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Gary Epstein
And now for something completely different . . .

Lost–Irredeemably Lost in Linguistic Laziness

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Not martyrs–murderers. Not protesters–rioters. Not militants–terrorists. Not freedom fighters–rapists. Not marchers–looters, vandals, and thugs.

I am, as the man in the movie said, mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any more.

After a lifetime of politesse and self-control, instilled in me by my parents, teachers, and profession, I have had it. I have been pushed over the edge of propriety by an event and by a politician. So please excuse any intemperate language or aggressive attitudes.

And, of all things and of all people to push me over the edge, the event was the blessed return from cruel captivity of a beautiful 9-year old girl and the politician was the Irish Prime Minister, previously unknown to me (and, I believe, pretty much everyone else outside Ireland).

As has been widely reported and appropriately condemned, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, commenting on the release of Emily Hand, a dual citizen of Israel and Ireland, who had been kidnapped by Hamas and released in exchange for violent terrorists, said, “This is a day of enormous joy and relief for Emily Hand and her family. An innocent child who was lost has now been found and returned . . .”

“Lost”? “Found and returned”?

This pusillanimous, timid, craven, lily-livered, gutless, cowering, chicken-hearted excuse for a human being gives even double talking, mealy-mouthed politicians a bad name.                                                                                                                                                                        “Lost”? “Found and returned”? 

You contemptible moron! The stuff one wipes off boots after visiting a farm has more character, integrity, and sensitivity than you. And it at least helps fertilize the soil. You just take up space and mouth platitudes.

Fearful that you might offend the keffiyeh-wearing Hamas sympathizers who have taken over your country, and the minds and hearts of woke university Presidents, not to mention the minds and hearts (to the extent that any such things can be said to remain) of the chanting, blood-smearing, window-breaking, knuckle-dragging, semi-literate gangs of marauding antisemites, you strip your words of any compassion, any humanity, any truth. I can barely imagine what mental contortions you must have engaged in to arrive at “lost, found, and returned” to describe the horrific experience of that poor girl.

Emily Hand was not “lost.” She did not wander away from her home. This child was snatched from her bed by a soulless, subhuman, drug-addled gang of sociopaths who had been purposely transformed into brutal beasts by rigorous and evil training. She was held captive as if she had done something wrong, separated from her family, denied visits from the Red Cross, and used as a pawn in a disgusting game of leverage. She was only released because her degenerate captors were under intense pressure from the Israel Defense Forces and, even then, only in exchange for incarcerated murderous compatriots of the execrable kidnappers, whom the Israelis grudgingly used as ransom.

Kidnapped. Not lost. Ransomed. Not found and returned.

I am not the first to notice the moral and intellectual bankruptcy demonstrated by the language of Varadkar. Many commentators, from President Herzog to a legion of folks who, for some reason, hang around on what used to be Twitter, have called him out on his use of “diplomatic” language. And no one will ever mistake Leo Varadker for anything other than the obsequious moron he is and has always been.

In response to the outrage, the Irish Taoiseach explained, “The vast majority of people will know what I meant.” Why not just say what you meant, you reprehensible idiot? Well, as his subordinate explained, Varadker’s heart is in the right place, because he “has been unambiguous in condemning the violence of Hamas and also calling for restraint from Israeli military forces.”

Exactly. When you do violence to the language and common sense by showing such restraint that you are incapable of condemning terrorism, rape, brutality, bestiality, and violence, without at the same time balancing and seeming to equate it with the punitive and deterrent response from a scrupulously moral military force, you reveal yourself to be a moral cipher, an empty shell, a windbag, a scumsucking, gutless linguistic temporizer.

In short, a politician. The very worst kind of politician. The sort of official who has had all integrity leached out of his soul by unthinking, unreasoning deference to the loudest and most obnoxious in their constituencies.

So why my outrage? Because he is just the tip of the iceberg, the latest, most egregious, example of how the intentional and malicious corruption of language has become a weapon in the terrorist toolkit. Hanan Ashrawi, who is, apparently, still alive to spout her lies, refers to descriptions of rapes and beheadings as “nonsense.”  Larry Tribe, who used to be a respected Professor at Harvard Law School before he became a stooge for leftist drivel, suggested (without a single shred of evidentiary support) that the events of October 7 were staged by the Israelis. The LA Times suggested that an elderly supporter of Israel who was bashed in the face with a megaphone by a Hamas supporter died “after he fell backward and hit his head on the ground.” They left out the part about the bashing.

Jabril Rajoub, the Secretary of Fatah’s Central Committee, in the course of waxing ecstatic about the glorious accomplishments on October 7,  said that Hamas’ attack was part of a “defensive war.” Oh, yes, that is the “moderate” Fatah with which Israel may engage in constructive dialogue towards a lasting peace. “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I want it to mean–neither more nor less.” When the Biden government and the press use the word “moderate” to describe Fatah, they turn us all into Humpty Dumpties.

Language matters. A terrorist is a terrorist, and not a freedom fighter. And if you call them freedom fighters, you have granted them a dignity and a victory they do not deserve. As I have tried to demonstrate with my own use of language in this essay, they deserve only to be reviled, scorned and rejected. Call them by their names. One may be civil, dignified, and gracious without being a damn liar. Hamas is a terrorist organization. Its billionaire leaders are villains, scoundrels, and thieves. Its members are savage and brutal child abusers, murderers, and rapists. 

These abhorrent Hamas rapists and murderers, hopped up on Captagon, are not activists. They are morally bankrupt, low-intellect, drug-addled, thugs, who have been conditioned since birth to hate and kill. They are not, in any proper understanding of the term, soldiers or freedom fighters. Soldiers do not kidnap infants. They do not rape, torture, and desecrate the bodies of children. That is what criminals do. And terrorists. And sociopaths. And lowlife reprobates who would be shunned (and worse) in any normal penitentiary by any self-respecting inmates.  And when the New York Times and the Washington Post and BBC use euphemisms to soften the harshness of reality they do a disservice to their readers and enlist themselves on the side of the devil. 

So let me for once, cognizant of the limits that Times of Israel places on the language of its contributors, speak plainly, without euphemisms. And if even my language seems too mild, it is because of those limits and policies, and I ask you to substitute in your mind, the harshest, filthiest, most degrading, demeaning, disgusting, vitriolic, rancorous, bitter, venomous, unkind, splenetic, scathing, mean words you know. (Yes, even those words.) 

They won’t even begin to plumb the depths of depravity of the monsters Hamas has created, or the absolute contempt and opprobrium any civilized person should feel for them and they most richly deserve.  No one should apologize for calling someone an animal, if that person behaves like an animal.  Or worse.

Consider: They woke up in the morning, got dressed, said their prayers, and proceeded to murder, proudly and joyfully, innocent civilians.  They raped women and desecrated their bodies.  They burned people alive. And they proudly recorded their deeds for posterity, because that was their mission, that was their goal, that had become their raison-d’etre. Take a look at the pictures of the toddlers and kids in the posters that protesters tear down.  Do you know why they tear them down?  Because they don’t want to face the brutal reality of the cause they support.  The pictures on the posters shame the political position of the protesters.  The pictures are the truth.  Forced to look at them, the Hamas supporter must imagine taking that child and killing her in cold blood, must imagine taking a screaming child from the lifeless arms of a just-murdered parent.  Better just to remove the image from sight and mind.

The truth is hard.  But we should not allow people to distort it with euphemisms and lies.

So, Harvard, Columbia, and NYU students and Cornell Professors, if you applaud the actions of Hamas, or rationalize them, you are no better than they are.  No–you are worse, because you were not turned into savages by your education and your religious training.  You came by your views in a free society.  And NY Times, Washington Post, BBC, etc., when you write the story in a way that glorifies the terrorists and casts aspersions on the victim fighting back, you have lost your souls and shame your profession.

“Choose life,” the Good Book says.  In supporting Hamas against Israel, you choose death over life, evil over good.  The rioting lawbreakers in Western countries on student visas do not deserve to be in societies grounded in decency and morality. There is only one country in the Middle East where Arabs enjoy the freedoms we treasure.  Indeed, only one place “between the river and the sea” where Arabs are free.  It is called Israel.  That you do not understand that, or are unwilling to accept it, or willfully misrepresent it, should make you abhorrent to anyone who is civilized and honest.

No, it is not permissible for Hamas to subjugate millions of people in Gaza in order to create a mechanism for killing Jews.  It is wrong.  It is evil.  It is terrorism. 

Hamas is responsible for every single death and injury that has occurred since October 7. 

Every.  Single.  One.  On both sides.

 And no language describing them or their actions could be too unpleasant, or impolite, or base.  And any softening of language to describe them or their actions is complicity. 

Speaking the truth is liberating. Calling out evil is just. And reality is hard.

So try this on for size: We shouldn’t negotiate with terrorists or kidnappers.  Our message should be simple: Release the hostages.  Surrender unconditionally.  Or die.  As you so richly deserve.

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.