Tali Silberstein

What are you talking about, Dave?

I can’t figure out why Dave Matthews mocked Israel’s self-defense at the end of a speech inducting Willie Nelson into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame on November 4. Though his words have no place in that context, I have unfortunately heard many criticisms of Israel’s war on Hamas and the civilian toll it has taken.

The loss of life and suffering in this Hamas Israel war is unbearable. Yet to truly safeguard a future for Gazan and Israeli children, the end of this war must be the end of Hamas.

Hamas has been “governing” since its takeover in 2007.  However, Hamas’s military and political wings are actually one and the same.

Since its coup, Hamas has fired countless rockets deliberately at Israeli civilians (Human Rights Watch). The reasons for Israel’s low casualties under this constant bombardment are good governance and internal security policies.

As a consequence of the Gulf War, Israel mandates that new construction includes safe rooms to protect against rocket strikes.  More recently, Israel developed the Iron Dome that intercepts rockets on their trajectory into Israel. These innovations protect Israeli civilians, and in turn protect Palestinians. More Israeli civilian casualties (Hamas’ stated objective) necessitate IDF military responses, which unfortunately end in Palestinian civilian suffering. This is a secondary goal of Hamas, which then exploits Palestinian suffering for its malicious public relations campaign against Israel.

Essentially Israel invests in saving innocent lives in Israel and Gaza. Hamas, on the other hand, will sacrifice civilians for its cause (an Islamic caliphate similar to the Taliban’s). Besides the taxes it levies on its civilians and the salaries for officials given through international Palestinian aid, Hamas has hundreds of millions of dollars in assets according to the U.S. Treasury Report issued October 18. This money is not used to protect the people, it is used to create an underground terror complex that protects Hamas and its weapons while deliberately leaving civilians on the front lines. Hamas militants remain underground and civilians are not allowed to access these safe areas.

Those who doubt the IDF’s commitment to minimizing civilian suffering lack logical thinking. The reason why Hamas uses hospitals, schools, and other civilian infrastructure is specifically because they know the moral code of the Israel Defense Force. The primary pillar of this code is Tohar Ha Neshek, purity of arms, avoid civilian casualties. Hamas hides among civilians to protect itself while using tragic outcomes for its own benefit. This in turn means Israel’s high moral standard is actually being used as a public relations weapon.

Dave Mathews’ statement shows that he has fallen victim to this Hamas scheme. Yes, Dave, Israel’s self-defense causes unbearable civilian deaths, this is exactly what Hamas wants. Your mocking of Israel’s right to self defense is the realization of Hamas’ wicked strategy.

Dave Mathews, Susan Sarandon, Angelina Jolie, and countless others, need to apply some simple logic before they condemn Israel’s self defense.  These well meaning individuals also need to understand what Hamas is. Hamas members are not freedom fighters. Its ideology was born out of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and they share the same goal- a world ruled not by justice and freedom, but rather by a crude fanatical version of Islamic law.

For beyond Hamas’ manipulation of moral hearts, and the unspeakable crimes committed on October 7, Hamas reigns terror on its own Palestinian brothers in the name of this ultimate aspiration.

Hamas quickly and violently suppresses any form of protest against its regime. The Gaurdian reported in 2018 that protesters against rudimentary tax increases were met with violence and intimidation. There are no protests against Hamas in Gaza, and it is not because the population is happy with their leadership.

Hamas rules Gaza through intimidation, assault and terror.

When Hamas took over Gaza from the Palestinian Authority in 2007, Hamas literally threw Palestinian Authority members off of rooftops in Gaza (widely reported including by the NY Times June 15, 2007) . Throwing political rivals to their death is not a behavior of government I would support for any people.

Amnesty Intentional reported in May 2015 that Hamas has executed prisoners in front of crowds that included children. Hamas physically tortures prisoners with extreme brutality including beatings, forcing people in unnatural positions for extended periods of time, harming genitalia, putting out cigarettes on prisoner’s flesh, cutting, strangling and more. Even more abhorrent,  documented in this same 2015 report, is that torture and executions of these fellow Palestinians were carried out in one of Gaza’s outpatient clinics in the Shifa Hospital. The same hospital that is being used today by Hamas to harm innocent Israelis and Palestinians by turning  it into a terror base. The same hospital the IDF had to enter to root out Hamas.

Another example of recorded Hamas illegal treatment of fellow Palestinians occurred in 2016. The New York Times reported that  Hamas tortured and murdered a Hamas Commander, Mahmoud Ishtiwi, for suspected homosexuality and embezzlement.  These are only a few incidents, but they are not isolated. This is the nature of Hamas and these crimes are common place.

In contrast, Israel is a democracy governed by western moral values. For not only does Israel protect all innocence, is also treats its convicted political criminals with the highest moral standard.

The most obvious, paradoxical example is the Israeli detention of the head of Hamas himself, Yahya Sinwar. In 1987 Sinwar became the head of the newly created Hamas morality police, the Al majd. His cruelty then also knew no bounds, even forcing a man to bury his own brother alive as punishment (reported by the BBC).

In 1989 Israel convicted Sinwar of killing Palestinians and Israelis. After only serving part of his 4 life-term sentence, he was released in 2011 with 1026 others in a prisoner exchange for one Israel soldier.

During his incarceration he developed a life threatening brain tumor. He received top notch Israeli medical treatment that culminated in life saving brain surgery. You read that correctly: Israel saved Sinwar’s life while he was in Israeli custody.

Israel treats its prisoners better than Hamas treats its own people.

The proposterousness of claiming the IDF and Israel are anything but the true, lone forces of civilized, free society in the Middle East is criminal.

We are lucky to have caring people with loud voices in the world like Dave Mathews. I just wish they would think logically before they speak. I wish they wouldn’t fall prey to those that are the antithesis of the liberal values we cherish and are lucky to enjoy.

About the Author
Though she was born in Israel, Tali grew up in the United States. Tali received a Masters in Public Affairs from the Lyndon B. Johnson school of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. She worked in the Jewish non-profit arena. Tali was happy to be a part of Jewish and Israel education at a conservative synagogue in San Diego, CA. She moved back to Israel with her family in 2016.
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