Rabbi Steven Pruzansky in Israel National News: Innocents Abroad
January 22, 2024

by Rabbi Steven Pruzansky in the Israel National News

There is something abnormal about the “innocent civilians” of Gaza that we would do well to recognize, especially since the blood libel at The Hague is premised on their suffering, brought about by the war they and their elected representatives launched against us.

When G-d informed Moshe of the consequences of the tenth and final plague – the death of each Egyptian first born – He noted that there will be a “great outcry” in Egypt at that time that will lead to liberation for the Jewish people.

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The great biblical commentator Malbim (1809-1879) explained that “outcry” as the “outcry of rebellion” (Shemot 11:6) as the Egyptian people, horrified at their fate and their Pharaoh’s obstinacy “wanted to kill Pharaoh.” They had endured enough suffering, blamed Pharaoh and not the Jews, and wanted relief. That got Pharaoh’s attention and he searched for Moshe and Aharon to inform them that they and the people of Israel should all leave, and immediately.

How is it that there is no indigenous rebellion in Gaza? After all, we are told that there are some 40,000 Hamas fighters in a population of “innocents” that number well over a million people? The “innocents,” apparently, outnumber the terrorists some 25-1, or even 30-1.

How is it that aside from a few scattered voices blaming Hamas – often terrorists in captivity conveniently changing their tune or some random Gazan found by the media – there is no movement to displace Hamas?

And as IDF soldiers are finding arms in almost every home and school, why did the Gazans not take up those arms to rebel?

A few better questions: how is it that Israel lacks informants among the Gazan population?

How is it that not one Gazan has revealed the location of any of the hostages (indeed, many Gazan “civilians,” as we now know, have held our capitives hostage in their own homes)?

How is it that not one Gazan has revealed the location of the tunnel entrances, sparing our soldiers the hazardous task of finding them? After all, those entrances are usually located in their own homes, or in the schools to which they send their children, or in the mosques in which they pray, or in the hospitals where they presumably seek medical care. If they were as innocent as the world portrays them to be, why the reticence?

There are several inevitable conclusions to be drawn from this. It is the way of the world that people suffering under the yoke of a brutal, deadly, and unwanted leadership try to overthrow those leaders and replace them with leaders who better share the society’s values. Most of the United States’ Declaration of Independence is devoted to articulating the basis of that right. For a society that suffers under despotic rule, “it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government.” That the civilians of Gaza are so docile means that they are either cowardly – or complicit.

Cowardice is a state of mind and difficult to prove conclusively. Even though the “innocent civilians” far outnumber their terrorist leaders, it requires great courage to begin a frontal battle against well-armed and evil fighters. But it requires less courage to surreptitiously help Israel, reveal the entrances to bunkers and tunnels, and even reveal the location of any of the hostages. That none of this is happening means that the second possibility – complicity – is the more likely reason why Gazans accept the Hamas regime, rejoice in the war against the Jews and the torture they inflicted and are inflicting on our civilians, and even participated in the atrocities of October 7 – and would vote for Hamas again given the chance.

That the world has accepted this false dichotomy between Hamas and Gazans is partly mendacity, bias, and insincerity – but it is also partly our government’s fault as it has made little effort to accentuate the complicity of civilian Gazans in the current conflict. Worse, our leaders’ vain boast the day after the massacre that “not one drop of water or fuel will enter Gaza until all the hostages are released” dissipated almost instantly under pressure. Nothing projects weakness more than making promises you can’t keep and threats that you will not carry out. It was a missed opportunity to expose the myth of the “innocent civilians.”

We are now dealing with those consequences in many ways, not least of which is the continued captivity for the hostages. As our soldiers have reported, Hamas routinely sends out young children and mothers wheeling carriages to ascertain where Israeli soldiers are bivouacked. It presents an almost incomprehensible dilemma for our military. You can’t shoot them – even though their presence and mission endanger our soldier’s lives. I dare all the self-appointed faux moralists across the West to present a solution to that dilemma.

Yet, whose Jewish father, husband, son, or brother must die in order to protect the lives of these “innocents” who report the location of our forces to Hamas which then shoots RPG’s or other projectiles at our forces? At the very least, this presents an opportunity for our government to dispel the myth of the “innocent civilian,” call for the immediate relocation of anyone who wants to leave and stop pretending that the future of Gaza is the restoration of the past.

For complicity does not only mean that they are actively engaged in terrorism. Complicity also means that they have been educated on hatred of Jews and the illegitimacy of Israel. That cannot be changed, and we should stop pretending that it can change. Let the innocents go abroad and make better lives for themselves; to the extent that they wish to stay only demonstrates how complicit they are.

It is sobering to think that Pharaoh’s Egyptians were more normal, more sophisticated, cared for their children more, had greater respect for life, and feared Pharaoh less (notwithstanding his claim of divinity) than modern Gazans who acquiesce in their suffering, are accomplices in a cult of death, and far from seeking Hamas’ overthrow, voted them into power in 2006 and still support them.

We choose to avert our eyes but they have signed on to a cult that declares (Article 8 of the Hamas Charter) “Jihad is its path and death for the sake of Allah is the loftiest of its wishes.” This death wish is embodied in the oft-quoted statement of radical Muslims that “we love death like you love life,” which they perceive as Jewish weakness and not – as normal people perceive such an assertion – as pathological.

It is not too late for our leaders to reverse the perception of the “innocent civilians” that is leading us directly back to the past as if we have learned nothing. That the world assumes that “Gazans” should and will control Gaza on the day after makes a mockery of our suffering and sacrifices. Jewish pride, candor forcefully but rationally expressed, and a clear sense of our strategy for the future are the demands of the hour, if we want to salvage something positive from the catastrophe imposed upon us.

Innocent? Hardly. And that point must be hammered repeatedly by all who speak in Israel’s name.

Originally published in the Israel National News

Photo Credit: Palestinian News & Information Agency (Wafa) in contract with APA images on Wikimedia Commons

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