The civilized and non-antisemitic world heaved a collective cry of disgust and dismay yesterday when news broke that Hamas terrorists had killed 40 babies and young children, some of whom were decapitated. The slaughter took place at a kibbutz – an international community – near the Gaza border.
An emotionally shaken Nicole Zedek, who is covering the escalating Middle East crisis for i24 News, reported on the scene:
“It’s hard to even explain exactly just the mass casualties that happened right here,” she said. “Babies with their heads cut off … Gunned down. Families gunned down, completely gunned down in their beds. Sheer horror. This is nothing that anyone would have even imagined.”
General Itai Veruv, who heads up the Depth Command of the Israel Defense Forces, was even more blunt:
“It’s not a battlefield,” he told reporters. “You see the babies, the mothers, the fathers in their bedrooms, in their protection rooms, and how the terrorists kill them. It’s not a war. … It’s a massacre.
“They killed babies in front of their parents, and then killed the parents. They killed parents, and we found babies between the dogs and the family killed before him. They cut heads of the people.
“It is something that I never saw in my life,” he added. “It’s something that we used to imagine from our grandfathers, grandmothers in the pogrom in Europe and other places. It’s not something that happens in new history.”
Only it did happen, and just this week.
Although the phrase “crimes against humanity” only emerged last century, widespread or systematic attacks directed against civilian populations aren’t new. Evil has been present in every era. Mass atrocities go by many names: ethnic cleansing, genocide, mass killings, or war crimes.
Albert Einstein seemed to be echoing the 18th century Irish statesman Edmund Burke when he declared, “The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”
The famous physicist may have been right that evil flourishes when apathy reigns, but there’s little doubt that even with a strong response in Israel, we’re living in tenuous and treacherous times.
Righteous anger is rising, as well it should. Horrors like what has happened in Israel demand moral clarity.
Dr. Al Mohler, president of Southern Seminary, said this morning:
“It seems that virtually once in every generation there comes some kind of just inescapable, horrifying reminder of the reality of human sin and of the evil of which human hearts are capable. Sometimes on a world stage just as is happening right now, in terms of the attack by Hamas on Israel, you’re looking at something that requires a moral verdict, and we should at least be thankful that we’re living in a time in which there is at least enough residue of a Christian worldview, and there’s at least enough honesty coming from the Imago Dei within human beings, that this is an act of moral revulsion.”
He rightly concludes:
“But this is where we need to understand that we are living in an age that otherwise when it comes to the total question of morality and good and evil, wants to argue that there is no objective truth, no objective reality to either.”
As we pray for the people and the peace of Israel, may we also ask the Lord to take the blinders off those who all too often see moral truth as subjective rather than objective and absolute.
Image from Shutterstock; graphic created by Focus on the Family.