Last week, Colonel Douglas Macgregor (ret.) published an article in The American Conservative arguing that Israel’s conflict with Hamas is an unnecessary “war of choice” and suggesting that the Jewish State is using the war as a pretext to ethnically cleanse Arabs.
Is this really the case, or has this battle been forced unto Israelis by a genocidal Hamas?
Macgregor rhetorically asks if Israel’s goal is an “Arab-Free Israeli State from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean.” But if Israelis really wanted to murder all Palestinian civilians, why does the Israeli military warn Palestinian civilians ahead of incoming attacks, giving them time to get to safety? And if Jerusalem wanted to expel all Palestinians, why didn’t it do so long ago?
Macgregor’s assertion that “Israelis knew from Israel’s inception that a Jewish State in the Middle East could only be sustained through force of arms” is also untrue. As related by the historian Martin Gilbert, Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, wrote during the period of Zionist immigration into what would become the State of Israel: “The vital interests of the Jewish people ... require absolutely and unconditionally that the rights and interests of the non-Jewish inhabitants of the country be guarded and honoured punctiliously.”
Israel becoming a military powerhouse was not a foregone conclusion. It was a necessity foisted unto it by repeated Arab attacks on Jewish immigrants, followed by successive wars in which the Arab world tried to quash the nascent Jewish State under the treads of its tanks.
Hamas’s recent butchery of Israeli women and children shows more than ever why Israel has to maintain a robust military for self-defense. Macgregor, however, believes that Israel’s military operation in Gaza is motivated largely by an emotional response to the carnage, meaning that Israelis “must end the conflict through political or diplomatic means.”
But how could Israeli civilians who saw their loved ones massacred in their own homes put aside emotions of anger and sorrow? How can they be expected to forego vengeance and leave unpunished the deaths of roughly 1,200 Jewish innocents, the equivalent of tens of thousands of American deaths if such an attack were carried out in the U.S.?
Not only would withholding punishment from Hamas constitute a travesty of justice, it would also destroy Israel’s deterrence and security.
Hamas’s attack on Israel represents the biggest massacre of Jewish civilians since the Holocaust. Responding to such an atrocity by pursuing “political or diplomatic means” instead of annihilating Hamas would allow the terrorist group to claim victory and rebuild their infrastructure to launch more murderous assaults on Israel.
What if America had stopped its advance across the Pacific in the Second World War and said: “That’s enough, boys. We may not have conquered Japan, but at least we sunk more of their ships than they did to us at Pearl Harbor. That should teach them a lesson!”
Macgregor condemns Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s “scorched-earth approach to Gaza,” but what is Israel to do? Israel is not intentionally murdering civilians. Gaza City is considered “one of the most densely populated areas in the world,” and Hamas uses that to its advantage, hiding themselves in schools, kindergartens, hospitals, and mosques, making it impossible to avoid collateral damage despite Israel’s best efforts. The terrorist group’s strategy is to worsen the death toll of their own civilians in order to draw international opprobrium on Israel’s head. How else are we to interpret Hamas’s efforts to stop Gaza’s people from fleeing to safety?
Finally, the article also claims that it would be a “serious mistake” for America to “dismiss the seriousness of Turkey’s President Erdogan’s vow to bring Jerusalem to justice over ‘crimes committed in the Gaza Strip,’ along with his insistence that Turkish soldiers will one day fight in Gaza.” But neither America nor Israel should care about Erdogan’s ramblings. Erdogan is a not a true ally (regardless of Turkey’s NATO membership) — he is a tyrant who has threatened to launch rockets at Greece (a fellow NATO member) a man whose government still illegally occupies northern Cyprus, and who harbors dreams of restoring the genocidal Ottoman Empire. He has zero credibility in accusing anyone else of human rights violations, and Israel cannot afford to tie its own self-defense to the unhinged rants of the Turkish wannabe sultan.
As the scholar and military historian Victor Davis Hanson emphasizes, deterrence is “hard to establish and easy to lose.” Israel has no option but to stay in Gaza for as long as it takes to eradicate Hamas’s power to wage terror campaigns, going after its tunnels, weapons, and fighters. Anything less would embolden both Hamas and other terrorists in the region, such as Hezbollah, and invite the child-murderers and rapists back across the border to kill more Jews.
This is not a “war of choice”; it’s a war of necessity.
Elad Vaida is a writer living in Virginia. He was previously the speechwriter for Senator John Kennedy (R-Louisiana). His writing has appeared in American Greatness, The Federalist, The American Conservative, The Washington Examiner, and other publications.