by Rabbi Yaakov Menken in The Federalist
Just as happened 50 years ago, radical Islamic forces launched a murderous assault against the world’s only Jewish state on a Holy Day on the Jewish calendar. They knew Jews would be busy at prayer and holiday observances, making the surprise that much worse. And to say they acted like animals is inaccurate only in that animals are incapable of the level of depravity they proudly recorded on video.
Barring a life-threatening emergency, observant Jews do not use electronics or telephones during the Sabbath and holidays — so although reports of the attack trickled through the Jewish community here in America, we were unable to read the news until Sunday evening. There was one thing, though, I knew to expect: calls for “restraint.” They come after each terrorist atrocity against Israel, and this case was no different.
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Hamas, of course, never acts with restraint. Restraint entails, among other things, trying to avoid killing civilians, and Hamas targets civilians. What spokesmen for Egypt, the UAE, Russia, China, Australia, South Africa, and the UN secretary-general have called for, then, is “restraint” in Israel’s response to the worst massacre of Jews since the Nazi Holocaust. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her colleague Rep. Cori Bush used a still more offensive term: “de-escalation.”
These calls are not merely inappropriate and one-sided, but genuinely evil. This pogrom transpired precisely because Israel was pressured into listening to previous calls for “restraint.”
Think about it: Not once have world leaders called for restraint from Ukraine. History records no cries for de-escalation as British and American bombers reduced Dresden to rubble while fighting the Nazis, allied forces pummeled Iraq, or American troops hunted Osama bin Laden. Nor should there have been. None of the aforementioned world leaders or members of Congress call for restraint when fighting totalitarians or terrorists — unless the victims are Jews.
Tellingly, the documentary series “The Unauthorized History of the Vietnam War,” pillories President Lyndon Johnson’s war policy as “fatal restraint.” Restraint is how you lose wars. Restraint is how you allow a vicious enemy, driven by hate, to rebuild its capabilities and learn new and crueler ways to inflict violence and terror.
Here’s another word bound to come up in the coming days: “proportionality.” A correct, moral “proportion” is for every terrorist to be neutralized, with minimal casualties among their intended civilian targets. Yet global media sources routinely denounce Israel for not permitting the number of Jews killed to equal or exceed the number of terrorists and their supporters dispatched. It should sicken anyone with a functioning moral compass.
Actually, it does sicken anyone with a functioning moral compass. It’s just that you find precious few such people at MSNBC or The New York Times.
And a third depraved cliché: “cycle of violence.” The only cycle here is that of Arab terrorists murdering Jews, and Israel responding to protect its civilians. It is both repugnant and ridiculous to portray this as a two-sided battle. Was there a “cycle of violence” in the Warsaw Ghetto?
A famous Talmudic dictum from R’ Elazar says that one who is compassionate to the cruel will, in the end, be cruel to the compassionate. This has immediate applicability when Hamas has, since 2006, had majority support in the moral sewer that is Gaza, and Hamas has now taken the elderly, women, and toddlers captive — in addition to those raped, murdered, and dragged through the streets.
In the current situation, the innocent captives should be the next to cross the border between Israel and Gaza, safe and unharmed. To provide Gazans with not merely transit into Israel, but electricity, fuel, and even basic supplies is not merely unacceptable, but reprehensible. It is the responsibility of Hamas, not Israel, to provide these things, and it is overdue for the populace to learn that support for genocidal barbarians is not without costs.
In actuality, it goes far beyond that. Israel made a horrible mistake in 2006 when it “disengaged” from Gaza, pulling thousands of Jews from their homes. The idea of a peaceful Arab government in that territory was pure delusion, and, of course, proponents insisted it would never be a source of terror — and that Israel would re-occupy that territory if it were ever to attack. Israel repeatedly failed to do precisely that, as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad repeatedly launched unprovoked attacks from Gaza.
Israel must fail no longer. Referring to Hamas, Netanyahu claimed Israel would “defeat them to the end,” but mollified this by saying Israel would destroy the “capabilities” of Hamas. No. The presence of Hamas alongside Israel places every Israeli civilian in jeopardy; it is far overdue for that danger to be removed. Israel must utterly destroy Hamas, and this war cannot end until the white flag of surrender flies from the pile of concrete that was once the Hamas center of operations.
Anything else would be a moral failing of disastrous proportions, one that will surely bring future horrors in its wake.
Originally published in The Federalist