freedom will also share
the good Archbishop’s compassion for the innocent victims of violence; all will
devoutly hope for the return of peaceful times; and all will support the
conditions under which there can be “co-existence and solidarity between
different religious communities”.
To these sentiments, the response of people of good will
everywhere is a heartfelt amen.
But I must respectfully
disaffirm any implication of a moral equivalence between the opposing parties in
this life-death struggle:
The Archbishop wrote that “My condemnation of this resort to violence is unequivocal”.
But any effort at “unequivocal condemnation” can become a
functional moral equivocation if it
appears to place prospective mass murderers and those who take action to prevent the murder of innocents on the
same moral plane.
I see an inference of equivalence in the Archbishop’s letter
because the condemnation followed a mischaracterization of the Israeli self
defense actions as “retaliation”. This is a bit like condemning firefighters
who not only contain the immediate flames, but proactively attack the source of
the fire in order to forestall even greater devastation. Protection is both more than and less than
And the Archbishop’s condemnation was made after having blamed
both sides (apparently equally) for the human damage. The Archbishop wrote that the suffering in Lebanon
was accomplished “at the hands of” both a terrorist organization dedicated to genocide and to the duly constituted military
sworn to protect its population from that
very fate. To me, the choice of the
vivid words, “at the hands of”, strongly suggests a moral parallelism.
We can’t know whether the implication moral equivalence in
this letter was intended, or was an accident of the language of consolation. In
either case, it gives support to “the pacifist strain of Christianity that has
repeatedly called for Israel
to retreat, to refrain from proactive self defense and ultimately … to risk
Our Jewish brothers and sisters need to know that many, many
Christians do not inhabit the moral universe wherein the sin of having
inflicted “collective suffering” belongs equally
to “Hizballah and
the Israeli military.
As rational, realistic moral agents, we must never deny the
essential moral difference between the infliction of evil and the robust defense
against evil. I am reminded of one line that
is recited daily in dozens of languages on every inhabited continent of the
globe from the Christian Baptismal Covenant:
“Q: Will you
persevere in resisting evil? A: I will with God’s help.”
Archbishop of Canterbury is a serious theologian who has engaged thoughtful
discourse about “just war” doctrine. His strong pacific leanings (even as to
the war to defeat the terrorist jihad) are the product of deep spiritual
refection and scholarly study.
In a public exchange on the topic
with George Weigel (of the Ethics and Public
in Washington, D.C.),
Dr. Williams wrote:
“Which brings us to an
awkwardness in Weigel’s position. The terrorist, he
says, has no aims that can be taken seriously as political or moral. But this
is a sweeping statement, instantly challengeable. The terrorist is objectively
wicked, no dispute about that, in exercising the most appalling form of
blackmail by menacing the lives of the innocent. Nothing should qualify this judgement. But this does not mean that the terrorist has no
serious moral goals.”
This is the seed idea, I suspect, from which the flower of Dr
Williams’ seeming neutrality has emerged.
The exchange is available on line in the journal First Things at http://www.firstthings.com/ftissues/ft0403/articles/williamsweigel.html
Although I am not in agreement with the Archbishop’s
reasoning, I respect his moral integrity. But no one seriously questions the
moral integrity of George Weigel either; he is a
widely read and greatly respected Roman Catholic thinker. I strongly recommend Weigel’s
lecture, “Moral Clarity in a Time of War”, as published in First Things, January
2003. George Weigel is not a pacifist. Nor are a
majority of lay Christians. “Moral
Clarity in a Time of War” is available on line at http://www.firstthings.com/ftissues/ft0301/articles/weigel.html
Jay B. Gaskill
Comments and Caveat are Copyright © 2006 by Jay B. Gaskill,
Attorney at Law
Article by Michael Krauss & J. Peter Pham in Commentary
“Why Israel Is Free to Set Its Own Borders” www.jaygaskill.com/CommentaryKraussandPham.pdf
Truman Presidential Library “The Recognition of the State of