Guest: In the Middle East, it’s good vs. evil
In recent days, local friends and acquaintances have understandably reached out to me asking variations of the same question: what is going on in the Middle East? The conventional wisdom is that there is no easy answer. But there is: the free and democratic nation of Israel was attacked by the terrorist group Hamas, and Israel is engaged in an armed conflict against the terrorists in an effort to keep her people safe.
Despite this simple truth, Israel’s detractors have repeatedly sought to justify Hamas’s terrorist onslaught. Some cite a housing dispute in east Jerusalem – despite the fact that Palestinian human rights activists reject this. Others argue that Israel’s defensive military operations are at fault, as if it were possible to ignore and accept hundreds of rockets being fired at Israeli cities every day.
The truth is far simpler than the moral and intellectual acrobatics necessary to justify attempted murder on the basis of faith or nationality. And this reality is exemplified in events that took place earlier this week at the Erez and Kerem Shalom border crossings between Israel and the Gaza Strip.
On Tuesday, in the midst of the current conflict with the theocratic and tyrannical rulers of the Gaza Strip, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) sent convoys through these border crossings with humanitarian aid for the innocent Palestinians subjected to life under a terrorist regime. Israel was sending in fuel and medical equipment. Hamas attacked the conveys with mortars just as the trucks were passing through. A 19-year-old IDF soldier who was part of the humanitarian mission was wounded, and the border crossings were closed.
This stark moral contrast between Hamas and Israel is a constant in the conflict.
The IDF goes to great lengths to prevent Palestinian civilian casualties when it engages Israel’s terrorist foes. The IDF drops leaflets in areas that are soon to be struck, and even drops a small but loud device incapable of causing physical injuries on the roofs of buildings as a warning that a strike is coming so people will have a chance to leave. Yes, this enables terrorists to escape. But it protects innocent Palestinians, so for Israel, it is unquestionably worth it.
Hamas, on the other hand, hides weapons and personnel amidst the Palestinian civilian population and uses civilian structures, including homes, schools and hospitals, to ensure that if Israel is to strike the terrorists, there will be civilian casualties. And then they launch rockets at Israeli population centers. Yes, these are war crimes that result in innocent deaths. And yes, Hamas is completely comfortable with that.
Hamas’s grotesque tactics are central to its grand strategy. The terror group knows they are not strong enough to destroy Israel. They can terrorize the Israeli people, and they can maim and murder innocents, but ultimately if they are to succeed in their goal of wiping out the Jewish state, they must appeal to uninformed allies in the international community who are not interested in the nuances of the conflict.
We’re doing our part here in Alabama, where recently the state legislature advanced a joint resolution expressing that Israel deserves our “vigorous” support and that “Hamas must end the rocket and mortar attacks against Israel.” It was adopted despite a minority of our state’s legislators providing Hamas with exactly what it wants: voices that equate the actions of a democracy protecting itself with those of a terrorist group which places no value on human life – Israeli or Palestinian.
Ultimately, there is no justification for hiding behind Palestinian civilians while firing thousands of rockets at Israeli civilians. There is no reasoned argument for equating the actions of terrorists with those of a democracy trying to protect its people from death. And there is no benefit to Palestinians or Israelis when elected officials ignore these facts or try to blame both sides in this conflict.
As the Alabama legislature has done, we should stand by our ally Israel and unequivocally condemn Palestinian terrorists. Anything less plays directly into the hands of Hamas, perpetuates the conflict and ultimately harms all the innocents in the Middle East.
Ari Morgenstern, a Baldwin County resident, is the Senior Director of Policy and Communications for Christians United for Israel.