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Until Hamas Is Fully Defeated

There has been a constant drone that what Israel is doing in Gaza is “over the top,” and Israel must do something else. But what? No one has an answer. At the New York Times, David Brooks sought to provide one. His column runs through the various alternatives and their efficacy. It’s a more important read than anything I can offer today, so I commend it to you.

One point worthy of further discussion is the role the Biden administration, pro-Palestinian protesters and others in the international community have played.

Hamas’s survival depends on support in the court of international opinion and on making this war as bloody as possible for civilians, until Israel relents.

In a very real sense, international opinion has served to prolong the war and increase the number of civilian casualties. It’s not that Israeli soldiers haven’t engaged in wrongful actions, needless killing civilians at time and being callous to the needs of Gazans. Brooks addresses this, and recognizes that Israelis are not particularly enamored of a people, 80% of whom support Hamas and would be just as happy to kill Israelis if they could. It’s that Hamas has crafted a scenario that relies upon the deaths of Gazans and its consequent public outrage as part of its battle strategy.

At the same time as it’s winning the military battle, it’s losing the political battle.

But on a larger political and strategic level, you’d have to conclude that the Israeli strategy has real problems. Global public opinion is moving decisively against Israel. The key shift is in Washington. Historically pro-Israeli Democrats like Biden and Senator Chuck Schumer are now pounding the current Israeli government with criticism. Biden wants Israel to call off its invasion of the final Hamas strongholds in the south. Israel is now risking a rupture with its closest ally and its only reliable friend on the U.N. Security Council.

It should not be forgotten, incidentally, that Israel is the only reliable friend the United States and NATO allies have in the middle east as well. If you don’t like Israel’s version of democracy, consider what Iran, Syria or Iraq have to offer.

Is there a way to both win the war and win the peace? It does not appear that there are any viable alternatives for Israel to mollify the outraged and defend its people from terrorism. For all the wishful thinking and emotional angst, the reality on the ground is that Gaza, and Gazans, have made this situation unnavigable, and that includes any post-war solution, whether two state or otherwise.

There can be no two-state solution, as President Biden has called for, with Hamas as the government of one of them. And unless Hamas is eradicated, it will be the ruler of Gaza. And if Hamas rules Gaza, it will persist in its mission to destroy Israel, to rape, burn, behead, murder and kidnap Israelis. Can Israel let that happen? Could the United States?

Read what Brooks has to say.

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