Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon spoke to his
nation the night after Israeli soldiers began removing settlements from the
Gaza Strip and implementing their prime minister's historic Disengagement Plan
"The world awaits the Palestinian response – a hand
offered in peace or continued terrorist fire," he told his countrymen and
the world at large. "To a hand offered in peace, we will respond with an
olive branch. But if they choose fire, we will respond with fire, more severe
This is the context from which the world should view the
heinous upswing in terror being perpetrated against Israeli civilians in recent
weeks. Memories are fleeting, especially those of journalists and world
leaders, but it should not be forgotten that it was just over two-and-a-half
years ago that Israel
made a historic, painful and bold move for peace.
Sharon's point that summer
night in 2005 was crystal clear: Israel
is leaving Gaza, but now Gaza is the responsibility of the
Palestinians. If terrorism continued from the territory that was now under
their purview, Israel
would respond with overwhelming force – and they would have every legal and
moral right to do so.
Since then, the terrorist group Hamas, elected by the
Palestinian people, has taken effective control over the Gaza Strip. Proving
themselves worthy of the designation "terror group," they have turned
Gaza into a
terrorist state, launching rocket attacks into Israeli cities on a regular
basis. They also recently claimed responsibility for the horrific gunning down
of eight religious students, most of them teenagers, in a Jerusalem yeshiva.
With the likely help of Iran
Hamas's rockets have increased in sophistication and range, putting an
estimated 250,000 Israelis under threat. With hundreds of these rockets being
fired into Israeli towns every month, if not every week, residents in cities
such as the border town of Sderot
live with the fear that these crude and imprecise weapons of terror could at
any moment and with very little warning snatch their life or the lives of their
This is terror and this is war. The conflict has been thrust
by an organization that seeks nothing less than genocide. Read their charter.
Hamas not only calls for the destruction of Israel, but the killing of Jews in
general. The fact that this insidious organization is weak, and Israel strong,
is immaterial in the calculus. Few doubt that if Hamas had the strength and the
means of greater destruction, that many more Israeli bodies would be lying in
the streets. This being the case, the Israeli government not only has a right,
but in fact a moral obligation to its citizens, to neutralize this festering
cancer at its border before it grows and increases in lethality.
In attempting to defend itself against Hamas by destroying
its capacity for terror, Israel
has unfortunately killed innocent Palestinians. Innocent life lost, no matter
Israeli or Palestinian, is tragic. But it should be clear that the moral
culpability for such losses does not reside with the Israeli Defense Forces,
who carry out their operations in a manner that attempts to protect innocent
life to the greatest possible extent, but with Hamas itself, whose careless and
cruel disregard for innocent life is well documented.
Today, in the context of this increased bloodshed, the
international community is calling for Israelis and Palestinians to lower tensions.
Even the United States,
while condemning the attacks against Israel, has urged restraint. But is
this the type of response Israel
should receive from the world community?
No, it is not. You get the sense that many countries, in Europe especially, view the current conflict through the
lens of the "cycle of violence" mentality. In so adopting this lens,
the world community essentially equates Hamas terrorism and Israeli military
operations as being one and the same morally. This is, of course, nonsense. To
paraphrase the recently departed William F. Buckley: "If a man pushes an
old lady into the way of an oncoming train and another man pushes an old lady
out of the way of an oncoming train, we shouldn't go around saying that both
men push old ladies." He was speaking in the context of America and the Soviet Union in the Cold War,
but the same surely applies today in the context of Israel and Hamas.
The proper response for the international community is to
put its support behind Israel,
trusting it to act morally and wisely, but encouraging it to do whatever
necessary to protect its citizens and strike a blow for the good guys in the
global war against Islamic-inspired terrorism.
No country would tolerate a barrage of rocket attacks from a
neighboring territory. And if no country in the world would tolerate such atrocities,
no country should expect Israel
to do so either.