Obama, Eichmann and The Banality of Evil

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” –Martin Luther King, Jr.

Two years ago Adelle Biton was hit by a rock when the family car was attacked outside of Ariel in Samaria by Arab terrorists. They had hurled rocks at the vehicle causing it to veer off the road and crash headfirst into a truck.  Adelle was left her with severe neurological damage.

Adelle and her Mother
Adelle and her Mother

Adelle, at the age of four, has died from complications from her wounds.

Her mother said “She is between heaven and Earth right now.”

Jews have been murdered in the recent past, in too many places to name, but they include Toulouse, Paris, and Copenhagen. Our cemeteries have been desecrated. Swastikas are appearing all over the world including the USA and Canada. Organizations around the world are attempting to destroy Israel with the lies and deceits of divestment. Our Jewish people are under physical attack from Islamists. This includes the attacks during last summer’s Operation Protective Edge.

There have been so many attacks that I no longer believe it is correct to call these murderers “terrorists.” Yes, they “terrorize” but these people murder because they seem to believe in spreading “the greater good of Islam”-as they interpret it.

Despite everything that has happened, The President of the United State, Barack Obama, has been unable to bring himself to say the words “Islamist terrorist.” He has committed himself to incredible verbal gymnastics in order to avoid connecting Islam and terror. And in the past few days his staff including, Marie Harf, has been out on the media circuit explaining that the war against these “people” will not be won with might-rather we, the West, will defeat them by eradicating  “root causes.”

What are the “root causes” for immolating people or beheading them; filming these heinous actions to share; raping young girls, selling them as sex slaves? According to the President of the USA it is unemployment.

This is the creeping “banality of evil.” Hannah Arendt introduced the expression “the banality of evil” into the lexicon during the 1961 Eichmann trial in Jerusalem. In “Personal Responsibility under Dictatorship,” Arendt emphasized:

“It was as though morality, at the very moment of its collapse within an old, highly civilized nation, stood revealed in its original meaning, as a set of mores, of customs and manners, which could be exchanged for another set with no more trouble than it would take to change the table manners of a whole people.”

America, is this what is happening to you? Are your morals and values slipping away, being replaced with others? Your President seems to have turned his head away from the terror right in front of our eyes. Is he avoiding it? Is it willful blindness? Or is it something worse?

Judaism teaches us that “right is might.” But without might, how will right be accomplished? Without might, how do we defend what is right?

I fear there is in your President a vestige of the moral decay of Eichmann.

About the Author
Diane Weber Bederman is a multi-faith, hospital trained chaplain who lives in Ontario, Canada, just outside Toronto; She has a background in science and the humanities and writes about religion in the public square and mental illness on her blog: The Middle Ground:The Agora of the 21st Century. She is a regular contributor to Convivium: Faith in our Community. "