Jerusalem Terror Attack 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Hearing about a bombing in Jerusalem is entirely different when you have two
daughters living there. You scramble for your phone. Any delay in their
answering is almost physically painful. You finally get through. Thank God,
they’re all right! But what of those who aren’t? Those maimed and killed were
also someone’s loved ones.
The news lately has been sickening. And while
disasters like the Japanese earthquake are not something we can yet predict or
control, the knifing of sleeping three-month-olds in Itamar, bombs against
civilians in Jerusalem, live fire against protesters in Bahrain and the use of
helicopter gunships against civilians in Libya are things we can stop.
why don’t we? Why does evil still flourish? How is it that Muammar Gaddafi could
get away with blowing up planes and discos for 40 years, yet only now is deemed
to have “lost the legitimacy to rule”? Why has the mafioso Assad family ruled
Syria for decades? And how can terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah
continue to murder Jewish civilians with barely a peep from the international
community? We have forgotten how to hate evil.
EARLY CHRISTIANS like the
apostle Paul are said to have rejected the “vengeful” God of the Old Testament.
In his place, the church fathers gave us the man Jesus, who they said was
synonymous with love. Hate no longer had any place, including the hatred of
evil. So whereas the God of Israel says explicitly in Malachi: “I love Jacob but
I hate Esau” – presumably because the former represents those who struggle for
peace, while the latter has become a symbol for those who “live by the
In the 20th century genocide was commonplace. A few of the
better-known examples include the Turks slaughter of the Armenians during World
War I, the Germans attempted extermination of the Jews, the Khmer Rouge and its
killing fields in Cambodia in 1975-78, the Hutus hacking to death of the Tutsis
in Rwanda in 1994, the ethnic cleansings of Croats by Bosnian Serbs and the
wholesale slaughter of black Christians in the Sudan by militias.
does the world allow so much suffering? Because people of faith – people who
could make a difference – practice love without hate, which means we often lack
the motivation to stop monsters or protect innocents.
Is anyone surprised
that China, whose president was recently given only the second state dinner of
the Obama presidency, is currently brutalizing a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and
opposing the use of force against Gaddafi? At times it becomes almost tragically
comical, as when the Carter administration recognized the Khmer Rouge as the
legitimate government of Cambodia. Or when Kofi Annan, then head of UN
peacekeeping forces worldwide, forbade Canada’s Gen. Romeo Dallaire, who
commanded the UN troops in Kigali, from using force to stop the Rwandan
But can love really exist without hate? Can someone claim to
love the 1.5 million children killed by Hitler without hating their SS killers?
Can you love the 800,000 Rwandans who were butchered with machetes without
hating the Hutus who just a few hours earlier had been their friends and
neighbors? Can you claim to love peaceful protesters in Tehran while refusing to
hate the tyrant who mows them down in the streets? By way of response I might
hear “hate the sin, but not the sinner.”
And spare me the argument that
hating terrorists can spill over into hating innocents. The same argument can be
made against loving, after all, because you may end up loving the wrong people,
like a husband or wife having an affair. Pulease! Discerning adults are usually
capable of controlling our emotions and expressing them appropriately.
hate Hamas for its brutality against its women, or its murder of gays in Gaza
without letting it spill over into hating the guy who jumped the line in the
INDEED, I believe this is what Jesus meant. He never
said to love God’s enemies, but your enemies. I’d say God’s enemies are the
“religious” police in Saudi Arabia who allowed young girls to burn alive in
their high school rather than run from the inferno without a face covering. Your
“enemy” is the guy who got promoted over you at work.
advising that we turn the other cheek, I don’t think Jesus meant that if Osama
bin Laden blows up New York, we should let him destroy Los Angeles as well.
Rather, I believe he meant that if you’re told that someone has said something
unpleasant about you, you should “give him the benefit of the doubt” and
transcend the provocation. Any other understanding would make a mockery of one
of the greatest moral teachers of all time.
Jesus hated the Romans for
their cruelty, and Luke (13:1-2) describes the brutality of the Roman proconsul
Pilate, which Jesus uses as an illustration. “Now there were some present at
that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with
Jesus answered, ‘Do you think that these Galileans were
worse sinners than other Galileans because they suffered this way?’” Indeed, if
we don’t begin to fight evil, more innocents will die.The writer is the
author of 25 books, most recently
Honoring the Child Spirit and Renewal: A Guide
to the Values-Filled Life. He is about to publish a book on the Jewish Jesus and
his fight against Rome. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.