OpinionIsrael at War

Hamas’s ‘suffering’ excuse

In the Holocaust, my parents survived far worse than the Palestinians, yet they never dreamed of harming children, women and the elderly.

Israeli troops operating in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, Nov. 16, 2023. Credit: IDF.
Israeli troops operating in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, Nov. 16, 2023. Credit: IDF.
Joel Weinberger
Joel Weinberger, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist, professor and author of the award-winning book The Unconscious: Theory, Research and Clinical Implications.

Many people support the Palestinians’ right to a state. Many condemn the policies and attitudes of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his political allies who deny these rights and mistreat Palestinians. I do too. Many are moved by the suffering of Gazans since Israel began its war against Hamas. I am too.

But too many of these same people support Hamas and praise the terror group’s Oct. 7 massacre. They say that this horrendous rampage of crimes against humanity was the justified action of a people who have been oppressed for 75 years.

What is wrong with these people?

The Hamas they gleefully praise admits to the planned slaughter of over 1,200 civilians, many of whom witnessed the murder of family members before they themselves were murdered. Women were raped. Twenty-nine of the murdered were children. Over 200 were kidnapped, 30 of them children. Hostages were taken to Gaza and paraded through the streets like trophies.

Not content with these horrors, the Hamas terrorists sent messages to the families of the victims in order to torture them further. Hamas’s own videos showed them celebrating their evil acts by describing what they did, accompanied by joyful shouts and praises to God.

This is not war. This is murderous hatred. It is cynically bartering human lives, both Palestinian and Israeli, for publicity: The more horrors, the more deaths, the more publicity.

In addition to premeditated murder and kidnapping, Hamas has threatened to kill the helpless children, women and elderly they hold hostage. They promise to repeat their actions again and again. What prior treatment or oppression can justify this? 

Some might say that having never experienced the humiliation and oppression of the Palestinians, I have no right to judge. It is true that I have not experienced these things. But I know people who have experienced far worse humiliation and oppression.

My parents survived the Holocaust. Their parents were murdered; their brothers and sisters were murdered; they were stripped of all rights; they were tortured; they lost their homes and property; they were stateless and never returned to their home.

I have no idea what my paternal grandparents or murdered uncles looked like. No photos or memorabilia survived. I was awakened many times in my childhood by the sound of my father screaming as he suffered his latest nightmare. He was deaf in one ear from a beating administered via a rifle butt. My mother is missing several teeth from the day she was hit in the mouth with a hammer. There are many more such stories, each more awful than the next.

Many years ago, I went with my parents to visit their old towns. The Jewish cemetery of their ancestors no longer exists. It is a corn field in which one can find bits and pieces of headstones. There is no other proof that my ancestors were ever there. When we visited my father’s former home, two women emerged and sat out front, guarding what was now their home from us. We did not enter.

There is no comparison between the traumas, persecutions or suffering of the Palestinians and those of Holocaust survivors. But this is not a contest.

There is one valid comparison, however.

Like many Palestinians, my parents were bitter, angry and traumatized. But they would not think of behaving as their tormentors did. Not once did I hear my parents wish for, let alone plan to act in a vengeful way towards their oppressors. I certainly never heard them wish for the deaths of babies and the elderly.

So, again, what prior treatment and/or oppression can justify what Hamas has done and its promises to do it again and again?

The answer is: Nothing.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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