Becca Wertman

The World Enabled Hamas

Photo credit: Zina Rakhamilova

I was 10 years old when 9/11 happened and I remember it like it was yesterday. My brother and I were getting ready for school, eating breakfast at the counter while looking for something to watch on TV. Except the only thing on was news. And we couldn’t figure out where all our morning shows had gone. So we called my mom over and she screamed, yelling to my dad, “Come here, something’s happened.”

On October 6, as my husband and I were getting ready for bed, I saw several notifications in Hebrew on my phone – “rocket sirens in the Gaza Envelope area of Israel,” “sirens sounding in Tel Aviv,” “sirens in Beersheba.” We thought that was odd, as things had, for the most part, been seemingly quiet on the border for months. I figured it was just the “usual” Hamas or one of the other Gaza-based terror groups flexing its muscles by targeting innocent Israeli civilians with rockets. Israel would respond by targeting Hamas military sites, and things would be quiet by the morning. Or at least within a day or two. Was I wrong… 

I woke up the next morning to check the news and, like my mother did on 9/11, I screamed to my husband, “Wake up! They broke into Israel. They took hostages. Many dead and injured.” He jolted out of bed to grab his phone. We both proceeded to scroll through the mass of unbelievable news alerts pouring out of Israel.  

As the day went on, the severity of what had happened became clearer. Hamas, with obvious support from the Iranian regime, had managed to dupe some of the best intelligence analysts in the world. To disrupt some of the most advanced technologies. To break through one of the most well defended borders and brutalize, rape, and murder civilians and soldiers alike living nearby. To date, we now know the Hamas attack took more than 1,200 lives, injured more than 5,000 people, and that 240 Israelis were kidnapped to Gaza. Babies were butchered. Young women raped. Holocaust survivors taken hostage. It was the Jewish people’s worst nightmare – we thought it couldn’t happen again but somehow the stories of murderers storming through the homes of innocents, hunting them down, one by one, executing them in front of their family, had again become part of Jewish history. 

There was no question following 9/11 that the US would respond and defeat the existential threat that terror demonstrated it could pose to America. But somehow, Israel’s right and obligation to self defense, to defend its borders and its civilians, is being belittled by countries claiming to be among its greatest friends.  

The idea of a ceasefire is as insulting as it is ignorant – it would do nothing to create peace, neither for Israelis nor for Palestinians. It would enable Hamas to rearm and regroup. Calling for a ceasefire is asking the Jewish people to accept that more than 1,200 of our own can be slaughtered without the murders having to be held to account for their crimes. It asks that we accept that the now 239 hostages – children, mothers, fathers, grandparents – remain in the hands of Hamas. It is an attempt to render us powerless from preventing such an event from occurring again.  

As countries like Canada exhibit growing calls for a ceasefire, as Israelis are still looking for missing loved ones and are burying their dead, the world should instead be reflecting internally on its role in enabling the bloodshed and how it might play a role in preventing it in the future.  

When did it become normal for a country to have to accept its civilians being targeted with ongoing rockets? Why did I go to sleep on October 6 thinking that was a “usual” scenario? Every single one of those rockets is a war crime, yet the world never put pressure on Hamas to stop. Aid flowed freely with little oversight, enabling Hamas to siphon it. In addition to the 240 hostages taken by Hamas on October 7, four Israeli hostages have been held by Hamas since 2014 without so much as a bat of an eyelash from anyone.

The world enabled Hamas by failing time and time again to hold it accountable for its ongoing crimes committed against Israelis as well as against its own Palestinian population. Why should the terror group have thought that breaking through the border and murdering people in their own homes would result in any different reaction? And by calling for a ceasefire while their military capabilities remain intact, they were right. It’s not.  

9/11 changed the entire world by causing all to wake up to our weakness and naivety that we were safe in the West. That terror was not and could not be in our midst.  

10/7 changed the Jewish world by causing us to wake up to the lie that we can sleep with a terror group, dedicated to the annihilation of our people, on our borders. It woke us up to our naiveté that we thought that when the time came, that if Jews were again hunted down in our homes, that this time, everyone would support us in fighting back.  

But it is not 1939, and the Jewish people have an army that is committed to our protection and is committed to abiding by international law in ensuring this protection. 

And we will ensure our people are protected. We have no other choice. 

About the Author
Becca Wertman-Traub is the Director of Research at the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), the advocacy agent of the Jewish Federations of Canada-UIA, representing Jewish Federations across Canada. Becca previously worked for Member of Knesset Michal Cotler-Wunsh as her Political Aide in Israel's 23rd Knesset and served as managing editor and was responsible for the Canada portfolio at NGO Monitor, a Jerusalem-based research institute. Born in Vancouver, Canada, Becca earned her BA in international relations from the University of Southern California and her MA in political science from Columbia University. Her articles have appeared in The National Post, The Hill Times, The Jerusalem Post, and the Macdonald Laurier Institute, among others.
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