Matt Futterman

‘Militants’? ‘Fighters’!? No, these butchers killed hundreds in cold blood

International media whitewashes Hamas' monstrous disregard for human life that my son discovered in Operation Cast Lead
(Screenshot, YouTube)
(Screenshot, YouTube)

After watching the Israeli morning news on Channel 12, I frequently switch to YouTube and watch the previous evening’s NBC nightly news. On the second morning of the war, I wanted to see how NBC was covering the war. They get points for showing how Hamas instigated this catastrophe and even for showing their brutal handling of a civilian woman forced into captivity (which Israeli media will not show).

But like most English language media, they also talked about “Palestinian militants” and “fighters.” After they described just how well planned this attack was, I kept wondering why they were not described as “soldiers.” And since they must have known how many civilians were simply shot wherever they were found, why not call them “murderers” or “butchers”!?

Especially since NBC showed the “militants” beating the corpse of an Israeli soldier, it seems like “militants” or “fighters” were inappropriate. Those are terms one might better use to describe an aggressive rumble between the Sharks and the Jets. These were soldiers at their most barbaric and bloodthirsty.

And then NBC did the other thing that infuriates me — it tried to establish equivalence. More than 200 Israelis killed and over 300 Palestinians were dead after Israeli planes attacked, leaving the Palestinian hospitals overloaded with dead and wounded civilians.

Had the “militants” not attacked and taken hostage so many Israeli civilians (including children and elderly) after killing so many others where they stood, none of our hospitals would be treating thousands of wounded.

There is no equivalence here. Especially now that we know of at least 700 Israelis dead — many butchered in cold blood.

I was so enraged I offered to run some errands in order to get out of the house and not say anything in front of my grandchildren that I would regret.

And I immediately ran into a huge traffic jam. I did not think it was unusual until I realized that there were hundreds of empty cars parked on both shoulders in both directions of the road. Then I noticed lots of not so young soldiers wearing fatigues walking along the road. These were miluimnikim – reservists – reporting for duty. 20- 30- 40- year-old men, ready to give their all.

The car in front of me suddenly stopped and a young soldier with a large kippah and peyot side-curls got out and the driver, bald without a head covering, ran to hug him. A secular father kissing his Orthodox son as he goes — once more — to defend his people.

And I began to think about the war and not who started it (a ludicrous debate), but what it is really about. It is about a clash of cultures.

I don’t dare compare the parental love of Palestinian parents and Israeli parents. I just assume all parents love their children. But I will compare the treatment of civilians during wartime by both sides.

I have often told the story of how my youngest son was awarded the president’s commendation of excellence for his actions in the IDF during Operation Cast Lead in 2008. He led his unit into a Palestinian neighborhood in Gaza as part of the IDF’s response to thousands of missiles launched against Israeli civilians.

The unit he led was sent to a building which Israeli planes were about to level after terrorists shot missiles from the roof. But they needed to make sure there were no civilians left inside. And, no surprise, they found dozens of Palestinian civilians on the roof which had been locked so that they could not escape the Israeli retaliation. They were turned into human shields by their own people.

Our son and his soldiers freed them. They risked their lives to set Palestinian civilians free and save them from the Hamas “militants.”

In contrast to Israeli concern for human lives (even if they are enemies during wartime), we saw the bloodthirsty butchers of Hamas who took those civilians whom they did not kill to serve as human shields as protection for when our forces eventually retaliate.

Militants? Fighters!? No, these are evil barbarians.

The time has come for NBC and other media outlets to be truthful and not “even-handed.” This is the lesson of Proverbs 18:21

מָוֶת וְחַיִּים, בְּיַד-לָשׁוֹן
Death and life are in the power of the tongue.

As long as the media abroad give Hamas a pass, there is a likelihood that the butchers will try to pick up where they left off.

The Hamas forces who readily sacrifice Palestinian lives are monsters, not militants. It is time to point out the emperor’s murderous nakedness.

It is time for honest reporting.

About the Author
Matt Futterman has retired as a full time sabba to Ashkelon (the target for thousands of Hamas launched missiles) where he was rabbi of the Masorti (Conservative) congregation Kehillat Netzach Israel for nearly two decades. During that time he also served two terms as chair of the Rabbinical Assembly of Israel, was Dean of Students at Achva College and taught at the Schechter Institute for Jewish Studies.
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