Yesterday, Israel announced the deaths of 16 soldiers, including the older brother of one of my son’s classmates. You may remember the picture; he was the young man with the camera. I was gutted. At the same time, I have not been gutted by the deaths of thousands of Gazans, despite the fact that not everybody killed has been a fighter.
I believe all human life is valuable, so how can I justify valuing the lives of my neighbors above those of the lives of our enemies?
Of course, there is a natural desire to value those closer to you. Beyond this, though, there is a distinct difference in how life is regarded in our two cultures. Israelis are willing, but reluctant, to risk our lives and the lives of our enemies to keep Hamas at bay. We, by and large, do the minimum necessary to keep them from killing us (of course we have our maximalists, but they remain on the fringe of our society with plenty ready to criticize them and their beliefs).
There is a entirely different calculus on the Hamas side of the ledger. On October 24th, Ghazi Hamad, a member of Hamas’ politburo called for the complete elimination of Israel. Recognizing the costs of such a goal he stated, on Lebanese TV: “Will we have to pay a price? Yes, and we are ready to pay it. We are called a nation of martyrs, and we are proud to sacrifice martyrs.”
The bruise on his forehead (visit the link) is from prayer – it is the result of smashing his head against the floor in the process of his daily prayer. It is also a symbol of his hopes for the Palestinian people – they will suffer terribly in the pursuit of their holy mission. They state that mission in their charter.
“Our struggle against the Jews is very great and very serious… the Islamic Resistance Movement aspires to the realisation of Allah’s promise, no matter how long that should take. The Prophet, Allah bless him and grant him salvation, has said: “The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews, when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews.”
Hamas invite deaths – as a nation of martyrs – in pursuit of genocide. Our deaths, Jewish deaths are so valuable that they will surrender their own lives en masse to see them realized.
In this context, my pity for those who die is minimized. Gazan society is organized around this principle – their deaths serve as bricks in the building of our destruction. Those who resist Hamas and its goals are punished and sidelined. Many who privately hate Hamas want only to replace it with other organizations that will be more effective at killing Jews.
The people of Gaza are at war with our people and they want to exterminate us. Those who didn’t believe this was true now have October 7th to make it clear. They have the aftermath to make it clearer. Consider this Gazan New York Times writer who wrote – on hearing that a Jewish baby was microwaved to death: “With or without baking powder?”
Of course, I want a minimization of death. Israel should never seek to kill as many people as possible – or to kill civilians. We seek neither. For evidence, just remember that Israel could kill many more people. As a specific example, you’ve seen those photos where hundreds of young fighting-aged men are standing over the ruins of buildings we’ve bombed. They are almost certainly young, fighting-aged, fighters. And yet we do not bomb them. We could kill hundreds, easily – and yet we let them share their propaganda photographs with the world (did you see the one with the ‘dead’ guy who just couldn’t resist scratching himself!). The evidence that we do not seek their extermination is clear: the Arab population between “the River and the Sea” has exploded since 1948. One million Muslims lived in Palestine in 1945. Today, there are 6.1 million in the same territory.
On the other hand, the Jewish population in the Arab world has vanished. Jews were ethnically cleansed from their world. There’s a psychological term that explains their accusations of genocide: projection. They imagine that we want what they want – what they delivered. They cannot imagine there is another reality. Of course, with projection you deny your own secret wants. This is different. Hamas celebrates its goals publicly and proudly.
I wrote an article recently calling for a truly free Palestine. I want a truly free Palestine. But the Palestine of Gaza is one that is dedicated to death. That Palestine has to be erased. It’s people can survive – and the vast majority of them will – but a new society must replace that which they belonged to.
Knowing that our military is not seeking civilian deaths – but also knowing that it cannot allow the evil of Hamas to survive – I will not mourn when death is delivered to Hamas and those of their people that they hide behind. The deaths of their human shields are certainly unfortunate, but if we fail to punish Hamas because they take human shields – then we will only encourage them to take more human shields.
I extend this even to the hostages – I know the hostages’ lives are at risk from the bombing, but Hamas can not be allowed to hide behind them. If we reward and protect them because of their sins, it will only encourage them to extend their evil.
Unlike the hostages, the Gazans chose Hamas. Yes, elections were last held 17 years ago (and, yes, 80% of Gazans were too young to vote or not even born then). But since then, their young men have signed up for the brigades of Hamas and many a Palestinian mother has made clear that they find joy in the dedication of their sons and daughters to our elimination.
We tried to hold them back. To limit their genocidal ambitions.
On October 7th, we failed. Now they have to pay the price for their ideology.
I will pray that those who do not want our extermination have fled or will remain unharmed. I had a series of conversations with a young Gazan man and his niece. They were trying to make things better and I hope they are safe. I even made a podcast episode as the start of a series I was hoping to collaborate with him on. I truly hope he – and those like him – are safe.
But despite such innocents – and despite the hostages – Israel should not spare those who would slaughter my family simply because they make shields of their people and mine.
For more on the concept of societies with self-reinforcing evil, read my book The Hidden Agent.
You may also be interested in my other Hamas articles.