What's your reaction to this?

I am walking with my twelve year old and ten year old sons. Along comes a boy of similar age, but it becomes clear very quickly that, unlike my boys, he wants to pick a fight. There's something about my sons that bothers this stranger. Maybe it's their gaiety, or maybe it's their seriousness, or maybe it's just the fact that they dare to walk on the same sidewalk as him. Whatever it is, the disgust is apparent in this strange boy's eyes.

Before I know it, the bully begins his attack. At first it is only light slaps, but before long, it turns into merciless punches against my hapless boys.

And I?

Though I can easily subdue this boy, I am standing at the sidelines watching. I wait a full eight long minutes to stage any counterattack, during which time, his punches join with ferocious kicks, relentlessly attacking my boys. Ugly bruises are forming all over their bodies. And along with the physical scars and pain is the terrible emotional trauma.

So why do I stand at the sidelines waiting?

I have many reasons.

Firstly, if I became involved, this would not be a fair fight. After all, I am much stronger and bigger than this bully. And as it is, he is one person fighting against two of them. Secondly, I am hoping that this strange boy will come to his own realization that fighting is not a solution, and learn to live in peace with his neighbors. Thirdly, I know that this boy comes from a broken and abusive home, and therefore cannot be blamed for his frustrations. Fourthly, perhaps my sons are not wholly innocent, and in some way provoked his anger. And finally, I do not want any passersby to accuse me, an adult, of beating up a mere child.

So, instead, I wait patiently at the sidelines, while my children endure blows, pain, and humiliation.

Finally, when the fight has escalated and my children are lying on the ground, pounded by his merciless blows, I decide it is time to get involved. His opposition is formidable, but being physically bigger, I am defeating him. His eyes are still filled with rage and hate, but my physical prowess prevents him from doing too much to further harm my children.

After a couple of minutes, I decide to take a break. Has our fight ended? Not at all. The bully obviously intends to continue hurting my boys. But he has requested a break to enable him to do his daily duty. Every day he delivers a package of food to an elderly woman. "Give me twenty minutes and I'll be back," he growls at my still quivering children.

Of course, he will return reenergized, with stronger fists and refreshed vigor to continue his onslaught. But how can I let the elderly woman down...?

More than the blows and fear that I have allowed this bully to instil in my children's psyches and on their bodies, my actions (or more correctly, inactions), my rationalizing and legitimizing the "rights" of this bully has taught them a powerful lesson—about my warped value system.

I read reports about Israel agreeing to a daily three-hour cease fire, so that humanitarian aid can reach the Palestinian people. (At the heels of this news, the UN officials were already condemning Israel for not doing enough, blaming them for not providing sufficient time or a safe enough environment for the Palestinians, who were holed up in their homes, afraid to step outside to the shooting.)

Yesterday, (actually for the last eight years) I read about how the people of Sderot were pounded with rockets which wreaked terror and havoc on their communities, while the government of Israel stood at the sidelines. Now these rocket attacks have escalated to include cities all along Israel's Southern border.

And as I read these reports and so many others, I think about how the Jewish people are a nation full of kindness and full of compassion, so wary of war and violence.

But as I read, I also understood that there comes a time when misplaced kindness is the greatest cruelty—both for the actual damage that you are causing, as well as for the unfair message that you are sending.

Israel is at war. The enemy wishes to destroy her. Yet never in history has a nation that was fighting a war against its enemy behaved like Israel.

When the Americans bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of WWII, 220,000, women and children were wiped out. Half of them were fortunate to be incinerated immediately; the rest died a horrible and painful death over days and weeks. Yet, neither U.S. President Harry S. Truman or any other American leader have ever expressed any feelings of guilt or remorse for the loss of innocent lives. The American leaders understood then, and understand up to this day, that it was a necessary action, to spare the lives of many of their soldiers—which was, and needs to be, their foremost concern.

When the Allies fought the Germans in World War Two, cities with thousands of civilians were bombed relentlessly. The most conservative estimates put the German civilian casualty toll at over 1,000,000. It was obvious to all that Germany was the enemy—not only Hitler, or the Nazis, or the German soldiers, but the entire nation, who democratically elected these beasts and placed them in power.

In the Palestinian parliamentary elections in January 2006, 57% of the Arabs in P.A. areas put Hamas in power as they took 76 of the 132 seats in the chamber, thus agreeing with the stated mandate of the Hamas Charter legitimizing every possible means of terror to wipe the State of Israel off the face of this Earth.

A recent Palestinian Authority poll carried out by Ramallah-based pollster Khalil Shikaki shows that 84 percent of PA Arabs approved of the massacre at Merkaz HaRav Yeshiva in Jerusalem on March 6th 2008, where eight students were brutally murdered.

The inevitable loss of innocent lives is always tragic. But when you are fighting a war, with your soldiers and citizens facing deadly dangers, your first and foremost concern is for your people. Not the enemy who have sworn to do everything in their means to eradicate you.

Is there a country in the world that willingly chooses to protect the lives of its enemy's citizens, while risking the lives of its own soldiers or citizens?

Yes. A country that is a victim to misplaced kindness—and thus knowingly perpetuates the worst possible cruelty to those it is meant to protect.