Jean Pierre Braun

The Masters of Ritual Lies and the Hostages Crisis

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Taqqiya has existed in the Muslim religion since its origin in the early 7th century. Muslim scholar Yarden Mariuma (Columbia University) defines this concept as follows: “Taqqiya is a legal term [specific to the Muslim religion], the definition of which remains unclear, but which stipulates the circumstances under which a Muslim is allowed by Sharia to lie.” When a Muslim finds himself in a situation of adversity, the use of Taqqiya, i.e. lying, is not only possible and legal according to the Sharia, it is recommended: it is often the best course of action.

The State of Israel is waging the war against Hamas in an exemplary manner. The IDF is behaving in this war like no other army in the world has ever done and probably never will: with an unprecedented moral and ethical sense, with a concern to preserve the lives of civilians, with infinite precautions before each attack. Despite this, Hamas’ lies are such that the nations of the world, often predisposed to believe anything that can project a negative image on Israel, are pushing harder and harder every day for Israel to suspend its military operations in exchange for a still ill-defined deal for the release of a few hostages.

The discussion that follows is extremely sensitive, even painful for a very large number of Israelis. I will do my best to develop my argument with as much care and respect as possible. Like all my fellow Jews, my sole aim is to help as much as I can in the hope that all the hostages, without exception, return to those who love them as soon as possible.

About 240 hostages were captured on October 7 by Hamas terrorists. Some are very small babies, some are very young children, some are very old people. They were forcibly taken to Gaza. We know virtually nothing about them today: what their state of health is, how they are treated, fed, housed, do they have access to the medicines that some of them need, are they together or not, etc. We know that several of these hostages were injured during their abduction; were they able to receive the necessary care?

Hamas has repeatedly said that several hostages (without further details) were killed by IDF bombs. This needs to be viewed from the point of view of Taqqiya: it is undoubtedly a lie. But does this mean that some of the hostages have succumbed to Hamas’ mistreatment, and that Hamas simply wants to blame Israel? Maybe. We have no way of knowing today.

More recently, Hamas said that a number of these hostages were kidnapped on October 7, not by them, but by other groups including Islamic Jihad, and even by some Gaza families. Maybe. But does this mean that Hamas does not know where they are, who they are, and who controls them? Taqqiya again. Do not believe Hamas.

In the last few days, while so-called negotiations are taking place under the aegis of Qatar, we have seen Hamas offer to release 130 hostages, then 100, then 70, and now 50. And they no longer commit to releasing children and their parents at the same time.

Hamas knows very well that for Israel the life of each one of its people is a matter of the utmost importance. The case of Gilad Shalit confirms this, if need be, with the exchange of a single soldier for the release of 1,027 Palestinian prisoners, many of them seasoned terrorists with blood on their hands. On the contrary, one might think that Hamas primary interest is to obtain a truce or even a ceasefire that would last as long as possible. To do so, they should be prepared to release a very large number of hostages.

My idea is very simple. Pessimistic to some extent, and I apologize for that.

If Hamas adopts these positions in the current negotiation, it is because perhaps (G-d forbid) some of the hostages are no longer alive. And if this is, alas, the case, it is Hamas’ sole responsibility. And Hamas knows it. And Hamas knows that a day will come when Israel knows it too. Let us also remember that no one, not the UN, not any NGO, not the Red Cross, not any independent medical personnel, no one has seen our dear hostages since October 7th.

But back to the current negotiation: Can Israel reasonably negotiate any kind of deal without knowing anything about the status of the hostages?

Hamas lies all the time, none of their assertions are credible. Taqqiya. It is their guiding principle. And we can safely bet that their Muslim colleagues (Egypt, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and others) know when to introduce a healthy dose of Taqqiya into their interactions with Israel, the US, and other ”unfaithful” nations.

What I propose (and I hope that this message will reach the eyes of the “power that be” in this country as soon as possible) is to stop all the discussions in progress, and to introduce an indispensable and non-negotiable condition, prior to the resumption of talks on the subject.

This condition is really an imperative demand that Hamas facilitates the obtention of proof-of-life for each and every one of the 240 hostages held in Gaza. Not a proof of life at the whim of Hamas, that would be of no value, but a proof of life according to our definition, which should include, at a minimum, a visit by a non-Muslim doctor to each of the hostages, with an interview and photographs of each of them so that their families can verify their identity. For the youngest, the oldest or anyone with health problems, a quick assessment of their condition as well.

Is this necessary? Yes, it is even essential. It is a must-have!

Imagine for a moment the worst-case scenario (G-d forbid, I apologize for even having to talk about it): Hamas offers us the release of only 50 hostages in the deal because they know there are hardly any more alive. They do not tell us that of course. But they also “promise” the subsequent release of more hostages which may or may never happen… TAQQIYA !!!. We accept the deal. They obtain a three days truce. They immediately all flee to a complicit country. Or they join Hezbollah in Lebanon and execute the same murderous butchery on our northern cities.  This is a huge victory in the eyes of the entire Arab world, but, at the same time, Israel will have accomplished virtually nothing. Even worse. Israel will emerge humiliated, weakened, even more vulnerable, and above all with infinite and incurable grief.

Today, the IDF is the master of the field. Our government is the master of the calendar. There is no reason to let a deal that is not totally favorable to us be imposed on us. By acting with full knowledge of the situation (i.e. once we know for sure the detailed status of each and every hostage), we can articulate an acceptable deal, and above all, if the situation reveals dramatic facts to us regarding the hostages, we can, through Tzahal, take all the necessary measures for a strong, decisive, dignified, and victorious conclusion of this war which we neither desired nor started.

About the Author
Jean Pierre Braun is a retired Silicon Valley CEO now living in Jerusalem. Born in Paris, Jean Pierre immigrated to the USA after completing its Electrical Engineering degree in France. Besides being a serial entrepreneur, Jean Pierre was also the founder of a unique, very successful Silicon Valley Synagogue, and upon his return to France became Vice President of a local CRIF branch, and the President of the Rachi community in Grenoble. A father of 3 and grandfather of 10 ב'ה, Jean Pierre and his wife Annie made Aliyah in 2016.
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