Yahya Sinwar’s “brutal calculation”

Yahya Sinwar’s “brutal calculation” June 13, 2024

When a group gathered in New York City this week to honor those slain by Hamas at the Nova Music Festival on October 7, anti-Israel protesters descended on the event. One of them shouted, “I wish Hitler was still here, he would’ve wiped all you out.”

Imagine a scenario where terrorists massacre any other group in the world and the world sides with the terrorists. But that is what is happening to the Jews:

  • There has been a “steep” jump in antisemitic attacks following October 7.
  • Online antisemitism has increased five-fold since the invasion.
  • Antisemitism has “skyrocketed” in the US.
  • Antisemitic incidents on college campuses have increased 700 percent.
  • Antisemitic attacks in the UK are at an all-time high.

Much of this is fueled by outrage over Palestinian casualties resulting from the IDF’s attempts to eradicate Hamas in Gaza to keep the terrorists from staging another attack on Israeli civilians, something the group promises to do if it can.

But here’s what those who hate Israel don’t understand: Hamas’s leader wants Palestinians to die.

“No blood, no news”

Yahya Sinwar, Hamas’s military leader in Gaza, told Hamas officials recently, “We have the Israelis right where we want them.” He calls civilian deaths “necessary sacrifices.” He has said of such deaths, “We make the headlines only with blood,” adding, “No blood, no news.”

Intelligence analysts believe Sinwar is primarily motivated by a desire to take revenge on Israel and to weaken it. The well-being of the Palestinian people or the establishment of a Palestinian state is secondary.

In his strategy, Palestinian casualties will mobilize the global community against Israel, pressuring them to stop the war without eradicating Hamas. According to the Wall Street Journal, “his ultimate goal appears to be to win a permanent cease-fire that allows Hamas to declare a historic victory by outlasting Israel and claim leadership of the Palestinian national cause.” The article calls this strategy Sinwar’s “brutal calculation.”

I would never suggest that Israel, a nation and army comprised of fallible humans, has made no mistakes in this war. And I would hasten to add that every Palestinian casualty resulting from this conflict is a tragedy to God and should be to us.

Nonetheless, Jewish people the world over are facing this tragic and contradictory scenario:

  • Israel is doing all it can to minimize Palestinian casualties, both because it recognizes the calculus we’re discussing today and because its worldview emphasizes the sanctity of every life.
  • Yahya Sinwar is doing all he can to maximize such casualties for his personal advancement and that of Hamas.
  • The world blames the former for the sins of the latter.

“A murderer from the beginning”

Now let’s take this discussion up a spiritual level.

According to Jesus, Satan “comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10). Consequently, when we see stealing and killing and destroying, we know that our spiritual enemy is at work.

Here’s a subtle and often-overlooked part of his nefarious strategy: leading us to blame ourselves for his work in our lives and world.

In this sense, Yahya Sinwar is doing what those who serve Satan’s purposes have done for millennia. Just as Satan has convinced Sinwar that the deaths of innocent Palestinians serve the cause of Palestine, so he convinced the religious authorities of Jesus’ day that executing him was in the best interest of the Jewish nation they purportedly served (John 11:50–52). He likewise convinced the Judaizers who opposed the conversion of Gentiles that they were protecting the purity of God’s people (cf. Acts 15:1–5).

How is Satan similarly seeking to deceive Christians today?

He tempts us to sin and then wants us to blame ourselves for being tempted. He temps us to pride so that if we resist him, we’ll be proud of our humility. He brings persecution against us, hoping that we will then consider ourselves morally superior to those who persecute us rather than loving and praying for them as Jesus taught us (Matthew 5:44–47).

I have found this strategy to be especially problematic: Satan seeks to convince Christians living in our transactional, materialistic culture that our worth to God is based on our works for him. In this way, we focus not on the Source of our worth and works but on the works themselves. Then, when we inevitably fail, we focus on our failures rather than our Lord and distance ourselves even further from his empowering love and transforming grace.

My father’s birthday

Today would have been my father’s one-hundredth birthday. He died at the age of fifty-five when I was a senior in college. Like most sons, I wanted most to please him. His opinion of me mattered on a more powerful and visceral level than that of any other.

Over the years, however, I have begun to learn that I already have the blessing that matters even more—that of my Father. Henri Nouwen wrote in Adam: God’s Beloved:

Each one of us is unique, known by name, and loved by the One who fashioned us.

He added:

Unfortunately, there is a very loud, consistent, and powerful message coming to us from our world that leads us to believe that we must prove our belovedness by how we look, what we have, and what we can accomplish. We become preoccupied with “making it” in this life, and we are very slow to grasp the liberating truth of our origins and our finality. We need to hear the message announced and see the message embodied, over and over again. Only then do we find the courage to claim it and live from it.

Will you find such “courage” today?

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*Denison Forum does not necessarily endorse the views expressed in these stories.

Quote for the day:

“Sin dwells in hell, and holiness in heaven. Remember that every temptation is from the devil, to make you like himself.” —Richard Baxter

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