Let Israel Win

(Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images)
November 2, 2023

Less than a week has passed since Israel launched a ground campaign in the Gaza Strip, and already there are calls for a ceasefire. Not only should these calls be ignored. They should be denounced.

Why? Because calls for a ceasefire reward barbarism. The usual double standard is hard at work: Hamas terrorists spent years planning the murder of more than 1,400 Jews on October 7, and Hamas terrorists continue to hold hundreds of captives, including Americans, while shelling Israel with indiscriminate rocket fire. Yet it is somehow Israel's responsibility to exercise self-restraint.

This interpretation of the situation is entirely backward. Hamas could end all this tomorrow if it released the hostages, put down its arms, and surrendered. Hamas, not Israel, is the aggressor. Hamas, not Israel, is the "occupier" of the Gaza Strip. Hamas, not Israel, rejects international law. Hamas, not Israel, steals food, fuel, and water from civilians. And the fact that these words need to be written at all is evidence that the culture-producing institutions of the West—the media, the universities, cultural and political celebrities—are irreparably broken.

A ceasefire would be worse than useless. If Israel were to end combat operations now, with Hamas in control of the Gaza Strip and captives hidden in the maze of tunnels known as the Gaza Metro, then the terrorists will score a remarkable victory. Harassment and attacks on Jews worldwide will surge.

Hamas will regroup. Its strategy of using civilians as pawns in a chess match for global opinion will have proven effective once again. Its ranks will swell. It will plot its next move. "The Al-Aqsa Deluge"—Hamas's name for its October 7 crime against humanity—"is just the first time," Ghazi Hamad, a Hamas factotum, said on Lebanese television the other day. "And there will be a second, a third, a fourth."

Hamad's words reinforce the lesson of October 7: You cannot maintain a ceasefire against homicidal maniacs with genocidal intent. Since 2007, Israel believed that Hamas could be bought off, that the price of détente was rocket fire and intermittent conflict to "mow the lawn" of terrorists. Détente was an illusion. Hamas used the pause between wars to plan the worst terrorist attack in Israel's history. Hamas will do so again if given the chance.

Israel won't give it the chance—unless outside pressure forces Israel to halt prematurely. Unfortunately, as I write, the pressure on Israel is intense. The cretins at the United Nations want a ceasefire. So-called peace activists have similar demands. American campuses are rife with pro-Hamas and anti-Semitic voices.

The socialist "Squad" of Democratic lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives defame AIPAC and the pro-Israel community while regurgitating Hamas propaganda. Bureaucrats in the State Department and the White House are livid at President Biden for supporting a democratic nation's right to self-defense. Democratic strategists worry that Biden's commitment to Israel might cost him votes in Michigan, throwing the election to Donald Trump.

And Biden is starting to crack. At an event in Minnesota on Wednesday, a deranged heckler screamed at Biden to impose a ceasefire. Biden could have stayed silent. He could have told off the heckler by detailing Hamas's evil—yes, evil—acts and by saying America will stand with Israel in this existential struggle. Instead he told the crowd that "I think we need a pause. A pause means give time to get the prisoners out." That is the message Secretary of State Antony Blinken will convey to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Let's not play this game of international telephone. A "pause" is nothing less than a short-lived ceasefire. And for Biden, a mini-ceasefire is an excuse. It is his way of playing for time, of getting the Left off his back. It won't work. There have been pauses in the fighting to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza. Hamas steals the aid and uses it for its war machine. There have been pauses to let civilians in Gaza evacuate to the southern part of the Strip or, in select cases, transit the Rafah crossing into Egypt. Hamas won't let people leave. Since October 7, Hamas has released five hostages. Hundreds are still in captivity—including 32 children. The youngest is nine months old. Nine months.

Hamas doesn't need a pause to "get the prisoners out." It needs a conscience. And it needs to pay.

If Biden appeases the Left, if he persuades Israel to relent before every hostage is accounted for and before Hamas and its enablers no longer exist as a coherent force, then the Middle East and the world will grow immeasurably more dangerous. Iran will be emboldened. Its meticulously constructed "ring of fire" surrounding Israel will remain intact. Hezbollah will be in reserve. And Israel will be demoralized.

That is precisely the wrong outcome. Trauma and travesty have united Israeli society around a common purpose: the end of the terrorist organization that committed the worst crime against Jews since the Holocaust. And while President Biden has supported Israel, he has also taken pains to remind the Jewish state, like it is some sort of a wayward pupil, to "uphold the laws of war," protect civilian lives, and periodically suspend its military campaign according to an arbitrary timetable. The implication is that Israel is not obeying international law or doing everything in its power to avoid civilian casualties. And that implication is insulting.

Why not try a different strategy? Why not say that Israel has every right to protect itself, that Hamas is responsible for every life lost, and that America will stand with Israel until the job is done? No more equivocation. No more dithering. No more obedience to the politically correct. Let Israel win.