Alan Kotlyar

The Unkosher Slaughter of Hamas

Jews are permitted to kill an animal for food, but it must be done in a kosher way. The bible tells us that, for an animal’s meat to be kosher, it must be slaughtered in such a way that the animal loses consciousness in a few seconds and dies in a few minutes. Kosher slaughter kills the animal much faster than other methods, and ensures the animal feels as little pain as possible. Jews are prohibited to hunt and kill for sport.

The lesson here is that, while killing for food and killing for sport both have the result of cutting the life of an animal short, there is a moral difference. Marital consensual intercourse and rape are physically similar acts but could not be farther apart on the scale of good and evil. We as Jews judge an act not just by the physicality of it, but by the circumstances and intentions surrounding it. The ten commandments forbid killing as a stand-alone concept, but allow killing murderers right after a heinous crime to ensure one’s own safety. There is no contradiction: in fact, the latter lethal act of justice enforces the former prohibition on murder. If the intention of killing is just killing for killing’s sake, then it is bad. If you must kill an animal for food, you must do it swiftly and solely for the purpose of eating.

Right now with Hamas, Israelis are engaged in a just war, killing guilty Hamas members with the intention of removing an immediate threat to their own lives. But unlike kosher slaughter, international pressure and the desire to demonstrate an appearance of humanitarianism have made Israel very slow in its progress. The results of the slowness have been devastating. It gives enemies of Israel hope and time to rally the troops. It demonstrates a susceptibility to being swayed by public pressure and negative coverage, which only encourages more public pressure and negative coverage. As they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

There are still four Hamas battalions in Rafah. The hostages are probably in Rafah and the IDF needs to find them and bring them home. Gazans need peace and a government committed to peace. Gazans themselves have been filmed reprimanding Israeli soldiers, saying that Israel should have wiped out Hamas long ago instead of conducting “operations” every few years. The longer Israel waits, the longer it prolongs the suffering for everyone.

Imagine if your child rushes into the street in front of a car. If you push your child really hard once, you’ve done a great mitzvah in saving their life. If you keep pushing after a few seconds, you’re conveying frustration. If you’re still pushing your child the next day, it’s abuse. If your initial life-saving push was only half a push, followed by a public campaign for why it is right of you to push your child around, you would be wrong and your child would probably be dead. You push for the goal of saving the life, not because you like pushing.

There has been enough of the incessant explanations and justifications of Israel’s actions in Gaza, the negotiations and public campaigns, the talk show appearances and public debates with the “ceasefire now” crowd. All of it will inspire far less confidence in Israel than a swift and total annihilation of Hamas will after what it did on October 7. After all, it is not good to kill after taking the time to craft a well thought out argument for doing so. Killing should make us uncomfortable.

The goal of destroying Hamas in Gaza is to remove the threat to life for all innocent Israelis and Palestinians. Israel should do that quickly and get back to normalcy right away. Let’s keep it kosher.

About the Author
Alan Kotlyar is an amateur Israeli folk dancer, singer, soccer player, journalist, language enthusiast, history and geography buff from the Chicago area. On the side, he makes time for teaching math and a master's program in Computer Science.
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