GUEST COMMENTARY - As Joan Didion wrote in Slouching Towards Bethlehem, “We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget.” In recent articles in The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times and some other publications, various commentaries and editorials have denounced Israel’s strong reaction to the massacre of Jews and the taking hostages by Hamas on October 7, 2023.
It was 78 years ago, in 1945, that American troops entered Nazi death camps to find dead Jews piled up. Some of the dead had a thin layer of skin on their bones and others had only bones. The Nazi extermination goals and those of Hamas look very similar.
No one should be surprised that Israel is taking a tough stance and is dedicated to removing Hamas and its infrastructure from the Gaza Strip.
- Certainly, not the academics who said the massacre of Israeli civilians on October 7th was excusable.
- And not the college students who have been groomed by professors to believe that Israel does not have the right to exist.
- And not those who demonstrated in the streets of New York, Chicago and Los Angeles and praised the murder of Jews.
- And not the liberals who think Israel should back off and let Hamas proceed at-will.
- And not Iran who established proxies as terror intermediaries.
- And certainly not Gazans who by now should know that Israeli governments respond as perceived necessary.
No one should be surprised at the dedication of Israel to defend itself, its residents, its right to exist and the right of Jews to live in a safe environment.
Houses in Gaza City had satellite dishes. Over the past 25 years Gazans were aware that Hamas was launching rockets into southern Israel with the goal of killing Israeli civilians. Hamas social media and Al Jazeera lauded these actions. In 2001, the first rockets were Qassams. Between 2001 and 2014 Hamas with Iranian support gained more sophisticated rockets and rocket launchers enabling Hamas to shoot more than 20,000 rockets into Israel. Since October 7th, Hamas has launched almost 7,500 rockets with the objective of killing Jews: the old, the young, the religious and the secular. In this, Hamas does not discriminate. By now, Gazans should know Israel cannot tolerate this.
Because Israel refuses to be timid, some have accused Israel of “collective punishment”. However, this is a false statement. Israel’s goal is eradication of Hamas, not the people of Gaza. Unlike Hamas, the IDF uses leaflets and social media to notify Gazans of when and where the bombing of a terrorist target will take place. The IDF urges Gazans to remove themselves and their families from harm’s way. Israel is not responsible for the Hamas decision to use churches, mosques, schools, hospitals and homes as sites for their rocket launchers. Hamas must be held accountable for these choices. Nor is it the fault of the IDF when Gazans refuse to leave a targeted area. This is an individual choice, unless it is Hamas who refuses to allow Gazans to leave. Then it is a Hamas choice, but this corroborates the fact that Hamas is the problem, not Israel.
Gazans should be outraged that Hamas instigated the need for the Israeli Air Force and Navy to bomb the Gaza Strip and clear the infrastructure so the 310 miles of underground tunnels Hamas built with money sent from countries and organizations for humanitarian aid can be destroyed. However, the acquiescence by Gazans who have allowed Hamas to function and prosper makes Gazans complicit in the murder of Israeli citizens. If Gazans want a peaceful life, they should overthrow the terrorist regime of Hamas and recognize that Israel will continue to exist no matter what the Hamas Charter says with its four main themes:
- Destroying Israel and establishing an Islamic theocracy in Palestine is essential;
- Unrestrained jihad is necessary to achieve this;
- Negotiated resolutions of Jewish and Palestinian claims to the land are unacceptable;
- Using antisemitic tropes that reinforce its goals.
Either the citizenry of Gaza rises up and gets rid of Hamas or Israel will do it for them. Thus far, Gazans have been unable or unwilling to do this. Gazans should know by now that they need a government that will recognize Israel’s right to exist. If there are no rocket launchers, ammunition dumps or terrorist enclaves in Gaza, the Israeli response that results in the destruction of Gazan buildings will no longer be necessary.
Although some like to use a hot-button word like “genocide” in connection with the IDF response to the October 7th massacre and the almost 25 years of rocket attacks, this language tries to make Gazans into the victims when it is Jews who are the victims. No country should have its borders breached or its citizens butchered or taken hostage. The United States government would surely call up its troops to stop a rocket barrage onto its soil. However, when Israel responds to a massacre and rocket barrages, the apologists for Hamas say Israel should do nothing and ignore the goal of Hamas to wipe Israel off the world map. By now, the people of Gaza should know that Israel will not do anything less than remove this cancer from its border. This will be for the good of Israel and maybe will benefit the Gazan population so it can install leadership that will move in the direction of neighborly peace.
(Marcia Selz, Ph.D., is the founder of the Coalition of Homeowner Associations-Council District 5 and the author of “At Vitoria: A City’s Medieval Promise between Christians and Sephardic Jews”)