Rabbi Steven Pruzansky
Rabbi Steven PruzanskyCourtesy
It sounds strange to our modern ears that our father Avraham, in trying to understand G-d’s justice in destroying the city of Sodom, failed to ask the most important question: “surely there are innocent civilians in Sodom, women and children? How can You kill the innocent along with the guilty?” Instead, Avraham focused on the existence and number of righteous people in Sodom and stopped his inquiries when even ten righteous men could not be found.

The absence of righteous people defines a city and its moral worth far more than do disingenuous assertions about the presence of “innocent civilians,” whose innocence is assumed but far from proven.

But are there ten righteous people in Gaza – ten individuals whose moral code and ethical commitments are so refined that somehow that wretched place should be spared the natural consequences due to the perpetrators (and supporters) of the worst atrocities against Jews since the Holocaust? I have seen no evidence of that.

Is there even one Gazan who has been interviewed by the international media and (with face disguised and voice distorted to conceal his/her identity) protested and condemned Hamas’ invasion and rampage across southern Israel?

Is there even one Gazan who objected to the kidnapping and seizure of two Israeli civilians who wondered into Gaza in the last decade and received even worse than the traditional Sodom treatment for guests?

Are there any Gazans who have remonstrated against Hamas’ retention of the bodies of Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul for almost ten years?

Are there any Gazans who tried to thwart Hamas’ gory incursion into Israel?

The planning and execution alone involved tens of thousands of people. Did anyone object? Is there one righteous person who could justify Gaza’s continued existence?

Gaza deserves to suffer the fate of Sodom, a place where (as the commentator Malbim, Breisheet 19:1) describes, “they drafted iniquitous laws and evil became the societal norm.” Modern Gaza is a territory where the murder of Jews is lionized, where candy was distributed to celebrate the massacre, and where – and this is hard for Western minds to grasp – mothers revel in the martyrdom of their children as long as they died while murdering Jews.

Gaza is a depraved place where children are nurtured, educated, and trained to hate and murder Jews. Consider that the “innocent children” of the first Gaza battle, Operation Cast Lead (2008-2009) were those who last month murdered, tortured, raped, beheaded, and burned Jews alive.

Jews are unwilling to be the subjects of a social science experiment whether today’s Gazan children rehabilitated. The culture of radical Islam is violence, brutal and unrepentant violence. This is especially well known to other Muslims who have been the primary victims of radical Islam. Gaza is a breeding ground for vicious Jew hatred that is incomprehensible to normal people.

Why haven’t the “innocent” Gazans rebelled? We are often told smugly that Hamas would execute all dissenters. But the colonial Americans overthrew the British, the French people revolted against its monarchy, the Bolsheviks ousted the Mensheviks who deposed the Czar of Russia, and many Arab countries have toppled corrupt monarchs (notably the Egyptians at Tahrir Square in 2011).

My guess is that there has been no rebellion in Gaza,no parents protesting despite Hamas endangering Gazan children by putting rocket lauchers and weapons in homes, playgrounds and schools, because the people support Hamas and see no need to replace it.

As such, we must end this artificial and contrived distinction between Hamas and Gaza. Hamas are the sovereigns in Gaza, duly elected by the citizens of Gaza. The Gazans voted them into power knowing of Hamas’ genocidal nature, not, as Western propagandists would have it, because Hamas could provide better social services or collect the garbage on time. Indeed, Hamas would win if elections were held today in Gaza.

And, as is widely assumed, Hamas would prevail if elections were held in the Palestinian Authority – one reason there are no elections thus allowing its dictator, Mahmoud Abbas, to be in the 19th year of a four-year term. The notion that Hamas does not represent Gaza or the Palestinian Arabs is risible on its face, Western propaganda at its most hypocritical.

The civilized world has become less moral since World War II. Its moral pretensions – summarized in the Fourth Geneva Conventions of 1949 on the protection of civilians – have resulted in the repeated triumph of evil or, at least, in the failure to fully subdue it. There is something peculiar about Joe Biden and Antony Blinken’s repeated reference to the laws of war, insisting on standards and limitations that only apply to Israel. This is not only because of America’s justified incineration of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, done to more quickly end the war started by Japan and spare the lives of America’s soldiers regardless of the fate of Japanese civilians. It is mainly because America arguably has not won a war since World War II, since the “new rules of war” were drafted.

Indeed, these “rules of war” constrain the good guys – the victims of aggression, those whose cause is just – and never the bad guys, who do not adhere to the rules of war. It is as if the Fourth Geneva Convention on Civilians was composed by well-meaning fools who wanted to give every advantage to evildoers and hamstring the righteous. It is one primary reason the West never wins wars anymore, the enemy is never defeated but just temporarily battered and subjugated, and evil is prospering across the globe.

We appreciate American support in terms of weapons and diplomacy but should recoil at interference with our military operations and the unctuous concern about “innocent civilians.” We should not accept advice from the United States on how to win this war given that the United States has not won a war in 80 years. The US, too, is trapped in a ludicrous conception of a decent and respectable war between opposing “teams” that only involves combatants. That never was and never will be and, considering Hamas’ persistent and vulgar violations of international law since its inception, it cannot happen here if the destruction of Hamas is to occur.

Indeed, it is a fool’s errand to boast of our compliance with the “rules of war” in order to retain international support, such as it is. But that international support will in any event evaporate within weeks and the “rules of war” as currently interpreted by tendentious individuals and organizations is a formula for stalemate, the military impasse to which Westerners have become accustomed. The enemy is devastated but not defeated and lives to rebuild, regroup, and fight another day. That cannot happen here.

The Gazan invasion should have brought home to us the real dilemma we have going forward. We thought the days of Arabs wanting to drive us into the sea were ancient history. They are not. And we also deal with the more pleasant reality that there are other Arab countries that are more open and enlightened and see the value in good relations with Israel. The time has come to cast this fight as a struggle between good and evil (done already) and stick to it (the more challenging part) until its conclusion, something Israel has failed at for decades. Let us hope this time it is different.

Sodom had to be destroyed because it was the repository of evil incarnate. Eliminating Hamas as an entity will not solve the problem as the exterminationist Jew hatred it represents will just reappear among the “innocent civilians” of Gaza under some other name.

It would certainly be lovely if Gaza were populated by millions of people who wanted to live next to us in peace and friendship – but who wants to take that risk? We must begin the process of bolstering our security and sanity by ridding ourselves of those enemies who pray daily for our destruction and will not hesitate to kill themselves if they can kill us too. The residents of Gaza must be resettled elsewhere. It is better for them, better for us, and better for the world. Moreover, it is the lesson of the Torah and the divine morality which must guide our fight against this hideous evil.