World media have become accostomed to slanting news reports to fit their socio-political biases. Ethics is no longer a pre-requisite for reporting news. Instead, the goal is to persuade, to convince listeners and readers alike of news that is tailored and edited to fit a particular mindset and perspective. Slants on “facts” distort the truth of what happened and the media, my less-than-favorite entity, is to blame for how the wider, general and international public responds to events in this tiny stretch of desert sand. Despite playing the blame game, there are certain “facts” that cannot be denied.
On Monday night, during Jerusalem Day celebrations, rockets were fired from Gaza at Israel’s capital and upon civilian population centers here. With that began the present round of hostilities towards Israel, which has seen over 1,500 rockets sent into mostly civilian communities in the country in five days. In addition to the missiles, internal Arab violence, originally labeled “disturbance of the peace”, is now causing chaos, destruction and injuries, as well as a backlash from some Israeli Jews. The resultant clashes border on a mini-civil war. The death toll in Israel resulting from Hamas militarism, while still low, is, nevertheless, increasing.
Unfortunately, on this side of the eternal order, we will always have to pay a price for our existence. So be it. But, that does not mean that we should stand aside and kowtow to the actions of an enemy that is sworn to eliminate Israel as a sovereign nation and to kill all Jews or subject them to Islamic rule. The Hamas terrorist organization that rules the Gaza Strip since 2007 has sought to generate a link between the al-Aqsa mosque (on the Temple Mount) and Gaza in the psyche of the Arab world, both in Israel, as well as in lands near and far. Monday’s rocket fire on locations in Israel, including Jerusalem, was geared towards generating the impression that Hamas was the true and only defender of the Temple Mount. It took advantage of Jerusalem Day (a national holiday commemorating the unification of Jerusalem and Israeli control over the Old City following the 6-Day War in June, 1967), to strengthen what Hamas leader, Ismail Haniyeh, asserted was “the equation that connects the Gaza Strip to Jerusalem”.
We have allowed Hamas and Islamic Jihad (=Holy War; I prefer to use the term “Religious War” because Israelis do not consider it a holy task to wage war against members of another religion to destroy them or subjugate them because of their beliefs) to dictate our responses to terrorism and terrorist attacks upon Israel. Our responses have usually been proportionate: they bomb us, we bomb them back. Such is the nature of civilized conflict. And, whenever Israel has responded in strength to attacks from Islamic terrorists, the world was quick to condemn us for a “disproportionate response” and urge de-escalation. However, unlike the War of Independence and the wars that followed every decade since then, this present attack upon Israeli sovereignty is different. The events of this week revealed how easy it is for violent and deadly consequences to follow when things spiral out of control.
It should be pointed out that the assault on Jerusalem, as well as on places ranging from Eilat in the south to cities in central Israel, incited, as well as ignited, violence in some of the young, Arab citizens, in locations “from Dan to Beersheva” (i.e., from north to south) where there is “du-kiyyum” (co-existence). Few locations have been spared from armed violence, physical assaults, conflagrations and destruction of property. All of these events are shots in the arm for Hamas, which has taken advantage of the weakness of the “Palestinian” Authority and stepped in as the proclaimed leaders of the “Palestinian” national movement. The very fact that such a purported movement continues to exist and is gaining traction amongst “Palestinian” Arabs, allows for Hamas to continue to define the rules of the game against Israel. This has to stop and it should have stopped when it first began.
The underlying strategy of Hamas has been that its engagements with Israel will be on the basis of attacks upon us from Gaza, with limited, or “proportionate response” from Israel. It is also based on the presumption, from prior similar military engagements, that Israel would want a limited number of “combat days” and agree to a negotiated cease-fire, followed by the usual cooling-off period, that is usually broken by isolated rocket attacks from Hamas.
Israel has now been provided with a golden opportunity to destroy not only the “Palestinian” mindset, but the Hamas infrastructure as well. As stated by Israeli Defense Minister, Benny Gantz, no sovereign nation in the world would allow missile attacks upon its citizenry without responding appropriately. Think for a moment if such attacks were made against Washington, D.C., New York, Los Angeles, London, Paris, Ottawa, Canberra, Wellington, or the capital city of where you live. How long do you think it would take for your government to declare war against the terrorists? How quickly do you think you would respond to calls from other nations to “go easy and don’t overdue it”? How ready would you be to give terrorists another shot at you after killing a member of your family? Or will there continue to be a double standard for responses to terrorist attacks, one for Israel and one for the rest of the world?
Israel “gave in” to Hamas threats and took a conciliatory approach that spread across a broad spectrum of Israeli officialdom, delaying a Supreme Court hearing on evicting certain families from a neighborhood in Jerusalem, changing the traditional route of the Jerusalem Day Parade, so as to avoid hurting “Palestinian” sensitivities and ending up cancelling the Parade entirely. The country also failed to respond to the threats of Hamas that it would launch missiles and incendiary balloons, as part of its claim to consolidate its protection over “Arab Jerusalem” if Israel failed to withdraw its military forces from the Damascus Gate (one of the gates in the Old City). In this part of the world, failure to respond to actions and even threats is considered as weakness and that perspective of weakness prompted Hamas to become more aggressive, as well as massive civil unrest in cities throughout the country. This, in turn, prompted responses by local residents in efforts to protect their families and homes. Israel needs to act and act decisively, as a democratic society that will punish those inside its walls who break the law. It must also act, as one writer put it: “As for Israel’s external enemies – Hamas, the Islamic Jihad and Fatah, they must meet the full weight of Israel’s military might, and the sooner, the better. The belief that anything short of a crushing defeat will lead to their moderation is as delusional as Chamberlain’s appeasement of Nazi Germany.” The principle is simple: “Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed swiftly, therefore the hearts of the sons men among them are given fully to do evil.” (Ecclesiastes 8:11)
We need to have a broad perspective on the events of this week, which are far from being over. Jihadist slogans, such as “Khaybar, Khaybar, ya yahud, jaisyu Muhammad saufa ya’ud” (“Khaibar, Khaibar, Oh Jews, the army of Muhammad is returning”) and “With our blood and spirits we’ll redeem the al-Aqsa Mosque” are battle cries against Jews and have become rallying cries of rioters throughout Israel, particularly during the Muslim celebrations during the month of Ramadan. [Khaybar was a town in northern Arabia, whose Jews were massacred by Muslims in 628 C.E. Some of the surviving women were taken as wives by some of the Muslims, including Mohammed and less than 10 years later, the Muslim conquerors charged Jews a 50% tax on their crops. Whatever Jews remained in Khaybar after the death of Muhammed were expelled.] These rallying slogans are battle cries when attacking Jews.
But, more than this: When Jewish drivers are dragged from their vehicles by Muslims and beaten, it is a religious war. When a synagogue is burned and Torah scrolls are destroyed, when vehicles and businesses are destroyed after it is confirmed that they belong to Jews, it is a religious war. When Israel is said to occupy land that has been consecrated to Islam, it is a religious war. And so on. It has been a religious war from day one, long before the establishment of the State of Israel. As a result, in the Islamic mindset, Israel has no right to exist as a sovereign state and needs to be reduced to the status a non-Muslim protected minority, allowed to exist but only under Islamic rule. This has worsened from the time of the Oslo Disaster of 1993.
Islamic extremism rises when opposition to it is weak or diminished and it recedes into the background when strongly opposed. Israel has no choice but to demonstrate strength in the face of attack against its sovereignty, its people and its infrastructure. International efforts to stop the present war before Israel achieves the goal of dismantling Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah, will only defer the next round of conflict and encourage the Islamists, backed by Iran and Turkey, to expand their demands for world hegemony. Which country will be next on their list?
Tonight begins Nakba Day, 15th May, 1948, a day commemorating what is referred to by “Palestinians” as the “catastrophe” – the day following the end of the British Mandate and the establishment of the State of Israel. Israel is on full alert against attacks from without, as well as from within. But, with all of our strength and military might, may we remember that we exist because of God’s promises and will continue to exist because He stands behind His Word to perform it.
“Behold, He Who keeps Israel will neither slumbers nor sleeps…The LORD will protect you from all evil.” (Psalm 121: 4, 7)
“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. May they prosper who love you. May peace be within your walls and prosperity within your palaces. For the sake of my brothers and my friends, I will now say, ‘May peace be within you.’ For the sake of the house of the LORD our God, I will seek your good.” (Psalm 122:6-9)
Keep your eyes on Him, Who is invisible, so that we can bless, be blessed and be a blessing.