We are worried sick about our friends and family in Israel. During our “972” phone calls and in messages, we sense the anguish of call-ups, funerals, Shivas, and DNA evidence. Little details leak out about morgues, forensic centers, sobs, shaking, disbelief, imagining hostage jeopardy, and it tears at our heartstrings. Our friends describe empty streets, closed shops, and lives disrupted. Mixed in, we hear about bravery, simple kindnesses, volunteerism, the one-on-one helpful outreach among the now unified and undefeated Israeli people.
In America, we watch our latest Jewish nightmare unfold as it segues from the first jarring awareness to the unimaginable massacre-torture-kidnapping to the preposterous worldwide pro-Hamas protests. As the reality of it all sinks in, we embrace our eternal bond with Israel and our fellow Jews. We agonize over our distanced helplessness and try to work through great pro-Israel organizations delivering support to our brethren.
All who love Israel are glued to the television as Israel eliminates threats, safeguards troops and citizens, destroys Hamas, and supports the wounded and bereaved. But we cannot imagine how all the chaos and uncertainty will be resolved. We fear the battle with Palestinian terrorists will widen across other fronts into an existential danger. In America, we look over our shoulders wary about domestic antisemitic and anti-Zionist threats. At least here, we don’t dive into bomb shelters or safe rooms at the shriek of an air raid alarm. At colleges, our children and grandchildren face the far-Left and far-Right inspired anti-Israel rhetoric that has metastasized into Bund Rally pro-Palestinian bloodthirstiness.
Right now, we appreciate the full-throated and muscular support of Israel by the Biden Administration, and we can take great comfort in their quick action to help Israel and to protect American Jews. It is not productive to try to square these virtuous acts with past concerns, and we can hope flawed enacted policies will be reconsidered and remedied.
But after what will surely be more horror, Israel will need to consider the painful lessons of the “surprise” attack. No doubt the Israeli government and their respected security agencies will explore how this intelligence failure could befall the mighty Start-up Nation. Once again, we must humbly ask if hubris lulled Israel into dangerous complacency.
We will ask ourselves if there were clear signals that Israel ignored. Were we too comfortable with our world view and did it rob us of an instinct for danger? Did we underestimate the influence of Iran, savagery of Hamas, and intransigeance of the Palestinians? Did some underestimate the murderous Jihad intent of Hamas and did the lure of a two-state solution distract from the history of Gazan’s people’s choice of Hamas leadership. Gaza was, in fact, that second state, and it augurs very poorly for a similar political solution on the West Bank.
Cold, objective analysis of the world around Israel reveals danger.
1-Iconic Hamas and Iranian headlines have long boasted: Death to America and Death to Israel. We saw these mottos inscribed on banners, buildings and missiles. Iranian financial support, sourced from American payments, for its malign network of hostile states surrounding Israel has long been common knowledge. Hamas and Hezbollah masterminds coordinated with Iran for decades. Was there pressure on Iran to undermine a possible Saudi-Israel deal? These “secrets” were front page news.
2-Why did we think America’s recent $6 Billion ransom payment to Iran for five hostages was not a Hamas copycat blueprint? It suggested a simple windfall extrapolation. The proximity of Israeli towns to two million Gazans, separated by a border fence, offered bloodthirsty Hamas tactical opportunity. Since the 2005 Gaza turnover, Israel has been “rewarded” with a constant stream of rocket attacks, tunnels, and incursions. And a mountain of monies from the US, EU and UN was diverted to a vast underground lair and an armory of weapons.
3- Iran, a third-rate military, intimidated President Obama into signing an unenforceable and limited JCPOA, and paying plane loads of cash. President Trump abandoned the JCPOA and applied choking economic sanctions, but President Biden then sought a new nuclear deal. Widely reported back-channeling by the likes of John Kerry and Robert Malley suggests dark-state pathways to further capitulation. Along the way, other retrenchments like the Afghanistan withdrawal only diminished America’s profile, and Tehran was emboldened. They likely channel Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, “…avoid what is strong, and strike at what is weak.” Follow the money.
4-The precepts of the Qur’an, the “holy” book for nearly two billion Muslims, glorify the murder of unbelievers, justify lying (Taqiyya) to advance Islamic religious advantage, ordain the superiority of Islam over all others (Allahu Akhbar really means “our G-d is greater than your G-d), legitimize rape of female captives from Jihad, and abrogate treaties whenever they become disadvantageous to Islamic interests. Understand what they believe.
5-Israel’s near-civil war over judicial reform, multiple elections, and religious-demographic riffs could easily have been interpreted as a weakened society and lost resolve. Think how the media-blasted vitriolic street demonstrations thrilled Israel’s enemies. Benny Gantz now references “shared fate” as he joined the war-cabinet with Bibi.
6-The American Jewish diaspora has shown diminished support for Israel and increased political affiliation with a progressive agenda sympathetic with woke claims of Israel’s “white supremacy”, colonizing apartheid and racism. Major Jewish organizations were more responsive to flavor-of-the-month causes like climate change, women’s rights, George Floyd and BLM than Israel’s inherent vulnerability and growing worldwide antisemitism. Did our enemies believe America’s strategic direction was influenced by Jewish organizations which were overly attentive to a political party and candidates whose agendas were not adequately supportive of Israel? Elections have consequences.
Not any one of these above trends can be deemed the casus belli for the vile Hamas surprise attack. But can’t we imagine that a hostile, entrenched, well-funded enemy might view the amalgam as an irresistible opportunity? President John Kennedy said, “when written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity.”
Israel’s soldiers now go into harm’s way and their families struggle with untold anxiety. Caring American Jews and Christians are sleepless with uncertainty knowing, maybe subconsciously, that the safety of Jews abroad is tethered to Israel’s survival. Let’s work even harder to help Israel with funds, votes for supportive candidates, and unafraid voices. And pray that safety and peace for Israel and the Jewish people are still a possibility.
Am Yisrael Chai.