Several years ago, I wrote a piece for a security affairs think tank on how Israel — perhaps uniquely in the democratic world — understands that Islamism as an ideology is a threat to security and our way of life; and that Hamas and Hezbollah are not less of a problem than Al-Qaeda or ISIS.
I wrote that “each Islamist opponent — no matter Sunni or Shia, Palestinian nationalist or global jihadi — sees the destruction of the Jewish state as a religious imperative. When the only way to appease an enemy is to commit suicide, the situation requires sticks not carrots, military might and the willingness to exert it, not negotiations or ‘confidence-building-measures’.”
One of the takeaways of Saturday’s atrocities is that perhaps, in recent years, Israeli policymakers got complacent. I don’t mean they started seeing Hamas as a “moderate force” as some useful idiots in Europe and the United States do, but they began to assume that Hamas had become — on some level — a more responsible actor; concerned, first-and-foremost, with the success of its governance of Gaza. (We also know that some right-wing Israelis, including the prime minister, believed they actually had a strategic interest in bolstering Hamas at the expense of the Palestinian Authority.)
Well, we should all be disabused of these notions now — Israelis and everyone else.
Hamas is behaving as ISIS did. Butchering whole families. Raping and mutilating victims. Taking women and children, the elderly, hostage.
The response by Israel and the world should be the same as it was to ISIS. Israel must defeat Hamas; to either remove it from power entirely, or to weaken it to the extent that it no longer poses a threat.
Does that mean Israel should act with complete impunity? No. Israel is part of the community of democratic nations. We are not Syria, or Iran, or Russia. (And despite the rhetoric of certain ministers in the current government, we do not want to be.) We don’t target civilians. We don’t bomb indiscriminately. But yes, there will inevitably be civilian casualties; victims ultimately of their own ruinous regime. Because Hamas must be defeated. Like ISIS had to be defeated. Like the Nazis had to be defeated.
Israel’s friends and allies should also be pushing for Hamas to be treated like ISIS in every international forum.
Would a government that supports and hosts ISIS be welcome in NATO? No. So Turkey should be told in no uncertain terms that it needs to cut its ties with Hamas.
Qatar hosted the World Cup last year. Would that have been conceivable if it was known to be a funder and supporter of ISIS? Of course not. Yet not a word was said by anyone about its role as the principal Arab funder and supporter of Hamas. Well, how about FIFA now informs Qatar they will get no more opportunities to use those beautiful modern stadiums (built with slave labor) for prestigious tournaments unless they disown Hamas.
And then there are those celebrating Hamas’s “brave resistance”: the Palestinian-flag-waving, “Zionism = Racism” demonstrators in London and Montreal and New York; leftist journalists; progressive students at elite universities; the likes of Jeremy Corbyn or Rashida Tlaib, blaming the largest mass-murder of Jews in a single day since the Holocaust on “Israeli occupation” (never mind that Israeli soldiers and civilians left Gaza 18 years ago.) All of these people should be called out for what they are: supporters of baby-killers, of genocidal antisemites. They should be treated with the contempt reserved for ISIS-apologists – or indeed for Nazi-apologists.
No, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not black-and-white. There are criticisms to be made of Israel (criticisms which many Israelis share), and there is a legitimate case to be made for Palestinian statehood (though not without reference to the multiple times that statehood has been rejected by an intransigent Palestinian leadership). But wherever you stand on this complex question, if you are not able to condemn – without caveats or equivocations – the Hamas Einsatzgruppen who hunted men, women and children like animals, consider yourselves complicit. Consider yourselves accomplices. And let history remember you as such.