I’ve often had a certain ambivalence about never having gone to college. Today, I have none. When I watch how our once storied universities have stolen the minds of our young people, robbed them of the knowledge of right and wrong, and replaced their common sense with a set of pseudo-values that have no basis in reality, my lack of collegiate sophistication is no longer a source of misgiving, but a beacon of clarity. “Sophistry” is a pejorative. It denotes a willingness to lie and to deceive. What else but an unthinking belief in lies can explain the masses of college students who delight in tearing down posters of kidnapped babies? What else but an unthinking belief in lies allows a person to publicly shout that the rape and torture of young Jewish women is a justified response to “colonialism?” What else but an unthinking belief in lies prods an Ivy League professor to exhort on October 8 —just one day after the worst pogrom since the Holocaust—that he feels “energized” by the sight of burned and beheaded children.
Too many of us have been acculturated to believe that every society is inherently good, that we all want the same things, and that given the choice between life and death every society will choose life. In our naïve gregariousness, too many of us fail to understand the nature of radical Islam— not Islam as a whole, but radical Islam, Islam’s barbaric variant whose adherents are estimated to number well over a hundred million worldwide. In their various forms, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, ISIS, Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and Hezbollah all maintain a categorically different worldview from ours in the West. Death is for them a righteous path, a goal, a means to a “holy” end. The abduction of toddlers is a mitzvah. The torture and savage killing of entire Jewish families in their kitchens and in their bedrooms is a doorway to the 72 virgins who await their martyrdom. To some, that may sound ridiculous. But that’s the point. It should sound ridiculous; we hold an entirely different conception of the world. Theirs is a culture that prizes death; ours is a culture that prizes life. They are mired in evil. We are steeped in good. It’s no more sophisticated than that.
Why do I mention this? I do so because the willful ignorance that rots in the streets of our major cities and in our schools pains me, the Jew-hatred pains me, the small band of outlier Jews who call for an immediate ceasefire pains me—just as it would pain me if those same Jews called for a ceasefire had the Nazis asked for one in the hell of October 1943. October 7 represents a turning point, an existential moment for the world, and in the most immediate sense, for the Jewish people.
It has become critical that we fully understand who the enemy is. To be clear, it is not the Palestinian people, with whom we Jews are intertwined, and with whom we must continue to search for an answer to the thorny question of how even a semblance of peace can be achieved. Our enemy is Hamas, its supporters, and its sympathizers. Our enemy is any American institution that gives succor to Jew-haters. Our enemy is those in cities around the world who call for the death of Israel and Jews everywhere. Our enemy is also those who call for Israel to lay down its arms and tamely succumb to all manner of future pogroms.
As the renowned left-leaning Israeli writer David Grossman recently pointed out, Netanyahu didn’t cause the horrors of October 7. Hamas did that. Nor did any Israeli administration—past or present—cause the pogrom of October 7. Hamas did that. Do not be misled.
Using the strength of our unbridled creativity, our unceasing unity, and our heartfelt prayers, may the Jewish people be victorious, may Hamas be utterly destroyed, and may every last hostage be reunited with their families in true peace.