The “Red Line” And Reality

President Joe Biden put himself into an untenable dilemma by telling MSNBC’s Jonathan Capehart that his “red line” was Israel attacking the southern Gaza city of Rafah. His campaign swiftly tried to walk it back, recognizing the unforced error, but the bell can’t be unwrung.

In the interview, with MSNBC, Mr. Biden rebuked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel over the rising civilian death toll in Gaza, saying that “he must pay more attention to the innocent lives being lost” and that “he’s hurting Israel more than helping Israel.”

In the battle for public opinion, Biden was likely correct. It’s brutal to see the death and destruction in Gaza that never had to be, never should have been, but for Hamas. Biden recognizes that Israel has a right to exist, a right to defend itself. Many of those opposing Israel as the evil colonialists who oppress Palestinians do not, which enables them to support a solution that involves the eradication of Israel and its people “from the river to the sea.” They really see no problem with the “rapes of resistance” of October 7th because they’ve picked their side. Biden isn’t quite so foolish.

But in the battle for Israel’s security, for the lives of its citizens to not be under threat of mass terrorist attack by the ruling junta of Gaza, there is no solution that leaves Hamas in control of Gaza and capable of attacking over and over, while it hides behind children and the elderly, in hospitals, schools and mosques, and relishes every innocent death of a “martyr” that further enrages the unduly passionate to hate Israel, to hate Jews, and creates the gloss of terrorists as “freedom fighters” for the oppressed.

Thomas Friedman understand half the battle.

No fair-minded person could deny Israel the right of self-defense after the Hamas attack on Oct. 7 killed some 1,200 Israelis in one day. Women were sexually abused, and children were killed in front of their parents and parents in front of their children. Scores of abducted Israeli men, women, children and elderly people are still being held hostage in terrible conditions, now for more than 150 days.

But no fair-minded person can look at the Israeli campaign to destroy Hamas that has killed more than 30,000 Palestinians in Gaza, about a third of them fighters, and not conclude that something has gone terribly wrong there.

Whether one trusts Hamas’ statistics or not, there is no doubt that a great many Palestinians have been killed, and a great many of them were not Hamas soldiers. The deaths of innocent people, even if they had a hand in making or tolerating Hamas as their government and agree with its goal of destroying Israel and murdering Jews, innocent or not, by terrorism, is a tragedy. But whose tragedy?

Maybe, but why can’t Israel be much more judicious in its use of force?

Do you have any specific suggestions for how Israel can defeat Hamas while being more sparing of civilians?

If Hamas is not destroyed, or at least its capacity to attack Israel eliminated, then it will attack again. Hamas has made clear that it intends to do so, over and over. Until Hamas is destroyed, there can be no peace as Hamas has no interest in peace. There can be no “two-state solution” with one state controlled by terrorists bent on destroying the other state. For those anti-colonialists whose solution is the eradication of Israel, they will be surprised to learn that Israel is not inclined to commit suicide and disappear.

So what is people like Friedman, like President Biden, want Israel to do? Ride into battle on unicorns? Shoot magic bullets and drop magic bombs that only harm Hamas soldiers? Walk the streets of Gaza as Hamas fighters shoot them, then blend back into the crowd, and ask politely whether someone is innocent or guilty before taking them captive so they can be exchanged for Israelis held hostage by Hamas?

What’s happening in Gaza is horrible, but no one has offered a better way of dealing with Hamas. Plenty of platitudes. Plenty of pearl clutching and clothing rended, but no actual way to deal with Hamas that will be effective and not put Israel in a disastrous position. It is not Israel’s responsibility to put the welfare of Gazans ahead of its own citizens, including its soldiers.

Or there is the solution of ending the war now, a permanent ceasefire, leaving Hamas in control of Gaza, giving Iran plenty of time to rearm and organize Hamas’ terrorist activities, and then the next October 7th, the next rape, burn, behead and murder, of Israeli citizens by the resistance fighters of the oppressed Gazans, whose territory Israel left in 2005 so they could govern themselves and create whatever society they chose.

This is what they chose, and Israel is left to deal with it. If you’ve got a better solution, we’d all love to hear the plan. So far, nobody has offered any alternative of specific things to be done that would be better for Gaza. And that includes President Biden, and why he’s now caught in a dilemma of what he demands of Israel and what is actually doable.

Israel is not going to sacrifice the lives of its citizens so Biden can play nice with the left wing of his party to win an election. No country would, no matter how much you hate Bibi Netanyahu. So what, President Biden, should Israel do with your red line?

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