Saturday, October 7, 2023

The Implications of Hamas' Surprise Attack Against Israel

Recently, I wrote about Israel's Ongoing Oslo Accords Folly, concluding, "The core unresolved issue is not 'land for peace' nor is it autonomy; it is the unrelenting quest to destroy Israel that is fomented by various Arab/Islamic states and the terrorist groups (including the PLO, Hamas, Hezbollah, al Qaeda, and others) that they sponsor. There is zero chance that Israel giving up land will resolve that issue, and the Oslo Accords are just one example of the folly of assuming otherwise." 

This morning, Israel witnessed and felt the tragic results of decades of believing in the "land for peace" dream: Israel gave up land but never received peace, and now has suffered a massive attack by Hamas, the Iranian-sponsored terrorist group. Hamas launched a surprise, multi-pronged land, air, and sea attack against Israel. The full devastating scope of this attack is still not completely known, but it has been reported that more than 100 Israelis have been killed, more than 1000 Israelis have been injured, and an unknown but large number of Israelis have been captured. Hamas no doubt looks forward to exchanging those innocent Israelis for murderers who are imprisoned in Israel. Israel has a long, pathetic history of capitulating to terrorist demands by participating in lopsided exchanges during which terrorists release a few innocent Israelis while Israel sets free imprisoned terrorists, many of whom have blood on their hands. I agreed with those who called the prisoner exchange that Israel did on behalf of Gilad Shalit "a pact signed in Jewish blood," and I wonder how many terrorists that Israel released in that 2011 deal (and other such deals) directly participated in today's Hamas attack. It is also evident that the weakness that Israel displayed in making such deals emboldened Hamas to escalate its war to kill Jews and destroy the State of Israel.

Hamas attacked Israel on the morning of Simchat Torah, a joyous Jewish holiday celebrating the completion of the annual cycle of Torah reading; on the secular calendar, today is 50 years and one day after Egypt and Syria launched a coordinated surprise attack against Israel on Yom Kippur, Judaism's most important holiday. This dual timing--attacking on a Jewish holiday based on the Jewish calendar, which is (because of the differences between the Jewish calendar and the secular calendar) also nearly the anniversary of a previous major surprise attack against Israel--is obviously not coincidental. 

It should be noted that the strategic depth provided by Sinai, Gaza, Judea, Samaria, and the Golan Heights played a key role in Israel's victory in the Yom Kippur War. Israel gave up much of that strategic depth in a series of treaties, starting with the 1978 Camp David Accords. Even without considering Israel's legal right to retain control of those territories, from a military standpoint it was a huge blunder for a small country like Israel to give up so much strategic depth--and today many Israelis paid the ultimate price for that blunder, as Hamas used Gaza--which should have been Israel's strategic buffer--as a launching pad for attacks deep into the heart of Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should resign in disgrace--not for the nonsensical reasons often cited by the Left, but because he failed in his most important task: protecting the lives of Israel's citizens. Netanyahu did not sign the Oslo Accords--the dead, wounded, and captured Israelis can thank Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, and their government for that disaster--but Netanyahu failed to reverse the damage caused by the Oslo Accords, and he compounded the problem by giving up more land. Further, he failed to defeat Hamas, and under his watch the Israel Defense Forces were unprepared to deal with Hamas' massive surprise attack. This lack of preparedness is not only a tactical failure at the operational level, but also a failure at the political level to understand the nature and dimensions of the situation. Netanyahu just declared war on Hamas, which highlights how out of touch he is with reality: Hamas declared war on Israel decades ago, and the refusal of Netanyahu (and far too many other Israelis) to recognize that Israel is at war did not make that war cease to exist. Media outlets often portray Netanyahu as a right-wing extremist but the reality is that he is someone who speaks the language of the right-wing (which is not by definition extremist, even though many media outlets pretend that all right-wingers are extremists) while refusing to enact right-wing policies: a right-wing policy (from Israel's perspective) would involve publicly stating the truth about the full nature of the Arab-Israeli conflict and then governing the nation accordingly. Israel's true right-wingers have been pleading with Netanyahu to do this, but he refused, and we now see the horrific results of his failure.

If Israel intends to survive long-term without facing daily terrorist attacks on her citizens, this war can only have one outcome: complete destruction of Hamas and all affiliated groups, combined with a political restructuring of how Gaza, Judea, and Samaria are governed. It is unacceptable and untenable for terrorist groups to control these areas. Today's surprise attack is a predictable disastrous outcome escalating a war has been smoldering for many years, aided and abetted both by flawed American Mideast policies and the refusal of most media outlets to accurately depict the events on the ground. Israel's failure to destroy Hamas after repeated Hamas attacks against Israel made today's massive attack inevitable.

Unfortunately, Israel will achieve--at best--a pyrrhic victory over Hamas, and that victory will be accompanied by a wave of international condemnation of Israel followed by calls for Israel to trade more land for peace.

The broad outline of events for the next few weeks is sadly predictable:

1) For the next 24-48 hours, America and many Western countries will express sympathy for Israel.

2) After 48 hours at most, attention will shift to Israel's allegedly "disproportionate" response, and both sides--but mostly Israel--will be urged to "act with restraint."

3) Most media outlets will present false narratives about alleged "legitimate Palestinian grievances" that supposedly justify Hamas' attacks. Few people will have the courage to publicly state the truth

There has never been a sovereign country called Palestine, nor is there a distinct Palestinian people. If you don't believe me, then consider the words of Zuheir Mohsen, who was a high-ranking PLO leader in the 1970s. In a March 1977 interview with the Dutch newspaper Trouw, Mohsen declared:

The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct Palestinian people to oppose Zionism.

For tactical reasons, Jordan, which is a sovereign state with defined borders, cannot raise claims to Haifa and Jaffa, while as a Palestinian, I can undoubtedly demand Haifa, Jaffa, Beer-Sheva and Jerusalem. However, the moment we reclaim our right to all of Palestine, we will not wait even a minute to unite Palestine and Jordan.

The word Palestine has nothing to do with Arab or Islamic history, but it dates back to the Latin name that the Romans gave to Judea (the second Jewish Commonwealth) after conquering and subjugating the Jewish people (and the Latin name is derived from a Greek word). After destroying the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, the Romans renamed the city Aelia Capitolina, and they proudly printed coins bearing the words "Judea Capta." The Roman Empire was long ago consigned to history's dustbin, but the Jewish people are still here and the Jewish people have reestablished their historical state in their historical land. We know when the first Jewish Commonwealth was founded (roughly 3000 years ago), we know its approximate and fluctuating borders, we know that Jerusalem was its political capital and main religious center, we know when that state was conquered by the Babylonians (roughly 2500 years ago), we know when the Maccabees established a second Jewish Commonwealth (roughly 2200 years ago), we know when the second Jewish Commonwealth was conquered by the Roman Empire (roughly 2100 years ago), and we know when the final Jewish revolt against Rome was defeated (less than 2000 years ago). We know that the people in the first and second Jewish Commonwealths spoke Hebrew. 

In contrast, the notion of a distinct Palestinian Arab nation is quite recent, and has no historical basis. The PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) was founded in Cairo, Egypt in 1964, with funding and support provided by the Soviet Union. What exactly was the PLO founded to "liberate"? In 1964, Egypt controlled Gaza, while Jordan controlled Judea and Samaria plus the eastern portion of Jerusalem. If the PLO had been truly interested in creating a Palestinian national state in Gaza plus the West Bank then why was the PLO conducting terrorist attacks against Israel, a nation that had no control over the areas that the PLO supposedly wanted to "liberate"? Of course, the reality is that the Soviet Union helped create the PLO to destabilize Israel and thus increase the Soviet Union's influence and power in the region. This was all about oil and about expanding Communism's reach, and had nothing to do with helping "Palestinians" or creating a "Palestinian" nation. That is why the PLO and other Arab/Islamic terrorist groups are still waging war against Israel decades after Israel gave up control of Gaza and of portions of the so-called West Bank: the goal is not creating a "Palestinian" state but rather destroying the Jewish State. The PLO has not even attempted to create a functioning government in Gaza, because the PLO was not created to govern, does not know how to govern, and has no interest in governing. 

This is a tragedy not only for Israel, but also for the innocent Arabs who are not terrorists and who just want to live in peace; being placed under the control of the PLO was the worst thing that happened to those Arabs, but many media outlets would rather blame Israel than examine and explain historical truths.

Until the nations of the world, the U.N., and major media outlets speak truth to power about both Israel and about the Palestine myth, there will never be Mideast peace.

4) In three to six weeks, Israel will declare victory. That victory will result in some form of limited ceasefire or Israel ending major military operations--but Gaza will still be governed by Hamas, and large portions of Judea and Samaria will still be governed by the terrorist organization that calls itself the Palestinian Authority, even though there is no such country as Palestine and the only "authority" that this terrorist organization exercises is waging war against Israel.

You may think that the United States should not care about or help Israel; perhaps you believe anti-Israel propaganda, or maybe you think that whatever happens to a bunch of Jews and Arabs on the other side of the world should not be a policy concern of the United States. It is important to understand that despotic regimes like Iran--and the terrorist organizations that Iran supports, including Hamas--will not be satisfied if they destroy Israel. Iran and her allies refer to Israel as "The Little Satan" and the United States as "The Great Satan." Do not be fooled by anyone who suggests that Iran only hates the United States because the United States supports Israel; this is a war of competing ideologies--Western-style open democracy versus radical Islam--and that war exists on a global scale, even if someone is foolish enough to believe that the war does not exist. Netanyahu just declared into existence a war that has been going on for decades; let's hope that it does not require a similar frontal assault on American soil for the United States to understand the existence (and grave implications) of this war. 

Radical Islamists take a long view of history; they have waged war against Israel and the West for decades, and they will continue to wage this war until they win or until they are defeated. The sooner that Israel and the West acknowledges this stark reality the better.


  1. The question is will the United States and other countries offer support or any support to Israel. What do you think of the United States response in the few days since these attacks?

  2. Anonymous: Thank you for reading, and for posing that question. The U.S. should enforce full sanctions on Iran, freeze any Iranian assets under U.S. control, and stop sending any funds to Iran and Iranian-sponsored terrorist groups. The U.S. should cease providing funding to the PLO's "pay for slay" program, and stop pretending that there is some kind of moral equivalency between Israel building homes and Muslims slaughtering Jews. The U.S. should determine how many American citizens have been killed, injured, and kidnapped by Hamas, and the U.S. should demand the unconditional release of all those who have been kidnapped (including but not limited to Americans), as well as compensation for the killings and the people who have been injured. The U.S. should avoid its characteristic stance of calling for "restraint by both sides," which has always been absurd and offensive. Compare the above checklist with what the U.S. has done so far and what the U.S. does in the upcoming days/weeks/months, and you will know what I think of the U.S. response.

  3. Yes, why is anyone accommodating Iran unless they support what Iran/Hamas is doing, especially towards Israel? You're right the United States should stop supporting the PLO. That's obvious or should be obvious. But, how does the United States support the PLO and Israel at the same time? I'm just surprised Hamas hasn't been attacking Israel more often given the freedom/support they've gotten or lack of resistance maybe is more accurate, but maybe the time for that is here, unfortunately.

  4. Anonymous: The ongoing U.S. support for Iran and the PLO is not helpful, to put it mildly. By the way, this support not only harms Israel, but also harms the Arab civilians living under PLO rule and under Hamas rule. The PLO and Hamas have been given more than sufficient time to build a functioning Palestinian Arab state but instead they have chosen not only to terrorize Israel but also to terrorize their own people. The self-proclaimed "progressives" who slander Israel not only damage Israel but they are supporting some of the most repressive regimes in the world. This makes it easy to understand that the "progressive" agenda is not about human rights but about promoting Marxism/Socialism and also about supporting any regime that opposes traditional Western democracies. The "Squad" could not care less about human rights in the Middle East; they want to destroy America (and Israel), and thus they find common cause even with enemies of America and Israel that are not Marxist/Socialist.


All contents Copyright (c) 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 David Friedman. All rights reserved.