Clifford Rieders

Deal with the Devil?

In a Faustian deal with the devil, a mortal trades something of importance, usually the soul, for a worldly benefit such as money, power, or sex. At the end of the game of life, the recipient of worldly pleasures trades in the human soul.

The “deal with the devil” finds its origin in Christian mythology, where the devil temps mankind into giving up eternal bliss in return for temporary gain.

Judaism sees Satan as the accuser, the prosecutor; an angel whose job it is to challenge the goodness of God. Job, in spite of the horrors which befall him in life, refused to denounce God.

The current Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, has been offered a deal with the devil. There are those in the West, and in his own government, who urge him to make the deal for temporary gain over long term security. “Bring the hostages home” is the rallying cry of parents and relatives understandably crushed by the fact that their loved ones are being held captive by a terrorist organization in Gaza, Hamas. They are not the only ones being held captive. Much of the population of Gaza is also help captive by Hamas, utilized not only as human shields but also as barter for the terrorist regime.

Prime Minister Netanyahu knows that if he gives in to pressure, and makes a deal with the devil in order to get some hostages returned, he will strengthen Hamas and he will embolden terrorism. On the other hand, if the Prime Minister does not make a deal, he will eventually crush Hamas, lose the captive hostages, and incur the wrath of a greatly morally weakened West. What is a leader to do in that situation?

Israel, since it gave Gaza its independence, has been offered the Faustian bargain many times previously. In the past, Israel refrained from destroying Hamas, in the hope that peace would break out. Many Israeli leaders, no doubt including Benjamin Netanyahu, believe that Hamas had become civilized with the passage of time.  However, during that 20+ years, the terrorists in Gaza have prepared for a war unlike any other, building an underground infrastructure financed by terrorist states and the West alike, that would inflict cruelty we are still only learning about.

Historically, the Western civilized world has answered Faust by rejecting the bargain. There was no deal to be made with Germany or Japan in World War II.  Victory was the only alternative, notwithstanding who would die or how many people would be dislocated. Civilian populations were targeted in both the aggressor nations, without the slightest question. Japanese Americans, American citizens, were placed in special camps through the course of the war and ultimately, President Truman exercised the nuclear option to bring Hirohito to his knees.

The metaphor of the canary in the coal mine, is legitimate in the case of Israel’s continued existence in the Middle East. The miners knew they were in trouble when the canaries would keel over from dangerous gases produced by mining activity.  The West already understands, already having its own experience with terrorists, that Israel is the canary in the coal mine. The tentacles of terrorism reach far beneath the underground of Gaza. They finance activities in Europe, the United States, and many other Arab regimes. Fundamentalist Islam has killed other Muslims in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and a host of other nations.

Israel possesses yet another ingredient that makes it a target of Jihadist plans for extermination. It has the audacity to be a robust, argumentative, and free democracy, providing rights for progressives of all types in a neighborhood not used to or tolerant of human differences and distinctions. The Nova Festival, Tel Aviv, and other examples of Western tolerance are always a major target of the wrath of organizations like Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iranian proxies throughout the world.

When the West develops the courage, or is simply beaten up enough to do something about it, funding for terrorism which flows unrepentantly from Iran may be curtailed. Iran is greatly enabled by American equivocation on sanctions and, of course, the instability seeking activities of regimes in Russia and China.

As my friend Avi Lipkin wrote in one of his earlier books, Islam waged an 800 year war against Europe, invading Eastern Europe from Turkey and Western Europe during its invasion from North Africa. The West ultimately “won” and maintained its own independent Christian identity until Europe lost its moral focus in recent generations.

Like Europe, the United States must also define and redefine itself and determine just how important the value of democracy, freedom, and diversity really is. Is there a place in that world for a culture free of Jihad and accepting of Jews? That is a question to be answered in the future.

About the Author
Cliff Rieders is a Board Certified Trial Advocate in Williamsport, is Past President of the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association and a past member of the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority.
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