Every innocent death is a tragedy.
But — all lives are not equal.
I am not speaking of moral implications. Not raising a religious question. This is a purely legal issue.
It's proof positive in our legal system. The punishment for taking certain lives, in certain ways, is very different from taking a life in another way.
There is a significant difference between taking a life in self-defense and involuntary manslaughter, voluntary manslaughter, murder or premeditated murder.
Of course, the end results are the same.
Someone killed someone else, so someone is now dead.
But the circumstances and the intention of the death make all the difference in both the crime and the punishment.
Knowing the differences is to understand how all lives are not equal.
Every state and every country has laws against murder.
Even Iran. Even North Korea. Each and every of the 50 United States has these laws and they are the foundation of our legal system.
John Stuart Mill — 19th century philosopher, politician, economist, and thinker would suggest that if there was a society without murder, there would be no need to promulgate a law forbidding murder.
The Bible’s Ten Commandments makes it clear that murder is wrong. The commandment "Thou Shalt Not Murder" is sixth in line.
The expression in biblical Hebrew is "Lo Tirzach."
It means "Do Not Murder."
The commandment is repeated verbatim in the Old Testament Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5.
The Hebrew is very clear.
In fact, it is written in the imperative form, "You Must Not!"
The Hebrew expression is clearly "murder" not kill.
Some poorly translated editions of the Bible mistranslate this line because of lack of basic understanding. But the word cannot be understood as kill.
Because there are many circumstances where killing happens, such as capital punishment and self-defense.
Sometimes people die.
Sometimes by accident.
Sometimes by negligence.
That is the why there is a difference between involuntary manslaughter and voluntary manslaughter. Involuntary manslaughter is when someone dies as a result of an illegal act in which there was no intention to kill.
A car makes an illegal turn, for example, and someone is killed.
Voluntary manslaughter is when that act was excessive — when that same car was travelling 100 miles per hour in a 55 miles per hour zone and someone was killed.
Day after since, from Oct. 7, I have been deluged by people pointing their fingers and raising their voices and claiming that "Israel is murdering more Palestinians than Hamas murdered Israelis."
They are wrong.
Israel is not murdering.
These people do not understand the legal and moral distinction between what Israel is doing and what Hamas did.
They are wrong not just legally, not just in terms of international law.
They are wrong in terms of the philosophy of law.
They are wrong in terms of the development of law.
They are wrong morally.
They are wrong religiously.
Hamas’s intent was to murder, rape and kidnap Jews — as many Jews as possible.
If there were foreign workers present, which they knew there would be, they were to murder, rape and kidnap them as well.
Theirs was a premediated act of murder.
A premeditated act repeated over and over and over again — over one thousand and four hundred times over again.
Murder that was planned in advance cannot be considered an act of self-defense.
Premeditated murder cannot be self-defense.
The purpose of the Hamas massacre was to indiscriminately target and kill and rape and burn and torture as many people as possible.
As many Jews as they possibly could.
Israel’s response was and is to target Hamas.
All of Hamas and only Hamas and Hamas affiliates, like Islamic Jihad which joined in the murderous massacre melee.
Hamas leadership, Hamas weapons depots, Hamas command and control centers, Hamas hideouts and of course, Hamas’ tunnels.
Israel goal is to destroy Hamas and to bring back the hostages.
From the international legal point of view, Israel is responding to an attack.
The Jewish State is committed to fighting within international law.
International law refers to "commensurate force" and "excessive" acts.
Commensurate is not a literary term.
It does not mean if they throw rocks, you can only throw rocks back.
It means that Israel must do as much as it can to prevent civilian casualties.
And it assumes that there will be civilian casualties.
Excessive force refers to making certain that the types of weapons used are appropriate to accomplish the mission.
Mainstream media has fed the obfuscation, contributed to the confusion and, in no small part, led the charge of the condemnation of Israel.
They are focusing on the numbers of deaths and casualties given to the international organizations like the International Red Cross and the United Nations by the Hamas Ministry of Health in Gaza. The source of these numbers is highly suspect and without a doubt, the numbers are highly exaggerated.
Focusing on Israel murdering innocent civilians has become the story.
Not the fact that the Red Cross has not been allowed to meet with hostages or to distinguish between that which is true and that which is pure propaganda.
So yes, people are still dying.
But no, Israel is not engaging in acts of murder.
The murderer is Hamas.
Micah Halpern is a political and foreign affairs commentator. He founded "The Micah Report" and hosts "Thinking Out Loud with Micah Halpern," a weekly TV program, and "My Chopp," a daily radio spot. Follow him on Twitter @MicahHalpern. Read Micah Halpern's Reports — More Here.
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