The attacks of October 7th by Hamas terrorists on Israeli civilians, killing hundreds and taking hundreds more hostage, are the most vile and deadly thing to happen to the Jewish people in this century. There is no denying that fact or minimizing it. Whole families slaughtered in their homes, women raped, ugly terrible shit beyond any conception of armed conflict having rules or limits. Just sheer rage and barbarity to provoke a response.
That’s what Hamas wanted. They were losing approval in Gaza, losing their mandate last renewed by a plurality in 2006, a mandate that has resulted in misery for Gazans while a right-wing extremist government diverts civil resources to armed terrorism, drawing reprisals into an incredibly dense parcel of land. Before they could be sidelined and kicked out by the Palestinian people in Gaza, they unleashed terror upon Israeli civilians to provoke a disproportionate response, solidify their position during hostilities, and seek sympathy internationally for the destruction they prompted with their attack. Netanyahu, embattled from corruption and judicial scandals, caught flat-footed by the attacks, and likely to face the same fate as Golda Meir after the Yom Kippur War, immediately started shelling Gaza into dust.
When your enemy tries to bait you into a fight, it’s a good idea to hold your temper to make sure you respond strategically and effectively, rather than lashing out without thought and purpose.
There are also over 200 hostages currently being held by Hamas. It’s safer to negotiate their release when there aren’t bombs and rockets flying between two very close areas.
The best thing that could happen right now is a ceasefire sufficient for the Israelis and the Palestinians to remove their feckless leaders and replace them with ones who will work to move toward a lasting peace in a region that was moving in that direction before this most recent attack. There are thoughtful leaders in both societies, people who have been pushed aside by hardliners for years in a symbiotic clash of mutual attempted destruction.
When Abba Eban was representing the country of Israel, he worked hard to make the “appeal to heaven” and to the values of the international community. We need those kind of statesmen again, people who can solve conflict through power of words, not force of arms. His collected speeches, “Voice of Israel,” should be required reading for any advocate.
Blessed are the peacemakers.