A Follow-Up on Child Sacrifice

Several readers of my recent post on child sacrifice have taken me to task, responding that I should have made a stronger statement on the validity of one position or the other. Do I feel that Hamas’ kidnapping and indiscriminate shelling of civilians is worse than Israel’s bombing of the Hamas positions deliberately placed near schools and hospitals — placed there strategically to incur the greatest casualties, thereby winning the war in public opinion? Can’t I make a decision?

Of course, I can. But that’s not what I was writing about. There have been many, many screeds on the correctness of one position or another. I wasn’t trying to add my voice to those. I have a different point to make. There is, in fact, something bigger at stake: what it means to be civilized in the 21st century.

That point was made far better than I could in a poem written in Hebrew by a Hannah Senesh, a brave young woman who parachuted into Yugoslavia during the Second World War to try to rescue Hungarian Jews about to be deported to at Auschwitz. She was caught and tortured, but refused to reveal details of her mission. She died at the hands of a Nazi firing squad a few months after her 23rd birthday.

But while watching the world explode around her, calling out to a higher authority to bring peace, she wrote:

אלי, אלי, שלא יגמר לעולם
החול והים
רשרוש של המים
ברק השמים
תפילת האדם

My God, My God, I pray that these things never end,
The sand and the sea,
The rustle of the waters,
Lightning of the Heavens,
The prayer of Man.

I can’t speak for higher authority, but the point I make is that there are super powers in this world. The U.S. is one of them. Qatar’s cash make it another. But the world is interconnected. And that interdependence should bring about more than profit, more than just global business. And more than business as usual when civilization is at stake.

The west can blunt Qatar’s petrodollar power. It can offer Hamas and Israel sharp, painful sticks as well as carrots. And perhaps now is the time for those sharp sticks. My president disappoints me because he is prepared to accept the continuous back and forth between Israel and Hamas, just making a few accommodations to one side or another, but making no real effort to change the conditions that boil over into this conflict every few years.

There are times when our power needs to be channeled into something better than we have now. Something that can make a difference. It is time we and the rest of the “civilized” world did something. Or we all are guilty of child sacrifice.

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