21st Century Savagery and Hamas: How Do We Understand Evil?

The savagery of Hamas in Israel has been on everyone’s mind in recent weeks. Most political leaders, including respected Saudi leaders, have expressed their horror at what was done. The killing of civilians, including women and children, plus the mutilation and degradation of dead bodies, is impossible to defend. The depravity of Hamas fighters is

John Patrick, MD

The savagery of Hamas in Israel has been on everyone’s mind in recent weeks. Most political leaders, including respected Saudi leaders, have expressed their horror at what was done. The killing of civilians, including women and children, plus the mutilation and degradation of dead bodies, is impossible to defend. The depravity of Hamas fighters is undeniable.


As John Robson wrote in a commentary article for The Epoch Times,


“In the West, including Israel, we kill when we must. But going back to ancient Greece, we do not desecrate except when we lose our minds. Desecrate is the key word. Such conduct willfully denies that we are all made in the image of God. Instead we give a dignified, if frosty, burial even to an executed mass killer because we regard their body as a sad, disquieting object, a reminder of how far they fell and a warning as to how far we might. Not these people. They frankly deny the humanity of Jews, and their goal is not a ‘two-state solution’ or even the peaceful expulsion of Jews from their ancient homeland. It is their extermination…It is a stark warning that those who hate God’s chosen people hate God.”[1]


Two Ways of Seeing

It is rare to see agreement among the political classes that usually contort morality to their anointed narrative. Israel is usually attacked, despite being the only functional democracy in the Middle East. The Arab world understands that Palestinians in Gaza protect and support Hamas. They know they are dealing with terrorists, yet not one regime is willing to let the Palestinians leave Gaza and the West Bank and take them in. Thousands of Palestinian refugees are in Jordan from the previous war; in fact, they attempted to kill the king of Jordan even while being given refuge.


Yet, worldwide demonstrations support the Palestinian cause; the rhetoric is full of passion and anger, as some deny the savagery, while others see the Hamas genocide of the Jews as the will of Allah, a necessary step to freedom for Palestine. For an understanding of the extent of the infiltration of our schools, universities and media, listen to Mark Levin.[2] In reality, anyone who joins demonstrations to support Palestine both tacitly and implicitly supports what happened in the kibbutzim in southern Israel. They are celebrating the rape of teenage girls at a music festival in the name of resistance.


There is immediate condemnation of Israel for denying humanitarian aid into Gaza. This issue is best dealt with by Natasha Hausdorff, an English lawyer. With calm politeness, she schooled the BBC’s Katya Adler in what the law requires in these circumstances, how Israel is observing this law to the letter and the singular perversity of Adler’s BBC mindset.[3]


Anger and Passion Do Not Excuse Atrocities

I am writing this column in Idaho, where I am lecturing this week. Most of the sessions here have ended in a discussion of how the Christian mind has withered and we need to rediscover our intellectual roots by paying attention to history. Christians have played significant roles in in political, legal and fiscal reform, as well as in the abolition of slavery. When Christians and others stand up against evil, bad situations are made better, people are changed and what God created is restored.


The tone of current discussions about slavery changes dramatically when one points out that Paul wrote the death certificate for slavery when he wrote that there is neither bond nor free, but all are one in Christ (Galatians 3:28). An incredulous silence usually follows when the audience sees the decreed issued by the Council of London in 1102: “Let no one dare hereafter to engage in the infamous business, prevalent in England, of selling men like animals.”[4] And in 1537, Pope Paul III said, “Indian and other people should not be deprived of their liberty and their possessions, and are not to be reduced to slavery.”[5] By the 1700s, Christians led to the abolition of slavery, first in the British Empire and later in America.


Judaic Ethic of Justice and a Christian Ethic of Love: A Legacy for the West

For today’s purpose, it is wise to quote comments from thoughtful liberal minds. Here is Jurgen Habermas, who is certainly a left-liberal professor and not by any means evangelical.


  • “For the normative self-understanding of modernity, Christianity has served as more than just a precursor or a catalyst. Egalitarianism, from which spring the ideals of freedom and a collective life in solidarity, the autonomous conduct of life and emancipation, the individual morality of conscience, human rights and democracy, is all the direct legacy of a Judaic ethic of justice and a Christian ethic of love.”
  • “From a moral point of view, there is no excuse for terrorist acts, regardless of the motive or the situation under which they are carried out. Nothing justifies our making allowance for the murder or suffering of others for one’s own purposes.”[6]


Those words would surprise a good many of the modern, young, left-of-center on our campuses today. Within this context, the Christian understanding of the world is unique, so also the current expression of the behavior of Hamas. Christians were there long before most people recognize, but our responsibility is to expound and apply our legacy in this situation.


Muslim Enmity: A Legacy for Hamas

Here is what Osama Bin Laden wrote, “We renounce you. Enmity and hate shall forever reign between us—till you believe in Allah alone.” Allah’s word to his Prophet was, “O Prophet! Wage war against the infidels and hypocrites and be ruthless. There abode is hell—an evil fate!” Author Raymond Ibrahim wrote, “Such, then, is the basis and foundation of the relationship between the infidel and the Muslim. Battle, animosity, and hatred—directed from the Muslim to the infidel—is the foundation of our religion. And we consider this a justice and kindness to them.”[7]


The 1998 Hamas Covenant says,

  • “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.”
  • “The day that enemies usurp part of Moslem land, Jihad becomes the individual duty of every Moslem. In the face of the Jews’ usurpation of Palestine, it is compulsory that the banner of Jihad be raised.”
  • “The Islamic Resistance Movement consider itself to be the spearhead of the circle of struggle with world Zionism…Islamic groupings all over the Arab world should also do the same, since all of these are the best-equipped for the future role in the fight with the warmongering Jews.”[8]


Religion Matters

What I hope you see emerging here is that extreme difficulties are to be faced with our attempt to exclude religion from politics. The question of authority must be answered on the left by acknowledging that current politics is only concerned with power and has no interest in truth. We in the West are living on the legacy of a Judeo-Christian history, while trying to avoid how little authority we have left in the system. We are often misguided.


When we talk about evidence-based medicine, we do not mean evidence-based medicine, because unless you can read the methodology of a scientific paper, you cannot understand the conclusion. What you actually do, and what we should tell the students to do, is read a good journal like the New England Journal of Medicine and verify if the paper is written by someone with a good reputation who has published before. This has nothing to do with evidence-based medicine; this is authority-based medicine. The problem is, by having pretended that literature is infallible, we are in deep trouble when we must acknowledge that a good percentage of it is not based on science at all.


So Where Does This Take Us?

I think the fact, so desperately needed today, can be illustrated easily by something I have done two or three times in the last couple of weeks. At a men’s reading group in my home church, I asked them to imagine a bubble over their head displaying their thoughts for everyone to see. What would you do? We all have thoughts that we cherish for a moment and then dismiss, as they should be dismissed. Husband and wife could hardly live together for long if they saw an immediate response to some behavior; within the workplace, it would be even worse. The interesting thing is that it implies we know and feel shame; we may claim that all these things are social constructs, but we do not blame society in this illustration. It is too personal, and it gets to the truth. We are fallen creatures. The fact we feel shame makes it clear there is moral truth deep down in the wells of our souls, and that is hopeful. Especially, perhaps, for Hamas murderers who were captured alive, who can know these moral truths deep in their souls and who are now being interrogated. We need to pray for them.


[1] https://www.theepochtimes.com/opinion/john-robson-there-is-only-one-fitting-response-to-the-terrorist-attacks-on-israel-5506208

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iWtf33czGUs

[3] https://m.youtube.com/watch?utm_source=substack&utm_medium=email&v=LdW6ISElci4&feature=youtu.be

[4] en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_American_Historical_Review

[5] https://www.papalencyclicals.net/paul03/p3subli.htm

[6] https://www.amazon.com/Philosophy-Time-Terror-Dialogues-Habermas/dp/0226066665#:~:text=The%20idea%20for%20Philosophy%20in,destructive%20terrorist%20act%20ever%20perpetrated.

[7] https://www.chronicle.com/article/the-two-faces-of-al-qaeda-2594/?emailConfirmed=true&supportSignUp=true&supportForgotPassword=true&email=mandi.morrin%40cmda.org&success=true&code=success&bc_nonce=q8hgngxuuwcleas9q85go&cid=gen_sign_in

[8] https://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/hamas.asp