Rabbi Barclay on The War in Israel
"A 3-part Series to Understand the War on Israel, Hamas, Palestine, and What Must be Done"
There Is No Such Thing As 'Palestinians'
By Rabbi Michael Barclay on October 14, 2023
(This column is Part 1 of a series of articles explaining the fallacies that have led to the world’s leftists supporting Palestine, Gaza, and Hamas’ horrors.)
The patterns of the anti-Semitic/Marxist/”Palestinian”/LGBTQ/BLM/hate-filled alliance are nothing if not predictable. After expressing shock and dismay that their Palestinian friends in Gaza specifically targeted civilians, in under a week, they have quickly shifted back to their repeated old rhetoric. They are now blaming Israel for the horrific attacks from Hamas, calling Israel’s counter-attacks on Hamas a “terrorist siege,” blitzing the media with images of wounded from Gaza, and attacking Israel in all ways as an ‘apartheid state’ and, as Ocasio Cortez defined Israel, a nation devoted to “ethnic cleansing”.
We cannot let them try to control the narrative with their blatant lies.
The best way to dismiss falsities is to educate. And so the purpose of this piece is to do just that: to give accurate information that is in direct contradiction to the lies of the Marxist alliance that seeks to destroy Israel, the United States, and Western Culture. The spiritual implications and religious components will be left for another article. This is about what we in Judaism call tachlis: simple, practical understandings that are useable in any dialogue.
Let us start with a brief history lesson. Despite what the media has been preaching for almost 60 years, there is no historical Palestinian state or people. Over 4,000 years ago, there were small tribes living in Canaan, such as Moabites, Amalekites, etc. There was no Palestine of people or land. Then around 3,200 years ago, the 12 tribes of Israel, united under King Saul into the first kingdom in the region, a Jewish theocracy called “Israel.” That split into the kingdoms of Judah and Israel (both Jewish), which were conquered by the Babylonian empire a little over 2,500 years ago. This became the Persian Empire, which was defeated by Alexander the Great, and Israel was controlled by the Greeks.
The Greeks were defeated by the Hasmoneans, and Israel once again became a Jewish state about 2,200 years ago. The Hasmoneans were beaten by the Romans, and there followed a series of kingdoms that controlled Israel: Byzantine, Sassanid, Ummayad, Frankish, Christian, and eventually the Mamluk Dynasty, which controlled the region in the 13th-16th centuries. This is the first time there is a governmental Muslim presence in Israel, but again, it is not related to Palestine as a people or nation at all. The Mamluks ultimately were absorbed into the Ottoman Empire, which controlled the region until it was defeated by the British in the 20th century. Nowhere in this 3,000-year history does Palestine or Palestinians exist or even get discussed. The British created a mandate called “Palestine” on July 24, 1922, which was the first mention of the word in thousands of years.
For over 3,000 years, there has been no such thing as a Palestinian or a country of Palestine! So how did this Palestinian issue even start in modern times? In 1948, U.N. Resolution 181 granted statehood to two states: a Jewish one called Israel and an Arab one called Palestine. This is the first time there is a nation or people with the name of Palestine, even though they were in fact all Jordanians. Immediately, five Arab nations attacked Israel, which continued to be attacked repeatedly for the next 15 years but successfully defended her nationhood.
And now comes the seed that leads to the current support from the left of “Palestine.” In the early 1960s, the Arab coalition was not only physically losing wars, but was considered bullies of Israel in worldwide media. They were the Goliath that kept losing to David. So they hired the public relations firm of Dudley-Anderson-Yutzy in New York (founded in 1909, no longer in business) to change their image in the world. George Anderson told them they needed a “victim,” a group that would be perceived as smaller and even more abused than the Israelis, and the Palestinian cause was born.
At Anderson’s advice, the Palestinian Liberation Organization was established on May 28, 1964. This is the start date of the “Palestinian cause”: 1964. After the 1967 war, when Israel kept Gaza, the Sinai, the Golan Heights, and the West Bank, the concept of the Palestinians as victims became more popular. While ultimately Egypt made a land-for-peace deal with Israel and has kept that peace, the other nations refused to do the same. “Palestine” has always, and continues today, to define itself as “from the River” (Jordan) to the Sea (Mediterranean) and refuses to accept the State of Israel as a neighbor. The Arab schoolbooks in Gaza, the West Bank, and many Arab nations do not even include Israel in their maps as taught to children in 2023.
As for Gaza? In 2005, the Israelis, in their eternal quest for peace, gave self-governance to the people of Gaza. In 2007, the people of Gaza elected Hamas as their leadership by over 90%, and they have reelected and kept Hamas in power for these 16 years. Please do not cry for a distinction between the citizens of Gaza and Hamas, for Hamas was and has been elected by the people of Gaza for almost two decades.
“But,” says the leftist that wants to destroy Israel, “the people of the region consider themselves Palestinian, and we need to act according to their self-identification based on the last few decades.” So when confronted by the history that “Palestine” and “Palestinians” are made up, the response is that self-identification is the real determiner. This is beyond absurd, as we can see with a simple analogy.
We are currently being confronted with a media, supported by the same Marxist agenda, that claims that if a man self-identifies as a woman, he should be treated as a woman in all ways. Anyone with common sense realizes this is ridiculous. But as this agenda continues unchecked, more and more people are concerned about this craziness that is becoming commonly accepted.
A pig can call itself a chicken all day, but it is still a pig. Drag queens can call themselves women, but they are not. And an Arab born in Gaza is an Israeli or Gazan but not a Palestinian, no matter what the media has been pouring down our throats for decades. It is cultural suicide to allow self-identification to control the actions of the culture: be it drag queens calling themselves women or accepting “Palestine” as a historical reality.
This does not disqualify the idea of a two-state solution of a Jewish state living peacefully with Arab neighbors. But this cannot happen until this proposed neighbor entirely rejects and turns on Hamas and until they change their attitude that Israel has no right to exist and embrace Israel as a peaceful neighbor.
There is a story that the Israeli ambassador was about to give a speech to the U.N. He said, “Before I begin my speech, I’d like to tell a story. Moses was bathing in the Jordan River, and when he got out, his clothes had been stolen by a Palestinian.”
The Palestinian ambassador jumped up. “Outrageous!” he exclaimed. “We were not even in the region at that time!”
The Israeli ambassador continued, “Now that it has been clearly established that the Palestinians were not even there historically, I will now begin my speech.”
Before we can start a process of peace, some realities need to be acknowledged: there is no historical Palestine, the people of Gaza have chosen Hamas as their leadership, and Israel has the right to exist and defend herself. From the full acceptance of those facts, a dialogue could possibly be started — but not until they are all fully accepted.
Hey AOC, There Is No Moral Equivalency Between Hamas and Israel
By Rabbi Michael Barclay on October 15th, 2023
(This column is Part 2 of a series of articles explaining the fallacies that have led to the world’s leftists supporting Palestine, Gaza, and Hamas’ horrors.)
The concepts of “Palestine” and “Palestinians” did not exist before the mid-20th century, but truth has little meaning to the left when it is in conflict with their anti-Semitic/anti-Israel/Marxist/socialist/destruction-of-Western-culture agenda. Even when confronted with the facts, they attempt to justify the truly evil actions of Hamas.
The latest argument against Israel is that Israel’s retaliation against Hamas is not “proportional.” We are already being inundated with images of the wounded in Gaza. Israel is being called an aggressor and worse. The images of war will be shown more and more in the coming days until the leftist agenda of removing the last week’s images from our minds is achieved.
But we cannot let that happen. We must always remember what Hamas has done, and how they degraded all of humanity with their conscious targeting of civilians. We must never forget the images of people being dragged out of their cars to be stomped on until they die by Hamas, the videos that Hamas proudly took of homes being invaded and children killed, or the horrors of videos of victims being filmed on the victims’ own cell phones and then sent to their families from their phones.
Hamas has demonstrated a barbarism unseen in humanity for hundreds if not thousands of years, and we must not let anti-Semitic Marxists like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) change the narrative in an attempt to transform Hamas and the people of Gaza into victims.
Ocasio-Cortez and her ilk are calling for Israel to be stopped as they feel that Israel’s response is too aggressive and uncalled for. The Swiss foreign minister is one of many using the new leftist term “proportional reaction,” a term that is being picked up everywhere by pro-Hamas supporters like Ocasio Cortez and the BBC.
Since they can’t really hang their hat on the fallacy of a historical Palestine, they are trying to stop Israel from destroying the evil of Hamas based on the idea that Israel is doing worse to Hamas than Hamas did to Israel. Even while history, common sense, and the most basic ethical standards of humanity demonstrate that Hamas and its supporters have descended to a level below even animals; let us evaluate this concept of proportionality.
General Wiliam Tecumseh Sherman of the Union Army is credited first with the saying, “War is hell.” There is no proportionality in war: you fight for your survival, and it is uglier than any human being should have to experience. In some ways, that’s the point of war: to make it so horrible that people will do almost anything for peace. If Hamas didn’t want hell rained down on Gaza, it should not have consciously and specifically targeted the elderly, women, and children.
Hamas CHOSE to drop into a music festival and rape, kidnap, and murder young people celebrating life through music. There was no pressure on Hamas to video its acts of horror and send those images to families with the express intention of traumatizing them. Terrorists did choose to perform these heinous acts, and there is every justification to make sure this never happens again.
But the left is now claiming that this isn’t right — that Israel’s actions are greater than what they suffered. They are demanding that Israel abides by the “principle of proportionality,” a term that they think means that while Hamas can kill Israeli babies, Israel cannot kill any civilian even by accident.
Ironically, the Lieber Institute for Law and Warfare at Westpoint has established that “there is [sic] no reliable reports that the IDF have [sic] ever intentionally targeted civilians.” Juxtapose this against Hamas’ specific intent to cause terror among civilians. The Israeli Air Force is the only one in the world that gives notice to civilians to exit a building before destroying it, and Israel handcuffs itself in battle by doing everything possible to avoid civilian casualties. While Israel defends all civilians, Hamas uses children and its own civilians as human shields to protect themselves.
Simply put, Israel uses the IDF to protect its citizens. Hamas uses its citizens to protect Hamas. The civilian pain that is happening in Gaza as Israel now attacks is a direct result of Hamas’ practice of shielding itself with babies. The principle of proportionality is very specific: attacks that might affect civilians are prohibited unless they are excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated.
Since the military advantage is to get Hamas out of Gaza and its supporters defeated forever, then Israel is following that principle perfectly. The Israeli military’s need to remove any vestige of Hamas from the world is so necessary that, sadly, civilians may get hurt. But remember, given that the IDF gives advance notice, the only reason for a civilian to be in Gaza is if they support Hamas or if Hamas is using them as human shields.
There is no real “Palestine”; Hamas targets civilians in the cruelest of ways; and Israel still does everything possible to avoid collateral damage. But these anti-Israel fanatics still say that too many Gaza citizens are getting hurt or dying. They think they are the official arbiter of how many Gaza casualties are too many and castigate Israel for defending herself.
If these supporters of the fanatical and evil Hamas really want to crunch numbers to determine how many is too many, consider the following: If these Marxists want “proportionate precision” based on percentages; a literal “eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” (which only ultimately leads to blind men with no teeth), then let us review the statistics. There are over 1,500 times more Arab Muslims than Israeli citizens (9.5 million vs 1.5 billion), and over 1,300 Israeli civilians have been kidnapped, raped, and/or killed in this war so far.
Since there are over 1,500 times more Arab Muslims who are supporting Hamas in the region, we multiply 1,500 times over 1,300 victims. By their logic of precise proportionality, we would need to kill 2 million Arab Muslim civilians to be pari-passu with Hamas, and God forbid we ever have to do that.
While Israel works hard to keep Gaza’s civilian casualties down, Hamas consciously aims for civilians. While Israel strives to remove civilians from fighting areas, Hamas uses children, babies, and the elderly as human shields. When the left is complaining that too many Gaza citizens are getting injured, they are rejecting the mathematics that demonstrates how Israel really is restraining herself.
This entire rhetoric of principled proportionality is just another public relations scheme that, when accompanied by painful images of war, is an attempt to destroy Israel in the minds and hearts of people around the world. We must not let this publicity stunt, which capitalizes on the devastation that Israel is required to perform on Hamas, subvert our support for Israel and her actions.
Israel and the Israel Defense Force is the most ethical army in the history of the world. Rather than condemning its precise efforts to keep civilians safe, we must laud it. And we must always remember: while Israel uses the IDF to protect civilians, Hamas is killing its own civilians to protect Hamas.
As Golda Meir is credited with saying, “If the Arabs lay down their weapons, there will be peace. If the Israelis laid down their weapons, there would be a massacre.” We just experienced the truth of her words and the massacres and horrors of Israel not holding their weapons strongly enough. Do not ask us to invite other massacres in the future, God forbid, by using the leftist argument that Israel needs to restrain herself against villains who use babies as shields and then turn to their advantage the deaths of those babies that Hamas is directly responsible for murdering.
Israel will always strive to save civilians while destroying the evil of Hamas and its supporters. But there is no moral equivalency, and we cannot let fools like Ocasio-Cortez and her squad be left unanswered.
Why It Is Our Spiritual Obligation to Completely Destroy Hamas
By Rabbi Michael Barclay on October 16th, 2023
(This column is Part 3 of a series of articles explaining the fallacies that have led to the world’s leftists supporting Palestine, Gaza, and Hamas’ horrors. There are links in this article to graphic and disturbing videos. Please only view them if you want to have the horrors of Hamas burned into your mind.)
Although entirely fallacious on every level, there has been a 70 -ear campaign to have the “Palestinians” be the victims that anti-Semites need to justify their hatred of Jews. These lies about a “Palestine” need to be exposed and rejected so that we can begin to have a real dialogue and create a lasting peace. There is now a powerful media campaign to castigate Israel for defending herself from the evils demonstrated by Hamas. This attempt to draw a moral equivalency between Hamsas and Israel needs to be repudiated and rejected in favor of an honest appraisal of Hamas’ evils; of the ludicrousness of “proportionality” in the face of that evil; and of Israel’s commitment to striving to always preserve lives…even of their enemies.
But recognizing the evil of Hamas and the fallacies of a “Palestine” country and people isn’t enough in the struggle for a permanent peace in the region. We need to determine what really must be done in the face of the horrors that Hamas performs in the name of “Palestine.” Education is meaningless unless it leads to action, and we must now determine how to act.
Before we can really know how to interact with Hamas, we need to be clear about what Hamas really is. Hamas is a terrorist group that uses its own civilians as human shields, including children. Hamas prevents the citizens of Gaza from evacuating so that Hamas can take images of wounded Gazans for the world press. They are killing their own people just so they can get photo opportunities! Hamas is a group committed to destroying all Jews, and to targeting civilians over soldiers. It is a group that forces children to slaughter animals from the time they are toddlers, and then teaches them that Jews are less than animals. Hamas is a group that consciously and specifically goes after children, the elderly, and the weak first…to kill and/or kidnap. They are the personification of an evil that has not been seen in a thousand years, with the exception of the worst of the Nazi atrocities.
So what should be done about Hamas, given their conscious choice to embody the worst qualities of any living being?
As a rabbi, I look for my answers in our sacred texts, most especially in the Torah and Hebrew Scriptures. It is here, in these texts that are considered holy by Jews, Christians, and the Western world, that I believe the pathway is taught as to what to do about Hamas.
Our Sages taught that if we find words of hate or anger in the Torah, it is us, not the text; and that God specifically commands us to not hate others in our heart (Lev. 19:17). This is as much for our benefit as for others: if we hate, then we lose our own souls. So according to our tradition, we are clearly not to “hate” Hamas, but what should we be doing?
The biblical answer is found in understanding the story of Amalek, a repeated character in the Bible. Although God demonstrates forgiveness and redemption over and over to even the worst of characters for their actions, Amalek is the one biblical character who is never to be forgiven. God instructs us to “always be at war with Amalek from generation to generation” (Ex. 17:16). Even more clearly, God instructs us twice to entirely “blot out” Amalek (Ex. 17:14 and Deut. 25:19). This is especially unique language as the text does not say “the children of Amalek,” but rather Amalek by name. How are we to destroy a being that physically died over 3000 years ago? And how important is this mandate? The utter destruction of everything Amalekite is so important that when King Saul, the first king of Israel, chose to not totally destroy Amalekites, he was relieved of his kingship by God through the prophet Samuel (Sam 1:15).
The bible is a book of love and justice, and yet, in a book of forgiveness, Amalek cannot be forgiven. Ever. For all eternity. Not Amalek’s physical descendants, but specifically Amalek by name. To understand this dictate, and why it is so important to our current question of how to deal with Hamas, we must understand what Amalek really is, and why we are to utterly and without hesitation destroy Amalek for all time.
The great and unforgivable sin that Amalek committed is that he attacked the ancient Hebrews from behind, where the children, elderly, and weak resided. He was a perpetrator and persecutor in the worst way. He consciously attacked those who could not defend themselves. Like a cancer, he purposefully went for the easiest target. And like a cancer, he must be totally eradicated without leaving a trace of existence, lest the cancer return in the future. This is why the text does not say “children of Amalek,” as the actual descendants of this man can be forgiven. The commandment to destroy Amalek is a commandment to unhesitatingly and completely destroy any personification of Amalek at any time this manifestation rears its head. Without mercy, we are to completely destroy any version of Amalek… forever.
Here we see what must be done. The leadership and soldiers of Hamas are the personification of Amalek in our time, and must be entirely rooted out and destroyed. Like Amalek, they have consciously chosen to target their attacks on the weak, young, and old. Like Amalek, they worship death and not life. Like Amalek, they demonstrate total disregard for even the most vulnerable in the world–not only brutally murdering Israeli children, but killing their own wives and children as they use them as shields of protection for themselves.
And like Amalek, Hamas must be completely and totally destroyed. As painful as it is, we must do whatever it takes to “blot” Hamas off the earth. Hamas is a cancer on all of humanity, and it must be completely annihilated.
As important as this destruction of Hamas as a modern Amalek is, we must simultaneously remember to protect our own souls. We cannot take any joy in the destruction of Hamas, but we must destroy them or our own sake, so that we never become in any way like them. We can never be like the Hamas supporters who celebrated in the streets of Gaza and Tehran when Israel was attacked. We have an obligation to utterly destroy Hamas, but we can never let ourselves rejoice in the death of even the worst of humanity.
There is a midrash, a Jewish teaching 2,000 years old, that when the Egyptian soldiers of Pharaoh were drowning in the Sea of Reeds the angels rejoiced. God stopped them, chastising them that the work of His hands was being destroyed and there was no joy in this. We cannot allow ourselves to be happy that we are ever forced to kill others, even those who are truly evil.
We must remember this aspect of the war we now are experiencing. Hamas has demonstrated that they are Amalek. They must be entirely blotted out of existence. But for the sake of our own souls, me must not allow ourselves to do this in vengeance, hate, or anger. We must kill every one of them, and it is profoundly sad that we have to do this. Although evil now, all of these men were born with pure souls, which were quickly degraded as they grew older, until they became the animals that we see killing babies, kidnapping hostages, and personifying evil.
If you owned a dog that got rabies, you would do everything you could to heal the animal. But the moment the animal attacked a child, you would put it down. And you would probably cry at the loss of what the animal once was. In the same way, while we put down these animals of Hamas, we need to mourn that they have forced us to do this. We must mourn not for their benefit, but for the benefit of our own souls so that we never, God forbid, embrace any of the true evil that Hamas demonstrates.
Golda Meir said two quotes that are paramount for each of us to remember as we fulfill our spiritual obligation of destroying Hamas in its entirety. The first is: “If the Palestinians lay down their weapons, there will be peace. If the Israelis lay down their weapons, there will be a massacre.” Hamas’ actions on October 7 demonstrate the profoundly sad but absolute truth of her statement.
She also spoke about what could happen in the future during a time of peace: “We will perhaps in time be able to forgive the Arabs for killing our sons, but it will be harder for us to forgive them for making us kill their sons. Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us.”
Hamas hates not only every Jew but even their own people, including their own children. Like rabid dogs they sought out children, both Jewish and Arab, to maim, kill, and use as sacrificial human shields for their own protection. This, above all other horrors they have committed, is why it is obvious that they are a modern Amalek, and must be blotted out and completely destroyed. And we must protect the holiness of our own souls while we destroy this organization, which is truly, in every sense of the word, evil.
May the Holy One and His Presence help us to entirely blot out Hamas as the modern Amalek, while keeping Israel in safety. May we never find hate or anger in our hearts as we do what must be done to Hamas and her allies. And may God always bless us, Israel, and the entire world with real peace–a peace based on respect and not on the fallacies we see all around us. A peace built on the truth and foundation of an Israel that is supported by the world as a light for peace in this time.