Jonathan Muskat

Why We Must Compare Hamas to Amalek Now

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu got in trouble when he referred to Hamas as Amalek, but we especially need that definition now more than ever. Netanyahu compared Hamas to our archenemy the Amalekites who attacked our ancestors when they left Egypt. This comparison was part of South Africa’s charges of genocide in the International Court of justice which were heard a few weeks ago in The Hague. However, comparing Hamas to Amalek does not indicate an attempt to commit genocide against the Palestinian people. Hamas has an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 fighters. These individuals brutally attacked, raped and murdered innocent men, woman and children on October 7th. Hamas spokesmen have said that if given the chance, they would commit these atrocities again. As such, Netanyahu wishes to eliminate Hamas military and political capabilities in the Gaza Strip and seeks to kill, wound or arrest these 30,000-40,000 Hamas fighters. Since this number is, at most, two percent of the Gazan population of two million, then one could hardly argue that an attempt to eliminate two percent of a population is tantamount to genocide.

Even though it may not be wise to refer to Hamas as Amalek because it provides fuel, albeit incorrectly, for the genocide claim, we must express this comparison loudly and clearly at this point in the war against Hamas. Israel’s staunchest allies, including the United States of America, have become increasingly frustrated over the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, the escalating number of Gazan civilians who have been killed in the war and the concern that Israel’s attempt to capture Rafah will cause mass civilian casualties. They are urging for a lasting ceasefire which will yield a return of hostages, a cessation of military activity and a rebuilding of Gaza. Many of Israel’s allies assert that Israel cannot destroy Hamas completely. Israel has done a lot to dismantle Hamas’ military capabilities and now is the time for a deal.

What Israel’s allies do not realize is that Hamas is Amalek. Anyone who wants to destroy us is Amalek. The fact that Hamas wants to destroy us means that we cannot partner with them for peace or for any permanent ceasefire that will leave them in power. We can debate about a two-state solution, what that would look like and whether now is the time to talk about it. Realistically, the Palestinian Authority will need to completely reinvent itself to free itself from corruption, become a true democracy, and support the concept of a Jewish state in Israel. Palestinian leaders must stop glorifying terrorists and they must change their textbooks that spew hatred and venom against Israel. I find it highly unlikely that Palestinian institutions and the Palestinian street will radically change in the near future. Therefore, I believe that a two-state solution in any form in the near future certainly places Israel at a very high security risk.

But this whole discussion is completely irrelevant when it comes to Hamas. Anyone who really wants a long-term peaceful solution between Israel and the Palestinians needs to understand that Hamas can never be in the picture, that a ceasefire keeping Hamas in power is a pathway to assured continued conflict and not to peace. The terms “ceasefire” and “humanitarian crisis” pull at our heartstrings. We seek peace and we try to avoid violence if at all possible. But sometimes, we need to come to terms with the identity of our enemy, and if that enemy acts like Amalek, we have no choice but to utterly destroy it for the sake of peace.

About the Author
Jonathan Muskat is the Rabbi of the Young Israel of Oceanside.
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