Gershon Hepner

Never Again

“Never again!”  till recently had been regarded

by many Jews to be a quite archaic slogan,

bitter memories of the Shoah that inspired it discarded,

no longer causing every Jew to feel heartbroken…

until October seventh’s pogrom renewed repetition

of this petition. Though the pogrom proved that it had not succeeded,

it reminded us that failure of this slogan’s prohibition

implies its relevance for all the world has not receded.

Although memorializing this regrettably most maudlin mantra may be merely

an exercise in futility of pious hopes, the rationale of this quite hopeless mission

is not just to prevent disasters, but to take steps to ensure that, even when they’re nearly

totally disastrous, they can be slightly mitigated by more than a minimal remission.

In “It’s Not the ‘Occupation, ’Stupid: It’s a century of Palestinian Jew-hatred,” Commentary, December 2023, Sol Stern writes:

On the morning of October 7, waves of Hamas death squads entered Israel for the sole purpose of murdering defenseless Jews. The leaders of the Islamist terrorist movement were so confident they were on the right side of history that they boasted about their atrocities, released graphic videos of butchered Jewish mothers and babies, and then promised to do it again. Unfortunately, they weren’t entirely wrong in their assessment of the likely world reaction. At an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council two weeks after the massacre, Secretary General Antonio Guterres opined that the “attacks by Hamas did not happen in a vacuum. The Palestinian people have been subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation.” Guterres also repeated the 56-year-old UN mantra that “the only realistic foundation for a true peace and stability [is] a two-state solution.” Too bad the secretary general didn’t identify the party to the conflict that is doctrinally opposed (through its founding charter) to any statehood at all for the Jewish people.

It means little that Guterres later tried to walk his comments back somewhat. The widely circulated statement by the head of the world body represented a previously unimaginable propaganda victory for Hamas and the other Palestinian terror groups. And since the “occupation” is not likely to end soon, it surely encourages more Nazi-style death squads……

How dispiriting it is, then, to recall the many occasions over the past hundred years on which otherwise well-meaning British and Israeli officials fell into the trap of believing that this Islamist/Nazi ideological movement could be bribed into relative normalcy with political gifts and accommodations. Even the allegedly hardline Netanyahu governments of the past 15 years willfully ignored the lessons of history and complacently believed that Hamas had been deterred by bundles of cash.

The slogan “never again” has historically referred to the catastrophe in Europe where defenseless Jews were led to the slaughter. It must now take on a second meaning in the Jewish homeland. Self-defense is not the issue there. The people, the ordinary citizens of Israel, have shown over and over again that they can come together as one, rise to the occasion and defend their communities. It is rather that Israel’s governments and politicians must now pledge, “Never again.” Meaning, never again will we be lulled into complacency or forget the brutal lesson of the past 100 years. When avowed enemies steeped in Nazi and Islamic Jew-hatred announce they want to kill us, we should take them seriously and prepare to kill them first. Finally, never again will we believe that such enemies can be bribed into decent human behavior.

About the Author
Gershon Hepner is a poet who has written over 25,000 poems on subjects ranging from music to literature, politics to Torah. He grew up in England and moved to Los Angeles in 1976. Using his varied interests and experiences, he has authored dozens of papers in medical and academic journals, and authored "Legal Friction: Law, Narrative, and Identity Politics in Biblical Israel." He can be reached at
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