Netanyahu Cites Deuteronomy in Message to Troops: ‘Remember What Amalek Did to You’

JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a message to the soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) on Friday in which he quoted a Biblical injunction from Deuteronomy: “You shall remember what Amalek did to you” (25:17).

The story is a familiar reference to many observant Jews. Amalek, a nation that dwelled in the desert attacked the Children of Israel soon after they escaped slavery in Egypt (Exodus 17:8). As Jewish tradition has it, Amalek did not simply attack, but singled out the most defenseless people in the column — the very young, and the very old.

As such, Moses tells the people, in his final speech before he dies and they enter the Land of Israel, both to remember Amalek, and to eliminate Amalek from the world.

Netanyahu has used the phrase in previous public statements. It has been misinterpreted (by critics) as a call to for “holy war” and genocide.

In fact, the phrase is familiar to Jews as a reminder that there are some kinds of evil that cannot be accommodated and must be fought. “Amalek” is associated with the Nazis, for example, and various other enemies throughout Jewish history.

The phrase has emerged often — and not just via Netanyahu — in Israel’s fight to destroy Hamas.

A consistent theme in public statements by Israeli officials — both civilian and military — is to remember how the war began, and the purpose for which it is being fought, which risks being drowned out by media debate over the battles and tactics of the day.

Netanyahu’s full statement, translated, follows.

Warriors, soldiers, all the dear security forces,

Representatives of the people and the state,

The foundation of the existence of the millennia-old nation of Israel is the constant struggle for our lives and freedom.

Since time immemorial we have struggled with bitter enemies, who rose up against us to destroy us. When we are equipped with the strength of spirit and the righteousness of our path, we stood resolutely against those who sought [to destroy] our souls.

The current fight against the “Hamas” murderers is another chapter in the story of national struggle for generations.

“Remember what Amalek did to you.”

We constantly remember the sights of the horrific massacre on Shabbat Simchat Torah, October 7, 2023. Before our eyes stand our brothers and sisters who were murdered, wounded, kidnapped; the fallen of the IDF and the security forces.

In their name and on their behalf we embarked on a campaign, the purpose of which is the destruction of the cruel and murderous enemy Hamas-ISIS, the return of our abductees and the return of security to our country, our citizens and our children.

This is the war between the sons of light and the sons of darkness. We will not let up on our mission until the light overcomes the darkness — the good will defeat the extreme evil that threatens us and the entire world.

Dear IDF soldiers and soldiers of the security forces, wherever you are — on land, in the air and at sea, in the assembly areas and in the depths of the terrain, in the intelligence, armament, logistics and medical services — new pages in Israel’s history are being written by your hands.

Your courage, your devotion to the goal and your courage are hugely inspiring.

All of you are descendants of the chain of heroes who did not hesitate and did not retreat — Joshua, Deborah the prophetess, King David, Yehuda the Maccabee, Bar Kochba, Joseph Trumpeldor, the underground fighters, the IDF and the security forces. They took hold of the sword [and] shield for Israel’s destiny, and you follow in their footsteps.

In all my meetings with you in the last few weeks, I was deeply impressed by the depth of your spirit — by the spirit of victory, as it is said in the Bible: “For You have girded me with strength for the battle; You have subdued under me those that rose up against me.” (Psalm 18:40).

As I send you on a mission, our dear heroes, I am confident of our complete victory over our enemies. Together with all the people of Israel — I trust you, I am proud of you and I love you.

“May the Almighty cause the enemies who rise up against us to be struck down before them. May the Holy One, Blessed is He, preserve and rescue our fighters from every trouble and distress and from every plague and illness, and may He send blessing and success in their every endeavor.

“May He lead our enemies under our soldiers’ sway and may He grant them salvation and crown them with victory.” [IDF prayer]

Be strong and embrace victory — with God’s help, together we will win!

Shabbat Shalom,

Benjamin Netanyahu
Prime Minister of Israel

Saturday marks the fourth week since Hamas launched the war with a terror attack that killed 1,200 people in Israel — often in brutal fashion — and wounded 5,400 more, with 241 currently hostages in Gaza.

Editor’s Note: This story was updated to reflect a revised number on the death toll from the October 7 Hamas attack in Israel. The Israeli government estimate of 1,400 was revised to around 1,200, according to Reuters.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the new biography, Rhoda: ‘Comrade Kadalie, You Are Out of Order’. He is also the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


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