It’s OK to be a hypocrite, if you’re right.

It’s all right to speak on behalf of a religious organization which, four times in the last thousand years, sent waves of crusaders on a war to liberate a land that was never theirs, massacring hundreds of thousands of Jews and wiping out hundreds of Jewish communities en route to keep your soldiers in slaughter-the-infidel mode. It’s all right to represent a church that for 350 years operated a “holy inquisition" that tortured and burned alive thousands of “heretics,” It’s all right to stand up now and announce that “G‑d is against war, always” without even smirking. It’s all right — if you were speaking the truth.

It’s OK to be a small pedophilic European country that enslaved, brutalized and murdered 10 million Africans for ivory and gold. It’s OK to wake up two or three generations later and announce that you’ve assumed global responsibility to bring all “war criminals” to justice, including an Israeli general who allegedly did not do enough to prevent Christian Arabs from killing Muslim Arabs. That’s perfectly legitimate, if the allegation were true.

There’s nothing amiss if 57,000 U.S. soldiers are buried on your soil because twice in the last century, those aggressive Americans sent their children across the ocean to liberate you from a cruel occupation. It’s perfectly OK to now decide America really ought to mind its own business, wait patiently for the next Sept. 11 and allow the world to look to France for leadership. It matters not that xenophobia, anti-Semitism and a Napoleon-sized superiority complex underlies your rhetoric. The only thing that matters is if you’re right.

Our sages have said: “Accept the truth, no matter who’s saying it.” It’s OK to be a hypocrite, if you’re right.

It’s far worse to be wrong. Human beings are wrong sometimes. Most of the world erred when they believed that appeasement and “containment” was the best way to deal with Hitler. Many Israelis made a fatal error when they believed that a “peace deal” with Yasser Arafat would reduce(!) Palestinian terror against Jews. Our own government blundered when twelve years ago, in a desire to end the first war against Iraq as quickly and bloodlessly as possible, sufficed with the liberation of Kuwait and left in power a man who awards $25,000 to every family that produces a suicide bomber. Often, we’re wrong because our desperate desire for a better, more just and more peaceful world interferes with our good sense. It’s pretty bad to be wrong, even if, surveying the devastating results of your error, you can honestly weep, “I meant well.”

But if you’re a hypocrite and you’re also dead wrong, what’s your excuse?

Yanki Tauber is content editor of Magazine; this article, however, is an entirely personal rant, and is not intended to express the views of