Genocide: Dealing with Evil

Iran’s genocidal threat to “wipe Israel off the map” or “death to the United States” is not mere bluster.

Prof. Paul Eidelberg

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Paul Eidelberg

Alexis de Tocqueville:

"I studied the Quran a great deal.   I came away from that study with the conviction that by and large there have been few religions in the world as deadly to men as that of Muhammad.   So far as I can see, it is the principal cause of the decadence so visible today in the Muslim world and, though less absurd than the polytheism of old, its social and political tendencies are in my opinion more to be feared, and I therefore regard it as a form of decadence rather than a form of progress in relation to paganism itself."

Now ponder this: “Eyes gouged out, bodies hanging from hooks, and fingers removed with pliers”: Claims of torture emerge as soldiers reveal Nairobi mall massacre details.

Part I. Genocide Actual and Threatened

No other people equal the Jews in acts of justice and kindness toward their enemies. Nevertheless, the Bible of Israel provides various accounts of what is now called “genocide” committed by the Israelites in obedience to God, even though Israel has been the bearer of ethical monotheism. How can we account for this apparent contradiction?

If we consider the practices of the “Seven Nations”—the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites—their destruction was actually a moral imperative. These cults "burned their sons with fire for burnt offerings to Baal” (Jeremiah 19:5). This abominable practice of offering children as holocausts to false gods was a common practice among the “Seven Nations” that totally revolted God and brought about His final verdict.

Also, bear in mind that the Canaanites spoke a Semitic language. Hence God warned Israel to destroy these pagans so as not to be influenced by their wicked ways. As stated in Deuteronomy 7:1-2: “Thou shall smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shall make no covenant with them, nor show mercy unto them.”

These cults had reached such an extreme level of degeneracy that, figuratively, the land itself would vomit them out.

These nations not only exulted in human sacrifice; they also worshipped the phallus and the anus. By any definition of what distinguishes a human being from a beast, such cults could be considered subhuman—as we now regard cannibals. To try to “reform” or humanize such cults would not only be futile, but associating with them would only have a toxic effect on your own people.

Hence, the concept of “humanism” does not apply. To a thoughtless sentimentalist, this will be deemed a harsh if not monstrous assessment. But let us look at evil rationally, rather than sacrifice intellect to maudlin sentiment and hypocrisy.

 Consider the Second World War. The United States literally incinerated tens of thousands of men, women, and children in the atom bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Or recall how the Allied powers napalmed Dresden. The napalm sucked up the oxygen from the ground and literally asphyxiated as well as incinerated tens of thousands of German men, women, and children.

As a backdrop to the incineration of German cities, it should be noted that in 1940, after the conquest of France and the Low Countries, 90% of the Germans supported Hitler. Given the industrial characteristics of modern warfare and the mass-mobilization of the populations during the war, how many Germans and Japanese civilians could be said to have been innocent?

Although the incineration of German and Japanese cities fall short of utter genocide, this is a distinction with hardly a difference.

Further, what are we to say of Iran’s genocidal threat to “wipe Israel off the map” or of Iran’s genocidal malediction of “death to the United States”? This Islamic threat is not mere bluster. Recall that Iran’s Muslim rulers committed mass murder when they had tens of thousands of their own Iranian children walk over to explode land mines in Iran’s war with Iraq.

Are these Muslims—conjure their massacre in the Kenyan mall— more worthy of humane consideration than the pagan cults referred to in the Bible? Do they not exult in bloodshed as indicated by the Syrian snake ceremony that celebrated the tenth anniversary of the Yom Kippur War by having Syrian militiamen twist the heads off puppies and drink their blood—a ceremony symbolizing Syria’s cannibalistic designs on Israel?

When self-styled Palestinians—Sunni Muslims—use their own children as human bombs and thus behave like the Shiite Muslims who used children to explode land mines, are they not equally pagan?

Israel’s situation today is comparable to that which the Israelites faced vis-à-vis their pagan enemies as portrayed in the Bible—but it’s not politically correct to draw such analogies. Nevertheless, since Iran has vowed to wipe Israel off the map, I ask: given Iran’s genocidal objective, how should Israel employ the UN concept of “proportionality” toward Iran? Would Israel be better advised, in formulating any strategy, to consult her own Bible?

Part II. Is Genocide Avoidable When the Enemy has Access to Weapons of Mass Murder?

I have written the previous remarks to reveal the true and ugly dimensions of Israel’s conflict with her enemies, and to reveal, simultaneously, the fatuity of Israel’s political leaders as well as the superficiality of legions of political analysts.

If “Islamism,” as one candid writer has proposed, is “a crime against humanity,” what are we to say of Islam per se, which, like the Canaanites, not only denies the Genesis concept of man’s creation in the image of God, but in accordance with that denial, is also dedicated to the Islamizing all “infidels”?

How, indeed, are we to deal logically and realistically with a doctrine that poses as one of the world’s three monotheistic religions, one of which threatens to destroy all that we cherish?

In his book "Faith, Reason, and the War against Jihadism: A Call for Action" (2007), theologian George Weigel suggests that we stop referring to Islam as one of the three Abrahamic faiths, and he offers solid reasons for his proposal. He cites the French scholar Alain Besançon: “The Abraham of Genesis is not the Ibrahim of the Qur’an; Moses is not Moussa. As for Jesus, he appears, as Issa, out of place and out of time, without reference to the landscape of Israel.”

Weigel shatters the trope of three monotheistic faiths, which can only hinder the goal of removing from the world a scourge which, like Nazism, threatens “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Eliminating the scourge of Islam as a religion may be deemed an ideological form of genocide, although Weigel does not make this explicit. But surely Weigel does not think that 1.5 billion Muslims can be reasoned out of their faith. Indeed, he contends that Islam despises reason—and it’s true that Islamic theology, unlike Judaism and Christianity, rejects the primacy of reason as opposed to the primacy force.

Of course, Weigel is aware of the murderous character of Islam. So is University of Toronto Professor Kenneth Hart Green. Green contends—and here I will abbreviate his remarks: “Islamism is an original and unprecedented form of modern evil, and especially of religious abomination…. [It] emerges as a true monotheistic idolatry…. [Islam] unapologetically embraces all the modern devices (ideology, technology, mass persuasion, etc.), and employs them to do its radical evil.”[1]

The problem then becomes: (1) Can 1.5 billion Muslims be de-Islamized before they acquire the power to Islamize us? (2) Can we avoid being Islamized and avoid resorting to the violence applied to Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan which borders on genocide?  


[1] See Kenneth Hart Green, “Leo Strauss’ Challenge to Emil Fackenheim: Heidegger, Radical Historicism, and Diabolical Evil,” in S. Portnoff, J. A. Diamond, and M.D. Yaffe (eds.) Emil L. Fackenheim: Philosopher, Theologian, Jew, (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 2008), 151n42.