There is no doubt that President Biden has been and is a staunch supporter of Israel and our right to defend ourselves, just as he’s completely in tune with all of Israel that Hamas needs to be removed from existence. We should all appreciate his support and understand that this comes from a place of care and concern, rather than political opportunity.
Having said that, we also need to pay attention to what he’s saying when he makes statements on the conflict, and particularly which words he uses. President Biden has made it clear from the beginning, and constantly emphasizes, that Hamas does not represent the Palestinians, that Hamas and the Palestinians are two different things. This is not only emphasized in order to underline the fact that Hamas essentially has no care for the Palestinians, it also caries a message to us, the Israelis. While our anger and fury is acknowledged and understood, we also need to be able to channel it in the correct direction. He hinted at this in his speech after his visit, when he referred to the aftermath of 9/11.
This means that we can’t punish all of the civilians in Gaza, as if they’re all part of Hamas. They’re not. Even if Hamas was voted into power 15 years ago, this still only reflects a situation existing 15 years ago, and half of the Gazans alive today didn’t even have the chance to vote back then. We cannot use the results of an election that long ago, as a justification for collective punishment today.
While we certainly need to take out Hamas, from the top to the bottom, we should prevent unnecessary suffering for the civilians under Hamas’ rule. While it might understood that we can’t send in fuel to the Gaza strip, other requirements should be allowed, without any obstacles beside the need to control what goes into the strip. Food, medicine, water, and more, all this shouldn’t even be a question.
We need to consider the humanitarian aspect, to remember that there are innocent people living under Hamas’ rule, and that many of them suffer under this rule. Our response to Hamas’ crimes should not to insist on more suffering. War obviously causes suffering, but we can decide to try to limit it as much as possible, instead of multiplying it.
There is an additional element to this. While the world is deeply sympathetic to our war against Hamas, fewer are sympathetic to the consequences this war causes the Palestinians to suffer. We should be careful not to confuse support against Hamas for support against the Palestinians. Most of the world leaders see the issue like President Biden, Hamas and the Palestinians are two different things. Support for Israel against Hamas, yes, but not for Israel against the Palestinians. Most countries are more sympathetic to the Palestinian cause than to Israeli policies in regards to the Palestinians. We might not like it, we might think of all kinds of excuses for why that is essentially wrong, but it doesn’t change the fact that in the eyes of the world, Israel has a bad case when it comes to the Palestinians.
We need to understand that there will be a point, where the world leaders can’t put aside their support for the Palestinians and that at that point it will affect their support to Israel against Hamas. If we don’t show that we do care about the Palestinians, with more than empty platitudes such as “there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza”, “we don’t target civilians”, and other similar statements that are seen as going against reality (again, whether we like it or not, this is how it is being perceived outside Israel), we will loose support. And with Iran and their allies seemingly being very interested in a large expansion of the war, we cannot afford this.
We need to understand that ignoring the suffering of the civilians in Gaza caused by our war with Hamas won’t end well. Even if won’t acknowledge this from a pure empathetic point of view, that we shouldn’t cause the Gazans more suffering than required, then at least from a selfish point of view, that we can’t afford to loose the support from our friends and allied, simply because we won’t channel our rage against Hamas alone.
I urge our government and military leaders to allow humanitarian aid to enter Gaza, as soon as possible and with as few obstacles as possible. We all want to destroy Hamas, but I worry at what cost.