Monday, March 05, 2007

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach: Should We Be Happy with the Death of Zarqawi?

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is the host of the TLC show, "Shalom in the Home", which basically involves him traveling around the country in an RV to counsel couples and families. He keeps a blog on his website and wrote this blog-post about the moral bankruptcy of accepting evil rather than hating and fighting evil. It makes a lot of sense to me, and it's a belief that pushes me to continue my activism in those moments I feel repelled by the selfish cost/benefit analysis of my activism.

Read Rabbi Shmuley Boteach - Sunday, 11 June, 2006 (Should We Be Happy with the Death of Zarqawi?):

The United States has finally killed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a cold blooded terrorist killer who reveled in slicing off Nick Berg’s head. I was a radio host when Nick Berg was murdered in so gruesome a fashion. I was shocked that anyone claiming to be religious like al-Zarqawi could kill without so much as a trace of humanity or the slightest hint of compassion.

King Solomon warned us that ‘When your enemy falls do not rejoice.’ (Proverbs 24:17). So I will not celebrate al-Zarqawi’s death. I will not jump for joy, but I will give thanks to G-d that a man who so erased the image of God from his own countenance, who has so brutally killed G-d’s children, has been neutralized from doing further harm. I am surprised that friends of mine called me to tell me that on CNN they saw that some priests and some Christian ministers who were saying that it was a terrible thing that people were happy that Al-Zarqawi was dead, that violence breeds more violence, and that it is still murder because you are taking a human life. I disagree. Al-Zarqawi was not human. He was a monster. He completely erased the image of G-d from his countenance. With his brutality he severed all bonds, all ties of kin, to the human family. He was a man whose dark heart took delight in seeing others suffer.

It would be better if there were no evil in the world, of course. But when there is, we are obligated to hate evil. We should have no qualms of conscience whatsoever when we are forced to neutralize the truly wicked from preying further on innocent victims.

I believe in repentance, and most, of course, can better their ways. But mass-murderers like Zarqawi are beyond repentance. They have crossed a line from which it is impossible to come back. It is time we start to truly hate evil and to love the victims. We cannot love the victims without truly despising those who cruelly crush them. They must be stopped.

King Solomon also famously wrote, "For everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven? a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace." Ecclesiastes 3

How many times have we heard that the problem with the world today is that there isn't enough love, when precisely the opposite is true? Evil currently stalks the earth because there isn't enough hate. Moral people, afraid of being poisoned by hate, are becoming indifferent to evil.

The history of the modern world is a history of genocide and the indiscriminate slaughter of innocents. Historian Paul Johnson estimates that at least 100 million civilians were murdered in the 20th century alone by despotic and murderous tyrants. All too many of the murderers, like Pol Pot and Idi Amin, died comfortably in their sleep rather than at the end of a gallows. The world simply could not summon enough hatred of these individuals or their actions to stop them and bring them to justice.

I have heard all the arguments repudiating hate. Hatred is evil. It is the cause of all wars. It consumes the soul of he or she who hates. Silly arguments all. Hatred is only evil when it is directed at the good and at the innocent. It is positively Godly when it is directed at cold-blooded killers, motivating us to fight and eradicate them before more people die.

Hatred does not cause wars, it ends them. Because Churchill truly hated Hitler, he inspired a nation to put an end to his blitzkrieg conquests. The French, who did not hate Hitler, collaborated with him, instead. It is indifference to evil, rather than its hatred, that sends a message to the tyrants that they pick on anyone they like for the world will be silent.

He who does not hate Abu Musab al-Zarqawi a monster who shouts "God is great" while sawing off the heads of innocent human beings is barely human themselves. Can a man love innocent victims without hating their tormentors? Loving victims might generate compassion for their suffering. But hating the perpetrators will generate action to stop their orgy of murder.

Exhortations to hate all manner of evil abound in the Bible. The book of Proverbs declares, "The fear of the Lord is to hate evil." Likewise, King David declares regarding the wicked, "I have hated them with a deep loathing. They are as enemies to me." Hatred is the moral response to those who have gone beyond the pale of decency by committing acts which unweave the basic fabric of civilized living. To encounter evil is to come under the injunction of never showing even a morsel of sympathy lest we weaken our determination to destroy it.



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