Give Peace a Chance?

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The New York Times recently released a video about a group of Jewish and Arab teenagers in Jerusalem who have come together to sing, rather than to fight. Aaron Shneyer, the organizer of this Arab/Jewish band, sombrely explains his assessment of the current situation: “Here’s everyone sharing the city [Jerusalem], but they can’t talk to the other side. They have fear, and they have distrust of the other side.” And then, enthusiastically smiling and laughing, he adds: “It’s pretty amazing. When you a put a bunch of teenagers in a room together with instruments, fear evaporates very quickly.”

The idea is simple enough. No one likes war. No one wants more people to die. So let’s just give each other the benefit of the doubt, put aside our differences, and stop killing one another.

Shneyer’s band is reminiscent of so many other attempts at organizing peaceful meetings between young Jews and Arabs. There have been countless such attempts at summer camps, concerts, and discussions—all hoping to finally bring an end to the violence in Israel—and all premised on John Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance”.

People like Shneyer appear to genuinely want peace, but despite all their best efforts never seem to achieve it. Why is that?

The answer lies in the fact that the idea that ‘no one likes war’ is actually false. It’s not true that everyone dislikes war and wants to see an end to the fighting. What about the people who see murder as a holy duty and value the afterlife above all else (see Alex Epstein’s Op-Ed “The Terrorists’ Motivation: Islam“)? Do those who shoot rockets into towns want to put aside their differences? Are suicide bombers that blow themselves up, along with buses full of people, really interested in living harmoniously with others? Do the political and spiritual leaders that encourage and organize these attacks want peace?

What pacifists don’t understand is that they’re inviting the wrong people to their bands, concerts, and summer camps, if their aim is to end the violence. It is the Islamic Jihadists that need convincing—not the people who come to their events and already want peace. Osama Bin Laden, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad do not want peace; deep down they want destruction. Is that any less true of their countless foot soldiers? Such men are driven by blind hatred fuelled by the Koran’s calls for domination—not by a vision of living harmoniously with their neighbours.

If Shneyer and others like him truly want peace, they will have to give up the premise that all human beings desire an end to war. They will have to acknowledge that certain people initiate bloodshed willingly, and must be stopped through force and intimidation. No reasonable person would deny that the police rightly use retaliatory force to stop bank robbers, murderers, and rapists—so why would it be any different with foreign military enemies? Just as a band of teenagers singing songs are no substitute for police action against domestic criminals, they are no substitute for military action against terrorists. We must be prepared to use force to stop Islamic Totalitarians, so that the peace lovers among us—on all sides—can get on with our lives. When others initiate force willingly and self-righteously, willing and self-righteous retaliatory force is the only way to achieve peace.

For an analysis on how to win the war against Islamic totalitarianism, I encourage you to read TU‘s article “Evaluating the War Effort” by Eric Peltier.

Posted by on October 21, 2008. Filed under Fall 2008, Foreign Policy. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry