Ceasefire advocates: Hamas’s very useful idiots

The destruction left in the wake of Oct. 7, when Hamas terrorists infiltrated the Gaza border in southern Israel, and wreaked havoc on the residents of Kibbutz Be’eri, Oct. 22, 2023. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90.

by Jonathan Tobin

(JNS) — It’s been more than two weeks since the atrocities of Oct. 7 shocked the world with the deliberate cruelty and barbarism exhibited by Hamas terrorists as they conducted what has been aptly described as pogroms inside Israel. The death toll in the largest mass slaughter of Jews — 1,400 in a single day — since the Holocaust continues to rise as more bodies are discovered and identified. Added to that are those victims yet unaccounted for, in addition to the more than 4,000 wounded and as many as 200 others dragged captive into the Gaza Strip.

But for most of the world, the narrative about this conflict has already flipped. The Israel Defense Forces continues airstrikes on Hamas targets inside Gaza. The focus of most of the discussion about the conflict is now on the plight of Palestinian civilians and how — in the words of New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof — a desire for revenge and futile quest for Israeli safety had led to a campaign to “kill Gazan children.”

Enlightened liberal opinion that opposes Hamas terrorism and doesn’t want to see Israel destroyed is now making common cause with leftist ideologues who openly cheer for the murderers in the streets of the world’s leading cities and on the campuses of American universities. Both seem to agree that the priority now is to force Israel to accept a ceasefire with Hamas in order to prevent a humanitarian crisis inside the Islamist-ruled coastal enclave.

But there is one thing that needs to be understood as the toll of Palestinian casualties grows, even if the numbers bandied about come from the Hamas propaganda machine and many, if not most, of those killed are actually terrorists. It’s that everyone who is now focused on stopping Israel from carrying out a decisive military attack inside Gaza that will terminate the terrorist regime that has existed as an independent Palestinian state in all but name since 2007 are, despite the differences in their views, pushing for a common goal: ending the fighting so as to enable the survival of Hamas.

An immoral coalition

In this way, well-meaning humanitarians and critics of Israel’s government who are nevertheless supporters of the Jewish state are essentially on the same side as the antisemitic left demanding its elimination.

They must all be considered Hamas’s useful idiots.

The predictable one-sided calls for Israel to stand down in its efforts to defend itself against Hamas coming from the United Nations are easily dismissed by the Jewish state’s supporters, who fail to understand the ability of the international community to help undermine the Jewish state. Also troubling are calls for a ceasefire coming from American legal scholars, the professors who teach in elite schools turning out the legislators and judges of tomorrow, treating every Israeli measure of self-defense as immoral.

Even those not openly demanding that Israel not strike back at the terrorists are warning that the anticipated ground invasion of Gaza is a mistake that will backfire on Israel. That’s the position of CNN host and Washington Post columnist Fareed Zakaria, who remains the most reliable source for whatever conventional wisdom is being peddled by the same foreign-policy establishment that has been wrong about everything in the Middle East for more than 30 years.

Times columnist and inveterate Israel critic Thomas L. Friedman, who seems to have President Joe Biden’s ear, is also among those who believe that an invasion is wrong. He thinks that the United States should force Israel to promise in advance of any further ill-advised fighting that when the guns fall silent, they will withdraw from Judea and Samaria, so as to enable the creation of another independent Palestinian state in addition to the one that Hamas has ruled in Gaza since 2006. That is a formula for another Islamist terror state, not peace.

Still others — like Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari, whose banal observations on the past and contemporary life have given him something of the status of an intellectual icon — are appalled by leftist demonization of Israel. But he writes in The Washington Post that he considers the Israeli consensus that Hamas be wiped out as a mirror image of the terrorist group’s own absolutist view of the world. He believes that the quest for dealing out “justice” to the Oct. 7 criminals is no different from Hamas’s apocalyptic worldview. He feels Israeli actions that would prioritize the safety of Palestinian civilians, even if it means letting them live inside Israel and even if that helps Hamas, will be better for Israel in the long run.

Even Biden, whose statements of unabashed support of Israel and condemnation of Hamas have so heartened Jews there and in the United States, seems to be doing everything possible to delay the Gaza offensive or to push for it to be so restricted in nature that it’s hard to see how it can accomplish the objective of destroying the terrorists’ hold on Gaza. The U.S. military assistance that is vital to resupply the Israel Defense Forces and hopefully deter Iran from widening the war seems also to be coming with conditions and advice that may be aimed at limiting the campaign. Part of this may be related to American efforts to free some of the hostages being held by Hamas, even if this may, as such ransom deals always do, only strengthen the terrorists.

It is unlikely that most ordinary Israelis are listening to any of them. The Israeli public and its deeply shaken political, military and intelligence establishments have rightly come to the conclusion that the only way to prevent more such criminal assaults is to invade Gaza and put an end to Hamas rule once and for all.

The kind of campaign to wipe out Hamas that the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has promised will be difficult to accomplish. It may be that what Israel is planning will take weeks or even months to carry out. The toll in casualties on both sides may be terrible. And the longer it goes on with the Hamas propagandists and their accomplices at mainstream corporate media outlets hyping Palestinian casualties and treating Israel as morally equivalent to the Oct. 7 criminals, the harder it will be for Israel to stay the course.

But contrary to the moral relativism of people like Kristof, Zakaria, Friedman and Harari, the option facing Israel and the world in Gaza is not one that can be characterized as morally complex or one in which the truth lies somewhere in the gray area between the absolutist claims of either Palestinians or Israelis.

A simple choice

The choice between Hamas and Israel is not complex. It is one between an Islamist tyranny and a democratic state, between a group whose Western ideology isn’t merely alien to Western thought but steeped in what can only be described as evil. The comparison between Hamas and ISIS is apt; they are both modern-day Nazi movements that share an eliminationist mentality when it comes to Jews and the Jewish state.

The destruction of the Hamas regime is not merely a difficult policy option that will generate criticism from Western humanitarians, as well as hysteria on the “Arab street” and throughout the Muslim world. It is a moral imperative and should be treated no differently from the implacable determination of the West to wipe out the ISIS caliphate in Iraq and Syria, or the Allies goal to destroy the regimes of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan during World War II.

In neither of those examples did the toll of civilian casualties, however tragic it may be, serve as a deterrent to pursuing the goal of victory over those evil entities.

In Mosul in 2017, when Iraqi and Allied forces recaptured Mosul from ISIS with the assistance of the United States, as many as 11,000 civilians were killed in the fighting inside the city. And some 800,000 German civilians were killed during the Allied bombings of Germany. On top of that, perhaps 150,000 civilians were killed during the 1945 invasions of Germany that ended with, in addition to the fighting elsewhere, a brutal house-to-house battle in Berlin.

We know that in neither of those cases did those seeking the end of those regimes take as much care in avoiding civilian deaths as Israel does now. Yet those casualty numbers were not terrible enough to render the wars to destroy ISIS and Adolf Hitler’s Nazi murder machine immoral undertakings.

The same moral calculus must be applied to the war in Gaza.

Contrary to Kristof’s despicable attempt at moral equivalence, Israel doesn’t seek to kill Arab children to make Israeli kids safe. He should know that a regime that murders and beheads Jewish infants cannot be allowed to hide behind the Palestinian children that they have endangered by launching this war. And those who would let it do so are not demonstrating wisdom or superior morals to those correctly demanding Hamas’s elimination.

Western minds raised on moral relativism and uncomfortable with the concept that some movements and governments are evil rather than merely misguided or mistaken. That is why they find a war that can only end in the complete defeat of Hamas — no matter the cost — to be in conflict with their understanding about how the world works.

Still, it’s much simpler than all that. If, despite condemnations of terrorism, you advocate for policies that will enable Hamas to emerge alive and well from the murderous rampage it undertook on Oct. 7 — and which started this war — then you are their unwitting accomplices and as reprehensible as those who cry in the streets for more Jewish blood to be spilled.

Jonathan S. Tobin is editor-in-chief of JNS (Jewish News Syndicate). Follow him on Twitter at: @jonathans_tobin.