Despite the horrifying pictures and videos, it is difficult to imagine the vast devastation which struck Japan a few days ago. But, if we step back a minute we’ll see something else which is quite incredible. Americans are moved by the suffering of the Japanese, donating money for the victims, sending volunteers to help and praying for them. This would have been almost impossible to imagine, say, sixty-seven years ago.
There are still American soldiers alive who were captured by the Japanese in World War II. It may not be politically correct to remember this while Japan deals with its current tragedy, but the Japanese behaved towards their prisoners in unimaginably barbaric ways. The war wasn’t limited to soldiers. Women and children were prepared to attack Americans who fell into their hands. Rather than ignoring past history, we should celebrate the friendship between citizens of the two nations because it provides a rare ray of hope for civilization.
Over the same weekend as the tsunami struck, terrorists invaded a home in Israel and carried out nightmarishly barbaric murders. Their ability to intentionally and ruthlessly cut the throat of an infant along with slaying her brothers and parents signals total commitment to an ideological view. That view is at odds not only with Israel but with the entire civilized world. Like Nazism, a view with which Japan allied itself in the mid-twentieth century, it cannot coexist with decency and reverence for all human life.
Can we imagine a world sixty-seven years from now in which all people will live peaceably with those currently committed to violent, hate-filled extremist beliefs held by many in the Moslem world today? If Japan is a model, the answer is yes. However, that vision can only come to fruition if those beliefs are utterly obliterated. Just as in the past, one side has to win for both sides to eventually be winners. If the side of evil wins, both sides, and all humanity loses.
Our war against Japan and Germany in World War II does not precisely resemble our war against Islamic terror. There is no equivalent to an emperor or a Fuhrer in the Moslem world today. There has been no clear-cut declaration of war. Nonetheless, it is not a question of whether people will die as these two competing views of civilization clash. Many died before the Japanese relinquished their ideology. In today’s struggle, many have already died and unless the Messiah arrives immediately, more will die. Good people cannot provide instant peace. We can, however, prolong the battle and increase the death toll by pandering and accommodating to an evil doctrine instead of defeating it.
May God avenge the blood of Udi, Ruth, Yoav, Elad and Hadas Fogel.