There is no escaping the troubling fact that President Obama’s policy on the Gaza conflict is intended to save Hamas from the natural consequences of its evil, in effect, to allow Hamas to survive to fight another day and murder more Jews. However Jewish Democrats seek to spin this, it is an overt and stunning betrayal of Israel. It would be fair these days to ask Obama the question made famous by President George W. Bush: “Are you with us, or are you with the terrorists?”
But Israel would be foolhardy to listen to a word that Obama says, even if he again shuts down American air traffic to Israel in an attempt to intimidate and weaken Israel. And if Israel embraces a cease-fire along the terms that Obama suggests (essentially, Israel ceases firing, while the enemy is allowed the launch of an occasional missile or rocket as well as the resumption of its tunnel-building) all the casualties would have been lost in vain.
The obvious reason is that halting Operation Protective Edge now would kick the can down the road for a few years, until the enemy re-arms and is even more powerful, with even deadlier weapons. Today’s Hamas is largely equipped with unguided rockets and missiles such that most fall in uninhabited areas. That necessitates a more limited use of the Iron Dome, which, for all its astonishing success and technological genius, is an expensive system to operate. Shooting down a $500 rocket with a $50,000 missile is imperative but not very cost-effective. The next war – if there is a next war – could involve Hamas missiles that feature guidance systems that could target specific areas and overwhelm even Iron Dome. Leaders must anticipate the future, not just see the past or present.
But there is a more compelling reason for seeing this mission to its natural conclusion – a death blow to Hamas – notwithstanding the Obama/Kerry perfidy. There is a convergence of factors here that might not recur for the foreseeable future. Egypt is allied with Israel (as are the Jordanians and the Saudis) against Hamas. Egypt has been extremely aggressive in recent weeks in closing off the southern border to Gaza, depriving Hamas of one avenue for importation of its weapons, and has killed numerous terrorists without, naturally, incurring the wrath of the international community or having to deal with the canard of “civilians.” (In Gaza, apparently, only civilians are killed, or so we are led to believe. Either there are no terrorists there, or somehow all bullets either bounce off them or are miraculously drawn to “civilians” as if by magnetic pull.) Both Israel and Egypt have an interest in eradicating the Hamas threat, a situation that could easily change in the coming months or years.
Additionally, the Israeli public has achieved a remarkable level of unity in support of the current operation. Upwards of 85% of the public support the mission. But if the past is any indication of the future, that will not endure. Already the insane left (given disproportionate attention by the dominant leftist media in Israel) is protesting the war, not fully grasping that the enemy means to kill them as well or perhaps, in their delusional state, preferring death to the moral quandaries that arise in any act of self-defense. This unity itself is a product of several phenomena.
From one perspective, sad to say, rockets on Sderot and environs for years did not properly trouble every Israeli. But now that missiles have targeted Yerushalayim, Tel Aviv and even as far as Haifa (not to mention Hezbollah’s missiles from Lebanon) it is clear that all of Israel could become Sderot, unless the dynamic is changed. Additionally, perhaps people are tired of having to fight the same battle every 2-4 years, against the same enemy but with increasingly-advanced weaponry. The sense that it can get worse – much worse – tends to focus the mind on real, not ersatz, solutions.
The soldiers of the IDF are anxious for battle, while mindful of the potential costs; morale is very high, and the sense of mission, of esprit de corps, is epic (which is why a premature conclusion will be deflating, and is also politically imprudent for Netanyahu). And the ever-increasing number of religious soldiers in the IDF – especially among the officer corps, where they are today probably a majority – adds a different dimension to the struggle. While secular Israelis limit the scope of the conflict and see it as eminently solvable, religious Jews tend to see Jewish history from a broader perspective. We realize that the enemies of Israel weren’t created in 2005, 1967, 1948 or 1897 – but from the moment we received the Torah at Sinai (Masechet Shabbat 89a). Today’s wars are just the ancient wars in a slightly different guise, and in some sense, they are indistinguishable. All these add up to a nation that is primed for victory – for the defeat of one of its arch enemies – victory for itself and victory for the free world over the forces of Muslim terror.
The question is: what does victory look like? How can victory be assured?
Undoubtedly, if the war is left to its natural conclusion, Hamas can be vanquished as a military and a political force within weeks. It has lost tremendous support in the Arab world, and few outside the world of radical Shi’a will mourn their demise. Of course, to the extent that Hamas represents an ideology of terror, hatred and violence it will continue to exist, as ideologies can only be destroyed if the entire infrastructure that sustains it is destroyed and its propagators eliminated (e.g., Nazism). But as a fighting force, military threat or political power, Hamas is on the verge of being devastated. Its leaders are in hiding, letting their electorate bear the brunt of the fighting, and their people know it – and know also that the Hamas leadership has embezzled that Western money that they have not squandered on their evil quest to destroy Israel. Most Hamas leaders – apart from Meshaal who lives in Qatar – have not lifted their heads from their bunkers or been heard from for weeks. They are ripe for defeat, a takeover of their territory followed by being ferreted out from their bunkers and tunnels. Victory means a Hamas surrender.
And then what?
Israel’s government has embraced the notion of demilitarization of Gaza, which is great if it could be implemented, but it can’t, so it is a pipedream. Under the Oslo Accords, none of the weaponry currently in possession of the Arabs in Judea, Samaria or Gaza is legal. They were all acquired in violation of standing agreements, so an additional agreement concerning demilitarization is futile. And as is now apparent, the main preoccupation of the Gazans is smuggling, and weaponry is just another entity that is smuggled. Another approach, even worse, sees the ultimate objective as destruction of the tunnels – as if the tunnels are the problem rather than the terrorists who use the tunnels and the killers who dispatch them.
One view gaining currency in Israel is that Gaza should be re-conquered by Israel (it would be for the fourth time since 1948) and its civilian administration assumed by responsible international organizations. That assumes, of course, that there is such a thing as a “responsible international organization,” a dubious proposition especially in light of UNRWA’s treachery and Jew-hatred that has now stretched over six decades. There are too many diplomats dressed in suits whose hatred for Israel and wishes for its demise rivals that of anyone in a kaffiyeh.
Consequently, I don’t believe that would succeed. The seeds would just be sown for the next conflict, under the same or worse leadership. There is only one solution that could work, change the entire dynamic in the Middle East and usher in an era of peace and prosperity (all right, perhaps the latter not right away). That is why it won’t happen.
In short, Gaza has to be depopulated.
The reality is that, despite Israel’s best and sometimes foolish efforts, the Middle East conflict is a zero-sum game. There are not enough Muslims who openly support the existence of a Jewish state in Israel, and there are too many Muslims who actively work, conspire and plan for its demise. “Land for peace,” which never made sense except within the echo chamber of the left, has run its course. Similarly, the “two-state solution” is anything but. It is clear to all but the willfully blind that any concession made to Arabs is simply the starting point of the next war and the next round of negotiations. The Arab world is divided between those who favor negotiating Israel into non-existence and those who favor destroying it into non-existence. That is the reality, sad as it is.
Nothing will change that. The Arabs of Judea and Samaria – and too many Israeli Arabs – harbor fantasies of Israel’s destruction, even when their own lives would suffer as a result (!). That is not changing. But start with Gaza. When Three Mile Island was contaminated by radioactivity in 1979, hundreds of thousands of people had to be evacuated for their own safety and well-being. One year earlier, several thousand people had to be resettled when the Love Canal neighborhood in Niagara Falls was discovered to be sitting on chemical wastes.
Gaza today (for decades, actually) is Five Mile Island, a toxic waste dump saturated in violence, depravity and Jew hatred. It cannot and should not be rebuilt. Arabs who dwell there will always retain animosity towards Israel and yearn to destroy it. They will sacrifice their children and grandchildren to that evil and quixotic quest. How they should be resettled is a different question than whether or to where they should be resettled (although western Iraq seems ideal – vacant desert land.)
The reality is that it is easier to change a human being’s location that it is to change his heart. So the world has a choice: it can continue to pour billions of dollars into Gazan “infrastructure,” knowing full well that the money will be used for terror. It can continue to waste the time of diplomats and politicians drafting arcane and detailed agreements that will be signed and never followed. It can continue to cajole the Arabs into verbally recognizing Israel’s right to exist, knowing full well they are not sincere and are just awaiting the most opportune time to attack Israel.
And so the world can be witness to more Arab deaths, grinding poverty, miserable lives, dysfunctional families, child suicide bombers, etc. – generation after generation sacrificed on the altar of jihadist genocidal ambitions aimed first and foremost at Israel (but then the rest of the West, of course). Or the world – led by Israel – can analyze the situation and say that something must change dramatically. It is not enough to disarm them or demilitarize them but to resettle them. As it stands now and for the foreseeable future, no combination of words, inducements, bribes, carrots or even sticks will reverse the genocidal trends that animate an entire group. The same billions that Hamas and allies will divert to terror uses can be employed in resettlement, and the entire region and world would benefit. Of course, those Gazans who want to live as civilized people and accept Israel’s sovereignty can certainly stay, with blessings, and the application of the “one strike, you’re out” rule. And they would benefit from the return of Jewish settlers who had made that desert bloom before they were summarily expelled by short-sighted Israeli leaders, some of whom still lurk in positions of power.
As long as the enemy remains on land from which it can threaten Israel, nothing will ever change.
Which route is more moral – nurturing the Arabs’ false hopes of statehood and Israel’s ultimate disappearance in a land in which they have resided less than 100 years, or resettling them in a place where they can build the society of their dreams free of the necessity of raising their children on hatred, envy and violence? It is a choice between endless death and new life.
It strikes me that the latter is more moral and even more feasible, once the shock has worn off and the blinders have been taken off. Nothing else is going to change. Jews have no other place to go and fulfill a divine commandment living in Israel; Arabs have an abundance of choices although, given the proclivity to violence, admittedly not all are savory.
Undoubtedly, normal Gazans would accept this offer of resettlement – with compensation paid, of course – but many will be intimidated by the forces of evil which they wittingly voted into power. Their hatred of Jews is that irrational and that passionate, and Hamas does love the death of its own citizens almost as much as it loves the death of Jews. That is why it must be defeated. But a concerted effort on the part of the international community, and great resolve by Israel, will demonstrate that this is the only way. As long as there is a glimmer of hope that a “Palestinian” national home is a possibility in the land of Israel, the macabre dance of death will continue.
If it succeeds, there is hope for Judea and Samaria as well.
Of course, none of this will happen in the next week, month or year, and will require a generation of new thinkers able to break away from the tired and painful paradigms of the past.
In the meantime, Hamas has to be vanquished into unconditional surrender, and not rescued by the meddlesome team of Obama/Kerry. Israel then has to resist the temptation to make new concessions to some other group of Arabs which will also just prolong the war. Due to the bravery and sacrifice of Israelis, the first objective is within reach. May their resolve remain strong, and may G-d bless their efforts!