Murdering Kids

Photograph Source: rajatonvimma /// VJ Group Random Doctors – CC BY 2.0

The intentional murder of children in war seems normalized among many people in the US,  Israel, and elsewhere. In their rage at decades of open-air imprisonment in the Gaza Strip, the murder of children on October 7, 2023 seems like fair retribution, which it isn’t. Innocent human life in war is now called collateral damage. The slippery slope leading to condoning the murder of innocent people in war is never acceptable. It’s no cliché that the first casualty of war is truth. The International Committee of the Red Cross compiled a list of the rules of war, the international agreements that ban killing children and other noncombatants indiscriminately during hostilities between nations.

The prime mover in codifying international rules against killing noncombatants is the result of the mass carnage of World War II, which witnessed masses of civilian deaths and was the moving force in encoding laws banning the indiscriminate murder of children, women, and other noncombatants during hostilities between nations. How many civilians died because of one deranged man and horrifically lethal weapons during World War II? Perhaps 50-55 million died. That toll of the innocent dead within the charnel house of humanity tells much about our species!

The newspaper of record, despite its incessant cheerleading for Israel in the current war between Israel and Hamas, graphically shows, by way of a chart, the 10,000 deaths of children and women so far in Gaza within the 15,000 total war dead there. How anyone with any sense of humanity and mercy, either in power, or an ordinary individual or group, can comprehend these numbers and not come away numb and ready for action is beyond the limits of comprehension?

“Have you no shame?” The latter is the memorable quote leveled against Senator Joseph McCarthy during the congressional witch hunts against communists and so-called fellow travelers during the phenomenon known as McCarthyism during the 1940s and 1950s in the US. That lack of shame led to masses of war dead during the Cold War. Nazi Germany, a center of education and culture, allowed a racist madman to lead a nation that lost its moral center during the largest killing spree in history, which includes the genocide of the Holocaust.

Do some in the international community and the sole superpower and its sycophants have no shame in the Israel/Hamas war knowing the massive number of deaths of the innocent in Gaza? Is there no one in power who can say our role as the sole superpower mandates something approaching justice in this debacle against what is right and humane? The laws against indiscriminate killing in war are readily visible on the wall.

Here is the late singer/songwriter/writer Leonard Cohen in the “Story of Isaac”:

You who build the altars now
To sacrifice these children
You must not do it anymore…

I look at my grandchildren gathered around the Thanksgiving table and wonder how all of this indiscriminate killing goes on?

Howard Lisnoff is a freelance writer. He is the author of Against the Wall: Memoir of a Vietnam-Era War Resister (2017).