Holy War, Just War by Roberto De Mattei – The Ethics of War in Religion and What Must Be Understand for Peacekeeping in The Middle East
Holy War, – The history of the Middle East has shown that religion and war have had a fascinating relationship. This special geographic area has been the centre of three major religions, Christianity, Judaism and Islam. However, it has also been a war-torn place since antiquity. The international community has made great efforts to keep peace in the Middle East in light of the current crisis that involves war and terror.
The success rate of peacekeeping efforts in the Middle East has been low and there is still a lot of bloodshed. Understanding the ethics behind war in each religion would help us understand the Middle East’s events and shed light on the needs for peacekeeping improvements.
Holy War, – The first is the belief that war is rarely justified. The state has the responsibility to protect the innocent and condemns the taking human life. The state has the right to protect human life and prevent it from being wasted. Although war should be avoided in normal circumstances, the Christian faith allows for Just Wars when the conditions are right. There are times when force is necessary to protect human life and maintain morality.
The Just War principles were developed from ancient Greek and Roman philosophers Plato, Cicero and other classical Greek and Roman philosophers. Later Christian theologians such as Augustine and Thomas Aquinas added their own comments. The Just War Theory, in its essence, amends and even reconciles that assumption that it is wrong to take another person’s life.
A righteous Christian has the responsibility to recognize proper and non-proper situations. It is important to note that the Just War Theory does not provide a framework for individuals or groups to evaluate the justification for wars of absolute necessity. The Just War Theory, in its correct form, distinguishes between actions of individuals and groups.
For groups e.g. For groups such as. Individuals must use the Just War Theory in order to decide whether or not it is morally right to participate in war. However, the Just War Theory’s foundation is not in justifying but rather in preventing wars. It’s primary purpose is to motivate states to seek out alternative solutions to conflicts.
This is not the first time that humans have made mistakes in this area. People could be fooled into believing that merely claiming that a war meets the criteria of the Just War Theory will erase all wrongs associated with the war. A war that is justifiable does not necessarily make it a good thing. (BBC Religion & Ethics of War) A Just War can be justified because it is a lesser evil but it is still an evil (BBC Religion & Ethics of War). Regardless of whether war is justified, it always causes harm to those who are affected.
Judaism is not like Christianity in that it does not consider violence that brings about justice to be wrong. Certain types of war are ethically justifiable. Sometimes, it might even be morally acceptable for someone to die. The Old Testament shows God’s clear approval for war. He is identified as a warrior who leads the Jews into conflict and brings them victory. The Old Testament depicts the Jewish people as a group that longs for peace. “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning tools: no nation shall lift up sword against another nation, nor shall they learn war anymore.” (Isaiah 2, Ibid.). However, peace is a holy thing that comes directly from God.
It can only be achieved when there is harmony and moral justice among all peoples. This means that justice cannot be claimed until every member of the group is free of prejudice and inequality. Members of the group are responsible for ensuring that their fellow members get the fair treatment they deserve. They should also make every effort to pursue justice for their peers.
The wagers of war must attempt to make peace before declaring war. Each side should attempt to end all conflicts peacefully. It is illegal to take military action without trying to reach peace. ( Deuteronomy20:10) It is the duty of every military commander to ensure that civilians are not killed before the battle begins. To make the above rule more practical, however, amendments were made.
Non-combatants who knowingly stay in the area where battle is imminent and ignore the warnings given, are considered to have waived their safety and protection. However, even if this was the case, soldiers have to make an effort to distinguish active fighters from non-participants. Soldiers are not allowed to kill combatants during wartime. If they don’t have any reason to suspect a hiding enemy, soldiers should not enter civilian homes.
Self-defense is a special case in Judaism where violence is allowed. According to the Talmud, a Jew or non-Jew is allowed to kill “a pursuer” in order to save his own life. This rule has remarkable consequences, even though it may sound simple.
This rule extends beyond individual rights to whole groups of people, and even states. If a nation feels another nation is infringing on its territory or causing harm to its people, it has the right defeat them and ensure peace within their domain. However, this rule does not define what constitutes an infringement of its territory and leaves it to the leaders to make that complex decision.
Contrary to other religions, Islam has clear guidelines about when and how to conduct a war. The defense of oneself is allowed. Qur’an 22:39 ) in defending Islam, in protecting
Muslims should not oppress other states and protect the innocent from being oppressed. ( Qur’an 4:75). War should be conducted with discipline, without injury to non-combatants ( Qur’an 2:190), with minimal force, no anger, and with fair treatment of prisoners of war. Murdering innocent people leads to Hell punishment. ( Qur’an 5:32
Muslims should also remember that spreading Islam and defending Islam cannot be confused. One example of protecting Islam is when an Islamic state is being attacked. It does not mean to forcefully manipulate other religions in order to spread Islam. No nation has the right to conquer another country, no matter who initiated it. Islam forbids the act of seeking revenge upon the aggressor.
Soldiers must adhere to a code of conduct during battle. Islam prohibits soldiers from attacking wounded soldiers, unless they are still fighting. Like Judaism and Islam, combatants should only be targeted in battle. A hadith that shows the Prophet’s views on protecting non-combatants reveals the Prophet’s position. It is a hadith where Muhammad witnesses a woman being killed on the battlefield and condemns it.
The Qur’an also provides guidelines for how to treat prisoners of war. “When you meet in combat those who disbelieve, then smite their necks until they have overcome you, then make them prisoner and then either let them runsom themselves until the war ends or set them free as favors or let them ransom until it ends.” ( Qur’an47:4). In addition to the Qur’an military commanders are responsible for giving guidance to their soldiers.
Abu Bakr, the First Caliph gave a list to his army that he required them to follow when they were released into battle. These rules include: “Do not commit treachery, or deviate form the right path; neither murder a child, nor woman, nor an old man; bring no damage to the trees nor burn them with fire; you are likely be passed by people who have dedicated their lives to monastic service; leave them alone.” ( Qur’an 47,4)
Examples of noble conduct are also highlighted to encourage strict adherence to these rules. Saladin displayed ideal Muslim conduct in the capture of Jerusalem, 1187. Saladin insisted on vengeance, despite the fact that Christians had destroyed many places sacred to Islam. After the surrender of the city, his army was so disciplined that there were no violence or deaths. (Qur’an 47:4)
Militant Muslims argue that they have devoted their lives to justice and have been able to do so in the face of modern-day terrorism. To understand the causes of extremist activities like terrorism, it is necessary to look at religious fanaticism and the context in which they occur.
These people are so desperate that they will give up all logic and conflict resolutions. They believe that Muslims have suffered severe injustice. This is the primary reason for the religious fanatics’ fervor. They see Israel as a powerful enemy. They see a powerful enemy, such as Israel, as the cause of their prolonged suffering.
They feel that they are either ignored or inadequately helped by the international community. As conscious Muslims, they feel the obligation to bring justice for a group of severely abused people. As long as there is a tyrannical oppressor, peace will not be possible. However, fighting the oppressor face-to–face would result in certain death, as the general population lacks military resources to defeat the invaders.
Justice must be pursued and Islam requires that Muslims unite to bring justice to all Muslims. In desperate circumstances, any effort to undermine the oppressor can be considered a service to the greater cause. A suicide bomber is showing the utmost devotion to justice when he/she does everything he/she can personally to defeat the enemy, so that the victims could be free.
Gopin illustrates a meeting with a young man from Gaza, who addresses the concerns expressed by Muslims in the region. Gopin was the moderator during the meeting that involved the Gazan, two educated Israelis, several Arabs and several American Christians. (Gopin 18).
The main concern of the young man hailing from Gaza was the fact that the Gaza Strip is a source of grave injustice. Over a long period of time, many Palestinians have been killed or injured in Israel by Israeli Jews. “Why is everyone apologizing for the Jews when the Jews should be apologizing for us?”
This question is profound because of his bold questioning of the current situation in relation to inaction by the international community. He is basically saying, “What about us?” What about the pain we are experiencing now, and not fifty years ago? The Muslims are unlikely to admit to being hurt or need to be helped by another group when they get angry.
By religious standards, this would be humiliating. Additionally, Israel has a clear militarily superiority over the Palestinians in the conflict. This alone creates shame and inferiority among the Palestinians. Gopin observes that the young Gazan thought he was trying to convey the pain of his suffering to the group through the concentration of his metaphor. “He stole their place of pain and the sacred memory of family members who had been killed.” (Gopin 19).
Another problem is how to settle disputes. The tendency of Western nations to intervene in the Middle East’s affairs is to assume that they will be satisfied with peacemaking methods in the West. Western culture is awash with the use of words to make peace. Diplomats and peacemakers are skilled at negotiating to resolve conflict.
In peace negotiations between Western countries, it is essential to be able to speak up. Common error is to assume that other cultures are willing to “come to a table” and talk up. It has been difficult for nations involved in a dispute to take this crucial first step and discuss their differences and agree on future arrangements. Many Middle Eastern countries are frustrated by the lack of trust and suspicion of deceit.
This hinders any efforts to reach a peaceful settlement. (New 165) They often choose to not express their true feelings because it is too difficult or embarrassing. However, fighting is more honorable and virile than trying to express one’s feelings of grief or inferiority in words.
It is not surprising that the mismatch in peacemaking expectations has led to numerous failures to reach an agreement during negotiations. It is obvious that if one side expects words while the other wants deeds or one expects rational negotiation while the other expects an apology, we are in danger of conflict perpetuation and even escalation through the intervention of verbally obsessed peacemakers, who don’t understand the problem. (Gopin
145) Worse, if the parties are forced to agree to terms, the one side will expect them to follow the rules while the other will ignore what is expected. Conflicts that arise after the negotiation process, which they will inevitably do as the true issue is not resolved, would build upon past experiences.
We will use an example from a peace negotiation at the international level to illustrate how we observe striking differences in the way each interacts with and addresses the other. Honor and dignity are essential necessities for Arabs during meetings.
They show respect for the Jews by using conciliatory gestures and language that is both implied and explicit, and they expect the same from them in return. On the other hand, the Jews see honoring Arabs as less important or something that is only useful as the culmination a relationship. Many Jewish members miss the cues. The Jews believe it is necessary that the Arabs recognize the Jewish life-preservation and security issues.
The Arabs must also recognize Israel’s right to exist. This is a fundamental requirement for any meeting. The Israelis take offense at the fact that this assumption is not shared. The Arabs should acknowledge Israel’s right to exist, even if it means sacrificing their land.
This is part of the endgame after Israel shows goodwill and has made genuine efforts to make peace. The Jews are missing the important verbal and nonverbal gestures of honor and dignity, while the Arabs fail to recognize the vital existential needs of Jews. This initial mismatch in expectations will, of course, play a significant role in preventing conflict resolutions from happening.
Incompatibilities can cause further conflict during meetings. While Israelis love to interact with and debate with Arabs and Palestinians (Gopin 141), the latter would prefer that they be able to see the Israelis directly and not have to use third-party moderators at international gatherings.
This would seem to be proof that Muslims will never accept the existence of Jews in the Middle East, even if they are peacemakers or rejectionist Jews. Without a commitment to their lives, their faith and their existence, it would not be useful for Jews to have anything to talk about.
However, the lessons we can draw from these failures would be beneficial to future peacemaking efforts. It is obvious that dialogue and words are not the only way to reconciliation. The West must teach their delegates how to listen to all cues from Muslims. They should also be able to comprehend the power and depth of the Muslim World’s human symbolism and recognize the opportunities for improving relations between Middle East nations.
We need to be open to all possible avenues of reconciliation, both for ourselves and our allies. If gestures of reconciliation are not made or received in a timely manner, grievances will strike on both sides. We must also train our diplomats and peacemakers to recognize other gestures of reconciliation that are innate to the Muslim World. The dialogue is just one way to achieve human reconciliation. Those who engage in verbal and aggressive group interactions are more likely to be able to reconcile.
Holy War, – It favors those with higher education and frustrates those who use gestures, symbols and emotions to reconcile. (Gopin 142) Words have their limits. The actions and deeds of the Muslim World are more important than words and symbols.
- Publisher : Chronicles Press
- Language : English only
- Paperback : 92 pages only
- ISBN-10 : 0972061657
- ISBN-13 : 978-0972061650
- Weight : 4.8 ounces only
- Dimensions : 6 x 0.19 x 9 inches