At what cost must the Jewish State try to win public opinion?
As the Israeli-Hamas conflict rages, a familiar pattern asserts itself: Israel bends over backward to demonstrate her moral innocence to the world, and the world heaps condemnation on her anyway. Israel always feels compelled to restrain her military superiority because victory in that arena means losing the battle in the arena of public opinion despite extraordinary efforts. It’s worth questioning whether the moral victory Israel is striving for accomplishes anything except to perpetuate the hostilities and ensure more Israeli deaths at the hands of Arab terrorists.
Forced to defend herself, but under the microscope of worldwide scrutiny, Israel has gone to extreme lengths to avoid civilian deaths. Business Insider calculated that Israel has taken such unprecedented measures that she is “raising the standards of what can be expected in warfare.” The IDF issues warnings to civilians prior to neighborhood incursions. Israeli doctors treat wounded Gazans. Israel agrees to a ceasefire only to have Hamas break it. In one instance, Israel even spared the lives of fourteen Hamas operatives in order not to incur civilian casualties. And yet she is still decried for a “disproportionate response” against the craven Hamas, who hide behind women and children, store weapons in hospitals, and happily press their own citizens into martyrdom to wage a very effective propaganda war.
“Disproportionate response” is a completely idiotic complaint that has never before been raised in wartime except to punish Israel, itself surrounded by a massively disproportionate Arab population. No one ever won a war by countering an aggressor with carefully measured, tit-for-tat responses. Conflicts are won by striking back so disproportionately that the enemy’s military forces are devastated and, more importantly, its will to fight is crushed so thoroughly that the threat is extinguished.
Defense Minister and former chief of staff Moshe Ya’alon recently accused Netanyahu of not combating terrorism with a strong enough hand: “Why are we, a sovereign nation with a strong army, begging a terror organization to give us calm? We need to recover the deterrence in a way that they are the ones begging for calm. What are we teaching our enemies all over the world? That they can do anything to us and we'll turn the other cheek.”
It is worth reminding ourselves what sort of enemy Israel is dealing with, and what kicked off this most recent warfare: the murder of three Jewish teenagers – one an American citizen – kidnapped by Hamas and left in a shallow grave last month, which left the world – or at least the civilized world – heartsick and angry. The boys had been shot shortly after they went missing, “killed in cold blood by human animals,” as Prime Minister Netanyahu said. So Israel and decent people everywhere mourned, because we love life; meanwhile our nihilistic enemy, who boasts that they love death more, celebrated.
Around the world, those who sided with those human animals had expressed their sick joy over the three kidnapped teens with a three-fingered salute which they taught to their brainwashed children, preparing the next generational wave of Jew hatred. Then, their viciousness not sated with having executed three innocents, they even attacked the IDF ambulance transporting the bodies home.
Feckless President Obama, who has never been a friend to Israel (and Israel’s enemies there and abroad are keenly aware of that), decried the kidnapping/murders as “a senseless act of terror.” But terrorism is never senseless; by definition, terrorism is not random and pointless but waged with a terrible, specific intent. Eyal Yifrach, 19, and Gilad Shaar and Naftali Frenkel, both 16, were kidnapped and murdered because they were Jews, the people whom Hamas has sworn to wipe from the face of the earth.
Abroad, meanwhile, Jews – particularly in France – have become the targets of raging anti-Israel “protesters” using the Gaza conflict as an excuse to firebomb synagogues, burn down Jewish-owned stores, and chant for the murder of Jews in ovens. “Anti-Semitic incidents are an almost daily occurrence,” the president of France’s National Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism told The Blaze even before the Gaza operation began. British Jews have experienced a doubling of anti-Semitic incidents, from verbal abuse to attacks on buildings and people. From Boston to Berlin, Palestinian sympathizers have called for the hunting of Jews. In the understatement of the year, the president of the Council for Jewish Institutions in France said, “This is not a good time for Jews.”
As Jordan Chandler Hirsch wrote in Tablet, “Israel’s operation in Gaza is not causing deep-seated prejudices, it is revealing them.” In the eyes of the Jew-haters, Israel can do no right. And still Israel suffers from what Bret Stephens called, in the Wall Street Journal, “the Jewish state's most obvious weakness”:
a certain kind of vanity that confuses stainlessness with virtue, favors moral self-regard over normal self-interest, and believes in politics as an exercise not in power but in self-examination. People, and nations, with such attitudes cannot be beaten militarily. But they can easily—too easily—be shamed.
In a joint call on both Israelis and the self-proclaimed Palestinians to end the violence, Israel’s President Shimon Peres and President-elect Reuven Rivlin expressed their desire to live in peace with their Arab neighbors and their faith in the ability to live together. “The bloodshed will only stop when we all realize that we have not been sentenced to live together, but destined to live together.”
That is a very lofty sentiment, but the reality is that there can be no coexistence with a ruthless, relentless enemy whose very raison d’etre is your total and complete extermination. There will be no peace until either that murderous hatred or the bearers of it themselves are stamped out. This can only be accomplished by making the enemy pay terribly; that is how wars are won. Victory and lasting peace cannot be achieved through rules of engagement that tie both hands behind one’s back in order to curry the world’s “favor” – a favor Israel will never win, no matter how extraordinarily well she behaves.