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The Only Thing That Matters Now

Pro-Hamas anti-Israel demonstrations grow in size, frequency, and violence. What is motivating the ever-increasing hysteria among Hamas supporters?

It isn’t a concern for the people of Gaza, because the demonstrators don’t criticize Hamas for using Gazans as human shields, stealing their aid, beating them, and shooting them as they attempt to flee the war zone. Antisemitism is clearly a factor, but it does not explain the sudden frequency and ferocity of the protests.

The driver of the increasingly frenzied demonstrations is Hamas’ imminent defeat. Pro-Hamas demonstrations would not have gone from shouting “Death to the Jews!” to demanding a ceasefire were Hamas winning. Rather than despair, Israel’s supporters should take heart from the temper tantrums of Hamas’ supporters. The more frantic they become, the more we know that Hamas is desperate and Israel’s victory is near.

These demonstrations are Hamas leaders’ last hope for survival. Their goal is to create public pressure on Western politicians to impose a ceasefire on Israel before she can achieve total victory. This is not unrealistic, given that this happened in each of Israel’s previous wars with Hamas and with Hezbollah. The pattern is that Israel’s Western allies express concern for civilian casualties, spew hypocritical pieties about “disproportionate force” (never a consideration in their own wars), and demand a ceasefire which enables Hamas to survive, rearm and fight another day.  Hamas leaders emerge from their tunnels unconcerned with the carnage and destruction they have wrought and declare victory.

However, this time things are not working out as Hamas expected. The population has abandoned northern Gaza en masse as instructed by the IDF, which now has free reign to destroy Hamas. The terrorist group has now lost control of Gaza City and all of Northern Gaza, where 80% of their forces were located. Approximately one-third of Hamas terrorists have been killed, including many unit commanders. IDF engineering units follow the army, systematically destroying their fortifications and infrastructure above and below ground. Hamas’ government buildings have largely been captured or destroyed and its apparatus has ceased to function. Israel has never gone this far into Gaza during previous wars; Hamas was not expecting the aggressive war of annihilation that Israel is now waging.

Israel is not behaving as she had previously because Israel is a fundamentally different country than she was prior to October 7. The dramatic change in the mood among both the Israeli public and leadership can be compared to that in the US following Pearl Harbor, when prevailing isolationist sentiment was replaced overnight by a grim determination to defeat the enemy at any cost, however long it took.

Just over a month ago Israel was more divided than she has ever been. There were weekly mass demonstrations against the government and reservists were refusing to serve. Following the massacre of October 7, more reservists reported than had been called up and the public volunteered to help in any way possible. Every TV show displays “Together we will be victorious” on the screen, and every TV and billboard ad is dominated by similar themes, with the sponsors barely mentioned. The massacre galvanized Israel, and the spirit of determination and brotherhood among the soldiers and the public is thrilling to see. There is no longer a left or right in Israel, no animosity between religious and secular; there is only a single national will to victory and to free our hostages.

French President Macron, who just a few weeks ago offered France’s help in fighting Hamas, now scolds Israel for civilian casualties, as does Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau. President Biden’s “unwavering support” has already begun to waver. On November 8, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken outlined the Biden administration’s war goals: “No forcible displacement of Palestinians from Gaza, not now, not after the war… No reoccupation of Gaza after the conflict ends. No attempts to blockade or besiege Gaza. No reduction in the territory of Gaza.” In other words, for the October 7 massacre the Palestinians who elected and supported Hamas are to be rewarded with a state.1 Israel is expected to shed her blood to reinstate the already failed two-state solution.

Three days later, Prime Minister Netanyahu publicly rejected this, saying: “There will not be a civil authority there that educates their children to hate Israel, to kill Israelis, or to eliminate Israel. There cannot be an authority there that pays the families of murderers. There cannot be an authority who didn’t condemn the massacre. There will have to be something else, but in any case our security control. I stand by it and don’t intend to give up.… No amount of international pressure will change our belief in the rightness of our way and our right to defend ourselves…there will be no ceasefire without the return of the hostages…stand firm against the world if necessary…no international pressure, no false allegations about IDF soldiers and our state,” he said, “will impact Israel’s insistence on protecting itself…Hamas will be demilitarized; there will be no further threat from the Gaza Strip on Israel, and to ensure that, for as long as necessary, IDF will control Gaza security to prevent terror from there.”

The same message is consistently repeated by Israeli Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, Minister Beni Gantz, IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari and the entire political leadership. Such unity of purpose and determination have not been seen in Israel since 1967.  Will Israel’s political leadership remain steadfast this time and resist the international pressure that is already building, or will they cave as they have in the past? The fate of Israel and the Jewish people hang on this question.

Not long after the war is won, the pro-Hamas demonstrations will be forgotten and the media will move on to Taylor Swift’s latest romance or some other pressing issue of the moment. In the long term, the only thing that matters is victory; not only in the south, but in the north and in Judea and Samaria as well.  If the Israeli government remains steadfast this is potentially a victory as significant as those of 1948 and 1967; a victory that will ensure the future of Israel for generations.

About the Author
Devin Sper was born and raised in New York and lived in Israel for 10 years. He holds a degree in Jewish History from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and served in the Israel Defense Forces. Devin Sper is the author of The Future of Israel, winner of a 2005 GLYPH award.
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