Moral Outrage: The Israeli War in Gaza

However valid the claims of oppression, Apartheid, etc., against the Palestinian people, Hamas’s October 7th attack, in which 1,163 Israelis were killed, many of whom were civilians, and 252 taken hostage, do constitute war crimes. As such, the Jus Ad Bellum criteriaInternational and Moral Laws–governing when States may resort to armed conflict in national defense have been satisfied. That being said, the crimes of October 7th do not provide Israel with blanket justification for its use of any and every means at its disposal even as a response to what it may interpret as an existential threat. There is a profound moral and legal distinction between national defense and national preservation.

Nor does International Humanitarian Law (IHL), Laws of Armed Conflict, and the International Law of Human Rights (ILHR), sanction acts of revenge or reprisals against civilians and civilian objects. These include “medical or religious personnel, units, transports, or material; prisoners of war; civilian persons or civilian objects; cultural property or places of worship; objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population.”

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Memorial Day by Camillo Mac Bica


Perhaps some may find what I will argue below as disrespectful, especially coming from a veteran who participated and lost comrades in the American War in Vietnam. But it must be said. How Memorial Day is currently observed does not, in my view, fulfill its intended purpose – that is, as a day of remembrance, reflection, and appreciation for the sacrifices of those who fought and died in this nation’s all too numerous wars.

With its focus on picnics, barbecues, and sales at the mall, Memorial Day has become primarily a celebration of the unofficial start of summer and a festival of consumerism and greed. Perhaps most regrettably, it is an expression of faux patriotism that further exploits the sacrifices of the slain and the grief of their family members and friends to encourage militarism and perpetuate a mythology that misrepresents as heroism and nobility the savagery and insanity of war, in many, if not most cases, unnecessary and immoral war. In reality, Memorial Day has significance and meaning primarily for those relatively few who experienced war themselves or suffered the loss of friends and family members.

If you wish someone a happy Memorial Day, you fail to understand its true meaning.

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Vietnam Veteran by Camillo Mac Bica

You were conscripted against your will or convinced by lies and deceit that the threat to all you held sacred was real, and grave, and imminent.

You believed that patriots must rally, sacrifice their life’s plans and dreams, enlist in the military or submit to the draft, to fight, and if necessary to die, in defense of the country you loved.

. . . before the final domino falls.

You were conditioned to forget all you had learned and held sacred, programmed a warrior, sent to a far off land you never heard of, to destroy and to kill in senseless battles, your life and well being threatened, your spirit a casualty, and many of your friends needlessly slaughtered.

. . . a war of "attrition," concerned only with body count, theirs versus yours determining the victor.

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‘Thank You for Saving My Son From All the Grief and Pain!’

I recently spoke at a conference sponsored by the National Association of Social Workers discussing the moral injury suffered by veterans returning from war. Other speakers included a clinician from the local Veterans Administration Medical Center, a woman Somali veteran and poet, and a panel composed of veterans from Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. The audience, primarily clinicians working in the field and veterans struggling to make sense of their experiences in war, were enthusiastic and appreciative of the information provided. As is customary at such events, upon the completion of the conference, attendees were asked to complete a feedback form evaluating and commenting upon content, relevance of the information presented, the strengths and weaknesses of the presenters, etc. I am pleased to say that for the most part, the feedback was positive and complimentary. One comment, in particular, I thought quite noteworthy.

"My son is seriously considering joining the Marine Corps, but as a result of hearing the experiences of the veterans both while in the military and afterward, after learning about the prevalence and seriousness of Moral Injury, we are now going to rethink this decision. Thank you for saving my son from all the grief and pain!"

What this attendee’s comment makes clear, I think, is that as parents and their offspring become educated about the realities and perhaps, the likely consequences of military service and war – Post Traumatic Stress (PTS),moral injury, etc. – information that is not readily available, perhaps intentionally so, from the recruiters who frequent our high schools, prospective enlistees and their families become better able to make informed choices.

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