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A Perspective on Gaza's Innocents: Is Saving Future Lives Worth Killing Thousands of Innocents?

A Perspective on Gaza's Innocents: Is Saving Future Lives Worth Killing Thousands of Innocents?

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There’s a popular paradox that has resurfaced periodically in the years since 1941, when it was first posed by Roger Sherman Hoar in his 1941 book, I Killed Hitler. It goes like this: If you could go back in time, would you kill baby Hitler?

In a 2015 poll conducted by New York Times Magazine, 30% of those asked said no, 28% were unsure, and 42% said yes. 42%, the largest share of those asked, stated they would kill a child to save millions of others. They affirmed that one evil life was worth extinguishing in order to potentially save millions of others.

It’s a parabola, of course, but an interesting one. Whether those asked would actually be able to pull the trigger, wield the knife, or strangle the child that would grow up to become the commander of an industrial mass murder machine, is a different question.

No Palestinian group has the military capabilities to kill and destroy in the same way that Israel does. Palestine does not have 2000-pound bombs. It does not have tanks that run over civilians and white phosphorus bombs that poison the environment.

But what if you would also have to kill another five in addition to baby Hitler? Would that still be morally defensible? Most would argue yes. Six lives for millions. A worthy sacrifice, if it promises to save millions of oppressed others: Jews, Sinti and Romnja, homosexuals, political dissidents, civilians.

But what if you had to kill ten innocents? One hundred? One thousand? Twenty nine thousand, seven hundred and fifty eight? When do the costs outweigh the benefits? And at what point do you reconsider?

Does the method of killing make a difference? Would it be, for instance, more acceptable to kill people peacefully in their sleep versus starving them?

Hind Rajab, a six-year-old girl, was in the car in the Tel-al Hawa area of Gaza City with her uncle, aunt, and three of her cousins when an Israeli tank opened fire on them. Her aunt, uncle, and two cousins were likely killed on the spot. 15-year-old Layan and Hind were the only survivors. Layan called Hind’s mother. In a recording, you can hear Layan say, “They are shooting at us. The tank is next to us.” After that, gunshots. Screams. The line goes dead.

Hind calls the Red Crescent and pleads to be rescued. The Red Crescent coordinates with the Israeli army. An ambulance with two paramedics is dispatched to the scene, but all contact is lost.

Only 12 days later, the Israeli tanks withdrew. Hind’s decomposing body is found amidst those of her relatives. The two paramedics were killed just meters from the car. Their ambulance bears marks of being run over by an Israeli tank.

Was Hind, a child barely of school age, trapped in a car for hours with her dead family, in the dark, pleading for help, a baby Hitler?

Those in opposition to a ceasefire are arguing that potential future Israeli lives lost weigh more than any number of actual Palestinian lives taken. That potential future Israeli pain outweighs the ongoing pain of Palestinians with crushed limbs and amputated legs, blinded, orphaned, terrorized. 

When the West argues that a ceasefire will only serve to encourage Hamas to kill more Israelis in the future, it is essentially suggesting that Hind, a child barely of school age, is a ‘baby Hitler’; one infant worth killing in order to save thousands, millions more.

To proponents of this argument, the number of innocent Palestinians killed today will never outweigh future Israeli deaths. Potential pain eclipses current, vicious, live-streamed pain. If the line is not drawn at over 20,000 killed, there is no line to draw.

I correct the numbers in this article as it goes through editing. Now, there are over 30,000 dead. By the time you read this, it will be more. Still, there is no red line. To quote Aaron Bushnell, shortly before his self-immolation, “This is what our ruling class has decided will be normal.”

Those in opposition to a ceasefire are arguing that potential future Israeli lives lost weigh more than any number of actual Palestinian lives taken. That potential future Israeli pain outweighs the ongoing pain of Palestinians with crushed limbs and amputated legs, blinded, orphaned, terrorized. That Hamas must be eradicated, and no sacrifice is too large for that goal. All resistance, from peaceful to armed, from academic to artistic, must be crushed no matter the human cost – including, of course, the Israeli hostages killed by their own government’s bombs and snipers.

Simply put, the West believes it is killing baby Hitler in Gaza. Any argument against a ceasefire is misguided and ignorant at best and genocidally-disingenuous at worst.

But there is another, more fatal flaw in this argument. The entire premise of the question lacks any ground. Palestinians are not Hitler, no matter what Netanyahu and his cronies might like the world to believe. Palestine is not a nation of terrorists, prepared to massacre Jews when the possibility is presented to them, simply for the reason that they are Jews. Hamas is not ISIS.

No Palestinian group could ever create the suffering for the Israeli population that Israel has inflicted on the Palestinians. The Palestinian Authority can’t arbitrarily detain, harass, assault, and murder Israelis. There are no checkpoints in Tel Aviv where 18-year-old Palestinian soldiers wield all the power.

Additionally, the argument lacks any rooting in reality. No Palestinian group has the military capabilities to kill and destroy in the same way that Israel does. Palestine does not have 2000-pound bombs or missiles that function like meat slicers. It does not have tanks that run over civilians and white phosphorus bombs that poison the environment.

No Palestinian group could ever create the suffering for the Israeli population that Israel has inflicted on the Palestinians. Hamas does not have the power to strip Israelis of their access to water, food, and fuel. The Palestinian Authority can’t arbitrarily detain, harass, assault, and murder Israelis. There are no checkpoints in Tel Aviv where 18-year-old Palestinian soldiers wield all the power and limit people’s movements.

Palestinians are human, thoroughly dehumanized by Western discourse and media, subjected to 75 years of violent dispossession, occupation, apartheid, and the denial of their most basic human rights. To insist otherwise is to delegitimize their suffering and their struggle for freedom.

For how much longer will the West continue to fund this genocide? For how much longer will people fall for the trap of Western exceptionalism? How much longer will they believe that supporting an occupying power somehow turns them into resistance to evil, as opposed to the proponent of it?


* The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Raseef22

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