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Daniel G. Saunders

Cease Ceasefire Calls

I feel almost physically sick that Israel’s so-called allies are saying it is too violent and calling for a “sustainable ceasefire” (whatever that means – an environmentally-friendly one, presumably, perhaps for Greta Thunberg) without doing any kind of meaningful comparison to other conflicts. How can you say Israel is acting “excessively” without comparing to casualty rates in Iraq and Afghanistan (let alone Ukraine)? Statistically, Israel is better at avoiding casualties than the USA, Britain and NATO in those wars. How can you say “enough” has been achieved without looking at what Hamas has done, what they want to do and what they still have the capacity to do, which we do not yet know? How can you have a “sustainable ceasefire” with an organisation that says they want to kill you, will never make peace with you, and only calls a halt to rearm?

But Rishi Sunak is calling for a “sustainable ceasefire,” the UN Security Council is planning a ceasefire motion and the Biden administration is sending mixed messages. I even see some calls for a ceasefire on Times of Israel blogs, mostly in the comments, but sometimes in posts (it does at least stand as testimony to the Jewish people’s commitment to free discussion and debate).

This is what I keep thinking:

  • On 7 October, Hamas invaded Israel, committing massive war crimes, murdering over 1,200 people, raping, torturing and plundering indiscriminately.
  • Hamas has sworn to repeat 7 October again and again and again until Israel is destroyed.
  • Hamas’ Charter pledges them never to recognise Israel’s existence or make peace with Israel. In fact, it pledges them to kill all Jews not just in Israel, but all over the world.
  • Hamas has a massive terrorist infrastructure in Gaza. It is better to think of it, less as a terrorist organisation, and more as an army with the resources of a small state, its funds coming mainly from Iran, Qatar, the UN, the USA and Europe, either directly or via stolen aid.
  • Hamas deliberately uses Gazan civilians as human shields. It knows the more of its citizens die, the more the international community will pressure Israel to stop attacking.
  • Hamas uses hospitals, schools, UN buildings and mosques as command centres, arms stores and rocket launch areas. It knows these are unlikely to be attacked, or, if they are attacked, there will be a huge international outcry against Israel.

Given 1) to 3), war until Hamas is destroyed is inevitable. The alternative is the destruction of Israel, sooner or later. Stopping short may save lives in the short run, but future rounds of conflict, perhaps bloodier, will follow. Given 4) to 6), tragic large-scale civilian loss of life and damage of infrastructure is also inevitable, but the moral responsibility lies with Hamas, who broke the previous ceasefire and reignited the conflict.

It is often stated that bombing Gaza will just reinforce Hamas’ popularity among the Gazan populace. It is also stated that Hamas is an ideology and that an ideology can not be destroyed by military means. For once, a comparison to Nazi Germany is helpful here. I recently read Richard J. Evans’ The Third Reich at War, 1939-1945, the final volume of his trilogy of history books telling the story of Nazi Germany. Evans states that, when the Allies, particularly Britain, heavily bombed German cities (with far less precision than Israel is bombing Gaza and probably more destructively), far from hating Britain more and rallying to the Nazis, German civilians explicitly did not blame Britain and instead blamed their own government for provoking the war. Many Germans opined that the bombing was divine punishment on Germany for its treatment of the Jews. There is evidence of this happening in Gaza, although there is also evidence against. We should not assume the outcome. In any case, what happens on the battlefield is only the start. What happens after Hamas is defeated is the important thing.

Hamas is not an ideology that can not be destroyed, it is a terrorist army. Islamism, political Islam, is an ideology, but it can be destroyed, in Gaza and elsewhere. Nazism was also an ideology, but, rather than pessimistically declare that it could not be defeated, the Allies attacked and destroyed it, first on the battlefield, and then through a deNazification programme in occupied Germany that was aimed at counteracting Nazi propaganda in schools and the media and making it politically unacceptable to express Nazi opinions.

Evans describes the programme as flawed and in some ways hypocritical, as many figures, particularly in the professions (law, medicine, academia) were too important to the running of post-war Germany (or Germanies, East and West) to be excluded from their positions of authority. The philosopher Martin Heidegger, formerly an active Nazi, is just one example. Despite this, Evans sees the programme as successful, making it impossible for someone to voice Nazi opinions in public and be taken seriously in post-war Germany and preventing any major resurgence of Nazism on the political stage.

The same could happen in Gaza – IF (and it’s a big if) the international community is willing to do it. This would take Western money and oversight and probably significant input from “moderate” Arab/Muslim nations. Sadly, this is unlikely to be forthcoming. Moderate Arab nations like Egypt and Jordan are still sites of extreme Jew hate, while the West finds it easier to criticise Israel and shed crocodile tears over the Palestinians than to undertake the serious involvement and to make the difficult choices that would be needed to transform Gazan society so that it could make peace with Israel.

About the Author
Daniel Saunders is an office administrator, proofreader and copy editor living in London with his wife. He has a BA in Modern History from the University of Oxford and an MA in Library and Information Management.
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