Israel is Defending the Living, Not Avenging the Dead
In the aftermath of Hamas's October 7 massacre in Israel, much of the press has claimed that Israel is "retaliating" for the unprovoked attack on civilians.
Israel is not retaliating. Israel is not retaliating to any act of terror or anything else. The media constantly imposes the word “retaliation,” a perverse concept that implies blood vengeance and primitive tribal warfare. Such a custom of tit-for-tat vengeance against a rival tribe for killing one of yours and making sure the body-counts are square was very common amongst Arab Bedouins and its un-fulfillment is still used as rhetoric by Arab societies today.
The barbaric concept of retaliation also implies the equally savage concept of proportionality. If your primitive tribe of desert bandits kill too many of the other clan, they might retaliate against you. You need to make sure your blood vengeance is proportional. To societies that seek the betterment of humanity, proportionality is a meaningless statement. Something is either an evil that needs to be eliminated or it’s not. Otherwise the United State should apologize to Nazi Germany for killing too many of them. Should Israel really try to find a music festival in Gaza and kill the exact number of people, and rape the precise about of women?
No, Israel, like any civilized society, is not retaliating for the unspeakable crimes committed against those who are now dead, who were tortured and burned alive in the most savage and systematic fashion on October 7.
No amount of warfare will bring them back. Israel is defending the living, not avenging the dead. After the wildfire of savage butchery was extinguished by Israeli personnel, security services discovered that Hamas was turning the killing fields into staging grounds for an even greater assault on the rest of Israel. Massive ammunition dumps, field hospitals for jihadists, and other bases of forward operations showed that their goals were the annihilation of Israeli civilization.
So how are we to judge the way Israel conducts its war in Gaza? On what basis are we to decide whether the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is making correct ethical decisions? What other wars can we compare it to? What other examples do we have of a war with a de-facto Jihadist state? Obviously, the Islamic State comes to mind.
In 2015, I fought with the Kurds in Syria and saw firsthand the brutality of ISIS's war on civilization. ISIS planned and inspired the terrorist acts in San Bernardino, California, killing 16 and the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando Florida, killing 53. Yet U.S.-backed aerial bombardment of the ISIS-held city of Mosul alone killed over 10,000 civilians, destroying whole families including women and children.
Were we seeking a proportional response? Or were we seeking a defeat of the Islamic State? How is the world to judge Israel’s war on a civilian infrastructure that is even more densely populated? After the world defeated ISIS, the coalition put tens of thousands of civilians into an open-air-prison due to their ISIS-sympathies. Entire families, including children who have no memory of a life outside of the open-air-prison, known as Al-Hol, which exists in Syria to keep such people away from us. The West intends to forget about them. Many of them are citizens of Western countries that would rather keep them in this actual open-air-prison than deal with the consequences of their freedom. Yet such nations judge Israel for the condition in Gaza, deeming it an open-air-prison. On what basis do they judge, if it is not possible to do any better?
Right after October 7, a reporter asked Hanan Ashrawi, a veteran Palestinian politician, who is supposedly moderate and secular, what she thought about what happened on October 7. Her response was completely tone deaf and callous. To such an open question, she began to opine how good it was that it revealed the weaknesses of Israel who had ignored the Palestinian question. Though not specifically endorsing their actions, she endorsed their effect. And after being pressed, she rejected that the barbarity had any significance, claiming that Israel did the same thing.
From my residence in Jerusalem last year, people could hear the gunshots of a lone Palestinian gunman mercilessly killing civilians in the street including people tending to the wounded. Images of the aftermath did not affect me as much as seeing the jubilation of thousands of Palestinians in the street celebrating what this savage did. In fact, if you do a search for the phrase, “Palestinians Celebrate,” you will most likely see Palestinians celebrating such events. Not Ramadan or any national holidays, but the deaths of innocent Jews.
The ideas of human rights and laws of war are foreign concepts in Palestine. Commonly Palestinians in their natural habitat merely see such concepts as things to be mimicked to gain favor with the west when convenient. After the Hamas-supporting Turkish dictator Recep Tayyip Erdogan, ethnically cleansed the majority-Kurdish Syrian province of Afrin of Kurds, Erdogan invited Palestians in to steal the homes of these people who had been fighting against ISIS. Many of these Palestinian settlements were paid for by pro-Palestinian NGOs inside of Israel. These same NGOs that decry the bombardment of Gaza, and smear Israel for ethnic cleansing, financially support doing just that. In many Palestinian cities such as Qalqilya there are statues and monuments to Saddam Hussein and many support his al-Anfal genocide.
Hamas is not holding Gazans hostage. Gazans support Hamas and democratically elected them into power. Hamas is absolutely not condemned in the West Bank, either. Even in Jordan, Palsestians and others flooded the streets chanting that Hamas was not a terrorist organization and praised the Qassam Brigades that butchered Israeli civilians. If you live in the West, particularly North America, Palestinians are selected for immigration specifically because of how atypical their views are on modern values. These anomalies misrepresent the views on the street in Palestine.
Hamas’s goal is to hide behind civilians and make the situation so ethically complicated that all the average man on the street can see is Israel bombing Gaza and killing civilians.
The truth of the matter is that no country in the West, in defeating ISIS or any form of evil that embodied such de facto states, was able to avoid taking the same steps as Israel has done in this urban conflict.