I did not write much about the conflict in Gaza over the past few weeks. I provided a lot of links, perhaps too many, and generally avoided articulating what I think and feel about the situation. Part of this was due to concerns and fears. The fear that young friends in Israel will be called up for reserve duty and a concern about appealing callous to readers whose opinions I hold dear.
To be perfectly clear, I hoped and prayed for Israel’s overwhelming victory against Hamas. I doubted the political leadership of Israel was willing to go that far, but as others have pointed out, the primary means to achieve peace when one is at war with a totalitarian movement is overwhelming force against the enemy. A crushing blow is necessary.
Obviously, international opinion, especially in Europe, would be against Israel. The Muslim world would be calling for jihad. But isn’t this always the case? Hasn’t this been going on for decades? Whether Israel shows great restraint or not, its actions will be condemned by the “international community.” Every anti-terrorist operation conducted by Israel is condemned as some sort of “massacre” or “war-crime” by practically every country in the world except the U.S. while Palestinian terrorism is rationalized as “resistance”.
It does not surprise me that the radical/loony/leftover left supports Hamas just as they supported Hezbollah in 2006. At this point, “anti-imperialism” and above all, anti-Zionism, is their guiding ideology and raison d’être .
As with the previous conflict with Hezbollah, some of my lefty friends and fellow bloggers strove to take a third position, pro-Israel and pro-Palestine. These good people—call them the sensible left (or perhaps the sensitive left?)—despise Hamas and everything it stands for, but they see the suffering of the elderly and children of Gaza and cannot bear it. They call for a cease-fire and more humanitarian aid (see Bob from Brockley, Flesh is Grass, and Modernity Blog. Also see Bob’s “Henry Siegman’s Lies” here and at Engage).
None of this is shocking. These are good folks, after all. What is surprising is many of these people support the broader war against Islamist totalitarianism, the Global War on Terror, or whatever you want to call it. As they know, this war requires positive action, not reactive self-defense.
Sometimes you have to take sides. Israel is on the front lines of the conflict and anti-totalitarians of the left, right or center should all be supporting Israel’s swift and total victory over Hamas. Not a cease-fire that allows Hamas to rearm and start this deadly game all over again. As Sultan Knish writes, “Israel must win by winning“:
Had Israel destroyed Hamas and Hizbullah, the criticism would quickly die down to an annoyed mutter. The fanatics would retire to raving in a corner. But Israel turned back from doing so, and so the hate will increase, the incitement will grow viler and the attacks will grow more dangerous. Because nothing emboldens the enemy like failure.
Also see the Sultan’s, “America and Israel Declare a Unilateral Ceasefile Against Terrorism.”
[Negotiate with me?]