Politics & Policy

Victory for Israel, by Israel

Hamas terrorists surrender to the IDF (Channel Two, Israel)
If the Obama administration won’t stand behind Israel, it should get out of its way.

Slandered, despised, insulted, degraded, Israel is nonetheless winning its war against Hamas. The number of rocket attacks launched by the terror group each day has been halved. The IDF is uprooting the underground tunnels Hamas uses to smuggle weapons, contraband, and terrorists in and out of the Gaza Strip. On Wednesday evening, Israel’s Channel Two newscast carried footage of Hamas terrorists surrendering to the IDF. The jihadists carried white flags. They stripped to their shorts, proving they were not wearing suicide belts. These are facts Hamas does not want you to know, images Hamas does not want you to see.

And you probably won’t see them. Since the evening of July 17, when Israel launched its ground offensive, Western media has been filled with Hamas propaganda. In the United States, the debate over the conflict is invariably couched in terms favorable to Hamas: Are civilian casualties too high? Is it safe to fly into Ben-Gurion airport? Has the IDF targeted schools and hospitals? One MSNBC anchor calls Israel, which abandoned Gaza in 2005, the “occupying authority.” Another praises a “gutsy” Israeli, who refuses to serve in her nation’s military.

On CNN, the Islamist Turkish prime minister says Israel has “surpassed what Hitler did.” A CNN reporter calls Israelis “scum”; an NBC reporter tweets a scurrilous article calling U.S. Jews who join the IDF “America’s Israeli jihadists”; and a writer for Gawker says it’s time to send the Jews back to Germany. Reporters once embedded with military forces. Now the talking points of a military force — the talking points of Hamas — are embedded in the U.S. media.

And yet the immediate danger to the success of this necessary war does not come from the electronic intifada. It does not come from resurgent anti-Semitism, or the United Nations Human Rights Council, or the failure of so many Western elites to recognize the causes of this war, their inability to distinguish between a democratic country struggling to protect its people and a terror state using children as hostages. Hate, law-fare, decadence — they are all challenges for Israel. But Israel can endure them for now. Israel is used to it.

What Israel should not endure is the premature conclusion of hostilities. Disarming Hamas — seizing its rocket caches, collapsing its tunnels, killing and capturing its forces — is vital to Israeli security. And an artificial ceasefire imposed by outside powers, a ceasefire written in terms favorable to Hamas, would undermine the security gains Israel has made to date. President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have given no sign that they recognize this fact. Or maybe they understand it all too well: The Obama administration’s top priority is imposing a ceasefire at exactly the moment when Israel’s military success is becoming clear.

Secretary Kerry arrived in Cairo earlier this week. No one wanted him there. Egypt’s ruler, General Sisi, has no interest in saving Hamas through international diplomacy: The Muslim Brotherhood is his mortal enemy. Kerry then went from Cairo to Jerusalem, where he met with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who& flew to the meeting on a plane chartered by Qatar, Hamas’s primary source of cash. Kerry also met Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is too gracious to tell the secretary to go back to Boston. (Israel’s former ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, has said publicly what the Israeli government will not: Kerry is an unwelcome guest.) Next up was Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, who honored Kerry’s presence by endorsing Hamas’s call for a “Day of Rage” in the West Bank. Kerry “will soon decide if Hamas and Israel are willing to agree on a Gaza ceasefire,” Reuters says.

Kerry will decide? Who died and made him king?

There is no ceasefire in Gaza because a ceasefire is in no one’s interest. Israel’s objective is clear: degrade Hamas’s capability to fire rockets at Israeli civilians and attack Israeli communities from underground. As for Hamas, its interest is irrational, macabre, and deranged, but no less obvious: Promote itself as the leader of the worldwide struggle against Zionism and Judaism, while ensuring collateral damage that will foment outrage at Israel. That is why Hamas stores weapons in schools, why its military headquarters is in the basement of a hospital. Hamas is not interested in minimizing pain. Hamas wants to maximize it.

Who wants a ceasefire? Obama and Kerry. They need the diplomatic victory after the failure of their misguided and poorly executed bid to reconcile the irreconcilable. The president’s approval rating on foreign policy is abysmal. A ceasefire might help the American people forget, just for a moment, that their president has failed to influence events in Ukraine, Syria, and Iraq, let alone advance American interests overseas. Since he became president, Israel is the one country in the world in whose affairs President Obama has seemed at all interested in intervening. It is the one country whose politics and actions Obama has had no trouble judging harshly. Next to golf, it’s his favorite pastime.

Who wants a ceasefire? Qatar. The sheikhs who bankroll the Muslim Brotherhood, Al Jazeera, and Hamas would see their status rise. A ceasefire would lend credence to the theory that the traditional Sunni powers — Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia — have been eclipsed both by Shiite Iran and by Brotherhood-friendly Sunnis in the Gulf and Turkey. Having lost Egypt and possibly Gaza, the Brotherhood finds itself on the precipice. A Qatari-backed ceasefire that does not include disarmament of Hamas would pull the movement back from the abyss.

“One of the results, one would hope, of a cease-fire would be some form of demilitarization, so that again, this doesn’t continue, doesn’t repeat itself,” said Tony Blinken, Obama’s deputy national security adviser, to NPR. One would hope so. Indeed, actual demilitarization — not hoped for, not partial — is exactly what the IDF is doing now, block by block, tunnel by tunnel. Why is the administration trying to stop it? Is a ceasefire that leaves Hamas with its arsenal really more desirable to them than another week of war?

This is not the time for President Obama and John Kerry to play to type, to promote bad agreements for self-satisfaction, for political gain. If they won’t stand behind Israel, they should at least get out of the way. And let the IDF finish the job.

— Matthew Continetti is the editor-in-chief of the Washington Free Beacon, where this column first appeared. © 2014 All rights reserved

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