Biden shouldn’t get away with granting a victory to Hamas

Biden shouldn’t get away with granting a victory to Hamas

Perhaps Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wasn’t blowing smoke. After the announcement of a withdrawal of Israel Defense Forces troops from southern Gaza, he pledged that a date had been set for an offensive into Rafah to complete the job of destroying Hamas’s last remaining active military units. If true, that would mean the assumption that the Israeli retreat from Gaza signaled the end for all intents and purposes of the war that Hamas began on Oct. 7 was, at best, premature.

As the six-month anniversary of the Hamas attacks on Israel was marked this past weekend with remembrances of the fallen, as well as prayers and demands for the release of the more than 100 hostages still held by Hamas, Israeli optimism about the ultimate outcome of the conflict was hard to maintain. Indeed, contrary to Netanyahu’s words, the Biden administration’s opposition to further efforts to defeat Hamas has forced Israel’s government to back down and accept what appears to be a ceasefire with the current leadership of the terrorist organization without a single hostage being released, then the current situation must be judged to be an unprecedented disaster for the Jewish state.

While Israel’s armed foes and their antisemitic allies throughout the world may have reason to celebrate these events, the outcome of this conflict is not yet decided. Israel’s armed forces have already achieved a great deal in its effort to degrade Hamas’s military capabilities and destroy much of its underground fortress system, and can, given more time, finish the job. Moreover, it’s hard to believe that Netanyahu or anyone tasked with leading the Jewish state will accept an outcome in which it not only suffered the worst mass slaughter of Jews since the Holocaust but then allowed those pledged to its destruction to defeat it through international pressure and a propaganda campaign.

An honest assessment of events that have transpired these last six months must deem them among the most awful in modern Jewish history. And while it’s easy to get lost in the details of military, political and diplomatic problems, the world should never lose sight of the one element that explains the virulence of Hamas’s murder campaign and indifference to Israel’s rights and security: antisemitism. If the first six months of the war have been filled with disappointments and mistakes, what follows need not be a disastrous conclusion to the conflict. The Israel-haters have hypocritically helped convince liberals in the United States to oppose the continuation of the war; however, efforts to counteract these lies and build support for Israeli victory loom greater than ever.

A foolish bid for sympathy

The war that began with the Hamas rampage of murder, rape, torture, kidnapping and wanton destruction on Oct. 7 dealt a cruel blow to Israel’s ability to deter its foes. Rather than inspiring sympathy from the rest of the world for the IDF’s efforts to ensure that these crimes would never again be committed, the spectacle of Jewish suffering did the opposite. Even before the counteroffensive into Gaza to take down the Oct. 7 murderers began, worldwide media and the leftist-dominated chattering classes had flipped the script about the conflict to treat the Palestinians, who were the perpetrators of unspeakable crimes as the real victims of the war, and the Israeli victims as criminal violators of human rights. Hamas lies about “indiscriminate” and “disproportionate” Israeli bombings and Palestinian casualties being almost solely women and children were not just believed but treated as truthful by a biased press. It even turned around the Biden administration, members of which think that the president might lose his re-election chances in certain swing states because he was insufficiently hostile to the Jewish state.

Just as ominously, throughout the West—and most particularly, in the United States—antisemitic mobs in the streets of cities and on college campuses helped normalize calls for Israel’s destruction and terrorism against Jews in public discourse. Even in a country where, in contrast to Europe, support for Israel is still strong and where official antisemitism has been unknown, Jews are starting to feel increasingly unsafe.

While hostage negotiations continue, President Joe Biden’s pressure campaign has removed all incentive for Hamas to budge an inch from its ransom demands that not only include a massive release of terrorist prisoners held by Israel but also an end to the war. Moreover, should the conflict that began on Oct. 7 conclude with Hamas still in possession of any part of Gaza—and with an active, if heavily damaged, military force still intact—then Palestinians, their enablers and fellow travelers abroad, not to mention their Iranian funders, will rightly consider them to be the victors of the war.

The consequences of such a turn of events for Israel are unthinkable. Hamas’s goals remain the destruction of Israel and the genocide of its population.

Ever since the massacres on that Black Shabbat, the prime minister has been telling his country and the world that Israel would not stop until the Islamist group was decisively and completely defeated. But six months into the conflict, that goal has not been achieved. It’s now apparent that the United States—Israel’s main ally, and principal source of the arms and ammunition — has no intention of letting Hamas be defeated.

American threats

While the current withdrawal of forces is being represented by Israel’s government as merely an effort to regroup and prepare the IDF for the final battle in Gaza, it’s impossible to ignore the underlying context. Biden’s gradual pivot away from his position of strong support for Israel and for the elimination of Hamas after Oct. 7 culminated in the threats he issued to Netanyahu last week in a phone call. The administration let it be known that Biden said if Israel attacked Hamas in Rafah, then he would withhold further military aid. What’s more, it soon became clear that Biden’s foreign-policy team was also making it clear that it would not veto efforts in the U.N. Security Council to pass a binding ceasefire resolution or to grant recognition of Palestinian statehood.

These are not the sort of threats that any Israeli government can ignore or take lightly. Israel depends on U.S. arms to maintain its ability to deter or defeat the forces that seek its destruction. Most Israelis still ignore the United Nations as an irrelevant talking shop. But a binding ceasefire and formal recognition of Palestinian statehood would set in motion a series of events that could make the antisemitic fantasy of transforming the democratic Jewish state into a pariah state shunned and sanctioned by the entire world into reality.

There are reasons to believe that—after a pause of undetermined length—Netanyahu still hopes to make good on his promises. The IDF is reportedly preparing to provide a way for the Palestinians living in the remaining Hamas stronghold a path to escape the fighting and then resume the offensive. But for the moment, the achievement of Israel’s post-Oct. 7 war aims—the total defeat of Hamas and the release of all of the Israeli hostages it holds—are beyond its reach.

There’s plenty of blame to go around for the mistakes that led to this situation. Nevertheless, the main priority for friends of Israel now is to not succumb to recriminations or despair. The Israeli people will ultimately decide whether and when Netanyahu as well as the country’s military and establishment will be held accountable for Oct. 7. And history will determine whether or not Israel’s post-Oct. 7 military campaign was conducted as well as it could have been.

But for now, the priority for both Israelis and Americans who care about the Jewish state must be to loudly and ceaselessly speak about the consequences of letting Hamas emerge triumphant from the fighting.

What Hamas wants

The chattering classes in the United States and their acceptance of the Hamas narrative about Palestinian suffering have helped generate the anger at Israel that pushed Biden to pressure Netanyahu. The influence of leftist woke ideologies on American discourse, which falsely brands Israel as a “white” oppressor populated by “settler/colonialists,” played a key role in enabling this to happen.

Many in the pro-Israel community thought they could ward off such an outcome by speaking solely of the suffering of the Israeli hostages or trying to remind the world about the truth of what happened. The hostages shouldn’t be forgotten and Biden’s abandonment of them, including the Americans still held by Hamas, is disgraceful. So, too, is the willingness of the world to treat Oct. 7 as insufficient reason for Israel to no longer tolerate the existence of a genocidal terrorist state on its southern border.

By now, we should have learned that no matter how many Jews are slaughtered, the Jews can never win the victim game as long as they are also willing to defend themselves, as Israel must. An international community that already treats Israel as undeserving of the same respect and rights given every other nation on the planet just cannot tolerate Israeli military action, no matter how defensible.

Biden has shown that he cares more about appeasing antisemitic voters on the far left and bowing to the dictates of progressives who have made it clear that they will not tolerate an Israeli defeat of Hamas. Indeed, he appears to believe that he must defeat and/or topple Netanyahu before he can beat former president Donald Trump in November. Biden’s supporters also claim that Hamas cannot be really vanquished because it is as much an idea as an organization.

Yet it’s also obvious that the lingering belief on the part of his team of Obama administration alumni running U.S. foreign policy in the need for a rapprochement with Iran is behind this disingenuous conclusion. Ideas can be overcome if those who support them are militarily defeated and left with no choice. But at the moment, the problem is that Washington is refusing to allow one of Tehran’s terrorist clients to be crushed. And it is the tolerance of that fundamentally antisemitic rogue regime and its genocidal allies that has generated this decision.

A world in which Hamas wins

Supporters of Israel therefore should not merely plead for mercy for the hostages or sympathy for the Oct. 7 victims. They must point out that if the United States is going to let terror win this war, it’s not just Israelis who will suffer. A world in which Islamist terrorists are permitted to invade a democratic nation but then be saved from the consequences of that decision is one in which no one in the West should consider themselves safe.

For the moment, the Palestinians—the vast majority of whom support Hamas and the atrocities they committed—have succeeded in portraying themselves as the victims of the conflict they began and which they see as just the latest battle in a century-old war to evict the Jews from their ancient homeland. Too many of those who claim to support Israel have foolishly accepted that it’s possible to compromise with those who hold onto such genocidal and antisemitic fantasies. Even after the crimes of Oct. 7, many still think that the only reasonable outcome to this round of fighting is a willingness to coexist with Islamists pledged to kill the Jews or hold onto myths about their willingness to accept a world in which Israel still exists.

Now, more than ever, the case must be made that the only chance for peace in the Middle East and to stop Iranian-backed terror against the West is for Israel to win this war. The eradication of Hamas is the price not merely for the preservation of Israeli security and existence, but for halting an Islamist wave that Americans—who have tolerated a porous southern border for the past three years —would be foolish to think can’t hurt them.

Biden’s feckless politically motivated policies may have forced a pause in this existential war for both Israel and the West. Yet the surge in antisemitism in the United States created by apologists for Palestinian murderers should be a warning sign that if this is allowed to stand, the consequences will be felt by more than just one Israeli politician. The war with Hamas is not just one for Jewish survival but also part of the battle to defend the West. Americans of goodwill—both Republicans and Democrats—must make it clear to the administration by one means or another that they oppose this misguided move and support letting Israel do what it must to wipe out Hamas.

Jonathan S. Tobin is editor-in-chief of JNS (Jewish News Syndicate). Follow him: @jonathans_tobin.

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