Elchanan Poupko

Gaza’s Eichmanns


îùôèå ùì äôåùò äðàöé àãåìó àééëîï ááéú äòí áéøåùìéí. áöéìåí (òåîã îéîéï)         äúåáò âãòåï äàåæðø ðåùà èéòåðéå áôðé äùåôèéí, îùîàì áúà äæëåëéú ðùîø ò"é         ùåèøéí äôåùò àãåìó àééëîï. îùîàìå ùì äúåáò, ñðéâåøå ùì àééëîï, òå"ã  ñøáöéåñ     øåáøè.
Eichman Trial, Jerusalem 1961 (public domain)

The atrocities Hamas inflicted upon Israel on October 7th have no parallel in modern history. Headlines about Jewish children who hid in the attic found to be burned alive, a man forced under gunpoint to ask neighbors to open their safe home to the terrorists that will kill them, to countless other crimes against humanity of the cruelest that can be, perpetrated by Gaza’s Hamas terrorists. This is why the growing calls inside Israel to judge these Hamas terrorists in the same glass box Eichmann was judged are all the more understandable. It is no coincidence that Yariv Mozer, who produces The Eichmann Tapes documentary, has already started working on a documentary telling the stories of the horrors of October 7. 


The similarities between Hamas’s willing executioners and Eichmann are not limited to the cruelty of their actions; it is also in their banality. Much has been said, rightfully so, about Gaza’s civilians in the past few days. Hearing this, I reflect back on all that I had learned about Eichmann’s life and his own family. Perhaps more terrifying than the acts of villains themselves is their ability to conduct themselves in civil society when they are not committing crimes against humanity. They have spouses, children, jobs, communities, hobbies, and other aspects of normal lives that just make you wonder more, how those experiences did not help curb their barbarism. Netflix’s “Ordinary Men, the Forgotten Holocaust” speaks about the men who left normal jobs and families to commit the greatest crime against humanity – the Holocaust. The tragedy of villainy is that having a loving family and community does not stop villains from committing the greatest atrocities possible. 


This must be taken into account when talking about Gaza’s civilian population. Of course, Israel must abide by international law, by high moral standards, and the IDF’s ethical code while conducting its operations against Hamas. Yet the many who have begun focusing all of their empathy and compassion on the civilians of Gaza as a moral umbrella of Gaza’s Eichmanns are sinning against history. Simply put, if your news organization was not dedicating long segments to the innocent civilians of Berlin suffering from Allied bombing in 1945, they should not be doing just that from the family members of Hamas’s terrorists. If you were not dedicating large segments to the plight of Osama Bin Laden or Abu Baken El Baghdadi’s wives and families, why do it now for Hamas’s Eichmanns?

Israel has been forced into war. Wars can be ugly and tangled. They have a great deal of mistakes that can take place while being carried out. This is why you only go to war when it is absolutely necessary. We must also remember the misdirected fury of the Iraq and Afghanistan war, which led America to conduct wars that brought too much suffering to too many innocent lives with no clear benefit or goal. This is not the case fighting against Hamas in Gaza. Most of the war criminals massacring Israelis on October 7th had never seen an Israeli in their life. They came into Israel and carried out the most cruel of attacks and against the most helpless of civilians. They made that choice. Thousands of others inside Gaza would have done the same had they just could. They are the product of an educational system dedicated to raising as many suicide killers as possible. 


Israel cannot afford to let this continue because there is no reason this will not repeat itself again. The approach of containing Hamas has failed in the most painful way possible. The fences, the walls, the wires, the cameras, the tanks have all failed. Israel cannot afford to live with a pressure cooker filled with wannabe Eichmanns so close to its citizens. I am not here to make any recommendations or decisions for Israeli security experts, but should those decide that going into Gaza is necessary, we must never forget what they are going after—the Eichmanns of our generation. They are going after those who burned children and grandmas alive, those who made sure they documented their crimes against humanity on camera and took pride in it, and a society that has been so deeply consumed with hate that they showed no revulsion at what was done by their fathers, husbands, and children. That is the story. 

Above all, when speaking to Israelis about their pain, we must understand that to them, these Hamas terrorists are second Eichmanns. They left their homes and families to go kill the most innocent and vulnerable, whom they had never met, out of pure hate and cruelty. No, the number of victims and the magnitude of horror does not come close to those killed by Eichmann in the Holocaust, but the cruelty of Hamas surely does match that of Eichmann and Nazi killers — as does their banality. The desire to judge Hamas’s killers in Eichmann’s glass box is legitimate, carrying the weight of children and communities whose lives were cut short by Hamas’s senseless cruelty of October 7th.

About the Author
Rabbi Elchanan Poupko is a New England based eleventh-generation rabbi, teacher, and author. He has written Sacred Days on the Jewish Holidays, Poupko on the Parsha, and hundreds of articles published in five languages. He is the president of EITAN--The American Israeli Jewish Network.
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