Creeped out: That's the best way I can describe my response upon stumbling into an anti-Israel protest one recent Sunday in Manhattan. Ranting picketers carried signs that made light of the Holocaust, children dressed up as Hamas militants dotted the crowd. I wanted to have a more profound response, a deeper analysis, but "creeped out" is how I felt walking away from it. Days later, a colleague, military historian Victor Davis Hanson, expressed a similar reaction to accounts of way too many similar scenes: We're living in "creepy times," he wrote on National Review's Web site.
It is indeed creepy that any protester, even understanding his anger and hurt, would minimize the Holocaust, and that the leader of Iran would hold a conference dedicated to denying it. It's creepy that Hamas would use a U.N. school for weapons storage and a shooting base, during the continuing battle with Israel for the Gaza Strip. It's creepy that the United Nations equates Israeli nationalism -- a constitutional republic's struggle for its right to exist unmolested -- with racism. It's creepy that few people can see the difference between Israel, which goes out of its way to avoid killing innocents, and Hamas, which displays a bloodlust for Jewish civilians.
But nothing is black and white, not even in the fight between Israel and Hamas. In a place many consider the holiest of lands, perpetual violence and hostility boil constantly. Humans hate easily; it's forgiveness (often understandably) that they have a tough time with. Out of those poisonous seeds grows vengeance. And while I don't hesitate to see a bad and good side politically and culturally in this issue, it remains true that Palestinian children are still children who deserve a shot at a decent life, even when -- driven by vengeance -- their guardians exploit them.