OpinionIsrael at War

Cease stupid, not fire

If Biden has some notion about how to end this war, he should consider this easy-to-remember maxim.

Yarden Bibas, 34, Shiri Bibas, 32, and their children, then-9-month-old Kfir and 4-year-old Ariel, were abducted by Hamas on Oct. 7. Photo: Courtesy.
Yarden Bibas, 34, Shiri Bibas, 32, and their children, then-9-month-old Kfir and 4-year-old Ariel, were abducted by Hamas on Oct. 7. Photo: Courtesy.
Thane Rosenbaum. Credit: Courtesy.
Thane Rosenbaum
Thane Rosenbaum is a novelist, essayist, law professor and Distinguished University Professor at Touro University, where he directs the Forum on Life, Culture & Society. His most recent book is “Saving Free Speech ... From Itself.”

Perhaps I heard it wrong. But I could swear that President Joe Biden just delivered a televised address at the White House about the war in Gaza. (Note, no matter how loud it’s shouted by well-meaning ignorant people, or Jew-haters who side with savages, there is no “genocide” in Gaza.)

Biden proposed a multi-part peace process, allegedly initiated by Israel, that would include a six-week ceasefire, followed by an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, the exchange of some of the Israeli hostages (and the remains of the dead) for captured Palestinian terrorists, culminating in the rebuilding of Gaza.

Regarding the release of Hamas terrorists, one must remember that Yahya Sinwar, the mastermind behind the massacre on Oct. 7, was set free in just such an exchange back in 2011. He was among 1,027 prisoners exchanged for one Israeli. A young soldier, Gilad Shalit, was returned to his family and, hopefully, the ensuing 13 years have been kind to him. But how many of those 1,027 accomplished terrorists participated in 10/7? Would the massacre have even occurred if Sinwar was still imprisoned?

I believed that Biden was mistaken in claiming the proposal came from Israel. Due to advancing age and a mind that was never all that nimble to begin with, I assumed that couldn’t have been the case.

And it appears I was right. Israel knows its enemy, and the region in which it is tragically located. The biblical Promised Land it may be, but ever since 1948, the Jews who rebuilt their original homeland have been encircled by the worst neighbors imaginable—people who would gleefully burn down their own houses for the satisfaction of seeing the Jewish state in flames.

Israel is an imperfect democracy, but nonetheless a liberal, cosmopolitan, largely secular society filled with a wealth of rational, deliberative Jewish brains. If Biden has some notion about how to end this war, he should consider this easy-to-remember maxim: “Cease stupid, not fire.”

Biden’s staged appearance was doubtlessly intended for the Muslims of Dearborn, Michigan, a key battleground state. Pathetically, he has been treating them as a constituency rather than a fifth column. To many of them, he is now “Genocide Joe.” He won’t receive their support no matter how obsequiously he prostrates before voters who, quite honestly, prefer an Islamic caliphate to a liberal democracy.

Think I’m exaggerating? Ask Europeans how things have worked out for them.

Any proposal that gives Hamas time to reconstitute, pretend to be diplomats and “peacemakers,” and continue to win the affection of the Palestinian people is tantamount to handing Israel a suicide vest. You can rebuild Gaza, but you can’t prepare it for statehood if its chief national project is purging the world of Jews—wherever they might be.

The grotesque crimes committed on 10/7 must result in the death or capturing of everyone who took part—including the 550 “innocent civilians” who rampaged through Kibbutz Nir Oz, where they raped and abducted Israelis, even selling some to Hamas. These are all criminals who committed barbaric acts.

The West is unused to seeing barbarism up close. That’s one of the reasons some disbelieve what happened that day. What kind of people would do such things? One-word answer: Gazans. Our laws are inadequate to address these crimes.  Extraordinary measures are necessary. Atrocities, after all, are not the same as ordinary murder. All perpetrators should receive what they deserve—no discounts, do-overs, excuses, leniency or, most assuredly, permanent ceasefire.

In per capita terms, Oct. 7 equates to the massacre of 42,000 Americans—babies beheaded and burned alive, girls gang-raped and mutilated. Imagine the scale and moral dimension of losing that many American civilians—and in such a manner.

Meretricious antisemites who occupy and disrupt college campuses, city streets and bridges, and who pledge their allegiance to Hamas while replacing the American flag with a fictional Palestinian one, are completely unmoved by 10/7. How might America have responded to such an unfathomable loss?

Most Israelis seem to agree that the hostages, or their remains, must be returned. But under no circumstances should the fighting be abated. Before the IDF puts down its weapons, Hamas and its enablers must receive their just deserts and cease to exist. That’s the only acceptable ceasing. The moral universe demands no less.

But it raises the question: After six months, why is a single Hamas terrorist still alive? The derring-do days of the Six-Day War are, apparently, over. Israel once vanquished four Arab armies in less than a week. Egypt, Israel’s fiercest nemesis at the time, never got a plane off the tarmac. Entire squadrons were destroyed by Israeli airstrikes.

In the five earlier wars with Hamas, these terrorists were dispatched in a matter of weeks. Each war left Gaza in ruins, but somehow Hamas survived to rebuild its arsenals and groom yet another multitude of willing human shields. In 2014, President Barack Obama aggressively pestered Israel to exercise “restraint.”

Regrettably, they did just that. Israel left Gaza without obliterating the entirety of Hamas’s stockpiled weapons, detonating all of their tunnels and eliminating all of their battalions.

It is also true that Hamas is no longer just a ragtag bunch of genocidal Islamists misfiring rockets. They more resemble a real army these days. Iran helped to raise their game with advanced weaponry, sophisticated surveillance and terror tunnels more lavish than any apartment building in the Strip.

Worried about starvation in Gaza? Where do you think all of those billions have gone?

Given this new reality, can the IDF ultimately complete this job, knowing the mandate that Hamas can no longer terrorize Israelis? And how long will it take?

Meanwhile, for the morally lazy—those prone to leaving crucial tasks undone—consider this: Ariel Bibas, age 4, last seen wearing a Batman T-shirt, is still being held hostage. His fate, like that of his baby brother Kfir and his parents Shiri and Yarden, remains unknown.

Yes, Palestinian children have been killed in this war. But that’s only because their parents, at Hamas’s behest, have placed them in harm’s way. Who other than Islamists would behead and kidnap Jewish children and seal the fate of their own?

Message to Joe Biden: No further talk of a ceasefire until a Batmobile races across the Negev Desert to bring Ariel home.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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