“Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth…. ?”
“Yes. I do.”
These lines are being written as the calls for slaughtering the Jews have become a global rallying cry inspired and led by – Hamas. It is the latest iteration of an accelerating international discourse, decades in the making, in which genocidal language and atrocities against Jews have been more subtly and now openly debated, promoted and normalized.
But this particular note is being penned to the warriors against terrorism in all their variations, be they in Israel or in any other corner of this troubled planet – some of whom I have had the privilege of working with over these last decades. You are for me the embodiment of the US Marines motto of “Semper Fi” – which translates from the Latin as “forever loyal” or “forever faithful”.
I am writing to you not only on my own behalf. But on behalf of family members and friends I can no longer write to at all, because they were taken from us – from me – murdered over these last years by the same people who just days ago in southern Israel eviscerated our old, our young, our infants, our soldiers – our souls.
Some of you know each other but most of you do not. All of you have fought unwaveringly in a multitude of venues against this genre of genocidal evil recently inflicted by Hamas in southern Israel. An unadulterated evil that openly seeks to bring destruction upon humanity in general and to desecrate, defile and eliminate the Jewish people in particular.
All of you have been drops of light in the dark and very often lonely trenches that have become home to anyone who has made this fight their own. You encapsulate the dictum of a famous early medieval Jewish sage who once wrote that “The smallest spark of light can banish an abyss of darkness.”
Some of you – have fought from the floors of Congress or Parliaments. Others – from within law enforcement, the military, or the media. Others – have fought from the pulpits of churches, temples, or mosques. And I am painfully aware that some of you have paid a price for your integrity, suffering ignominy and other types of harm for simply being a friend to us – to me – to the very ancient and often beleaguered Jewish people. And some of you I know have faced potentially lethal consequences for our bond.
You have all stood with the very few against the hordes of the very many. But as I have always said – if there are only a few dozen of us against a few billion of them – I will take those odds .…
The storm currently engulfing us in Israel is indescribable in these few paragraphs. Israelis have grown accustomed to running from missiles and to the explosions that shake the ground under their feet. It is a nation that is no stranger to adversity, but this has been different.
My conversations with Israelis and other Jews in the immediate aftermath of the emergence of the scope of this slaughter were often distinguished by a strained silence in the first few minutes of our calls. Sometimes no words at all after a hello. Just the sounds of two Jews simply breathing – which as we have recently been reminded, is not a given.
Sometimes there was a grasping for words that were slightly disjointed or somehow just didn’t work or suffice. These are the sounds of our gasping for the air that has been sucked from our lungs by what we have seen. Not only over the last week but over the last 3000 years. Every image, sound, and connotation that constitutes the unique template of Jewish suffering over the millennia, was activated from within us in this single day of antisemitic slaughter. So we grasp — and we gasp.
So, if you will indulge me for just another minute, I want to simply restate, in the midst of this deluge of atrocity, what I think are a few basic truths that you all already know:
None of us can unsee what we have seen. We have been chosen as witnesses. And witnesses by definition, either testify against something – or for something. In our case – both.
Within Israel herself – there will be no need to testify against Hamas. They have proudly testified against themselves. Their trial is over. They have been found guilty. And the verdict will be unprecedented and utterly lethal. But their demise is expected to be at an unbearable price for us in Israel. Unbearable. You will be witnesses to that. And as the pulverization of Hamas proceeds it is likely to unleash a storm of Jew-hatred across the globe – you will be witnesses to that as well.
Whether as warriors or witnesses, we will have only two real choices: To peer deeply and honestly into the abyss of the evil that spawned this slaughter – or to look away; to act on what we have seen – or to look away; to stay the course in this forever war in the months, years, decades, or even centuries – or to look away.
Many years ago, a famous rabbi made a comment which has stuck with me throughout these years. I will not mention him by name because I don’t remember his exact words and I don’t want to place words in his mouth. In the aftermath of a terrible tragic death that shook people deeply, he spoke to his community and told them something along these lines. “When something like this happens, and you don’t change, you don’t act, you don’t become more, you become an accomplice to murder.”
Some of you may agree or disagree. But we are witnesses not by our own choice. And our obligation is to bear witness to our truth or to become an accomplice in burying it— which in turn will inevitably bury us.
The truth. The monstrosity that has come into our lives was built and enabled by an international community that has been a full accomplice in obfuscating the Hamas truth which Hamas has screamed from the rooftops since its founding – that every single Jew on the face of the in earth must perish in order for humanity to find redemption. The Non-Jews from about a dozen countries whom they murdered and kidnapped – were simply deemed to be Jews for their willingness to be our friends and live amongst us.
The truth. Hamas and all their fellow travelers, with guns or megaphones in uniforms or in suits, have clearly earned the international legal designation of hostes humani generis: the “common enemies of humankind”. As Hamas itself has stated – this will start with Jews, but it will not end with them.
The truth. This didn’t begin in Gaza and it will not end in Gaza. As the recent Hamas campaign for what amounts to a global pogrom has amply demonstrated, the Gazan border stretches across the globe. And the Israelis who will be fighting on that border are a first line of defense not only for Israel — but for every country in the democratic world.
The truth. The recent calculated eruption of principled cruelty is not about land or even terrorism. Terrorism is just the inevitable delivery system for annihilationist antisemitism — the very engine of Islamist ideology and brutality in all its variations and the most pervasive and lethal hatred in human history. And the large numbers of people across the world, many of whom live in proximity to you wherever you may be, unabashedly cheering the dismemberment of our children, or more subtly engaging in distortions or apologetics, share that very same ideology. They are part and parcel in every way, of everything that has happened to us over the last days and of everything that is likely to ensue in its aftermath.
So in the ugly court of public opinion that will almost inevitably turn against us in this fight, I state for the record: My name is Danny Eisen and I choose not to look away. I choose to tell the truth – the whole truth — to relentlessly testify against them – and for all of us – as long as I am granted life. And I remain – to all of you wherever you may be – and to the truth we have jointly championed – Semper Fi.