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Luiz Gandelman
(He/Him) Unapologetically Jewish, Latino, Israeli, Zionist, and Liberal.

Today, restraint is strength for Israel

Objects in the sky are intercepted after Iran attacked Israel. Amir Cohen/Reuters
Objects in the sky are intercepted after Iran attacked Israel. Amir Cohen/Reuters

I, like millions of Jews and diaspora Israelis around the world watched in horror as the Islamic Republic of Iran launched their offensive on Israel, indiscriminately targeting civilians of all backgrounds and faiths. I was driving to Utica, New York, the location of my soon-to-be university. What for me was an amazing night with an exciting day to follow exploring the area, was a horrifying morning for my family and friends in Israel.

Videos from bomb shelters and of the iron dome permeated all of my social media, a stern reminder that we are still in war, even if America is currently chugging along as if it isn’t. Immediately, the hypocritical “ceasefire now” squad began showing their true colors, celebrating Iran’s strikes and defending their actions, with some going as far as hailing them heroes, something that shouldn’t surprise anyone watching their virulent Hamas propaganda day in and day out.

Not even remotely as horrifying, but still concerning, my feed was plagued with Israelis and Americans alike urging Israel to strike back, and blasting Biden for not supporting a counterstrike. Those with that mindset, however, are severely misguided in my view. To fully understand why Israel should not strike back, a trip down memory lane must be taken, or rather, two. 

One to all of our childhoods. My parents always said to never hit the bully back, as you’d lose your position of being correct, as both of you have hit the other, even if you did so with good reason. Iran is a big bully, as big as it can get for Israel. Israel striking back would only give Iran incentive to release their full power on Israel, creating a war that no Israeli or Iranian needs right now. Moreover, Israel would lose the moral high ground it is enjoying now. G7 has come out in its support, as have nations from all over the globe. 

In a time when Israel is so widely criticized over the war in Gaza, international support needs to be cherished as deeply as possible, and attacking Iran would smack it all away. Jordan and Saudi Arabia assisted Israel in downing Iranian missiles and drones, an unprecedented assistance that should not be taken for granted from two states who have been openly critical of Israel in the distant and recent past.

Knowing how to pick your battles is a sign of strength beyond any amount of missiles, and it is the kind of strength Israel must show, especially considering this direct attack from Iran has appeared thus far to be an isolated incident. 

The second necessary trip down memory lane is to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. As the United States scrambled to establish a multinational coalition to free Kuwait from the Iraqi invasion, Iraq did what they thought was an easy check-mate to the American coalition: They bombed Israel. They truly hoped that Israel would retaliate, something that would likely cause Muslim-majority countries in the coalition, such as Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, or Qatar to ease their involvement in the war or outright end it, out of a fear of being associated with Israel. 

This is a different example, although parts of it prove similar to today. Iran desperately wants a reaction. Should Israel strike back, they will view it as a declaration of war and attack Israel in full might, and other countries, including the US, will be hesitant to step in out of fear of escalation. It is no doubt that President Biden would send incredulous amounts of aid to Israel, but money and guns can only go so far, especially as Israel is already engaged in a very harsh and tough war. 

That forms the last point: Hamas is not yet eradicated, and 134 hostages are still held in the Gaza Strip. Israel has by no means succeeded in winning this war thus far. In order to rebuild Gaza and declare a victory, all 134 hostages and all other bodies must be brought home, and Hamas must be fully eradicated, not “mostly”. Doing that has already proven difficult in Gaza with only Hamas fighting back and Hezbollah launching rockets from the North. This will be impossible with all of that coupled with Iran and even more proxies attacking Israel directly, all at once.

Israel’s priority should be ending this wretched war, bringing all of our hostages home, bringing Israel’s soldiers back to their families, providing aid to and rebuilding a Gaza free from Hamas, and establishing diplomatic relations with the rest of the Middle East as well as eventually the Palestinians. A war with Iran will not only completely derail all of those plans, but create deeper problems for Israel and create a deadly, all-out war that is beneficial to quite literally nobody.

Much like Yitzhak Shamir showed incredible levels of restraint at George H.W. Bush’s urging, Bibi must show restraint and follow Joe Biden’s advice. It is hard and uncomfortable, but sitting back, ignoring this foiled attack, and moving on is the best way for Israel to approach this situation and focus on the war in Gaza, its main problem at hand. This calculated, diplomatically-sound decision, more than any counter-strike or forceful reaction, would be a true feat of strength, and would allow Israel to bring the hostages home, as their time is running out. 

About the Author
Luiz Gandelman is an 18 year old student originally from São Paulo, Brazil, who lives in Miami, Florida. He is involved with multiple Jewish and secular youth groups and political organizations. Luiz is a big basketball and Star Wars fan and an avid scuba diver. He is also a fan of geography, politics, history, and anything of the sort. Most importantly, he is a proud Jew.
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