Workshop Part 7

WORKSHOP VIDEO PART 7: Children and Sacrifice

In Video Part 7 Itamar talks about how his father urged him to fight with the Israeli army in Lebanon, as being safer than going to prison for refusing to fight. Bassam talks about how easy it would be to avenge his daughter’s death by killing Israelis. But his other children would then be fatherless with no-one to guide them.

They both talk about the horror of living with the stain of blood on their hands. Jessica Benjamin describes how Itamar is not able to dissociate killing from loving. Jessica introduces the notion of ‘transgression’ against national or revolutionary collective narratives, which honour and reward sacrificing oneself or ones children through killing or dying.

Learning Objectives:

  • To learn from our two protagonists that being sent to die, or to kill for your country does not benefit individual, family, or country.
  • To learn that as dead warrior-heroes, besides sacrificing themselves, they will have abandoned and sacrificed their children; and as surviving warrior-killers they become the traumatised victims of their governments’ warmongering.


  • The importance of governments to engage Ethical Mindsets and provide a secure base of hospitality and care, within a democratic and just culture which extends to their neighbours; all peoples survive and flourish together.
  • In the absence of a secure base the politics of fear dominates social and economic policies and encourages war-mongering.

Issues to Explore:

  • What process have Itamar and Bassam undergone to refuse to sacrifice themselves, or children? What is the meaning of sacrifice in this Video Part?
  • How do you understand Itamar’s father’s fear of what might happen to Itamar as a ‘refusenik’?
  • Why is Itamar unable to imagine caressing someone with his blood stained hands, and Bassam is not able to look at blood?
  • Explore the difference between sacrificing yourself by being killed, sacrificing yourself by killing someone else, and sacrificing the younger generation for your ideology.
  • When a father sends a child to military service, who or what is being sacrificed?
  • What does Jessica Benjamin mean by the statement, “…revolutionary movements sacrifice their children? Is this true for statutory armies?

Facilitating the Workshop:

  1. Think through the different concepts of sacrifice, starting with willingness to kill to prove loyalty (Abraham/Ibrahim).

    The group might be encouraged to look at the function of ‘sacrifice’ to prove loyalty or submission by looking at accounts of what is expected of Abraham and Isaac in the Torah, and Ibrahim and Ishmael in the Quran.

  1. Next consider sacrifice for ‘the greater good’ (Jesus Christ).

    The group could look at the story of Jesus Christ in the New Testament, in which the father was willing to kill and the son was willing to die to save the world. Encourage the group to look at this story in relation to mandatory conscription to save the country.

  1. Now think about the principle of non-violence, and refusal to fight, by looking at World War I when women handed out white feathers to non-combatants.
  1. Consider the idea of being a warrior as heroism and refusing to fight being cowardice.

    Suggest that the group look at the proposition from this viewpoint, and then reverse the statements.

  1. Where would you place sacrifice and refusal to sacrifice on The Ethical Mindset diagram?