by Rabbi Steven Pruzansky in the Israel National News
There is no more unctuous lament being heard today across the world than that of the fate of the so-called “innocent civilians” of Gaza. Indeed, those lamenting the loudest – including some members of the United States Congress and world leaders – were the most inaudible regarding the atrocities perpetrated by Hamas (including some of the same civilians”) against the Jewish visitors and residents of the Gaza-area communities. The horrific murder, torture, molestation, and kidnapping of women, young and old, infants, children, men of all ages, are mentioned in passing, if at all, and occasionally accompanied by some measure of rationalization such as offered by the UN Secretary-General.
Antonio Guterres suggested that Hamas’ Nazi-like behavior did not “happen in a vacuum.” Would he ever assert that the death of Gaza civilians past and future also does not “happen in a vacuum”? Hardly.
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It is not merely that the smarmy politicians, academics, college students, BLM activists and assorted hypocrites and Jew haters refuse to distinguish between the intentional homicide of non-combatants and collateral damage caused while attacking legitimate military targets. It is that their passionate Jew-hatred, irrational to the core, engenders in them the notion that all Jews, everywhere, are targets, and when Jews are assaulted and brutalized, we had it coming. They need never answer the question, why. It is doubtful they ever ask it; it is taken for granted.
Much of the world grudgingly concedes that Israel has the right of self-defense, as long as Israel does not exercise it too strenuously. But there is a good part of what used to be called civilization that does not even grant that right. Murdering Jews is always justified. As Becket Adams wrote last week in National Review, many people – journalists and politicians – were “disappointed” when it turned out that Israel did not bomb a Gazan hospital. Similarly, it violates some macabre and pathological conception of theirs when Jews defend themselves and take the war to the enemy. To their thinking, Jews should die, and they should be quiet about it as well. Hence the duplicitous calls for a cease-fire.
But just who are these “innocent civilians” of Gaza? These are the same people who elected Hamas in 2006, knowing that Hamas’ charter called for the extermination of all Jews. That charter preceded Hamas’ election by almost two decades.
These “civilians” knew for whom they voted and why they voted for them.
There are the same “civilians” whose homes conceal entrances to Hamas’ tunnels, whose hospitals shield Hamas’ leaders, and whose clinics and schools are used as launching pads for Hamas’ rockets.
These are the “civilians” who rushed across the border fence on October 7 to maraud, rape and murder.
These are the “civilians” who are used as human shields. My sympathy for them is lacking.
Certainly, infants are innocent, but all children pay the price for the folly of adults. More troubling are the adults – civilians all – who birthed and raised monsters, such as one evildoer who called his father from Kibbutz Mefalsim to boast in real time of his mass murder: “Father, look how many Jews I killed with my own hands! Your son, I killed ten Jews with my own hands!’ To which the proud father responded: “God is great. May God protect you.”
Consider this for a moment. Is there one reader among you who would be “proud” of a child who boasted of mass murder? If I while driving accidentally struck a pedestrian who fell to the ground and tore his pants, I would have been too embarrassed to tell my father. And here, this savage not only murders, beheads, tortures, and dismembers, but he also has the presence of mind to call his father, knowing that his father would admire his cowardly and dastardly deeds.
Those are not “innocent civilians”; those are people steeped in a sick culture of hatred that is inconceivable to normal human beings. Those are people who willingly aid and abet mass murder and then cry about the consequences when they and their homes are bombed. Gaza’s imams this week issued a fatwa calling it a crime against Islam for any Gazan to travel south to avoid Israel’s offensive. They are not “civilians” but passive combatants, tools in Hamas’ arsenal. They deserve no protections – certainly not international law – and humanity will be better off without them.
The recourse to international law to protect these murderers and their accomplices is farcical. For decades now, the West has struggled with a response to radical Islam and the proper method for conducting asymmetrical warfare. Consequently, radical Islam, as typified by Iran, has grown stronger, and even stronger due to the appeasement of the Americans and the West. But the primary fallacy has been the West’s choice to indulge the grisly notion that Israel has to be bound by the rules of war while their enemy does not, that somehow proxies of Iran are excused from the norms of war that bind all others.
That notion is illogical, immoral and violates the Torah. It is tantamount to fighting with one hand tied behind your back, the better for the enemy to chop off your free hand. The enemy’s immorality should redound to their detriment. It should not be allowed as an essential part of their strategy. It should not be their strength.
Our morality should not be the enemy’s armor. That only causes more suffering for the good, decent, and righteous, and prolongs the war against evil.
We should never willingly or intentionally kill civilians – and we don’t. We should also never propagate or embrace the fantasy that most Gazans are innocent civilians, oppose Hamas, or want peace with Israel. Joe Biden should stop saying that Hamas does not represent Gaza. Hamas garnered a far larger percentage of the vote than did Biden; does Biden not represent America?
We should not delude ourselves that Gazans did anything but rejoice over the massacre of Jews. They did. I have yet to hear one dissenting word from Gaza, one smuggled-out video, one recorded audio with an altered voice that expresses revulsion at the mass homicide committed by their fellow citizens and co-religionists. They are not innocent at all and pretending that they are is a Western subterfuge and an Israel and Jewish weakness. It will cost Jewish lives and that is the ultimate immorality.
The grossest ongoing violation of international law is the holding of Jewish hostages, which somehow the “world” condones as, well, just the way it is. We are expected to provide water, electricity, food, medicine, and other needs to our enemy to demonstrate our commitment to international law, notwithstanding that the enemy can flout international law with impunity. That, too, is senseless and immoral, and we should not tolerate that.
We should be unafraid to tell the world – including Biden, Blinken, Macron and whoever else visits Israel – that if Hamas still has enough fuel to launch rockets, then they have enough fuel, period. Let the hospitals procure their fuel from the leaders they elected. Let the million and a half “innocent civilians” revolt against their cruel leaders if indeed they are so innocent and so troubled by the conditions in Gaza.
We should have no interest in making more Arab fathers proud of their sons’ talent for murdering Jews.
Only Israel has every military action assessed and approved by its lawyers. That is no way to run a war and no way to win a war, which has resulted in decades of Israel not winning any wars and even thinking that wars are not winnable. That is a defeatist strategy that has brought disaster upon us. The United States and allies have fought wars in the last century that have killed millions of enemy civilians, with reassessments coming only after the wars’ successful conclusions. That is a good template for us as well.
Hamas has been analogized to ISIS and to the Nazis, and that is accurate. But there is another, even more useful analogy for Jews. Hamas is the modern Amalek, defined as a people that murders Jews simply because they Jews. There was no strategic benefit to the Simchat Torah massacre. It was just a bloodlust, a wanton and depraved savagery to debase and murder every Jew on whom they could get their wretched hands. We should see them as Amalek and suddenly the way forward is clear.
They deserve no sympathy, not from Jews, and not from anyone who aspires to be part of the civilized world. Those truly innocent should be afforded safe passage elsewhere, as long as terrorists do not escape with them. If Hamas remains in existence, no Jew is safe anywhere.
May the government that failed to protect us prosecute the war successfully so that our enemies, wherever they are, fear raising a hand against a Jew. It should not cower or waver, not embrace the false values of the West that seem to apply only to us, and never to them, and never to our enemies. It should talk tough and act tougher. We must prioritize Jewish life, especially those of our soldiers. And may the G-d of Israel protect them in their righteous missions.
Originally published in the Israel National News