We must have both moral and legal clarity at this juncture!!
“If someone comes to kill you, rise up and kill him first.” We learn this from the Talmud (Sanhedrin 72a) and today these words speak to us.
There is so much equivocation regarding the proper action to be taken in Gaza now, so much disinformation, so much deliberate clouding of the issues.
Biden, during his brief stay here in Israel, cautioned us not to be “consumed by rage” – which sounded to me like a veiled warning not to push the campaign to its full completion:
Act in rage, he seemed to be saying, and you will be unkind to the Palestinian Arabs in Gaza, you will do things that are best not done.
I see this as a consciously executed moral inversion – an expressed concern for those who are evil that diminishes public concern for our people and the need to eradicate the evil.
I see it, as well, as a denial of our rights under the Laws of War, which considers a full siege against an enemy legal, and permits movement to eliminate that enemy.
From Midrash (interpretive text that is part of our oral tradition), we have this teaching: “Whoever is kind to the cruel will end up being cruel to the kind.”
We should be even more stringent in describing Hamas. It is not “just” cruel, it is pure evil. There is no other way to describe decapitation of babies, raping young women next to their friends who have already been killed, burning families alive.
Hamas is being compared to the Nazis for very solid reason. Their behavior and their goals (killing all Jews) mimic those of the Nazis. At a pro-Hamas rally at Times Square in NYC, we see a supporter brandishing a swastika.
If we do not eliminate the terrorist group Hamas, we put innocent people at risk. The remnants of Hamas would strengthen and act against them yet again.
And so, we MUST see our military action against Hamas to its completion.
But this is hardly a simple matter. For the issue of “the civilians” of Gaza and the assistance we are told they require has arisen in the midst of this. It has been brought in to confuse the issues and undercut public support for our war effort. Indeed, to make our effort to win more difficult.
And this is where the story gets ugly. Biden came yesterday (Wednesday) filled with words of support for Israel. But we knew from the get-go that he didn’t come to offer those words or to hug Netanyahu (although hug him he did, in a great phony show of support).
He had an agenda.
On October 17, as the Biden contingent was on its way to Israel, John Kirby, coordinator for strategic communications at the U.S. National Security Council, told the press that Biden intends to ask Israelis “some tough questions.”
Biden is “also going to make it clear that we continue to want to see this conflict not widen, not expand, not deepen. And he’ll make that point very clearly,” said Kirby.
Kirby added that Biden will tell Israel that “we want to see humanitarian assistance flow in, and it’s not just a one-and-done. We want to see it be able to be sustained—food, water, obviously, electrical power, medicine—all the things that the—the people of Gaza are going to continue to need as this conflict continues to go on. So, he’ll make that case very, very clearly.”
And so, we knew what was coming down the road.
Last night, Biden met with the Security Cabinet and secured from them unanimous agreement for his demands that humanitarian supplies be brought into Gaza via Egypt for the civilians.
What Israel agreed to was only food, water and medicine for the civilian population located in the southern Gaza Strip (to which many have fled), and only as long as these supplies do not reach Hamas.
But that final proviso is so patently ridiculous that it raises the blood pressure to dangerous levels. There is no way that Hamas can be prevented from laying hands on these provisions.
Just two days ago, Blinken had acknowledged the problem:
“We share Israel’s concern that Hamas may seize or destroy aid entering Gaza or otherwise preventing it from reaching the people who need it.”
And it gets worse. Biden made noise about his intention to ask Congress for “an unprecedented support package for Israel’s defense,” and then he announced “$100 million in new U.S. funding for humanitarian assistance in both Gaza and the West Bank.” The monies will “support more than 1 million displaced and conflict-affected Palestinians, including emergency needs in Gaza.”
Makes concern about Hamas seizing medicines and food stuff look small.
It is not the norm for a leader of a nation to support both sides in a military conflict. What would be expected is for a decision to be reached as to whether to offer support and if so to which side. In this case it should be a no-brainer. What Biden is doing is devious and reflects convoluted motivations.
He is offering Israel badly needed support. That’s the tough part of this equation. To turn away munitions and funds he is prepared to provide would leave us weaker. But the fact that we need what he offers is what he holds over the heads of our prime minister and security cabinet in order to secure agreement regarding moving material for the civilians into Gaza. Let those who imagine Biden truly cares about Israel consider this.
To make matters yet worse, there is the plight of over 200 Israeli hostages, including more than 20 Israeli children and between 10 and 20 elderly, in the hands of Hamas – hostages who have not even been visited. Netanyahu had pledged that there would be no humanitarian assistance allowed into Gaza until they were brought out, or, at bare minimum, until the Red Cross had visited them and assured their humane treatment. None of this has transpired and yet the civilians of Gaza will receive relief, or whatever part of it Hamas does not seize.
Tonight our nation is very angry, very distressed. And, I will add, very determined. There is not the remotest suggestion that we will not win this. We will. It is simply going to be very difficult. Defense Minister Gallant says it will take months.
When next I write I will look at some of the thoughts on how we need to proceed. At the moment, our boys are poised at the border, prepared to enter Gaza very soon.
This is from the orders of an IDF commander, just revealed tonight:
“You asked for hell – you’ll get hell. We are in a war that was forced on us; we will move it to their territory. We are at war.
“This is our hour. The result: bodies of terrorists piled up in the streets and the enemy’s infrastructure destroyed. The method: crush and conquer. We will fight and remain human beings, we are not them.”
Earlier today, IDF Southern Command General, Maj. Gen. Yaron Finkelman spoke publicly for the first time: “the maneuver will move the combat into their territory. It is going to be long and intense, the best of our commander and soldiers are here.” (Emphasis added)
There is something I wish to bring to the attention of my readers here: Hamas and its supporters are excellent at doing PR. They twist facts and secure public sympathy as a result. Put simply, they are masters at playing the victim card – especially during times of conflict with Israel: Look, look, at how our innocent people suffer because of Israel.
Here is but one example: Congresswoman Ilhan Omar of Minnesota retweeted a photo of seven small dead children claiming that they died as a result of the IAF’s bombing of Gaza. The accompanying headline was “CHILD GENOCIDE IN PALESTINE.” Turns out the photo was taken in 2013 in the city of Juta in Syria, where children were attacked with sarin gas.
Be on the alert for this sort of distortion, and challenge what is suspect. It is part of the fight for Israel.
In addition, keep the fact of Hamas atrocities in the public eye – in letters to the editor, on social media, in conversations. There is no way they should be able to claim the high road here, no way they should be accorded sympathy.
We still have some 200 people who are missing and may never be found. Some may be in the hands of Hamas or Islamic Jihad.
When bodies are located, they sometimes cannot be identified because they were so severely mutilated or burned. Then dental records or DNA checks are utilized.
Please read this, as horrific as it is, and share it broadly. People must know.
When we talk of the suffering of civilians in Gaza, we should remember that Hamas won Palestinian legislative elections in 2006 – they were the choice of a solid number of the Palestinian Arabs. To this day, although there have never been additional elections in Gaza, polls show that well over 50% of the civilians of Gaza support Hamas.
We should remember, as well, that whenever there is news of a terror attack in Israel, the people of Gaza celebrate, passing out candy and cheering in the streets.
When Hamas dragged hostages, including children and elderly, into Gaza on October 7, the people rejoiced.
Important to remember when there is talk of poor, innocent, suffering people in Gaza.
As we go into Shabbat, my friends, pray, pray for Israel and each of our brave soldiers.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by independent journalist Arlene Kushner. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.