The photo of someone in a cafe wearing a t-shirt with the slogan “Deployed – Destroyed – Enjoyed – Gaza 2014″ on the back was posted by Associated Press. Some have suggested that the wearer is an IDF reservist, although he does look a bit old to have served in the current campaign.
Whoever it is and whatever his position, this is certainly not the Jewish approach to war.
King Solomon famously wrote in Proverbs (24:17): “Do not rejoice when your enemies fall”. The Talmud (Sanhedrin 39b) states that when the Egyptians were drowning in the sea, the ministering angels wanted to sing a song of rejoicing, but God rebuked them: “The work of my hands is being drowned in the sea, and you want to sing songs?” For this reason, during the festival of Pesach, we reduce the Hallel prayer for all but the first day(s) because our escape from and victory over Egypt came at a huge human cost.
Making excuses for this behaviour – that people need to “let off steam” after a difficult war or that Palestinians also celebrate “successful” strikes against Israel – is totally wrong. There are no excuses. There is no justification. Our morality is not relative. When we see disgusting attitudes like this, especially from our own, we are obliged to call them out.
We have fought a war against an enemy who shamelessly seeks our annihilation. We didn’t invite this war any more than we invited the missile attacks on civilians and the calls for jihad. It must always be with a heavy heart that we go to war, because human lives will be lost, and especially so when fighting an enemy like Hamas, as civilian casualties are inevitable (and indeed something they want).
A war like this evokes many emotions for Israel and its supporters. There is fear of the magnitude of threat, and despair at the seeming impossibility of peace. Gratitude for the protection offered by Iron Dome, and to God, for those who choose to recognize His hand. Pride at the unity of the Jewish people while under attack, and relief as the threat finally abates. But there is never, never a place for enjoyment.