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Tell us, Europe, what should Israel do?

Please share any ideas on how to stop Hamas, other than targeting the terrorist infrastructure and operatives who plan and carry out rocket attacks.

A mass protest in San Francisco against Israel's operation in Gaza, May 16, 2021. Credit: Raphaël Vinot/Wikimedia Commons.
A mass protest in San Francisco against Israel's operation in Gaza, May 16, 2021. Credit: Raphaël Vinot/Wikimedia Commons.
Fiamma Nirenstein

So tell me, what should Israel do? You, who march through the streets of Italy, the United Kingdom or Germany with Palestinian flags and shout slogans accusing Israel of crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing, as well as being an apartheid state.

You, who defend Hamas in Paris, Berlin, London and Rome, hurling countless accusations against Israel on social media, including demented conspiracy theories that suggest Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the diabolical Prince of Evil, started the current war—in agreement with Hamas—in order to stay in power.

You, who—as long as terrorists are bombing homes, schools, kibbutzim, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv—don’t rush out into the streets to protest against the blatant crimes against humanity contained in targeting innocent civilians. You, who, when suicide terrorists killed almost 2,000 Israelis during the Second Intifada, found the time, paradoxically, to solely condemn, even then, the right of Israel to defend itself from those ready to murder its citizens by blowing up buses and pizzerias.

Please tell me if you have any ideas on how to stop Hamas, other than targeting the terrorist infrastructure and operatives who plan and carry out the bombings.

Hamas attacked Israel for no reason. In another round of a war in which the terrorist group that rules Gaza, free of Israeli presence for the past 16 years, tortures the entire Israeli civilian population, by randomly targeting it with no other goal than to kill and destroy. It does this by holding its own population of a little more than 2 million hostage.

Using the latter as human shields, it launches rockets or plans the next launch. If the Israeli army ceases to respond precisely at those moments characterized by this asymmetrical war, Hamas fires more projectiles.

It’s as simple as that. And what government—what army—has the right to decide to abandon itself to the possibility that the rockets will hit its citizens? Doing so would constitute pure complicity with a crime. A war crime.

The truth is in the simplicity of this story, the manipulation of which is based on ideology. It’s the result of prejudice against the State of Israel by those who wish to delegitimize and deem it unworthy of existence and survival. It’s European anti-Semitism—mimicking past notions that the Jews as a people were unworthy of existence and survival.

No country has had to bear for so long and with such patience and restraint—keeping its humanity intact alongside superior military capabilities—the blows that terror has inflicted on it.

Hamas’s ideological choice is definitive, similar to that of Hitler’s friend, Haj Amin al-Husseini, in the 1930s. For decades, it has been drinking from all the wells of anti-Semitism: the religious one, with jihadist theories of martyrdom; the Nazi theories of the inferiority and harmfulness of Jews; the communist one of imperialism; and today, the convergence of the inversion of “human rights” with the paradoxical support of terrorism as a legitimate tactic in the struggle for liberation.

Israel has served as the world’s protective front line, a global shield that upholds the rule of the law, follows the “purity of arms” doctrine and promotes open and free societies. Its dispute with the Palestinians is a minor symptom of the deadly ideological illness that sees and treats the Jewish state as an abominable “colonialist oppressor.”

If the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were really a territorial dispute, the United Nations wouldn’t have spent decades propagating the idea, as it did in 1975, that “Zionism is racism,” particularly since the opposite is true of the Jewish state.

The Zionism of any Israeli, including Netanyahu (who Giuseppe Provenzano, the deputy secretary of Italy’s Democratic Party ignorantly accuses of being a reactionary), is confident in democracy and coexistence. Evidence of this lies in the many peace offers it has always made to the Palestinians—offers that they have refused over and over again.

But Israel also has always had, and still does have, the ability to clearly identify the enemies bent on its destruction. And it’s always defended itself as needed: destroying enemy weapons and warriors, even if they are hidden in buildings that, theoretically—but only theoretically—should have other aims.

Israel must stop Hamas, even if the asymmetric war is terrible and painful. Pretending not to understand this reality, especially when the Jewish state is defending itself against deadly assault, ultimately means harboring, at least in a corner of one’s heart, a very pernicious idea. Indeed, delegitimizing Israel’s right to defend itself automatically legitimizes its enemies’ goal to eliminate the Jewish people.

Journalist Fiamma Nirenstein was a member of the Italian Parliament (2008-13), where she served as vice president of the Committee on Foreign Affairs in the Chamber of Deputies. She served in the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, and established and chaired the Committee for the Inquiry Into Anti-Semitism. A founding member of the international Friends of Israel Initiative, she has written 13 books, including “Israel Is Us” (2009). Currently, she is a fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. 

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