Commentary on Political Economy

Thursday 12 October 2023

Why Hamas’s methodical slaughter of Jews carries a special horror

At the Thursday funeral in Jerusalem of French-Israeli soldier Eli Valentin Ghenassia, who was killed while fighting Hamas terrorists at the Be-eri kibbutz on Saturday. (Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty Images)
Add to your saved stories

Anyone with eyes to see or

ears to hear is familiar with episodes of horrific violence over the past few decades. Americans know all too well about crazed killers mercilessly slaughtering schoolchildren — from Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., to the Covenant School in Nashville — and about a sniper raining down bullets on an outdoor concert crowd in Las Vegas. Americans are not strangers to deadly violence. With terrible frequency, in major U.S. cities, lives are extinguished in a staccato of gunshots.

We also know about mass murders and genocides that have unfolded within living memory — against the Tutsis in RwandaRohingya in MyanmarUyghurs in China. And about war crimes — countless examples, whether the Srebrenica massacre of Bosnian Muslims in 1995 or the atrocities committed by Russian forces against Ukrainians after President Vladimir Putin’s 2022 invasion.

Evil people commit unspeakable crimes against humanity with horrifying regularity.

But somehow Hamas’s slaughter of Israelis on Saturday feels different, in its intensity and immediacy, and not just because the terrorists grotesquely exploited social media to document their atrocities.

The chilling and methodical depravity that stalked infants and the very old, as well as young people joyfully dancing at a music festival, was profoundly disturbing because it was both so purposeful and purposeless: An army of mass murders rampaged in search of victims targeted solely because they were Jews. No military objective, no strategic aim.

This was as violent an eruption of the ancient evil as we have seen since 1945. However much, over the past three-quarters of a century, we have seen crowds chant “Death to Israel” and “Death to America,” many of us never imagined the existence of would-be Nazi hordes who, given the chance to kill Jews, would kill and kill and kill, and then celebrate the carnage. An army of antisemitic sadists was loosed on the Holy Land, and the consequences have stunned and sickened the civilized world.

We knew there were murderous antisemitic fanatics surrounding Israel and even in the United States, certainly dozens of them and perhaps hundreds. Many have used suicide as a weapon, so deep was their hatred. But the idea that, once the Israeli military responded, some 1,500 terrorist bodies were left in the wake of this bloodletting suggests that many, many more retreated to Gaza with their hostages.

Exactly how many would-be terrorists eager to kill Jews are in Gaza, in southern Lebanon, in Iran, awaiting their chance? Did we really think we could negotiate with a Tehran regime that sponsored, approved and applauded these atrocities? If we did, that naiveté should be gone, washed away in a river of blood.

But we did believe it. Many people I know were convinced of the wisdom of negotiating with Iran. Even the most conservative “peace through strength” conservatives I have known for decades did not imagine that our enemies would be capable of such evil as we have just seen.

Barbarism, yes. The mercilessness of Putin and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Chinese President Xi Jinping is well-known. But we clung to the ideas of deterrence and that the Islamist menace could be contained. We believed that the sort of irrational hatred that fueled Adolf Hitler’s legions of killers was a thing of the past — or at least limited and incapable of producing mayhem on the scale that befell Israel last weekend.

I was wrong, and I am not alone. The number of people struggling to express their sense of horror that such sinister violence against Jews could be perpetrated in the 21st century is leaving me at a loss for words, unable to focus on anything else.

My contempt for the unserious people who destabilized the Congress on the eve of this outrage only grows, and so does my disgust for those who sign petitions and march in apparent support for the perpetrators of this savagery.

We cannot allow ourselves the luxury of believing “Never again” actually meant “Never again.” Israel will now wage the war it must, to shatter the very idea that the deep evil driving Hamas can be allowed to thrive. The United States and the civilized world — which of course includes many Muslim nations — must support this effort.

We have seen the madness that consumes Hamas, just as it surely consumes Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Quds Force in Iran. It is a madness that they would will upon the world. We have no excuse now to indulge the belief that the Nazi trials at Nuremberg offered a final and binding judgment that all nations would respect. They manifestly did not. Israel will attempt to do so now, and I hope it is with the full support of the United States.

No comments:

Post a Comment