Karen Sutton

Unconditional Surrender: Why a Cease Fire with Hamas Won’t Work

As the Israel/Hamas conflict rages on for what seems like an eternity, it is now in its 13th week. Although most of us can accept on an intellectual level that war’s prerogative means human suffering and devastation, the mounting injuries and death tolls are emotionally crippling. Still, the ugly truth is that this war must go on until the IDF achieves unconditional victory and imposes unconditional surrender on Hamas. An armistice followed by a peace treaty (granted a harsh one), did not work with the Germans at the end of the First World War. The Treaty of Versailles only allowed the Germans to come back tougher with greater rage and capacity for revenge.

In the subsequent world war that followed, the words of FDR rang loud and clear, “Peace can come to the world only by the total elimination of German and Japanese war power.” (Casablanca Conference January 1943) The Allies left no ambiguity on the meaning of unconditional surrender; no guarantees would be given to the surrendering party. It would necessitate the complete subjugation of both the military and people. The alternative was “Prompt and utter destruction.” (Potsdam Declaration, July 1945)

As we know, German General Alfred Jodl, Chief of Staff of the German Army signed the imposed “unconditional surrender” in the early hours of May 7, 1945. Germany was subsequently dismantled and completely disarmed. The Japanese did not initially surrender and experienced the prompt and utter destruction of the alternative—two atomic bombs. Nearly eight decades later, neither Germany nor Japan is a military threat to world peace.

So too, the war with Hamas is one that requires unconditional surrender. This did not happen in the last Israeli war with the Egyptians and Syrians–the Yom Kippur War of 1973. As brutal as the invading armies were, they did not slaughter civilians in cold blood. Philosophically, the Arabs might have liked to push the Israeli people into the sea, yet, as a rule they did not. The war was waged as a military operation for territorial gain, rather than total annihilation of the Israeli people. The goal was to gain back the territory ceded by the Arabs to Israel in the Six Day War. Although civilians were killed because of the fighting, they were not the main target of the fighters.

Israel successfully pushed back the Syrian Army and encircled the Egyptian Third Army, just 60 miles outside of Cairo. Then, the Israeli government ordered the army to halt its attack. Apparently, the UN pressured Israel to accept a ceasefire on October 25, 1973. The Yom Kippur War was an Israeli victory without peace.

Today, we know how little the UN Peacekeeping force is capable of accomplishing. We also are aware that making concessions to the US and other world powers may not ultimately be best for Israel, much less world peace and security. In a world that can hardly distinguish categories of civilian victims of war; those who are caught amid the crossfire from those who are targets of the fire, cannot be trusted to lead the way to peace.

Most Americans do not remember the “terror bombings” of the 8th Air Force’s B-17 Flying Fortress sent over to destroy Dresden in the final months of World War II.  The goal was to prevent a last desperate German offensive and end the war. If 35,000 men, women and children perished as result of the 2,700 tons of bombs that were dropped then that was what was needed. It is of little comfort to know that innocent German civilians died because of their Nazi Fuhrer’s campaign for Lebensraum (living space) which ignited the world war.

This was not the case for the 1,200 Israeli civilians who lost their lives at the onset of Hamas/Israeli war. Their government was not at war. The men, women and children slaughtered were not civilian casualties of war. They were murdered in cold blood. Each of the victims represented a diversity of lifestyles and politics. The irony is that many victims were attending a concert for peace.

Today, there can be little doubt that Hamas is waging a war of total annihilation against the People of Israel. The words of FDR and later echoed by Winston Churchill must apply to the Hamas/Israeli War. Peace can only come to Israel through the total elimination of Hamas. 

About the Author
Dr. Karen Sutton is associate professor of history at the Lander College for Women, a division of Touro University, in New York City.
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