When We Show Mercy to Monsters, It’s the Victims Who Pay

Jan. 27 2020

The occasion today of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, together with recent discussions about the killing of the Iranian terror-master Qassem Suleimani, prompts Marc LiVecche to reflect on whether, and to what extent, it is appropriate for a Christian like himself to rejoice in the death of the wicked. In thinking about this question, LiVecche suggests that Christians can learn something from Jewish tradition:

In Hebrew there is a curse—the curse of curses: yimaḥ sh’mo. . . It translates, “May his name be obliterated.” It is the awful antithesis of the joyous invocation offered for a righteous person: “May his memory be for a blessing!” Instead, yimaḥ sh’mo . . . asks that the rasha—the evil one in view—be forgotten, blotted from the book of life, erased forever. It is used more generically throughout the Hebrew scriptures to signify the wicked, but as a curse it is used for the Jewish people’s worst enemies. In the context of this week, we think of Adolf Hitler, Reinhard Heydrich, Adolf Eichmann, Heinrich Himmler, Rudolf Höss, and near-countless goose-stepping others.

It’s not clear to me how much such a curse has a rhetorically hyperbolic dimension. Certainly, it’s not a literal intention to forget the names of the wicked—if it were so, the Deuteronomic “Obliterate the memory of Amalek!” [which is both preceded and followed by an injunction to remember Amalek] would be rather counterproductive. As would, of course, such important mnemonic prompts as Holocaust Remembrance Day. Reminders like these are essential antidotes to sentimental drivel about human benevolence.

But the curse carries an educative value of its own. There is surely something amiss, for example, when we know the identity of so many of the killers, but too often cannot recall the names of their victims. The same error is at play in any of the too-innumerable contemporary crimes: the mass shootings, the serial killers, the malevolence of despots and potentates.

And while there is a soft part of me that is unsure whether I have so much hate in me to demand of God that He never forgive the truly monstrous, I am aware that a part of this is because I do not fully understand the demands of justice, love, and holiness. Mercy always costs somebody something. . . . When we show mercy to monsters, very often it’s the victims who pay.

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Read more at Providence

More about: Amalek, Christianity, Holocaust, Judaism, Morality

How European Fecklessness Encourages the Islamic Republic’s Assassination Campaign

In September, Cypriot police narrowly foiled a plot by an Iranian agent to murder five Jewish businessman. This was but one of roughly a dozen similar operations that Tehran has conducted in Europe since 2015—on both Israeli or Jewish and American targets—which have left three dead. Matthew Karnitschnig traces the use of assassination as a strategic tool to the very beginning of the Islamic Republic, and explains its appeal:

In the West, assassination remains a last resort (think Osama bin Laden); in authoritarian states, it’s the first (who can forget the 2017 assassination by nerve agent of Kim Jong-nam, the playboy half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, upon his arrival in Kuala Lumpur?). For rogue states, even if the murder plots are thwarted, the regimes still win by instilling fear in their enemies’ hearts and minds. That helps explain the recent frequency. Over the course of a few months last year, Iran undertook a flurry of attacks from Latin America to Africa.

Whether such operations succeed or not, the countries behind them can be sure of one thing: they won’t be made to pay for trying. Over the years, the Russian and Iranian regimes have eliminated countless dissidents, traitors, and assorted other enemies (real and perceived) on the streets of Paris, Berlin, and even Washington, often in broad daylight. Others have been quietly abducted and sent home, where they faced sham trials and were then hanged for treason.

While there’s no shortage of criticism in the West in the wake of these crimes, there are rarely real consequences. That’s especially true in Europe, where leaders have looked the other way in the face of a variety of abuses in the hopes of reviving a deal to rein in Tehran’s nuclear-weapons program and renewing business ties.

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Read more at Politico

More about: Europe, Iran, Israeli Security, Terrorism