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The future peace will be built on strength

Thomas Friedman’s recent New York Times commentary, “Israel Has a Choice to Make: Rafah or Riyadh,” is remarkable in its oversimplification of a complex reality as well as in the lip-service it pays to Israel’s security needs.

With many thousands of Hamas terrorists remaining, Israelis have every reason to believe their promise to repeat the devastation of October 7. The tragic loss of civilian life notwithstanding, that warfare experts assert Israel is fighting more humanely than any military in human history, seems not to matter to Friedman. Nor does the Israeli and regional consensus that, as David Brooks wrote, “if this war ends with a large chunk of Hamas in place, it would be a long-term disaster for the region.”

I am a combat veteran of successive battles against Palestinian terror. I fought inside Rafah in 2014 and most recently with the IDF’s Phoenix Unit. I’m also a student of Israeli history and public policy. That our eyes are fixed on Riyadh – or should be right now – is folly.

Since 1948 and especially since (the UNEF withdrawal in) 1967, Israelis understood we must be the ultimate guarantor of our own security. While Hamas is diminished it is not destroyed and the Houthis, Hezbollah and the IRGC are watching closely. For the moment our eyes are fixed on those poised to murder us. Failure to finish the job in Rafah would signal to every one of those (among many others) that they can brutally mutilate, rape, kidnap, and murder thousands of civilians without being brought to justice. Has such a notion ever been promoted as righteous, moral, or just?

We don’t seek revenge. We seek security. And justice.

Israel is proud to stand with allies and Israel has no better friend than the US. And we want peace with the Saudi Kingdom. Friedman posits a series of false dichotomies. We will arrive in Riyadh via Rafah. Just as every past peace has been, the future peace will be built on strength.

Meanwhile, as pro-terror messaging has trounced Israeli public relations, overtly antisemitic masses occupy American college campuses supporting the murder of American Jews (“globalize the intifada”) and the destruction of Israel (“from the river to the sea…”). The tent encampments appearing on campuses nationwide, exacerbated by academic leaders going out of their way to accede to the demands of antisemitic protesters, have comprised the latest dark chapter in a story that has only grown more disturbing with each day since October 7.

The Jerusalem College of Technology, whose alumni have won dozens of Israel’s most prestigious defense prizes and whose nursing alumni treat our war wounded, will not sit idly by as our brothers and sisters across the Atlantic grapple with surging antisemitism. We’ve re-opened applications for students seeking to study without the specter of Jew hatred. We welcome them to our campuses.

About the Author
Daniel “Doni” Fogel is the Vice President of the Jerusalem College of Technology. He previously held leadership roles at AIPAC and the Jewish Community Federation of Richmond, Virginia, where he worked regularly with community leaders, Israeli government ministers and Knesset members, Congress members, and the foreign diplomatic corps.
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