We live in a dangerous, treacherous world.
On Saturday, October 7th, 2023, Hamas terrorists carried out a coordinated assault on Israel. Armed terrorists crossed over the border between Gaza and Israel penetrating Israeli defense systems by air using paragliders, rockets and drones, and, on land, using bulldozers and earth moving machines that smashed through fencing that was supposed to be unbreachable allowing fighters to enter Israel unimpeded. Israel was surprised by the attack. The government was caught off guard and was excruciatingly slow to respond.
About an hour after the first rocket attacks, Hamas militants crossed into Israel by land, sea and air, according to the Israeli military, leading to some of the first pitched battles between Israeli and Arab forces on Israeli soil in decades. (NYT)
The militants infiltrated 22 Israeli towns and army bases and took civilians and soldiers hostages, many of whom they brought back to Gaza. (NYT)
Hamas militants attacked innocent, unarmed Israelis living in kibbutz farms near the border in southern Israel. A music festival became a massacre. Farming homesteads turned into bloody scenes of death and destruction. Women were raped. Babies were beheaded and burned to death. Israelis and some Americans and people of other nationalities including children were taken hostage and are now being threatened with death if Israel fights back by retaliating against Gaza. Social media was used to amplify the horror by publicizing vicious, shocking barbaric acts of terrorism and torture. The horror stories are still coming out.
Israelis are experiencing another holocaust like the one in Nazi Germany. But it is not only Israel experiencing this horror. It is all of us. Anyone with a heart. Anyone who cares about other people.
How could these people who are members of Hamas do what they did? What kinds of people could carry out the abominable acts that they did? The hate in their hearts must be all consuming. What they did to other human beings, to helpless children, to defenseless people who had done nothing to hurt them, was unthinkable. Untenable. Unbearable.
I found myself feeling pretty hopeless about the future of humanity as report after report on CNN and social media documented the inhumanity carried out by Hamas terrorists.
WHY HAMAS ATTACKED ISRAEL
Like Mein Kampf, Hamas has a founding mission statement that clearly reveals its goals. Anyone who reads this decree would not be surprised about what happened in Israel on Saturday. Hamas’ goal is antisemitic genocide.
Released on August 18, 1988, the original covenant spells out clearly Hamas’s genocidal intentions. Accordingly, what happened in Israel on Saturday is completely in keeping with Hamas’s explicit aims and stated objectives. It was in fact the inchoate realization of Hamas’s true ambitions.
The most relevant of the document’s 36 articles can be summarized as falling within four main themes:
- The complete destruction of Israel as an essential condition for the liberation of Palestine and the establishment of a theocratic state based on Islamic law (Sharia),
- The need for both unrestrained and unceasing holy war (jihad) to attain the above objective,
- The deliberate disdain for, and dismissal of, any negotiated resolution or political settlement of Jewish and Muslim claims to the Holy Land, and
- The reinforcement of historical anti-Semitic tropes and calumnies married to sinister conspiracy theories.
Article 13 rejects any kind of negotiations for, or peaceful resolution of, Jewish and Palestinian territorial claims to the land. On this point, the covenant is completely transparent: “There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors.” (The Atlantic)
Hamas is engaging in a jihad or holy war. Their fighters believe they should kill all Jewish people or die trying so they become martyrs.
With a militant group like Hamas that has a goal of genocide there can be no negotiated settlement. Their goal is not to negotiate, it is to kill every Jewish person living on the land they believe is rightly theirs. Israel has no choice other than a campaign of total destruction of Hamas.
WHAT IS COMING NEXT
Israel is preparing to go to war against Gaza in retaliation. There is no doubt that they must retaliate. Strength is essential to the survival of Israel in the Middle East surrounded by many enemies. This war is going to be gut wrenchingly awful.
The Gaza Strip is a tiny but densely populated Palestinian enclave on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea that borders Israel and Egypt. Together with the West Bank, it makes up the Palestinian territories. It is similar in size to Washington, D.C., but at more than two million its population is about three times the size.
Since 2007, the strip has been ruled by militant group Hamas, which has fought four wars against Israel since taking power. The U.S. and the European Union consider Hamas a terrorist organization.
The Palestinian territories were carved out of Palestine, which was a British mandate from the 1920s until the creation of modern Israel in 1948. Egypt held control of the narrow strip until 1967, when Israel seized it during the Six Day War. (Wall Street Journal)
Gaza has been isolated by the Israelis at this point- food, water, electricity are cut off. The area is under siege. The goal for the Israeli military will be to destroy Hamas to the extent it can do so by hunting down its leaders, blowing up their headquarters, as well as trying to free the hostages if that is even possible. In the process, Palestinians living in Gaza will also pay the price for the actions of this terrorist group, even though they themselves were not part of the terrorist organization or privy to this plot.
Biden urged Netanyahu to follow the rules of war as the Israeli army goes into Gaza. I can imagine that will be hard for the Israelis to do given the terrible things Hamas fighters just did to the people of Israel and memories so many have of Hitler and the Nazis.
President Biden did not vacillate or hedge. He delivered the most pro-Israeli response yet in the history of our country. He was absolutely clear and rock solid about the commitment of our country to support Israel and Jewish people. He talked about how he takes his own grandchildren to see Dachau when they turn 14 to learn about what Hitler had done to the Jews so that his grandchildren would know what happened and never forget. He raised his voice in anger when he spoke about that in a way I had not heard before. Maybe it was because Prime Minister Netanyahu had debriefed Biden about the extent of the Hamas terrorists’ inhumane acts. Biden spoke from his heart as a man who knows the pain of loss and the need to be clear about commitment in the face of “sheer evil.”
“In this moment we must be crystal clear: We stand with Israel. We stand with Israel,” Biden said. “There is no justification for terrorism. There is no excuse. Hamas does not stand for the Palestinian people’s right to dignity and self-determination.”
“Hamas offers nothing but terror and bloodshed with no regard to who pays the price,” Biden said. “The loss of innocent life is heartbreaking. Like every nation in the world, Israel has the right to respond, indeed the duty to respond, to these vicious attacks.”
By way of contrast to Biden, Trump mocked Israel and made predictably divisive comments.
Former US president Donald Trump on Wednesday appeared to mock Israel for failing to anticipate the weekend Hamas onslaught and for not going on the offensive against Hezbollah amid several deadly clashes along its northern border. He also launched personal attacks against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whom he accused of “letting him down,” and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, whom he called a “jerk.”
This is Trump’s usual way of reacting. He is always petty. He points out how great HE is, creates divisiveness and blames someone else for whatever is going on. Trump’s response is always childish and mean. He is incapable of being a grown up or a leader. If he were president today we would very likely be facing World War III given his impulsivity and inability to listen to more informed people who might try to advise him. But let’s be real. If Trump won re-election there wouldn’t even be anyone in his administration who could advise him. Trump would only hire simpering loyalists. People like Rudy Guiliani or crazies like Steve Bannon and Sydney Powell.
We would not be safe.
WE NEED GROWN UPS TO LEAD US
If you have wondered if Biden is too old to be a good leader then you need to listen to what he said today to Jewish leaders who were assembled at the White House. He was inspirational. Calm. Angry at times. Certain. Morally clear. And undeterred.
Biden was, as he always is, empathic, a centrist, a moderate who listens well and seeks compromise, a man who understands the world in all its goodness and awfulness and still has hope. I love his moral compass. I have faith that he will uphold our democracy. I know he understands the pain of loss and has compassion. He is the comforter-in-chief.
Thank goodness for Joe Biden. He is the best person we could have at this moment in time as the leader of our country. Biden has also chosen a terrific team of grown ups in every position in government. Thank goodness for Anthony Blinken our Secretary of State and thank goodness for the other cabinet members who are smart and compassionate people who have in turn hired good, capable, well-functioning teams to support their work.
We need grown ups running our government with a world in turmoil.
It is clear that Biden is the right leader for these difficult times.
THE DANGER OF SILENCE
Biden also understands the danger in being silent and the power of speaking up. The reason we have a GOP led House in turmoil is because the MAGAs are pushing their extreme agenda and moderate Republicans have stayed too silent. Antisemitism is already on the rise and as this war continues it will get worse. When it comes to antisemitism we all need to speak out. We cannot tolerate antisemitism in our neighborhoods, our schools, our government, or our country.
Antisemitic incidents in the U.S. jumped to a record level in 2022, up 36% from the year before, an annual audit by the Anti-Defamation League shows.
Why it matters: It’s the third time in five years that reported episodes of antisemitism — from the distribution of hate propaganda to threats, slurs, vandalism and assault — were the most on record since the ADL began tracking such incidents in 1979.
The big picture: The surge in antisemitic cases comes as the FBI and human rights groups warn about rising numbers of hate crimes in the U.S. — and amid concerns that some public officials and social media influencers are fueling the problem by normalizing incendiary rhetoric.
- The alarming numbers are likely understating the problem: A rising number of law enforcement agencies are opting not to share hate crime statistics with the FBI.
By the numbers: The ADL found reports of 3,697 antisemitic incidents in 2022. (ADL)
Can we ever get along with each other? Can we ever treat each other with humanity and decency? People can build amazing buildings, machines and devices that even communicate with us and are responsive. We can create drones that can fly into rooms in apartment buildings and send back images of what they view. We can send space ships to distant planets, learn about the origins of our world, dive under the ocean. We are inventive and creative and can accomplish amazing feats. But when it comes to just getting along with each other on planet earth we fail over and over again. Learning how to get along with each other seems to be the ultimate and most difficult hurdle for mankind. Tolerance. Acceptance. Compassion. Forgiveness. Self-Awareness. These are the traits people need to develop to have a world that we can share and live in together.