Yehuda Halper
Professor of Jewish Philosophy at Bar Ilan University

Bibi is an honorable man (with apologies to Shakespeare)

WWI Monument at Dammtor in Hamburg, Germany. The text reads, 'Germany must live even if we must die.' (courtesy)

Ḥaverim, Israelis, countrymen, lend me your ears;
It is time to abandon our kidnapped citizens, not to praise them.
Here, under leave of Bibi and the rest–
For Bibi is an honorable man;
So are they all, all honorable men–
Come I to speak in lieu of rescue.
They were my friends, faithful and just to me:
But Bibi says they were ambitious;
And Bibi is an honorable man.
He hath brought many captives home to us
Some of them even on the leftmost wing.
When the poor captives have cried, Bibi hath danced:
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:
Yet Bibi says they are ambitious;
And Bibi is an honorable man.
You all did see that on the Sabbath night
We oft asked politely to redeem our friends,
Which he did oft refuse: was this ambition?
Yet Bibi says they are ambitious;
And, sure, he is an honorable man.
I speak not to disprove what Bibi spoke,
But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did love him once, not without cause:
What cause withholds him now? Redeem our men!
O judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason. Bear with me;
My heart is in Gaza with our captives,
And I must pause till it come back to me.

About the Author
Yehuda Halper is associate professor in the department of Jewish Philosophy at Bar Ilan University. He directs the Israel Science Foundation, Research Grant: "Samuel Ibn Tibbon's Explanation of Foreign Terms and the Foundations of Philosophy in Hebrew." His 2021 book, Jewish Socratic Questions in an Age without Plato won the Goldstein-Goren book award for best book in Jewish Thought 2019-2021.
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