Q. News reports this week* say that Israeli scientists are aiming to develop a gene-based weapon that only kills Arabs. Are you as shocked at this as I am?
A. When I read this report I looked at the date; I thought it might be 1st April, and that this was a joke. However, the date was not 1st April, and the plan is apparently serious.
If this is the case, it is a travesty of Jewish ethics. It is like Pharaoh targeting only the boy babies, or others turning their weapons only on Catholics, or communists or coloureds.
The ethical absurdity of such thinking is not made any better by the alternative thought of weapons being aimed indiscriminately at whoever happens to get in the way.
What we ought to be doing is beating swords into ploughshares and spears into pruning hooks (Isaiah 2:1-4; Micah 4:1-4) – in other words, redirecting scientific expertise to save life (all life) and not seeking to annihilate it.
* This article first appeared in 1998.