Peter Buchsbaum

Sadness but cannot be helpless

US President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the war between Israel and Hamas after meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, October 18, 2023, in Tel Aviv. (AP/ Evan Vucci)

I had a brief career as an active-duty soldier, serving for 4 months in 1971. I learned enough even in that brief time to know now that Hamas has been committing war crimes for over 20 with nary a peep from the West. I was with the Army Reserves, and in that era, we were not likely to be called up to fight on Vietnam. But we were given the same basic training as all infantry, including training on the laws of war. I remember that session vividly although it happened over 50 years ago.

We were told that if we were in a platoon marching in an area that contained mines or pit traps, we could not use captive Vietnamese to walk in front of us so they would trigger the mines or traps. When I visited Vietnam thirty years later, I saw just how deadly these traps were.

What Hamas has done since it seized power in 2007 is far worse. American soldiers were supposed to protect enemies who had been trying to kill them. Hamas instead uses its own people, the unfortunate residents of Gaza, as shields so it can wail cynically about civilian loss of life when Israelis rightfully try to root out the evil doers who are lobbing shells at Tel Aviv, launching flame balloons over a recognized international border to fire Israeli fields, lobbing mortar shells which kill innocent Israeli civilians living near Gaza, and digging war tunnels using aid that it supposed to help sustain their own people. And now invading Israeli soil to commit wanton acts of murder against people living their lives, attending concerts, and trying to protect themselves.

The press has silently accepted this criminal conduct. For 20 years it has focused solely on the Israeli responses to Hamas’ outrages. It has never called out these war crimes for what they are. The killers have been winning the propaganda war.

And that journalistic malpractice continues even now in the face of the horrific invasion and its butchery. The New York Times uncritically accepted the Hamas statement that Israel was behind the tragic hospital bombing. Its approach helped blow up a summit between President Biden and Arab leaders. It had no evidence for the Hamas claims. It further ignored that Hamas lies, even now discounted, that it had committed no atrocities in southern Israel, despite that graphic evidence of them, and finding of documents on Hamas personnel, I would not dignify them by calling them soldiers, that such outrages were intended.

And now the Times is saying, through headlines and columnists like Michelle Goldberg, that the cause of the hospital outrage is disputed, despite unmistakable evidence of pictures and communications that it was the other team, as President Biden said, not Israel, that brought about this outrage. The Times has been complicit in Hamas’ cruel and, so far, successful efforts, to derail larger peace efforts by crediting false claims about its own deadly attack that killed its own people.

Even the response to President Biden’s heroic speech a few days ago contains the same flaccid acceptance of two handedness, or equality between killers and defenders. I watched a guest on MSNBC who barked that Biden was wrong in equating the Ukraine and Gaza. When the host timidly suggested there were gory murders by the invaders in both places, the speaker continued to bloviate about the Global South continuing to believe in Israeli oppression.

It is more than past time to recognize the nature of this conflict. Hamas is a cabal of war criminals dedicated to wiping out Israeli Jews. It hides behind civilians. There can be no reconciliation with it. It must be disarmed. Only that dictum will protect both Israelis and Gazans from the mayhem that Hamas wreaks on all. A cease fire, which some well-meaning people have advocated, will allow Hamas to remain in place. Its killers will continue with their tunnels, fire bombing and missiles and mount another invasion as soon as they feel able to do so.

President Biden has brought moral clarity to the conflict. It is more than time to eliminate Hamas as a fighting force sworn to destroy Israel.

About the Author
Peter Buchsbaum is a graduate of Cornell University and Harvard Law School. He clerked for Joseph Weintraub, Chief Justice of NJ and served as a Judge of the NJ Superior Court from 2004 to 2013 after a career as prominent municipal land use lawyer. Peter has been listed in Who's Who in America for over 25 years. Today, he sits on the WUPJ North American Advisory Board and Co-chairs its Legacy Committee Chairs. He has been an officer of Har Sinai Temple in Pennington, NJ; and he is a co-founder of J-PLAN (the Jewish Pluralism Legal Action Network), which advocates for marriage equality in Israel.
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