The Current Discussion: What's the most likely outcome of the Gaza invasion? A wider war? A Hamas defeat? Just more of the same?
Rather than make a prediction, I would like to address the rampant moral confusion regarding the Israel-Hamas war. Here is something from an email sent out by Isaac Luria of J Street, a left-wing Jewish group that claims to be pro-Israel, but also reflects a lot of thinking by journalists and well-meaning people:
Israel has a special place in my heart. I lived there last year while my wife was studying to be a rabbi. But I recognize that neither Israelis nor Palestinians have a monopoly on right or wrong. While there is nothing "right" in raining rockets on Israeli families or dispatching suicide bombers, there is nothing "right" in punishing a million and a half already-suffering Gazans for the actions of the extremists among them.
The equation of the actions of Hamas and Israel is disgusting. But take Jews and Israel out of it. Imagine terrorist group A attacking country B, where A is trying to maximize civilian casualties on both sides and B is trying to minimize civilian casualties on both sides. What sort of moral judgment would have trouble distinguishing between the two?
The Palestinian victims of this war know better. Watch this video, broadcast on Palestinian TV, no less, of a girl whose 4-year-old sister died next to her in their home. She says, "Hamas is the cause, in the first place, of all wars." Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said he pleaded with Hamas "don't stop the ceasefire, the ceasefire must continue and not stop, in order to avoid what has happened, and if only we had avoided it." Hamas openly justifies using women and children as human shields, and is likely at this moment hiding and shooting at Israelis from hospitals and mosques.
By taking on Hamas, Israelis deserve the gratitude of decent people everywhere. More than that, by sending in troops to fight them on the ground, Israel is risking its precious soldiers to minimize Palestinian casualties. These soldiers risk becoming martyrs to human rights and the Geneva Convention because they are fighting in places where other countries, including the U.S., might have called in an artillery or air strike and been done with it. We should be proud of them and least have the decency to honor their sacrifice.
Finally, these soldiers are doing a service for humanity, not just for the Israelis. A defeat of Hamas is a defeat of it sponsor, Iran. It is no substitute for using economic, diplomatic, and - only if necessary - military means to prevent Iran, the world's primary terrorist regime, from going nuclear. But it should help concentrate minds regarding the necessity of doing so. The Israeli wars with Hamas and Hezbullah are only holding actions. The only way to give peace in the region real hope is to defeat the main source of war and terrorism, and that is the regime in Tehran.
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