Kim Salzman

It’s Not Complicated

Imagine waking up at 6:30 am on a holiday weekend to the sound of sirens. You have fifteen seconds to arrive in the safe room. You scoop your sleeping children out of bed and rush inside, slamming the door as you hear a deafening boom. The sirens and booms continue, so you stay in your safe room, comforted by its reinforced walls.

Then you hear Arabic-speaking men enter your home – your once-haven. Your terrified children cry, but you must keep them quiet so the terrorists don’t hear them. You promise them everything will be okay, but fear you are lying. When the terrorists try to open the door, you grasp the handle with every ounce of strength you have until they leave. You breathe a sigh of relief; you managed to hold them off, at least for now.

But then you smell smoke in your house. What do you do? If you leave the safe room, they will kill you. If you stay, you will burn to death. You decide to stay in your safe room (what a misnomer) and embrace your children, trying to calm them in their last moments on earth. As the smoke overcomes you, you tell your children how much you love them and utter “Shema Yisrael,” the last words Jews are supposed to say before dying.

This is not a horror movie. This is what Hamas did to innocent Israelis on October 7. Families were burnt alive, babies were beheaded, pregnant women’s babies were ripped out of their wombs, children were butchered, parents and children witnessed each other being murdered, and hundreds were kidnapped into Gaza. Fourteen hundred Israelis were murdered in what was the worst attack on the Jewish people since the Holocaust, and nearly 240 Israelis and foreign workers were kidnapped into Gaza, all in the name of the extreme version of Islam and Jew hatred espoused by Hamas.

Any nation suffering from such a heinous attack would be expected to respond in a way that ensures that such an atrocity will never happen again. While many in the world may not like it, Israel is a sovereign Jewish nation with the right and obligation to defend its citizens. That is exactly what Israel is doing.

The more than 75-year-old conflict between Israel and the Arab world is complicated, but nothing is complicated about the morality of this war. This is a war of good against evil. Hamas proudly shared the atrocities it committed on October 7 on Telegram and Facebook. They didn’t attempt to hide the atrocities they committed, nor do they hide their motives; in fact, Hamas’s spokesman stated that Hamas will try to repeat the horrors of October 7. Hamas’s charter declares their very raison d’etre is the obliteration of the State of Israel.

Nothing justifies the atrocities Hamas committed on October 7th. But Hamas and its supporters don’t see it that way. Pro-Hamas supporters stormed the streets of America, calling for the destruction of the State of Israel and justifying the murder of babies as a legitimate form of “resistance.”

Israel didn’t choose this war. We are fighting it because we have no other choice. Would you continue to live in your home if you knew that your next-door neighbor wanted to murder and rape you and your family? Or would you do everything in your power to ensure that your neighbor no longer has the power to hurt you? The answer isn’t complicated.

What is complicated for Israel is the fact that Hamas is holding nearly 240 Israelis and foreign workers in captivity in Gaza, many of them young children. Israel has two ambitious military objectives: returning the hostages home safely and eliminating Hamas, each one complicated in and of itself. Achieving these two objectives is made more complicated by Hamas’ well-known tactics. Hamas cynically uses their own civilians as human shields, placing their command centers or firing rockets from within hospitals, schools, mosques, and private homes. When Palestinian civilians die, oftentimes by rockets misfired by Palestinian terrorists, Hamas uses their deaths to demonize Israel. Sadly, the mainstream media buys Hamas’ lies, as seen in international headlines from October 17, blaming Israel for attacking a hospital when it was caused by a misfired Islamic Jihad rocket. When the IDF warns civilians to evacuate northern Gaza, Hamas threatens to kill those trying to flee to the south in an attempt to keep their own civilians in harm’s way so they can use their deaths as propaganda tools. And when Israel sends in humanitarian aid to innocent Gazans, Hamas confiscates it to sustain their terrorist organization to the detriment of their own people.

As reports of Gazans suffering dominate the news, we must remember who is culpable – Hamas. The morality of this war is not complicated, but Hamas’ continued war crimes makes this a complicated-to-win war with clear moral justification. But win we will. We will bring home the hostages and eliminate Hamas while doing everything in our power to prevent civilian casualties. We will win because we have no other choice. It’s that simple.

About the Author
Kim Salzman lives in northern Israel and is the author of the historical fiction novel, Straddling Black and White. She works for the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh and is the proud mother of three amazing children.