To my friends on the Israeli Left

I know that your repeated pleas for an immediate ceasefire come from a place of compassion and humanity, from the horror we all feel at the apparently senseless loss of life, at the terrible injury and trauma and destruction occurring on both sides of the Gazan border; at the thought of small children being torn apart, wounded, orphaned; at the flames of hatred being fanned by this awful war.

And I also know that your calls for an immediate ceasefire spring from a place of deep concern for Israel.

I know all this, because I am one of you.

But as much as I yearn, as you, for the drums of war to cease their incessant thump-thump-thump, I cannot, this time, add my voice to yours.

We are in the midst of a war with vile criminals who will continue to try to kill and terrorize us at every opportunity – because that is their essence. That is what they do. Without terror, directed at Israel and at their own people, they cease to exist.

So let us have no illusions. There can be no peace with Hamas, only short lulls in their ongoing war against us. They have already succeeded in taking a part of our country and making it almost unlivable. It sounds like an Israeli hasbara cliché, but it is nonetheless true: no other country — certainly not the U.S, whose president and secretary of state are demanding that Israel stop defending itself NOW – would ever agree, or even be asked, to resign itself to living in a state of permanent terror directed against civilians seeking to live peacefully and productively within their sovereign, internationally recognized borders.

And while I know that my friends on the Left scoff when someone calls this an existential struggle, I beg to disagree. If we let Hamas drive us out of parts of our country, or at the very least allow them to make larger and larger areas of Israel essentially unlivable – we are inviting the next stage, and the next, and none of us can say with any confidence where it will end.

And one final comment to those whose pleas for a ceasefire derive from a fierce devotion to the sanctity of life and a deep desire to protect and save it: If our enemies are allowed to continue their state of permanent terror, the next round, and the one after that, will be bloodier and deadlier than this one. If you are, like me, deeply troubled by the death of innocent non-combatants on both sides — you need to think not of tomorrow or next week, but of next year and two years after that. As Hamas’ arsenal is replenished and becomes ever larger and more deadly — Israel will inevitably be forced into yet another operation, another war, another round of death and destruction, greater and more horrifying than this one.

For those of us for whom “Peace Now” has been a guiding creed and call to arms since Anwar Sadat stepped off his plane in Lod in November 1977, it is deeply counterintuitive to countenance the notion that “Ceasefire Now” could mean even more terror, more destruction and more death later on.

But it will, because – and this bears repeating — that is what Hamas does. Without a war against Israel, without terrorizing us and oppressing and martyring their own people – the Hamas ceases to exist. So, for the sake of life, and all the things we on the Left hold dear – we cannot let them have their way.

About the Author
Danny Shapiro is the director of public affairs of Technion - Israel Institute of Technology.