For those of you who might have missed it, there's some good news from Washington on the Gaza front: It seems the Obama administration is willing to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, just like it did back in 2012. What a relief! For a while there, I was worried that Israel might just go ahead and neutralize the terrorist threat.
But without Hamas to vent their righteous fury at the Zionist Entity, what would the Palestinians do then? Establish an actual, functioning state of their own? That question wasn't rhetorical. I honestly don't know what's next on the to-do list if terrorism ceases to be a national pastime over there. It's like baseball for those guys. Think about it: the actual terrorists are but a tiny fraction of the population (the “majors”), but there are a lot of hardcore fans. Plenty of kids dream of doing it professionally when they grow up, and this is considered healthy for some reason. (You should see their summer camps!) Of course, a real pro ends his career at its peak—going out with a bang—and the best of the best get sports arenas named after them.
Getting back to the matter of the ceasefire (sorry; that analogy kind of took on a life of its own), the term “hudna” (“truce”), for those of you not familiar with Islamic doctrine, denotes a temporary cessation of combat until such time as the Believers have accrued sufficient resources to shift the balance of power in their favor, at which point the fighting resumes. It follows, then, that a ceasefire with an Islamist organization like Hamas does nothing to resolve hostilities—it only postpones them.
Since the start of the current military campaign about a week ago, there has been continuous pressure on the State of Israel—not just from the Israeli left, but from politicians and pundits in my own country and around the world, to reach some sort of agreement with an enemy that has at no point wavered in its overarching goal of annihilating the Jewish people. The Hamas Charter, you see, makes no meaningful distinction between Israelis in particular or Jews in As an American and as a Jew, I offer the following plea to my Israeli brothers and sisters: For your sake, for our sake, for the sake of freedom lovers everywhere, do not give in!
general. Personally, I think of it as a (yellow) badge of honor. If a man can be judged by the quality of his enemies, I consider myself to be in distinguished company.
Therefore, as an American and as a Jew, I offer the following plea to my Israeli brothers and sisters: For your sake, for our sake, for the sake of freedom lovers everywhere, do not give in!
An American pleading with Israel to put its own national security first might seem like a rather superfluous theme for an opinion column, but I am writing in order to offer an alternative to those American voices who would shame Israel for taking an action that is both justified and, in the long term, necessary.
Take, for example, the essay, dated July 10, by J.J. Goldberg of the Jewish Daily “Forward,” originally titled “For No Good Reason.” While it works great as a self-reference, the headline—which has since been changed—was actually a jab at Israel's proactive defense in Gaza, and not the kidnappings, murders, and innumerable terror attacks that precipitated it.
Among the (frankly, irrelevant) allegations brought forth by the author are that Israeli leaders knew about the deaths of Jewish teens Gilad Shaar, Naftali Frenkel, and Eyal Yifrach shortly after their disappearance, but withheld that information in order to provide a pretext for taking action against Hamas (for instance, rounding up some of the impenitent convicted terrorists who were released in exchange for Gilad Shalit in 2011 and immediately reverted to their former occupations—because that totally demands justification). He spoke of Israel as “stumbling” into “an unnecessary war” that no one wanted: “not the army, not the government, not even the enemy, Hamas.”
As for whether Hamas considered now an opportune time for war, my response, like that of any other sane person—and I cannot stress this enough—is: Who the hell cares? To Israel's civil and military authorities, I would offer the more circumspect suggestion that their job is to defend the people of Israel and guarantee that the State of Israel will remain a safe haven for future generations of Jews.
Whether the powers that be truly wanted to undertake Operation Protective Edge or not is ultimately beside the point, because the task laid before the heroic men and women of Tzahal isn't that of starting a war; their burden, rather, is to finish one. And who cares if Israel's politicians are backing the war in a blatant effort to score political points, or because they actually realize that it's the right thing to do? The Sages of the Talmud taught that one who does a good deed for the wrong reason will ultimately come to do good deeds for the right reason. Politicians will always be politicians, and I, for one, can't be bothered to get angry about what ulterior motives might have driven them toward the correct course of action. It's sufficiently amazing to me when one actually does the right thing!
The present conflict is pointless, argues our friend at The Forward, because “the last seven years have been the most tranquil in Israel's history.” In fact, explains Goldberg, Hamas learned their lesson from 2012's Operation Pillar of Defense. Case in point: “Rocket firings, averaging 240 per month in 2007, dropped to five per month in 2013.”
Is that all? Just five missiles being launched randomly into Israeli population centers each month? And the vast majority of those don't even kill anybody! Clearly the Israelis are getting all worked up over nothing.
Hamas—along with its government partner Fatah, and any other Palestinian who thinks that flying a Nazi flag over his house should serve as anything other than a target marker for the Israeli Air Force—is a bloody, festering wound that was hastily covered with a Band-Aid. (I think you'll find that what my metaphors lack in subtlety, they more than make up for in aptness.)
Each time Israel launches a new counter-terrorism op—Protective Edge, Brother's Keeper, Pillar of Defense, etc.—it tugs at that bandage, painfully ripping out a few hairs while exposing a little more of the infection site. No one outside the political fringe seems willing to say it, so I will: The best thing to do in the long run is to take the Band-Aid off in one solid pull, and debride the wound properly. Yes, it will hurt, but less so than prolonging the agony as per Israel's current defense policy as viewed from the sidelines.
In short: The only acceptable endgame here is the total and unconditional surrender of Hamas and its terrorist affiliates. No more hudnas. To draw an analogy to World War II (surprisingly, one not involving Nazis), the way the U.S. ended the war with Japan was brutal, the hundreds of thousands of deaths in Hiroshima and Nagasaki a horrific tragedy. But it was far less horrific than the losses that would have inevitably been suffered on both sides had America launched a land invasion and fought it out door-to-door.
Again, this is merely an analogy—I absolutely do not mean to suggest that Israel resort to weapons of mass destruction. What I am suggesting is that Israel take decisive military action to eliminate Hamas as a paramilitary entity, and to stop pulling their punches, regardless of what their “friends” in the international community “suggest.” It should go without saying that the advice of one's antagonists is less than worthless and can be dismissed out of hand.
As long as you're still reading this, there is one last thing I have to get off of my chest: “Operation Protective Edge”? Am I the only one who thinks this more like the latest product from Gilette (“Protective Edge—Now with six blades!”) than a serious military operation? The original Hebrew, “Tzuk Eitan” (“Mighty Cliff”) is no better, suggesting as it does the image of Israel as the Wile E. Coyote of counter-terrorism.
And don't tell me they don't get Looney Tunes in Israel – how else do you explain the now infamous “Bibi Bomb” diagram PM Netanyahu used to explain the Iranian nuclear threat to the United Nations? Of course, even after dumbing down the situation to the level of a children's cartoon, it was still, imagine my surprise, completely lost on them.
So I tweeted the IDF Spokesperson's Unit with my own suggestion: Operation Charmin Ultra. I thought it fits, since the military objective here ought to be to wipe up the remaining terrorists and their military infrastructure. Plus it's got that “Ultra” in there, so that's pretty cool.
As of this writing, the IDF Spokesperson has yet to get back to me.
Daniel Perez is a freelance writer, editor and media consultant based in New York City, and he would like to encourage his Jewish readers to participate in in the Shmira Project , bringing spiritual protection and moral support to specific, individual IDF combat soldiers in the field—all at no cost to you, unless you choose to give tzedakah in their merit, which would be awesome. The above op-ed is dedicated to Refael Shevach ben Chaviva, may Hashem protect him along with all the courageous defenders of Israel. Mr. Perez can be reached at [email protected], and you can follow him on Twitter: @PerezFreelance. Am Yisrael chai!