Hamas has guaranteed the misery of Palestinians and ended any chance of Israeli concessions to establish a Palestinian state. In a normal world, supporters of the Palestinians and a two-state solution would condemn Hamas for bombarding Israeli civilians with rockets—not due to any concern for Israeli lives, but because of the impact it will have on their goals. In the “Alice in Wonderland” world in which they live, however, Israel must be demonized for having the chutzpah to protect its citizens.
Let’s start with the simple fact that not one Gaza resident would have died or been injured if Hamas had not launched rockets at Jerusalem. No government on earth would have reacted with less ferocity, and most with more, to an attack on their capital.
How can you claim to care about Palestinians and support the people causing their suffering?
Yes, there are disputes in Sheikh Jarrah and on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Still, even if you take the Palestinian side and find Israel’s actions objectionable, how does that justify supporting Hamas indiscriminately bombarding Israeli civilians—Jews and Arabs (one Palestinian child was killed)—with thousands of rockets?
Clearly, neither the Palestinians nor their supporters learned the lesson of Israel’s disengagement from the Gaza Strip. In 2005, Israel withdrew every citizen and soldier from the Gaza Strip. Consistent with the popular “land for peace” formula of the time, Israel gave up territory and allowed the Palestinians to use the opportunity to build the infrastructure for a state and demonstrate they were prepared to live in peace with their neighbors.
The Palestinians did nothing to build a state; instead, Hamas staged a coup creating a schism within Palestinian society. Hamas’s commitment to Israel’s destruction made negotiations with Mahmoud Abbas futile because Hamas would not accept any agreement he might reach and restated its commitment to Israel’s destruction.
Hamas subsequently launched more than 10,000 rockets at Israeli civilians. This was the “peace” Israel received in exchange for land.
It is also what many Israelis see as their future besides a Palestinian state. Hamas has shown that strategic depth in the missile age is losing its meaning; still, instead of the Jewish population being separated from the terrorists by miles, a West Bank state would put them on Israeli doorsteps, able to fire rockets into homes, synagogues and kindergartens virtually across the street.
As Herb Keinon presciently observed, “When the rockets stop falling from Gaza, there will be renewed calls for a two-state solution as the only way to solve this intractable problem. … Beyond the naive simplicity of it all (as if Hamas will be satisfied with a reality in which Israel exists at all), it also overlooks the Israeli psyche. … It’s not as if when this all stops, that Israelis will just be able to forget everything—the tension, the anxiety, the screaming kids, the red alerts—and go back to how things were beforehand. This all has an impact. It will impact how they look at the world, the region, ways of managing the conflict. And, yes, the political map.”
Not surprisingly, the “peace camp” has all but disappeared, and the Israeli body politic shifted right. There are no more Peace Now rallies attended by tens of thousands of Israelis. They have not lost interest in peace—no parent wants to send their children to the army and spend three years of sleepless nights worrying about their safety—but Israelis recognize that concessions have not brought them security.
You may dislike Benjamin Netanyahu, but he has served longer than any prime minister in part because of the feelings of insecurity created by Hamas. There are still plenty of Israelis who want to stop settlement construction and support the creation of a Palestinian state, but peace with the Palestinians has not been an issue in the last four (perhaps soon five) elections because virtually no one believes it is possible.
Why can’t the Hamas cheerleaders understand this?
There is also a failure to recognize the impact on Israelis who see that the world considers Jewish life cheap. In her article, “Why can’t my progressive friends understand what Israelis are going through?” Roxana Honowitz spoke for many on the Israeli left: “How the people that I also saw as righteous can weigh the trauma of one side over another simply on the basis of casualty numbers terrifies me. How many Israelis, then, should be murdered for the world to not see this in terms of sides and division?”
Honowitz lamented the lack of empathy of progressives and disregard for Israelis’ experience and said it “makes me ask if it is just ignorance, or if it is, in fact, anti-Semitism.” She noted, “the more the one-sided narrative is promoted, the more anti-Semitic attacks are carried out around the world.” Finally, she expressed her exasperation, “I am at a loss for words as so many public figures on the left, mainstream news, and friends who share my beliefs blatantly ignore or overlook the real feelings of fear and danger Israelis exist in.”
Is the response anti-Semitic?
More than 200 Palestinians have been killed; however, few reports explain that many of them were terrorists or killed by Hamas rockets that misfired and landed in the Gaza Strip. Still, the deaths are tragic and have provoked anti-Israel demonstrations around the world. Why is it, though, that there have been no protests against Syria which has killed thousands of Palestinians? No one cares about Palestinian casualties unless Jews can be blamed.
Progressives also never admit that religion can be a factor; after all, aren’t all Muslims peaceful? They keep their heads in the sand and complain about a “cycle of violence” and ignore that Hamas believes that Allah has called on them to destroy the Jewish state. The conflict isn’t about land or grievance; it’s rooted in Divine guidance.
The current fighting is just the latest indication of how delusional Palestinians remain after all the years of accomplishing nothing through violence. If anything, they’ve lost sympathy, especially among their fellow Arabs whose reaction to Israel’s “Operation Guardian of the Walls” has been muted. The UAE went further, reportedly informing Hamas it would stop funding projects in Gaza if it didn’t halt its attacks. The Abraham Accords should have been a wake-up call indicating that Arab leaders are fed up with Palestinian intransigence and will no longer allow them to hold a veto over their relations with Israel.
Sadly, Europeans and some Americans in and out of government insist, as they have done for decades, to feed Palestinian delusions by buying into their claims of victimhood and demonizing Israelis. The coterie of anti-Israel/anti-Semites that have taken root in the Democratic Party, along with their cheerleaders from J Street, IfNotNow, Jewish Voice for Peace, Students for Justice in Palestine and the BDS crowd provide fuel for the Palestinian arsonists while attacking the Israeli firefighters.
Israel, of course, is now blamed for the devastation in Gaza the Palestinians brought on themselves. Neither the civilians in Gaza, who allow Hamas to use them as shields, nor the “moderate” Abbas was willing to stop Hamas, and now the Palestinians will have to live with the consequences. Demonizing Israel may be emotionally satisfying for the moment, but it will not rebuild homes, create jobs or bring independence.
Mitchell Bard is a foreign-policy analyst and an authority on U.S.-Israel relations who has written and edited 22 books, including “The Arab Lobby, Death to the Infidels: Radical Islam’s War Against the Jews” and “After Anatevka: Tevye in Palestine.”