Gary Epstein
And now for something completely different . . .

Cui bono?


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Upon arrival at a crime scene, the first question asked by the seasoned investigator is “Cui bono?” Or, in the unlikely event that the detective is not a Latin speaker, “Who benefits?” Not infrequently, the answer will identify the guilty party.

Any analysis of the Gaza situation should proceed from this initial inquiry: who benefits?

Who benefits from civilian casualties in Gaza? Not Israel. Certainly, the extraordinary steps that the Israeli government and military have taken to minimize civilian casualties in an urban war result in part from their desire to remain the most humane army in the world, even at a cost in casualties to their own forces. But, even more so, each civilian casualty is a public relations liability for Israel, with an enormous reputational cost. It necessarily follows that Israel would never intentionally harm foreign aid workers.

So who benefits? Hamas.  It is a cruel irony that Hamas, having started the war by violating a ceasefire on a Jewish holiday with a brutal massacre, now does everything in its power to increase, and even inflate, the number of Arab casualties, especially among children and women. The only way they can survive the war is to ensure that the greatest number of their people do not. And its tactics lead, unfortunately but inevitably, to the type of disaster embodied in the recent accidental targeting of aid workers. The guilty party remains Hamas.

Who benefits from Hamas returning to Shifa Hospital in force, provoking an inevitable Israeli incursion? Certainly not Israel, which must add medical equipment and personnel to its strike force in order to try to protect the innocent. Who benefits? Hamas, which will have its “journalists” from Al-Jazeera in place to record the battle. The world will remember the site of the battle, the images of Israeli soldiers firing in and around the hospital grounds, but will choose to forget who dictated the location. So Israel is tarred with the brush of war crimes that properly belongs to Hamas.

Who benefits from violent demonstrations against the government and the conduct of the war? One may not question the heartfelt agony of those who have been affected in the most intimate and painful way by the war and the manner in which it has proceeded. But one may assuredly ask, who benefits from the scenes of internal turmoil? Certainly not Israel.

Who benefits when Jews throughout the world stand silent in their communities while criminals take over the streets and spread their lies? Who benefits when the police do nothing to stop gangs of hoodlums entering stores and defacing Israeli products or removing them from the shelves? Certainly not Israel. Do we not have voices, and amplifying equipment, and the ability to make our own signs and billboards identifying, once and for all, for the television cameras, which side espouses genocide, and which side supports rapists and kidnappers, and which side uses children as human shields, and which side hides in tunnels like rats while it promotes the devastation of its own community?  If Hamas can benefit from public action, so too can Israel.

Who benefits from continued funding of UNRWA? Has it not been amply demonstrated that UNRWA is an obstacle to peace, lending material support to terrorists and teaching children to hate? And the hardest one of all to express without appearing cruel and callous, who benefits from continued provision of free food, water, and electricity to Gaza without any assurance that it will not be misappropriated by Hamas to support its war effort? Who benefits from continued flow of funds to Hamas after it has been amply demonstrated that all the money provided in good faith by the EU and in bad faith by Iran was diverted from humanitarian assistance to the construction of attack tunnels?

The war will end when Hamas is defeated, or when Hamas frees the prisoners and surrenders unconditionally. If it ends in any other way, the answer to the question “Cui bono?” will be one that will resonate with shame and humiliation, and continued decades of death and destruction, for democracies and Western civilization.

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.