By Mr. Xenophon Hasapis*
Since October 7, we've been witnessing the war between Israel and Hamas live, minute by minute, on our screens. Unfortunately, it's not a film. The massacres, bombings, and extermination of civilians, along with the hostages, and the bombing of hospitals, ambulances, refugee camps, and the Greek Orthodox church, are harsh realities. It seems that, in the name of eliminating terrorism, anything goes. The term 'collateral damage' has entered our vocabulary. With this elegant expression, we are invited not to forget that, under the vast sky, every human being is inherently as valuable as any other, and democracy functions optimally when it upholds this principle.
The practice of 'an eye for an eye', established among Jews since the Old Testament, has proved ineffective...Tragically, today (Israel) is operating in a manner reminiscent of Hitler's atrocities.
Yet, the political leaders who dominate the international public sphere express themselves differently. They condemn the terrorist massacre by Hamas, as you and I, dear reader, have done, but they appear tolerant of every crime committed since the day after October 7. Everything is permitted to eliminate terrorism. Did any of them question whether or not this is possible?
To find the answer, we must look to history. Which terrorist organizations have the superpowers of the time managed to wipe out in a sweeping campaign? The Taliban, ISIS, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, the Shining Path, the Farc, perhaps? I wonder why such an approach does not succeed. Hate breeds hate. More hate brings more hate. Terrorism thrives under conditions of absolute misery. The more a population is deprived of the very necessities of life—shelter, water, food, protection against the elements, medical care, and a chance to get an education and work—the easier the task of demonizing opponents becomes. A young man who feels he has nothing to lose but his chains if he does not get on a boat to cross the Mediterranean is easily caught in the net of terrorism.
The practice of 'an eye for an eye', established among Jews since the Old Testament, has proved ineffective. Modern Israel ought to know better, since despite the Nazi holocaust of the Jews, the Jewish people have endured and recovered. Tragically, today it is operating in a manner reminiscent of Hitler's atrocities. It is also naive to attempt to influence international public opinion (we even see giant billboards on the Nicosia-Lemesos motorway) to give its unqualified tolerance and support to the continued extermination of innocent people, which has been going on for weeks. The mass demonstrations in the world's major capitals show that the average person feels more compassion than their leaders. One wonders if great leaders still have a healthy human heart. Thinking citizens know well by now that in politics they are interested in their re-election, they care about pleasing the "planetary leaders" who will protect them, they also want to feed their defense industry (the more wars, the more weapons produced), and their construction industry (the more infrastructure we raze, the bigger the rebuilding contracts), they limit themselves to making statements without impact, etc. The bright exceptions to this downward spiral are the UN Secretary-General (25/10) and the Pope (5/11), who dared to speak objectively. "In the name of the Lord, I beg you, stop, cease-fire," said the pontiff.
Somewhere, don't we have to draw a line? A line that will allow the world to believe again that its leaders care practically about people, regardless of race, origin, and religion? Since "an eye for an eye" leads to dead ends, what more beneficial path than the path of love? On the 23rd of this month, the President of the United States and his staff will gather for Thanksgiving. It is time for them to consider to whom they will give thanks and how far they have deviated from his teachings. Our Christ is the greatest revolutionary of all time. Who, without resorting to hateful terrorism, changed the world? The baton of loving our neighbor is now in the hands of the leaders of both Israel and the great powers.
*Mr. Xenophon Hasapis is a consultant and trainer of business executives and youth.
[This opinion piece was translated from its Greek original and, though it may convey the author's message, it may not convey it in the same exact words as the Greek original]