No moral equivalency between Israel and Hamas?

Alex Berenson is a remarkable writer and a keen observer of American culture who played an important role in helping so many people through the Covid-19 debacle. I was one of them. While I admire his work, respect his writing ability and have followed with interest his Covid-19 saga, I sometime find things he writes to be worth criticizing. Among those was his blog post on November 9, 2023. While I agree with him that often there is much about history that too many historians either have no clue about or purposely choose to ignore or to lie about, I think he needs to rethink his commentary about recent events in Israel and his analysis of the Hamas attack and Israeli retaliation.

His post displayed a cartoon that he borrowed from Twitter which attempted “to show the difference between the two sides. “But of course that’s not the real difference,” Berenson wrote. “That’s not the choice Israel faces. Both sides are killing, and the Israeli army and air force have already killed a lot more Palestinians than Hamas has killed Israelis. The choice is whether to kill for the sake of killing or for the sake of saving.

At that point, Berensen breaks away to write about “Erik Larsen’s history of the Blitz—the year of German air attacks on London and the United Kingdom. Larsen captures the horror of the attacks, which came night after night and killed about 40,000 English civilians before sputtering out as Germany turned its attention to the Soviet campaign.” Berenson correctly noted about Larsen’s book: “Here’s what he forgets to mention: in February 1945, Britain and the United States probably killed almost that many Germans in two nights in Dresden.” Thought the number of people who died overnight and into the following day in the Dresden fire bombings was many, many more than died during the entire Blitz, his point remains valid.

Both sides killed indiscriminately.

But then he wrote: “Yet all that killing did not make us evil—or the Nazis good. The Nazi regime needed to be eradicated at any cost, and the Germans needed to learn the cost of supporting a genocidal madman.”

Berenson should know better!

“At any cost”? The Nazis were evil, but so were the Soviets! Yet, “at any cost,” Stalin was hailed as the Simón Bolívar of Europe. “At any cost” half of Europe was condemned to the Soviet prison of nations. At “any cost” took the lives of thousands of Americans and British soldiers because of the folly of FDR’s policy of “Unconditional Surrender” which dragged the war out for months (years?) longer than necessary.

It’s an odd sense of proportion to write “at any cost” and ignore the folly such a policy created. Only some Germans were Nazis and only some of them supported Hitler, and yet all of them (men, women, children) deserved to be burned to death. As Captain Philip S. Mumford asked: “What is the difference between throwing 500 babies into a fire and throwing fire from aeroplanes on 500 babies?”Apparently, Berenson has gleaned some moral distinction that eludes me.

If all Germans believed in Nazism, why was there a Gestapo? Why did the SS and SA exist? Those are questions Berenson seems not to have considered. According to his “justice,” all “Germans needed to learn the cost of supporting a genocidal madman.”

That kind of “justice” is something I can’t understand!

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