Guilt And Innocence In War

A website decided to publish the names, ID numbers and addresses of members of the Israel Defense Force who were involved in the 2008 invasion of Gaza. Apparently, someone in the IDF disagrees with his nation’s policy and gave this information to those seeking action against the invaders. According to the website: “the people listed have held positions of command at the time of the invasion,” and not only “did they perform on behalf of a murderous state mechanism, but actively encouraged other people to do so.” There was even a hint at doing something “physical” about anger toward these soldiers. I agree the invasion of Gaza was a criminal act which resulted in the death of innocent people. At the same time, there were members of Hamas who fired rockets aimed at killing innocent people, and one can only wonder why their names are not on a list. If we proceed by the thinking inherent in this website than every American soldier who served in Vietnam is a war criminal, every American, British, etc… who served in the war in Iraq is also a criminal. Unfortunately, if everyone is guilty then no one is guilty.

I was once told this story in 1970 by a German educator with whom I worked. He told me his father was a Socialist union leader in the 1920s who was arrested and beaten by the Gestapo. Manfred said when he was eleven a group of his friends got together and tried to figure out if they could help their fathers who had union backgrounds in Nazi Germany. The boys all marched down to the Hitler Youth office an volunteered to serve. They asked their fathers to tell the Gestapo that they had raised good Nazi children. Life is a bit more complicated than this website grasps.

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