War is a terrible thing. It is something to be avoided. It is an action of last resort. For many years we have gone to war a little too easily. We have gone to war to achieve political objectives, that in retrospect, were unachievable. This time it’s very different. For the first time – since the 1973 Yom Kippur War – we are in a war that was not of our choosing; a war that we did not want to flight; a war that was forced on us by our enemy (an enemy who admittedly does not care what effect the fighting will have on his own people). For the first time in 40 years we are fighting a war which there can be no doubt is a “Milchemet Chova”, an obligatory war.
We entered into a ground war after 10 days during which Israeli cities were continually and extensively attacked from the air. Prime Minister Netanyahu tried every way he could not to send in the ground troops. He waited to respond after the first missile attacks. He has responded positively to every possible ceasefire plan. Time and time again, we have seen Hamas respond by firing more missiles. Hamas has made it clear that it only wants one thing – war.
For once the world understands why we have to act. Yes, the news media will no doubt show terrible pictures in the coming days of Palestinian woman and children who are killed. Those deaths are truly tragic. However, those deaths cannot be on us. We did not ask for this war. Many innocent Germans died from the Allied attacks on Germany, some of which could have been avoided – in retrospect. However, that fact did not make the war on Germany any less moral.
For the moment, Israeli politicians – from right to left – are all united in support for the government. The only rational argument that can be made against the ground attack is that it possibly could have been avoided – “if we only had reached a peace agreement with the Palestinians”. Counter factional history is always possible. However, keeping in mind that Hamas’ goals remain our total destruction, it’s not a very strong argument.
The world will soon argue that we must remain proportional, or well meaning interlopers (like US Secretary of State Kerry) will urge we limit our actions to dismantling Hamas’ tunnels – and maybe we should. Though maybe we should go further. This time it must be our decision. We were forced into this war. Now our sons and, in some cases, our daughters are fighting for the very goal that Zionism came about – to ensure our survival as a free and independent people.