Gary Epstein
And now for something completely different . . .

A Moment of Moral Clarity


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These are terrifying times for Jews.  The hatred has become palpable, even in places we thought hospitable.  The danger has become undeniable, even in places in which we were vouchsafed safety.  Former friends and allies, whose causes we championed out of shared purpose and human affinity, have abandoned us and supported our enemies.

It is a time of existential fear and profound danger and immeasurable disappointment.

And yet . . .

Times like this present a moment of moral clarity in which character and decency are tested and revealed to be present or absent.  Who has not read of the Shoah (using an alternative for the moment because the word “holocaust” has been so unspeakably stripped of meaning by such loathsome people as Rep. Ocasio-Cortez) and wondered how he or she would perform if confronted by a challenge of such magnitude?

Living in Israel and watching the coalescence of an entire society in support of the victims of October 7, helping the survivors, assisting in the war effort, working in the abandoned fields and orchards, adding prayers every day for the brave soldiers and the unfortunate hostages, joining together as a community, one knows that these are the people who would have moved heaven and earth to assist those threatened by the Nazis and their enablers throughout Europe.

Seeing the planeloads of volunteers taking time from work and family to come to Israel to assist displaced children, provide meals for exhausted fighters, bring needed supplies and moral support, work in the fields,and offer love and compassion to survivors and families of hostages–one knows that these are the people that would have marched on Washington to demand that the US Government take action to save their imperiled brethren.

Who does not wonder how he or she might have responded when confronted by danger to their co-religionists?  I am not talking about the moral midgets like Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Rashida Tlaib, or Erdogan, or Putin, or Ocasio-Cortez, or Cori Bush or Jamaal Bowman.  Of course we know how they would have responded.  With the hate, mendacity, and cruelty that is endemic to their shriveled souls.  I speak of people who profess to have consciences, to have liberal values, to stand on the side of morality.  People who do not present as anti-Semites.

As to those people, what does this moment of moral clarity reveal about them and how they would have responded?

For example, we know about Ben Hecht, a fabulously successful author and screenwriter who put everything on the line to protest American inaction in the years before and during the Holocaust.  Fraught times led to moral clarity.  Does anyone doubt for a second how Joe Lieberman would have responded? 

But we also get the illuminating if sad opportunity to see, with blinding clarity, those who, like Rabbi Stephen Wise, the Rabbi widely believed to have placed Reform Judaism at the forefront of the social justice movement, would have urged President Roosevelt that it was too early to intervene to help the European Jews.  Wise hated Ze’ev Jabotinsky.  Wise sought to curry favor with FDR and protect him against a backlash that might eventuate if he were to assist the Jews.  And so his memory is forever tarnished by the knowledge that he sought to retard any public acknowledgement of or response to the atrocities.

Where do we think Thomas Friedman and Peter Beinart would be placed on the moral clarity scale?  Thomas Friedman hates Benjamin Netanyahu and seeks to curry favor with liberal Democrats.  He seems willing to sacrifice the last drop of blood of every single Israeli to advance and test his laughably factitious political solutions.  How appropriate that he uses the platform of The New York Times to do so.  Books have been written about how the Times buried news of the Holocaust because its publishers and editors were sensitive about their own Jewish origins (even though those had been forcibly uprooted and discarded).  Just as Wise sought to protect FDR from criticism that he was favoring the Jews, Friedman champions positions popular with Democrats that put Israel and Jews in danger. This moment puts his perfidy in the spotlight.

What positions do we think Antony Blinken would have espoused when confronted with State Department hostility to Jewish causes? Does not his current vacillation and temporization indicate how he would have reacted when the blood of his people screamed to him from the killing fields? A moment of immoral clarity.

Where would Biden and Schumer have stood?  After years–no, decades–of proclaiming their unalterable, non-negotiable, irrevocable commitment to the Jewish State and its survival when they deemed it politically advantageous to do so, they abandoned their position as soon as they confronted the slightest headwind.  A moment of moral clarity that exposes an immorality at the very center of their souls.  Does anyone think for a second that these pusillanimous weaklings would have sacrificed a single vote to assist the imperiled Jews?

Just as Wise could wrap himself in Rabbinic garb and use the authority of the rabbinate to betray European Jews at the time of their greatest need, all the while worshiping at the altar of “social justice,” Beinart, speaking as a Modern Orthodox, observant Jew, is prepared to jettison Israel and Zionism because they are currently out of favor with his Upper West Side friends and benefactors.  If you want to maintain the high esteem of those who care about civil rights, abortion, GLBT-etc., you better stop supporting Israel, he suggests.  After all, he did, and he can barely calculate his speaking fees.

When the French gendarmes rounded up the Jews of Paris on July 16-17, 1942 and brought them to the Velodrome d’Hiver (Vel d’Hiv) for deportation to Drancy and Auschwitz, would Macron have tried to hide his neighbors, or point them out to the police, or see how he could get his hands on their silver, their artwork, and their apartments?  But for this moment of moral clarity, we might never know.  But now that we do have this moment of moral clarity–is there really any doubt?

Would Trudeau have allowed more than a trickle of Jewish refugees to enter Canada to escape Hitler’s terror?  But for this moment of clarity, we might never know.  But now that we have this moment of clarity–is there really any doubt?

When the survivors of the Shoah sought to enter Palestine while the British Mandate prevailed, would David Cameron have opposed Bevin and fought to have the greatest number admitted?  David Cameron has had his moment of moral clarity, and he has told us and history all that we ever need to know about his character.

If there is any enduring benefit to these troubling and troubled times, it is the public revelation for all to see, once and for all time, of the slimy underbelly to the proclaimed high-minded consciences of these hypocrites.

A few of my readers (and there are only a few) have told me that some of my writing leaves them depressed and in need of mint-chip ice cream.  So, acknowledging that these are indeed troubling and troubled times, let me end on a high note.

Victor Davis Hanson.  Douglas Murray.  Colonel Richard Kemp.  Sen. John Fetterman.  Sen. Tom Cotton.  Rep. Ritchie Torres.  Gov. Ron DeSantis.  Nikki Haley.  Sen. Tim Scott.  God bless them and all the others, Jewish and not Jewish, who have bravely told the truth notwithstanding the threats and intimidation of the menacing mob.

I like to think that I am a person of faith.  I believe that Judaism is an eternal religion.  I believe that Israel will not only endure, but prevail.  And I believe that all the people mentioned above will be judged, even if only by history, by the way they demonstrated their true natures at this moment of moral clarity.  I am grateful for the opportunity to have seen such heroism displayed by the people mentioned in the previous paragraph  (and so many others).  And I am even grateful for the light shone on the disappointing politicians and writers mentioned earlier and what the moment of moral clarity revealed about them.

As to the latter group:  Have you ever observed a cockroach when the light turns on?  Consider it analogous to their moment of moral clarity.  It is a good thing to recognize them for what they are.

About the Author
Gary Epstein is a retired teacher and lawyer residing in Modi'in, Israel. He was formerly the Head of the Global Corporate and Securities Department of Greenberg Traurig, a global law firm with an office in Tel Aviv, which he founded and of which he was the first Managing Partner. He and his wife Ahuva are blessed with18 grandchildren, ka"h, all of whom he believes are well above average. He currently does nothing. He believes he does it well.