Six Reasons Why Americans Should Care About The War Between Hamas and Israel
1. Because of 9/11
Hamas and al-Qaeda are of the same ilk. Brothers in arms, both Islamist terrorist groups are funded by Iran and theologically motivated to wage a violent jihad, or holy war, against the West. Both deadly organizations aspire to destroy those they consider “infidels” (Americans and Israelis included) while re-establishing a pan-Arab Caliphate and, in so doing, have killed too many innocents. While al-Qaeda can be credited for the deaths of thousands of Americans on 9/11 and in the Afghan and Iraq wars that followed, Hamas has murdered dozens of Americans abroad. A significant reason why Hamas has not been able to export its terror activities closer to home is the Israeli counter-terror naval, air and land blockade of Gaza, which is meant to prevent Hamas personnel from importing weapons and traveling internationally.
Israel is seen by Hamas—and all Islamist groups—as the outpost of the West in the Middle East. Today, Israel’s soldiers are literally on the frontlines of the battle against militant Islam. Since its founding in 1987, Hamas has attacked Israel with more than 8,000 rockets. This is not because Hamas is engaged in a civil and human rights struggle for Palestinian sovereignty and freedom. We know Hamas doesn’t care about the Arab people it governs because it uses their children as human shields, child soldiers, and suicide bombers. Rather, Hamas knows that if the West abandons Israel, if we allow Israel to suffer a defeat via terrorism, then Hamas and its allies can attack and defeat us. “First comes Saturday [the Jews], then comes Sunday [the Christians],” as the Islamist saying goes.
2. Because the Two-State Solution is Being Called into Question
Longstanding U.S. foreign policy has been to support a “two-state solution” to the conflict in the Middle East. Successive U.S. administrations have promoted ceding land to the Palestinians, claiming this will result in peace between the Islamist and Western worlds. It was on this basis that Israel was pressured to remove its citizens and soldiers from Gaza in 2005. When Israel withdrew entirely, it purposefully left intact the economic infrastructure it abandoned with the hope it would be used to improve the Palestinian economy. Gaza was a testing ground for the concept of a sovereign Palestinian state. Israel and the world hoped the Palestinian people would use the opportunity to elect a government that respected their human rights and sought to live in peace with its neighbors.
Instead, Hamas, a designated terrorist group, rose to power and proceeded to destroy the economy, import weapons into Gaza, enforce a brutal version of Islamic law, advocate for the genocide of the Jewish people, and declare perpetual war on Israel, America, and the West. A cycle of armed conflict began, with Hamas launching attacks, Israel temporarily neutralizing the threat, civilian casualties and calls for restraint, followed by Hamas re-arming and firing rocket attacks again. Such recent history calls into question the wisdom of supporting a Palestinian state in the West Bank, which, if led by the Palestinian Authority (which has recently entered into a unity deal with Hamas), is more likely than not to become another Islamist terror launching pad. Moreover, the ongoing slaughter of Muslim and Christian civilians in Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere debunks the notion that Israel’s presence in the West Bank is the main obstacle to peace in the Middle East. If anything, Israel’s presence is the one thing that may secure peace in the region, at least in the territories under Israel’s control.
3. Because the Laws of Armed Conflict Are Being Endangered
The media, the UN, select politicians, and NGOs are purposefully manipulating the laws of armed conflict in order to vilify a democratic ally while it is engaged in a defensive war for survival. By all objective standards, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) is unique in the world for its unprecedented measures aimed at minimizing civilian casualties in armed conflict. In Gaza, Israel has taken extreme measures to warn civilians of imminent counter-attacks. They have distributed leaflets, made phone calls, dropped non-explosive bombs on targets that make loud noises to scare away civilians, and aborted the destruction of Hamas rocket-launching sites when civilians were spotted therein. Israel has even alerted the very terrorists they are fighting of incoming fire, a precaution above and beyond the requirements of the laws of armed conflict. It was this warning system that pre-alerted Hamas to the location of IDF ground troops in the Hamas stronghold neighborhood of Shejaiy and which resulted in the recent deaths of thirteen Israeli soldiers. When forced to choose between two evils—risking Palestinian civilian casualties to protect Israeli lives, versus compromising Israeli security to save Palestinian civilians—Israel has repeatedly chosen the latter.
Hamas, on the other hand, brags about its indiscriminate targeting of both Israeli and Palestinian civilians and has coerced Palestinians into acting as human shields for its rockets. Hamas leaders appear daily on Palestinian Authority TV, inciting genocide against the Jews and encouraging Palestinians to ignore Israel’s advance rocket warning systems. Hamas refuses to allow Palestinian civilians to take cover in its bomb shelters, permitting only Hamas leadership to enter. Palestinian youth have taken to YouTube to tell the world how Hamas is preventing its people from evacuating their houses to seek refuge in safe areas. Hamas has rejected two ceasefire offers and has chosen to continue firing even during a temporary humanitarian pause in hostilities, impeding the delivery of medical aid to injured Palestinians. By all objective standards, Hamas is guilty of war crimes and engaged in the collective punishment of the Palestinian people by holding them hostage to its deadly jihad.
Yet no matter how far Israel bends to adhere to the laws of armed conflict (while Hamas thwarts them), Israel’s Operation Protective Edge is portrayed by the Western media and the UN as a criminal enterprise. Even the Arab world has come out strongly against Hamas. Egypt has publicly criticized Hamas for failing to save Palestinian lives and refusing to accept the ceasefire offers. In an unprecedented act, the Palestinian Authority’s own representative to the UN, Ibrahim Khraishi, condemned Hamas for perpetrating war crimes, stating on Palestinian Authority TV, “[T]he missiles that are now being launched against Israel, each and every missile, constitutes a crime against humanity, whether it hits or misses, because it is directed at civilian targets.”
The West has failed to show the same moral courage. The UN remains silent on Hamas’s targeting of Israeli and Palestinian civilians, instead opting to hold an emergency session focusing on Israel, and only Israel, which is expected to produce the regular anti-Israel vitriol and implicitly grant Hamas immunity. The media routinely refers to Hamas as “militants”, though they are a U.S.-designated terrorist group, and places the organization on equal moral footing with the Israeli Defense Forces, even though the latter is a military held to the highest ethical standards in human history. World leaders, save Canada’s Prime Minister Steven Harper, have found it difficult to criticize the Iranian-backed Islamist terror organization Hamas without, in the same breath, criticizing Israel though Israel is in fact exercising great restraint.
This double standard teaches us that no matter how strictly a democracy adheres to the laws of armed conflict, that democracy will nonetheless be vilified if the terrorists they are fighting flout the same laws. There is a telling absence of any UN General Assembly resolutions condemning Hamas’s use of Palestinian children as suicide bombers and human shields. There has been no International Criminal Court prosecution of Iranian leaders for incitement to genocide, and no International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion on the Assad regime’s ongoing slaughter of over two hundred fifty thousand of its own civilians. Instead, war crimes charges have been filed against American, British, and Israeli officials in numerous countries, while leaders of Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, and Syria are seemingly above the law. Such precedent sets a dangerous disincentive for coalition forces engaged in the asymmetric battlefield to risk their lives in order to adhere to the laws of armed conflict.
4. Because the Western Media is Being Duped by Hamas
There are multiple unverified death counts from Gaza. The UN is claiming a disproportionate number of Palestinian children have died, while Al Jazeera is reporting most of the deceased are adult males. All sources agree there have been more deaths on the Palestinian side than on the Israeli side, though the IDF death toll is climbing with the ground offensive. Despite the lack of accurate information, the media has been obsessively reporting unconfirmed casualty figures without mentioning the context in which Palestinians civilians have been killed, often while being forced to act as human shields. The UN is publishing a Hamas-provided death count without any verification, and has failed to identify any Hamas terrorists among the casualties or even mention the fact that Hamas fighters disguise themselves as civilians (a violation of the laws of armed conflict). The contrasting numbers are being used to proffer a perverted theory of disproportionate force. Such theorists argue that since Palestinians are dying in greater numbers than Israelis, Israel no longer has the right to defend itself-- that it is not fair or just for Israel to have the Iron Dome, to use the best technology to save the lives of its own citizens, while Hamas offers up its civilians to protect its rockets.
After ordering its civilians to ignore evacuation calls, Hamas spokesperson Abu Zohari bragged that its "human shield policy is effective" because it both averts IDF fire and gives the international media more material with which to malign Israel. Hamas knows it will not win this war against Israel, the militarily superior side. Rather, it is firing rockets at Israeli civilians from civilian-populated areas to score public relations points with the Arab world and Western media. Hamas knows that, despite the fact that it started this war by firing rockets into Israel, despite its direct responsibility for the tremendous number of casualties, the Western media will report on the conflict by publishing pictures of corpses without mentioning the brutal ways Hamas is forcing its civilians into the line of fire.
When it comes to Gaza, the Western media is simply unable to report the facts on the ground accurately and has outright failed to expose how Hamas is working to increase the Palestinian civilian death toll. Some in the media have even gone as far as accusing Israel of deliberately targeting Palestinian civilians, attributing a blood-lust to the Jewish state. Only when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict does the media so regularly cast aside journalistic integrity and engage in deceptive reporting designed to elicit sympathy for terrorism. This point was made very clear by Sky News correspondent Jessy El Murr, who tweeted that she will have “failed as a reporter” if she is seen “as objective on issue of “#israel aggression…”
The media’s careless reporting, coupled with constant delegitimization of Israel’s sovereign right of self-defense, has fueled an alarming rise in anti-Semitism in Europe, Canada, and the United States. France is witnessing levels of anti-Semitism not seen since the Holocaust. Jewish-owned businesses are being vandalized and looted, and Paris synagogues have been attacked by pro-Palestinian demonstrators wielding bats, and trapping over one hundred Jews inside. In Germany, pro-Palestinian demonstrators have shouted “gas the Jews" and, at a pro-Gaza protest in Berlin, an Israeli tourist was so viciously attacked the police were called in to provide protection. In Los Angeles and Boston, pro-Israel demonstrators were violently assaulted by thugs armed with iron rods, who shouted “Jesus killers” and threatened to burn the Jews. The hashtag #hilterwasright is rapidly gaining momentum on Twitter. As citizens of the free world, we should be concerned with the rising tides of anti-Semitism as well as any kind of race-based hate, which is indicative of a terroristic and genocidal element within.
5. Because U.S. financial support of the Hamas-Palestinian Authority government and UNRWA undermines our negotiating position with Iran
Hamas is an Iranian proxy. It fights under Iranian and Muslim Brotherhood guidance and is using Iranian weapons to do so. Obama is now engaged in nuclear talks with Iran, attempting to persuade the Islamic Republic to abandon its nuclear pursuits and calls to annihilate Israel and the West. Ideally, the United States would be walking into these negotiations from a position of strength, yet our position is made much weaker given Obama’s defiant refusal to end U.S. financial support for a Hamas-Palestinian Authority unity government.
How the Obama administration has dealt with Hamas and the Palestinian Authority is indicative of its broader appeasement of militant Islamism. Choosing to continue funding the Palestinian Authority, after it has partnered with the designated terrorist group Hamas, may not only be unlawful under U.S. law, but means our taxpayer dollars may be used to illegally wage war on an ally while facilitating Hamas’s murder of its own people. Hamas officials have told the media that Fatah (Palestinian Authority) members have joined in firing rockets at Israeli civilians. Further, by funding the Palestinian Authority, U.S. tax dollars are financing television, radio and other media programming such as Palestinian Authority Television (PATV), which airs cartoons, music videos, and daily talk shows that incite violence against the West and genocide against the Jews. On April 9th a PATV children’s program instructed its young audience to grab machine guns and “defeat America and Israel.” Another program aired on Hamas’s Al-Aqsa TV on May 2nd used a cuddly bee to motivate children to “shoot Jews” and “smash them.”
The United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) is the arm of the UN tasked with providing aid and education to Palestinians in Gaza. UNRWA-operated schools hire members of Hamas as faculty and allow their classrooms to be used as recruiting grounds for Hamas’s child soldiers and human shields. UNRWA teaches from an U.S.-funded curriculum that advocates for genocidal war against Israel, and UNRWA employees have delivered weapons to Hamas. Hamas has launched rockets from the roofs of UNRWA schools and hidden rockets in their basements. UNRWA spokesperson Christopher Gunness recently promoted terror-apologist Dr. Mads Gilbert despite his support of the “moral right” of al-Qaeda to attack the United States on 9/11. Despite UNRWA’s direct assistance to terrorism, and repeated requests by Congress for audits of the UN agency, the Obama administration refuses to end its unconditional funding of UNRWA. Financing Islamist incitement to violence, while demanding Iran cease doing the same, is minimally an inconsistent position to take.
6. Because people are dying
Americans should care about the current war between Israel and Hamas because lives are being lost. Hamas is systematically endangering Palestinian lives while inciting and engaging in acts of genocide against the Jewish people who are still, after 2000 years, fighting for their survival. Innocent men, women, and children are being killed in Gaza and Israel, just as they are being killed in Syria and Iraq, and everywhere else Islamist terrorism resides. We are living in an age of globalized conflict where we are no longer afforded the historic excuse of geographic distance. Every life lost in the war between Israel and Hamas is one lost in the global war on terror, and the bodies are too quickly mounting.
Brooke Goldstein is a human rights attorney and the Director of The Lawfare Project. Read more about The Lawfare Project here.