Gary Epstein
And now for something completely different . . .

They Made Us Appear Evil


They Made Us Appear Evil

Hamas continues to fire rockets at cities throughout Israel.  There is no conventional military reason for doing so.  They inflict minimal damage.  While they are capable of producing anxiety, discomfort, and fear, they represent no real risk to Israel’s security or survival.  Yet they continue, even while the devastation in Gaza mounts.


The destruction of a building in Rishon L’Tzion and the interception of dozens of rockets over Tel Aviv and Ashkelon serve only to announce that the war crimes against civilians persist.


Because the military objective of Hamas (Iran) is unconventional, almost radical in its ingenious cruelty and inspired barbarity.  The rockets continue to fly so that Israel will have to respond. Hamas knows that Israel can not appear paralyzed in the face of ongoing savagery against its land and people.  It can not appear impotent.

But, you say, the more Israel responds, the more Gazan civilians die.  And that is the sordid objective of Hamas.  It has been its objective from the very start of this brutal and savage campaign.

Force Israel to respond.  Let the world react in revulsion.  Make it appear that there is no moral distinction between attacker and victim, between Hamas and Israel.  Make Israel appear to act as viciously as the terrorists.

The instructions given to the original terrorists were almost unprecedented in the annals of warfare.  Commit war crimes.  Document them in real time. Show the world the most depraved and callous violence possible.  And commit that violence against defenseless babies and children.  Taunt, torture, and rape girls and women.  Make movies of yourselves burning babies and killing families in front of their loved ones. Leave the evidence for forensic teams to discover.  Kidnap infants and children.  And send photos and videos so the world can witness.

Why?  Even the Nazis tried to hide and cover up their actions.

Because Hamas needed to seek to deprive Israel of any perceived moral advantage and force us into a military response that could inflame the Arab world and disgust the civilized world.  They knew that as soon as there were Arab casualties, the world would forget how the cycle started.  No, the world, even the UN, would justify the barbaric behavior of Hamas, and vilify the response of Israel.  The campuses had been conditioned for decades and the press is hard-wired to blame the Jews.

Bomb your own hospitals.  The world will blame the Jews.  Behead babies.  Occupiers are not victims.  Keep sending rockets into civilian centers from launchers adjacent to mosques, schools, and residential neighborhoods.  Israel will respond.  Arab children will die.  Mission accomplished.

By any means necessary.  Has there ever been a more revolting slogan?

There is a phrase in the Haggadah, taken from the Bible–vayarehu otanu hamitzrim (Deuteronomy 26:6).  Loosely translated, it means that the Egyptians did evil things to us (“dealt ill with us”).  But the appropriate way to say that in Hebrew would be vayarehu lanu hamitzrim.  The famous scholar and commentator, Rabbi Naftali Zvi Yehuda Berlin (the “Netziv”), in his exegetical work “Haamek Davar,” notes that the literal meaning of the word “otanu” is “the Egyptians demonized us, made us appear evil.”  That interpretation suggests that before the cultured Egyptians could bring themselves to enslave, torture and murder the Jews, they had to first convince themselves that the Jews were subhuman.  The Nazis did the same.  Once you dehumanize a people, it is easier to treat them in inhumane ways.

Hamas takes it a step further.  By labeling all Jews as Zionists, and colonialists, and occupiers, they justify any barbaric behavior.  But then, they go a step further.  They try to force us into situations where our actions will appear evil.  They try to make us appear evil, by compelling us to confront situations to which we must respond–as anyone with the power to do so would respond in the face of implacable cruelty.  To fail to respond is to surrender.

And so–they make us kill them.  They put their people at risk.  They are prepared, even eager, to sacrifice their children.

And, worst of all, that is not ancillary to their goal.  That is their goal.  That has been their goal from the start.  They want their own people to suffer and die.  That is why they blocked civilians from escaping North Gaza.  That is why they keep firing rockets.

God’s plagues visited upon the Egyptians were not proportional.  The death of the Egyptian first-born children was as powerful and bloody a response as one could imagine.  The drowning in the sea was a total annihilation.  God is not evil.

Israel is not God.  We will be judged as humans.  And we will try our hardest to preserve our humanity in the face of the most callous, ruthless, heartless of enemies.  But there can never be understanding or sympathy or forgiveness for those who launched this effort to make us appear evil.  Dante could not have imagined anyone more deserving of the inferno.

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.
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