What's Fair in the Middle East

War is not fair. Innocents die. But there is right and wrong in this world. And war, as horrible as it is, can be just. Modern Israel has been at war almost continuously since her inception. Once again, she is at war. As usual, this is not a war she started. This war began when two separate terrorist organizations invaded Israel's undisputed lands and killed and captured some of her soldiers. The terrorist organizations claim these captives are similar to the thousands of Palestinians languishing in Israeli prisons, and they want to use the captives as tools to negotiate the release of the Palestinian prisoners.

But there's a difference. The Palestinian prisoners have been tried and convicted of crimes in Israeli courts. Israeli law only allows for very short term detentions for untried prisoners. When prisoners are tried in either Israeli criminal courts or military courts in the territories, they are given full due process rights, far exceeding what the U.S. government has granted to prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. How do I know? I've witnessed these trials. There is no comparison between convicted criminals and Israeli soldiers protecting the borders of Israel.

Sadly, this is a religious war. The perpetrators claim Allah is with them and is motivating them to take these acts. Much of the Muslim world has been arguing since 9/11 that Islam is a religion of peace. Now's the opportunity to prove it. If the Muslims of the world condemned the terrorist organizations for their actions and withdrew financial and political support, the terrorist organizations would dry up. In the meantime, what is Israel supposed to do? Negotiate with terrorists? Yes, the destruction of Lebanon is tragic. But so was the destruction of Afghanistan. Lebanon refused to clamp down on its resident terrorists. Afghanistan did the same. Innocent Lebanese are dying. The same was true for innocent Afghans. War is not fair.

The prophet Isaiah spoke of a time like this: "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil; who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!" Many schools in Muslim nations teach that Jews use the blood of Muslim children to make Jewish ceremonial foods. But Israeli Arabs (most of whom are Muslim and who comprise one-fifth of the population of Israel) serve in the Israeli military, vote in Israeli elections and are represented by Arabs in the Israeli parliament. What's fair in the Middle East? Israelis warn Lebanese residents to flee from targeted areas before bombing begins because many of the terrorist organization's weapons are embedded in civilian areas. In turn, the terrorist organization bombs Israeli hospitals. The civilized world needs to take a stand for truth by supporting a nation that has some semblance of morality and respect for human life while repudiating organizations and nations which have neither.

Jamie Cowen 2006