OpinionIsrael at War

The truly ‘proportionate’ response to Hamas is its elimination

Our resolve cannot be undermined by a false equivalence.

A Palestinian man walks next to graffiti depicting Hamas fighters firing rockets, in Khan Younis town in the southern Gaza Strip, on May 30, 2022. Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90.
A Palestinian man walks next to graffiti depicting Hamas fighters firing rockets, in Khan Younis town in the southern Gaza Strip, on May 30, 2022. Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90.
Douglas Altabef
Douglas Altabef
Douglas Altabef is chairman of the board of Im Tirtzu and a director of the Israel Independence Fund. He can be reached at: dougaltabef@gmail.com.    

Why is it that some of the smartest folks in the room are the most prone to tying themselves up in hypothetical and ideological knots? These are the people that Groucho Marx famously asked: “Who are you going to believe? Me or what’s right in front of your eyes?”

What’s right in front of the eyes of the Western world—indeed, the entire world—is the gleeful obsession of Hamas and its terrorists in killing Jews, most especially the youngest possible. This defines what might be the ultimate crime against humanity: the wanton slaughter of the most innocent and defenseless.

Should this not be a full-stop realization? Should this not put an end to the contextualizing, excusing and defending of the worst of the worst? Many who are so inclined to give a pass to Hamas are hyper-vigilant in detecting micro-aggressions, demonizing people who use the wrong pronouns or who lack the requisite empathy and respect for a whole litany of the enshrined oppressed.

Is this not the most egregious moral obtuseness one can imagine? In this newly woke universe, Jews have lost their claim to humanity; therefore, whatever Hamas does is no big deal.

Then there are those who are obsessed with faulting the Israeli response to “Hamasis” (my own synthesis of Hamas and ISIS) aggression by invoking the mantra of “proportionality.”

Proportionality is not part of international law or the history of warfare. It occupies a space akin to what Justice Potter Stewart said about pornography and not being able to define it, though “I know what it is when I see it.”

In other words, there is a cottage industry of finger-waggers who have decided that Israel’s responses to wanton murder need to be somehow referenced to the magnitude of the aggression.

As British author and political commentator Douglas Murray astutely noted, does that mean that Israel should shoot and behead the precise number of babies that Hamas did?

What proportionality really masks is an all-season, never-varying sympathy for the perceived underdog. What do you expect of Hamas; they are resisting Israeli aggression and domination (the fact that Israel left Gaza in 2005 has no bearing on this mindset), and are desperate.
So that inherently means that Israel either has it coming, or at least should suck it up and accept such attacks as the price of their “domination.”

This is why when those demanding proportionality are reminded of the history of warfare—of the Allied bombings of Germany and Japan—it doesn’t register. Those were good wars. By definition, any war of defense by Israel is an unjustified war.

You know where there is going. Taking a series of incremental steps gets one to the inescapable conclusion that Israel is the problem. And from there, it’s just a hop, skip and jump to why should there even be an Israel. Sad to say, but important to realize is that this is the underlying mindset behind much of the moral equivalence that Israel will always be treated to.

There is no recognition that aggression will always engender a response by any nation that values its own continuity. Yes, you were brutally attacked. That’s terrible. We weep for the victims.

That is the extent of the sympathy that Israel can expect from much of the allegedly civilized world. Dead Jews deserve our tears, alive and kicking (ass) Jews are disproportionate and actually illegitimate.

So, let’s all stipulate that this is what we are starting to see, and should expect to see in spades once the Israeli invasion of Gaza becomes more visible and more amenable to media manipulation.

However, there is one big difference between the current war and the actions that preceded it. That difference, of course, is in the conviction of the Israeli people themselves.

In a classic case of Stockholm syndrome (of identifying with one’s oppressors), I am sure that many Israelis had imbibed the mindset of the proportionality-obsessed crowd. However, the atrocities of the past week have been so revolting, so shocking as to banish that way of thinking for all but a very few.

It is the people of Israel who will lead this war in the sense of demanding from our leadership a determinative and definitive reaction—not an obligatory show of force and some “mowing the lawn” resolve.

We will tune out the proportionality nonsense while trying (in all likelihood, with limited success) to make the case not only for justice and deservedness, but also the necessity for a response that will end the ability of Hamas leadership to wreak havoc.

Still, for those who will defend to the death the concept of proportionality, I have a simple suggestion: I agree, let’s be proportionate. They tried to annihilate us; we should try to annihilate them.

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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