Ari Morgenstern

The Lion in Winter and Israel at War

IDF troops train for a war against Hezbollah in northern Israel in an undated photograph. (Israel Defense Forces)
IDF troops train for a war against Hezbollah in northern Israel in an undated photograph. (Israel Defense Forces)

All war is a tragedy. All innocent deaths are tragedies. But how someone dies also matters. As James Goldman wrote, “When the fall is all that’s left, it matters a great deal.”

How Israel’s innocents fell during the 10/7 massacre, as well as the brutalizations before and after they were slaughtered, shot, burned, lynched, and beheaded, matters.

Israel is responding to how her citizens fell by wiping Hamas off the face of the earth. It is an appropriate and necessary response to an existential threat. Jews must be safe from pogroms in the Jewish state. Justice must be done and deterrence must be restored against a terrorist army, Hezbollah, that will exist even after Hamas is destroyed.

Hezbollah dwarfs Hamas in capability and matches its grotesque lust to fill the earth with dead Jews. To dissuade Hezbollah from doing so, it must know that anyone who massacres and kidnaps Israeli children will cease to exist.

In stark contrast to Tehran and its terrorist hordes, for Jews, war is unnatural. Yes, there are many Biblical stories of Jewish armies. And yes, the Jewish state’s warriors fight like lions. But none, regardless of politics or religiosity, relishes war; our people know its horrors too well.

Golda Meir, the last Israeli prime minister to be in office during a surprise attack, once said, “If we have to have a choice between being dead and pitied, and being alive with a bad image, we’d rather be alive and have the bad image.”

So, what is a people for whom war is so unnatural to do when their children face butchers? How do such people address the fact their enemies will seize any opportunity to commit the most heinous atrocities?

Israel knows that it will not be long before the international press and many world leaders find the excuse they have voraciously been seeking to avert their eyes from the horrific images of the 10/7 massacre. Hours after Al-Ahli hospital was struck, the press and terrorist apologists alike thought they had found their moment and pinned blame on Israel, only to be forced to walk back their position when it because clear that Palestinian Islamic Jihad bombed the Palestinian hospital.

One day, however, they will find their excuse, and if they tire of waiting they will invent one, and the international elites will immediately begin advancing fundamentally unserious messages about what Israel can do to advance a cease-fire and the cause of peace – with murderers who do not seek peace, but death.

Israel cannot want peace more than the Palestinians. Peace will only come, as Golda observed in her time, “when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us.” Roughly half of Gazans support Hamas and hundreds of thousands of Lebanese support Hezbollah. So, at this point, that day, seems very far away.

In the coming weeks, because there is no such thing as a clean war, more names will be added to both sides of Golda’s ghastly ledger. But, make no mistake, as the world shouts at Jerusalem, save the Gazans themselves, none will be more outraged and none will be more pained by the conflagration than the Israelis.

The price Jews pay for deigning to exist – not only in what is done to us, but also what we are compelled do to survive – has already been too horrific and it will only get worse. We can look to Golda for wisdom about this reality as well, “When peace comes we will perhaps in time be able to forgive the Arabs for killing our sons, but it will be harder for us to forgive them for having forced us to kill their sons.”

About the Author
Ari Morgenstern is the Senior Director for Policy and Communications for Christians United for Israel.
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