A woman wears a tape with the word 'Liberte' (Freedom) on her mouth during Paris solidarity march.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The horrific murders in Paris, and the predictable targeting of Jews for slaughter, raises this question: why are none of the world leaders who are condemning the attack speaking of their hatred for these cowardly killers? We’ve heard that they will be fought. We’ve heard that they will be targeted. But where is a simple statement by French President François Hollande that “I despise these terrorists with every fiber of my being. I hate them and everything they stand for. And I will fight them to the last man.” Why do we never hear responsible, credible heads of state declaring their revulsion, their outright loathing, for odious murderers? Where is the visceral abhorrence and detestation for monsters? It wasn’t always thus.
Abraham Lincoln had no hesitation declaring his hatred for the abomination of slavery. In 1854 in Peoria he said, “I cannot but hate slavery. I hate it because of the monstrous injustice of slavery itself.” Churchill said openly that “I hate no man but Hitler.” And because he hated the beast he inspired a nation to fight him. The French, who did not hate Hitler, collaborated with him and sent Jews to the gas chambers instead.
It seems that hatred has gone out of vogue.
Let my Christian brothers speak of loving one’s enemies.
Let my Catholic friends tell me to turn the other cheek. When it comes to the terrorist mass murderers of Paris I cannot but reject both New Testament teachings and instead embrace Solomon’s proclamation in Proverbs: “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil.” I will welcome what King David said regarding the wicked: “I have hated them with a deep loathing. They are as enemies to me.”
The kind of men who could storm into an editorial meeting at a newspaper and spray every person present with bullets are not men at all. They are monsters, pure and simple. They may once have been created in the image of God. But they have since erased every last vestige of God’s image from their countenance. They are not our human brothers. They are quite simply beasts.
Loving victims might generate compassion for their suffering. But hating the perpetrators generates action to stop their orgy of murder. While innocence should evoke compassion, evil should evoke only contempt and the determination that it be eradicated.
I am well aware that the French prime minister has declared war against Islamic terrorism. But I have seen these declarations time and again, only to see the resolve wane as time passes. Memory alone cannot inspire a war against terror. It must result from righteous indignation.
Only a true hatred of terrorism and a moral revulsion at all the terrorists stand for will inspire a total commitment to their obliteration.
This is what has been missing in the West until now.
There have been so many excuses for terrorism and a lack of moral clarity as to why terrorists do what they do, especially when it involves the murder of Jews. Suicide bombers in Israel have been excused as being motivated by Israeli checkpoints and the lack of an economic future. Hamas terror rockets, aimed at Israeli cities, are dismissed as resulting from a naval blockade.
We could easily say the same thing of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists. Who can blame the Islamic terrorists for feeling incensed at the constant attacks against their prophet by scoundrels with a pen? Indeed, White House spokesman Jay Carney said two years ago that while the cartoonists had every right to freedom of expression, they ought to exercise judgment as to whether this incitement was prudent. This kind of muddled moral thinking is dangerous and is exactly why the West has not summoned the iron determination needed to defeat terrorism.
So let me be clear: I am not only repulsed by the vile, disgusting men who killed innocent journalists, police and Jews in Paris, I hate them. I despise them. I hate them with every fiber of my being. I believe those who do not hate them have a broken moral compass. And those who say they love them – especially when such love is based on misunderstood teachings in Scripture – have betrayed decency and faith.
We must purge our ourselves of any shred of sympathy which might seek to understand their motives. When it comes to the slaughter of innocents we must brook no excuse, allow no rationalization, accept no form of justification. Murder is always wrong. Period.
Forgetting how to hate can be just as damaging as forgetting how to love. I realize that immersed as we are in a Christian culture that exhorts us to “turn the other cheek,” this can sound quite absurd. Little do we remember, it seems, the Talmudic aphorism that those who are kind to the cruel end up being cruel to the kind.
Indeed, exhortations to hate all manner of evil abound in the Bible. Hatred is a valid emotion – an appropriate response – when directed at the truly evil: those who have gone beyond the pale of human decency by committing acts which unweave the basic fabric of civilized living. Contrary to Christianity which advocates turning the other cheek to belligerence and loving the wicked, Judaism obligates us to despise and resist evil at all costs.
Amid my deep and abiding respect for the Christian faith I state unequivocally that to love the terrorist who flies a civilian plane into a civilian building or a white supremacist who drags a black man three miles while tied to the back of a car is sinful, not just misguided but immoral. To love evil is itself evil and constitutes a passive form of complicity. Indeed, to show kindness to murderers is to violate the victims again.
The purpose of our hatred is not revenge but the preservation of justice. I wholeheartedly embrace the example of Simon Wiesenthal, one of the most inspirational men of the 20th century, who devoted his life to the pursuit of justice by not allowing Nazi murderers go to their graves in peace. Only if we hate evil passionately will we summon the determination to fight it fervently. Odd and uncomfortable as it may seem, hatred has its place.
Although they referred to a different era in history, the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. still ring true today: “We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.”
One of the most frequent themes of my writing is how we – a generation with a 50 percent divorce rate and a professional singles scene – have forgotten how to love. But when it comes to the war on terror, our biggest impediment might just be that we have forgotten how to hate.The author, whom Newsweek and The Washington Post call “the most famous rabbi in America,” is the founder of This World: The Values Network, the world’s leading organization defending Israel in world media. He is the author of Judaism for Everyone and 30 other books, including his most recent, Kosher Lust. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.