Some No-Nonsense Talk About Israel and Hamas
There are times in my life when I am positively confounded by the way an issue is depicted in the public square. The situation between Israel and Hamas is one of those times. To explain my bewilderment, I am going to frame this issue without proper nouns, in general, hypothetical terms, like a “thought experiment.” A group of people from Polity B has a perceived grievance with the government of Polity A. Polity A has attempted negotiations with representatives of Polity B to resolve their differences, but the parties are still a long way from settling. To express their displeasure, members of this group in Polity B launch rockets indiscriminately into civilian areas of Polity A, killing some of their citizens. These rocket attacks do not target government or military installations in Polity A; they are random attacks with the sole purpose of piling up bodies. Any bodies, very young or very old, male or female, sympathetic or hostile, will do. Under almost any circumstances, there would be little question that Polity A has a right to defend its citizens from these random, deadly attacks.
So, Polity A takes action. They launch attacks of their own to take out the people in Polity B who are launching the rockets. They communicate in every way possible to warn civilians in areas of Polity B that they will attack. They actually call civilians on cell phones to make some of these warnings, risking their operational element of surprise. The rocket launching Polity B group, as part of its strategy, launches rockets from areas populated by innocent civilians. They sometimes store weapons in places of worship. Because of this deliberate strategy of the group in Polity B, Polity A, in order to remove the threat of the rocket attacks on its innocent civilians, can only effectively do so by causing the deaths of innocent civilians and destroying places of worship in Polity B. Again, there is no doubt that with this abstract scenario, most reasonable people would agree Polity A has the right to defend itself, and take the necessary measures to end the attacks. Reasonable people would expect Polity A to take reasonable steps to minimize the loss of innocent life, but would understand some casualties would be inevitable, especially when Polity B’s rocket launching group seems to place its innocent civilians in harm’s way deliberately.
But how is this presented to us? Almost immediately, we hear about Palestinian casualties as compared to Israeli casualties, as if these should be equivalent. Hamas knows the media will play this numbers game, this moral equivalency standard somehow foisted on Israel. The strategy of positioning their weapons in civilians areas and in mosques is done so they can show the world all the deaths of innocents and the destroyed mosques. They use their own civilians and mosques as fodder for their political game of manipulating the media. Their game is a numbers game, and the media plays along. Israel is competing for the safety of its innocent civilians, not for numbers of bodies. But the media analysis seems completely focused on the numbers “game” of Hamas, not the safety “game” of Israel.
Add to all of this the involvement of Iran. The current Iranian regime thrives on instability for their objectives in the region. The last thing they want is a negotiated peace. These flare-ups with piled up bodies and ruined residences and mosques serve to fan the flames of hatred and extremism, for the next generations, sabotaging any hopes for peace. For the Iranian aims, piles of Palestinian bodies serve their purposes. And it is better for them, for their objective of unending conflict between Israel and Palestinian Arabs, if the Palestinians sustain higher casualties. With the numbers game and the erroneous international focus on moral equivalency, continuing hostilities are all but guaranteed.
I’m sure media outlets who embrace this numbers moral equivalency analysis believe they are being fair and objective. But by perpetuating this misguided analysis, by rejecting Polity A’s right to defend its citizens to its full capacity, the media offers continuing false hope to Palestinian zealots who think some day they will win the hearts and minds of the world community and force Israel into concessions. This simply will not happen. Israel is in a struggle for survival. They cannot afford to make concessions that threaten their existence. The media also gives the fanatics in control of the Iranian government the means to perpetuate the war, and the objective of instability in the region.
The common sense answer to this is to allow Polity A to do exactly what it needs to in order to neutralize the attacks. No one should question that overwhelming force should be used to stop the attackers in Polity B. And the blame for the blood of innocent Polity B civilians in this situation needs to be placed where it belongs, on those who attack a powerful enemy, knowing the potential risks to fellow civilians when the retaliation comes, on those who use the bodies of their fellow citizens as props in a cynical media numbers game in a misguided effort to win the hearts and minds of the international community, on those who allow themselves to serve as puppets of foreign regimes who benefit from the piled-up bodies of their civilians, who do not have anyone’s best interests at heart except their own.
Richard Warren Field is the author of the upcoming novel, The Swords of Faith. For more information, go to RichardWarrenField.com.
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