Without Exception

By Arthur Schwartz

The gruesome and barbaric terrorist attack on Israel by the forces of Hamas was met with horror around the globe.

Yet despite the terrible nature of the attack on Israeli civilians — innocent men, women, and children — and the fact that many of the terrorists photographed, recorded, and in some cases, even live-streamed their acts of mass murder and destruction — not everyone was ready to condemn Hamas because of the victimization of the Palestinian people by some of Israel’s leaders and residents.

But there never is, never was, any excuse for violent criminal behavior, be it murder, terrorism, crimes against humanity, or genocide. Killers almost always have what they think of as justifications for their terrible acts.

I preached, successfully, to many of my friends on the Left, that when addressing an atrocity like that which occurred on October 7, one cannot use the word “but,” or follow denunciation with a description of the “context.”

The killing of innocent civilians, be it in Israel, on the West Bank, in Gaza, in Ukraine, and, looking back in history, in Nagasaki and Hiroshima, is never justified

Violence can’t be tolerated as a means to an end because the means and the ends cannot be separated. If violence, mass murder, warfare, and vigilantism were capable of solving the world’s problems, the world’s problems would have been solved long ago.

The cure for violence is to renounce violence and condemn all forms of violence without exception. Murder is never ok; rape is never justified; terrorism is not excusable under any circumstances.

There are cultural and political currents, alive in our country which eschew these principles, and I am not talking about a few college students who march in support of Hamas. These currents are built on stoking far greater hate and prejudice for political gain.

The politics of hate is central to today’s fierce divide between red and blue states — including Ron DeSantis’ and Greg Abbott’s wars on trans youth, critical race theory, women wanting to preserve autonomy over their own bodies, and undocumented immigrants, who they ship to New York, and want us to hate.  Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes built Fox News on fear and hate. Social media is now overflowing with it.

Hate is a corrosive. It consumes and devours those who practice it. History shows that where hate is normalized, its poison seeps into the subsoil of a culture.

It gruesomely distorts societies.

Brutality, fear, and distrust transform otherwise rational human beings into close-minded fanatics. People no longer listen to the “other side.” They view them as threats, enemies. When hatred becomes entrenched, it can last generations. Haters pass their hatred and bigotry on to their children.

Real leaders stand up against hate. They reject bigotry. They denounce intolerance. They seek to bring people together rather than spur revenge and retribution.

Of course Hamas militants must be held responsible. So must Putin. So must Trump. So too must those who are now threatening Muslim Americans and Jewish Americans, as must everyone who is blinded by hate. In holding them responsible, though, we must make every effort not to fuel even more hate.