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"When Might Makes Right"

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Author 1927
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On July 31st, in a speech given in Jerusalem and published in Ha'aretz, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert tried to justify Israel's bombing of Kfar Kana, and the loss of dozens of children's lives in Lebanon, saying that those who make the 2500 plus rockets that are savagely tearing into major cities throughout Israel are using that small village, outside Beirut, as their base of operations. One would like to believe that Olmert's assertion is the truth, but so far it is just that--an assertion.

Further, Israel's prime minister goes so far as to call Hezbollah, "agents of the devil," which cannot help but remind one of our President and his "axis of evil." Olmert claims that the children of Kana would be sleeping quietly in their beds today were it not for Hezbollah. Once again, the argument that the carnage, and destruction, is in self-defense is made. Yet again, we are reminded of the six million Jews wiped out during the Holocaust. I can see my Uncle Joe, a gentle, sensitive man who had a row of numbers inscribed on his left arm from a camp in Poland, a small man with a huge heart who looked like he'd be hard pressed to kill a bee.

While I sat on his knee, a child of nine, this timid soul talked about the camps, the Warsaw ghetto, how his wife, and children all perished, and how he had to shoot his way to safety. I can only wonder now what my Uncle Joe would have to say about Olmert's use of an inconceivable sacrifice as a rationale for wreaking havoc, and attempting to wipe out another sovereign state. And, so, I am haunted by a memory that doesn't belong to me, that of a fragile, humble human being who was forced to fire his way to freedom in order to escape murder, the ultimate act of barbarism. I now ask, on Joe's behalf, can one ever justify barbarism, under any flag, or for any reason?

I know my uncle would feel as strongly about survival of the state of Israel, and the Jewish people,as I do, but I also know that he'd be as nauseated, and repulsed, by the image of a sanguine, tranquil corpse of a year old infant being carried out of the wreckage of Kana, cradled in her father's arms. That breath can be taken away from us so unceremoniously, and with such egregious dignity so that even the concept of infancy itself buckles, and bends, under the weight, as if to make a mockery of war itself.

"You are already familiar with the murderous taste of this terror. And you will taste it more," the Israeli prime minister warns his people. To think of Tel Aviv, or Haifa being demolished is horrific to me, but the thought of Beirut being destroyed is no less terrible nor can the taste of blood ever be confused with that of wine

In the final analysis, there is no justification for the taking of innocent life, and there can be no circumstance in which genocide can be seen as righteous. There are no holy men left after holy war. Regardless of whether it's Hezbollah. or Israel, when might becomes indistinguishable from right, the result can only be chaos, and we must all come to taste the kind of terror that belongs in hell, and hell only.
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Widely published, poet, playwright, essayist, and screenwriter; member of PEN American Center, and PEN USA. Jayne Lyn Stahl is a Huffington Post blogger.

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