Children and War Crimes

A pacifist view on international conflict

Pax Ahimsa Gethen

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A young child interacts with an M2 machine gun on display outdoors while another watches.
Two children with a machine gun. Public domain image.

Like many people around the world, I have read about the ongoing carnage in the Israel-Hamas war with horror and dismay. I am of half-Jewish ancestry, but I have no allegiance to Israel; I am a pacifist, and opposed to all use of firearms and all intentional killing of human beings.

Many who have condemned the actions of Hamas have said that this group has indiscriminately attacked and killed civilians, including children. Others have said the same about the Israeli forces.

I understand why people are especially angered when children are killed. Most people consider children under a certain age to be innocent, though this threshold that can vary based on the observer’s prejudices.

In terms of morality, we are all born as blank slates. We need to be taught about nationality, race, ethnicity, gender, and religion. We need to be taught that people should be treated differently based on their nationality, race, ethnicity, gender, and religion.

We need to be taught to hate.

Children who grow up to fight in armed forces—sometimes before they have fully matured themselves—don’t always have a choice in the matter. Wars are declared by leaders who are often far removed from the field of battle. Regardless of which…

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Pax Ahimsa Gethen

Queer agender trans male. Black vegan atheist, pacifist. Pronouns: they/them/their. funcrunch.org, patreon.com/funcrunch