Anyone seeking a case study of the forces of good facing evil incarnate would not find a better template than our current confrontation with Hamas. And yet, having for years endured bias and the application of double standards from the amoral international community, we are pained that much of the global media continues relating to us in a malevolent and hypocritical manner. In lieu of being commended for defending ourselves against terrorists, we are portrayed as the heartless killers while the barbarians committed to murdering us are depicted as innocent victims.
Self-styled liberals refuse to face the brutal truth that that our Hamas neighbors have created a criminal society based on death and destruction. Like the Nazis, Hamas is committed to destroying the Jewish people and willing to transform its own citizens into martyrs to promote this goal. “A Palestinian who kills one Jew will be rewarded as if he killed 30 million,” proclaimed Hamas legislator Fathi Hamad at a press conference. Whereas we grieve over the death of fellow Israelis and innocent Palestinians, Hamas celebrates the murder of both – the first as “apes and pigs,” the latter as prized martyrs of Allah whom they gleefully exploit for propaganda purposes.
An independent state of Palestine is not Hamas’s primary goal. Its charter unequivocally prioritizes the destruction of the Jewish state and killing as many Jews as possible: “The annihilation of the Jews in Palestine is one of the most splendid blessings for Palestine,” said Palestinian cleric Muhsen Abu Ita recently on Al Aksa TV. Only last week on Hamas TV, masked women clad in explosive belts and holding rifles vowed to become “martyrs” and blow themselves up among the “apes and pigs.” From kindergarten, their children are brainwashed to sanctify their lives by becoming martyrs to the cause of killing the hated Jews.
In our desperate quest for peace, we elected successive governments which tried to achieve “peace in our time” by appeasing these fanatical terrorists – even unilaterally dismantling Jewish settlements which were subsequently transformed into launching pads for intensified missile attacks on our civilians.
During the past year, our government entered into a truce with Hamas despite repeated proclamations by its leaders that they accepted a cease-fire only to regroup and obtain more sophisticated weapons from Iran to be employed at a time of their choosing. Even that “truce” was never honored and Hamas continued targeting Israelis.
When Hamas formally abrogated the “period of calm” and began intensifying missile attacks, Israel finally responded militarily. Despite unprecedented efforts to minimize civilian casualties, even warning Palestinian noncombatants in advance of an attack, civilian loss of life in war is inevitable. However, had the IDF, with its enormous firepower, been targeting civilians as the biased media alleges, tens of thousands would have fallen. Besides, in the midst of hostilities, would the truckloads of humanitarian aid to Gaza have been approved?
Most casualties could have been avoided had Hamas not deliberately located its missile launchers, weapons factories and arms caches in densely populated residential areas, schools, mosques, hospitals and homes, cynically utilizing women and children as human shields. Hamas representative Fathi Hamad openly told Al-Aksa TV: “Palestinians formed human shields of women, children, the elderly and the mujahedeen in order to challenge the Zionist bombing machine. It was as if they were saying to the Zionist enemy: We desire death like you desire life.” Not surprisingly, those human rights groups continuously castigating Israel refuse to concede that such behavior would qualify as war crimes under international law.
NO COUNTRY whose citizens are continuously under missile attack from its neighbor would match the restraint displayed by Israel. I take no pride in this because I believe that the government’s failure to respond earlier was unconscionable. It emboldened Hamas terrorists, accustomed the world to accepting that as long as many people were not killed, launching missiles against Israel was “tolerable” and effectively eliminated our deterrent capability. Moreover it doomed close to a million citizens in the South to becoming refugees in their own land as they took refuge from missile attacks which, by any benchmark, were acts of war.
Now, in a rare display of unity so far including even the most dovish Knesset parties, Israelis have affirmed that the outcome of this conflict must ensure that their citizens will never again be targeted by missiles. An imposed unilateral cease-fire with Hamas that fails to implement this would be akin to the US and its allies consummating an unconditional truce with a victorious Taliban in Afghanistan.
That is why international public opinion is so important. If the victims who defend themselves by killing Hamas terrorists and the perpetrators who target and kill innocent civilians are viewed as morally equivalent, that would represent a clear victory for the global jihadists.
Regrettably, there are sectors of the international community who once again are burying their heads. While the United States, Germany, the Czech Republic and Australia hold Hamas responsible, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned Israel for invading Gaza and employing “disproportionate” force and harming civilians.
Other Europeans, led by the retiring head of the European Union, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, also accused Israel of responding in a disproportionate manner. One can only speculate how Sarkozy would have reacted had neighboring Belgium been launching thousands of missiles targeting French civilians. Or the Russians, whose response to the Chechnya uprising and mauling of Georgia hardly qualifies them to preach to anyone about proportionality.
Hamas is not a terrorist splinter group. It is the controlling authority in Gaza and determines what happens. Were it to curtail missile attacks and come to terms with the existence of a Jewish state, a cease-fire would instantaneously come into effect. Until then, it is responsible for every single Palestinian casualty.
Besides, since when is proportionality determined as tit for tat? And how does that apply to an entity which proclaims that its objective is to destroy the Jewish state? Would the inadvertent death of noncombatants become “more justifiable” if only more targeted Israelis were killed? Does Israel have to experience a mega massacre before implementing deterrence? What sort of sick thinking is this? As Barack Obama said in June when he visited Sderot, “If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I would do everything to stop that, and would expect Israel to do the same thing.”
Today, as never before, we need the international community to act in a responsible manner. We therefore appeal to our friends and people of goodwill everywhere. Raise your voices now and support our struggle to overcome terrorism. Hamas is not merely another brand of Taliban. It is also the surrogate of Iran. If Western governments appease this criminal organization at the expense of the security of Israel, they strengthen the forces of global jihad, signal moderate Muslims that it is futile to resist the fanatics and expose citizens in their own capitals to increased bombing attacks.
This column was originally published in the Jerusalem Post