As the world reels from accounts of Hamas’s obscene slaughter of Jews in southern Israel on Oct. 7, some who have in the past criticized Israel’s conduct of prior military operations in the Gaza Strip have issued heartfelt cries of agony.
A statement issued by left-wing organization J Street is an example: “Hamas’ heinous, murderous attack is a gross violation of international law and constitutes an abhorrent crime against humanity. This is one of the most shocking massacres in the history of Israel, and indeed in the entire history of this century. The horror and pain is difficult to process and comprehend.”
The sick butchery of the terror group’s actions makes it difficult, though not impossible, for people to react with anything other than pure horror. To its credit, J Street’s statement contains none of the on-the-one-hand but on-the-other-hand prevarication that has long characterized so many pronouncements from the left on Israel, including many from J Street itself. If commendation were appropriate for an acknowledgment damning pure evil for what it is, then J Street would be worthy of commendation.
But what J Street’s and similar statements leave unaddressed is the obvious question: What did you think was going to happen if, as has been demanded by the left for years, Israel was gentle with such people and tried to live side by side with them? After all, Israel abandoned all of Gaza in 2005, formally ceding it to the Arabs who live there. If those people had wished, the Gaza-Israel border would have been exactly the side-by-side-in-peace existence the left claims to yearn for and for the absence of which they continue, even now, to condemn Israel. Instead, the people of Gaza held an election and chose Hamas’s murderers to lead them.
Even worse than the naifs at J Street, however, are people such as journalist Peter Beinart, who have urged Israel to share a “binational state” with Hamas’s supporters. Does Beinart now see how ridiculous and suicidal such a thing would be? But maybe that’s the wrong question. It isn’t “does he?” but “will he?”
Sadly, the answer is “no.”
In a bloodless interview conducted after the scale of the slaughter had begun to become clear, Beinart paid lip service to Jewish pain but then lamented that “Palestinians, as always, will suffer far, far more than Israeli Jews because they’re by far the weaker part of this.”
This concern about Palestinian weakness ignores the fact that many hundreds of millions of dollars in international aid have been spent by the Hamas regime on tunnels, missiles, drones and guns rather than on civilian infrastructure that would actually have improved the lives of Gaza’s people—the “weak” Palestinians about whom Beinart cares so much.
Mourning the fate of a population that chose the leaders who committed the atrocities on Saturday—on Shabbat and a Jewish holiday—and provided the hundreds of barbarians who committed them is itself a disgrace. But it is also a failure by Beinart to take responsibility, because it is Beinart and his fellow travelers who have for years demanded that Israel and Jewish Israelis work with and live with and even share a state with exactly these rampaging rapists and murderers of babies and the elderly.
In one of his articles denouncing the idea of a Jewish state and calling for a binational entity, Beinart praised “the Islamist movement Hamas—which has not recognized Israel” because “it has repeatedly embraced the ‘mini-state’ as the basis for a long-term truce.”
He bemoaned Israel’s efforts to dislodge Hamas, complaining that “after Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem held free elections—which gave Hamas a parliamentary majority—Israel and the U.S. encouraged [Mahmoud] Abbas to declare a state of emergency and disregard the results.”
If Beinart is prepared to believe that Hamas was democratically chosen by Gaza’s residents, why are they not all responsible for the actions of the leaders they chose? It’s not as if Hamas’s leaders have ever made a secret of their plans to murder Jews and destroy Israel.
At some point everyone, especially the people who have so recently denied it, must acknowledge that demanding the lamb make its home with the butcher is not merely naive and not merely stupid. It is evil.
We have reached that point.