Tuesday, August 01, 2006


Few things illuminate the ugly side of human endeavors quite like the corpses of children killed in wartime. A massacre like the one that occurred in Qana, Lebanon on Sunday was inevitable, as all such atrocities in wartime are inevitable. Cries of outrage vie with official-sounding apologies and the non-denial denial of a promised "official investigation" into the matter. Certainly we in the West would like to believe that only terrorists murder children; we'd like to cover our faces with our hands and pretend that modern societies have evolved beyond this kind of brutality, while seeing the blood run red on those hands. This is why we who believe so strongly in peace condemn the actions of Hezbollah and Israel, the United States and Al-Qaida. We know the violent aggression of war has no winners but losers innumerable.

The tragedy in Qana is no more or less horrifying than the deaths of two Israeli-Arab children in Nazareth several weeks ago. It's always children, the "innocent", who pay the highest price for war. For all the grand talk of a "right to defend" and a need to "oppose the occupiers", for all the geopolitical doubletalk about "cease fires" and "sustainability"; after all the talk is done Qana and Haifa are the irreducible reality of war, the bloody bootprint of human tribalism run amok. After thousands of years of human blood flowing all we've learned is how to bleed each other more efficiently and moralize more convincingly.

For me, the atrocity that adds grave insult to the deaths of these Arab children is the soulless moralizing coming from each side, particularly American conservatives in support of Israel. The suggestions from many of the Israeli government's supporters, here and in Israel, that the lives of these children in Qana are currency paying the price of safety in Israel is an affront to our shared humanity. For supporters of Israel's attacks on Lebanon to claim that the defense of the Israeli people is worth the lives of the Lebanese is to strip the humanity from these Lebanese children, rendering them less precious than their Israeli neighbors. It's to signify that invisible lines on a map separate those deserving of life and safety from those less deserving. It's racist, nativist and a clear signal to the terrorists in the Middle East that our "western values" are as easily toppled as a Lebanese apartment building. Or an American World Trade Center.

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