P. David Hornik

Life in the Multifront War

Israeli defense minister Yoav Gallant recently pointed out that Israel is now “being attacked from seven different arenas.” Yes, it’s that many: Gaza (still a source of rocket attacks), the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Iran.

Israel has struck back at all of these except—for now—Iran. The attackers are mostly an array of Sunni and Shiite Islamists (the Sunni attackers being located mainly in Gaza and the West Bank, the Shiite aggressors in the other places under Iran’s tutelage).

Although there are proximate motivations for the concerted attack—derailing the Abraham Accords process between Israel and pragmatic Arab countries, restoring the Palestinian issue to the world stage, harassing a US ally and creating a strategic headache for Washington—the underlying motivation is common to the Sunni and Shiite Islamists and quite simple: genocide, that is, the violent destruction of Israel. That aim has been pronounced innumerable times, and codified, by both the Sunni Islamists of Hamas and the Shiite Islamists of Iran and its Shiite proxies.

A “small”—relatively, in terms of numbers—instance of the aspirational genocide occurred on October 7, when Hamas slaughtered more than a thousand Israelis in southern Israel with a barbaric savagery that rivaled and possibly even surpassed the Islamic State terror group’s atrocities against its victims. The aim of Israel’s enemies is to perpetrate such a slaughter throughout Israel.

Almost all Jewish Israelis—except for a tiny fringe on the far left—know that we are under genocidal assault and have no choice but to fight back against it militarily. Our TV news regularly shows scenes from funerals of soldiers killed in Gaza, interviews with former hostages in Gaza who tell harrowing stories, and—in an ongoing effort to assimilate and cope with the catastrophe—more and more of the endless footage from October 7 itself.

True, the soldiers killed in Gaza die as fighters, not as civilian victims. But not one of them would die if it weren’t for the genocidal assault, and in that regard they, too, are victims of it. The situation is a pure instance of aggressor versus victim. Israel is not insane and would not seek to attack Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Iran all at once. Israel is attacked, not an attacker.

Jews are not the only victims of genocidal assault, but there are certain special features of the Jewish case. One is denial—as seen in Holocaust denial, and denial that Hamas (and the hordes of gleeful Gazan civilians who followed in its tracks) committed the October 7 atrocities. Another is calling the genocide victims themselves genocidists—which, of course, happens on a massive scale in the Israeli case, as Israel, with numbing regularity, is accused of committing genocide in Gaza.

And now, the genocide charge against Israel is set to be brought in the International Court of Justice in The Hague—by South Africa, a country notable for severe governmental corruption, rampant gender-based violence, and an astronomical crime rate.

The refrains are familiar. Israel is allegedly killing Gazan civilians out of revenge, or out of the sheer malice of a uniquely evil, colonial-genocidal-apartheid state with no legitimate claim to existence. So are the rejoinders—that Hamas uses Gazans as human shields to a stunningly systematic extent; that other democracies, in urban antiterror warfare, inflict comparable numbers of civilian casualties; that Israel takes extraordinary, unprecedented measures to reduce the casualties.

And this, of course, is another front in the overarching war. It’s a front on which Israel, with the Western mainstream media arrayed against it, can’t win. At the same time, it’s crucial that Israel and its supporters fight on this front and score as many successes as possible.

And there’s that other front, too—the one each Israeli has inside him or herself, the one of coping with all this. Of being under genocidal assault; hearing the genocide both celebrated and denied all over the world; and being systematically called genocidists ourselves.

On the one hand, reports say the number of Israelis seeking therapy and medications has risen hugely since October 7. On the other hand, morale within the armed forces—a largely “civilian” army of reservists drafted out of their civilian lives to serve for months on end in Gaza and elsewhere—remains sky-high after three months.

A paradox? Not so much. It’s tough, but we hang in there. If you’re wondering which side to take in this multifront war, side with us—a democracy fighting for its life that would never attack anyone for no reason; not with the terrorists and their backers.

About the Author
P. David Hornik, a freelance writer, translator, and copyeditor in Be'er Sheva, has published novels, a story collection, an essay collection, poetry, and numerous articles. His memoir, Israel Odyssey: Coming of Age and Finding Peace in the Middle East, is forthcoming this year from God of the Desert Books.