Do Not Harden Your Heart
On the suffering in Israel and Gaza.
Tonight’s TNB is going to be valuable. I’ll be joined by Eric Edelman, Bill Kristol, Ben Parker, and Tom Joscelyn to talk about the situation in Israel—everything from Hamas and Hezbollah, Iran, and the wider geostrategic issue of the potential Saudi-Israeli peace project.
I try to never overpromise, but this is going to be a high-value discussion. I hope you’ll join us. Leave questions here.
The world can be a cruel place. The death count in Israel continues to rise; as I write this it sits at 1,200 innocents. Israeli strikes in Gaza have resulted in an estimated 1,100 Palestinian deaths.
We must resist the temptation to either dismiss these deaths or equivocate about them.
Here are the cartoon versions of two opposing ideas we have encountered this week:
The Hamas attacks were acts of resistance against an occupying force and the Israeli casualties were no big deal.
The deaths of Palestinian civilians killed in Israel’s attempt to root out Hamas are justified and hence are no big deal.
People retreat to such sentiments because the reality of war is messy and complicated and horrible. It’s hard to see the ugly truths clearly. It’s hard to speak plainly about them.
So here are some of those ugly truths: Hamas is a terrorist organization dedicated to the eradication of Israel. After years of planning, on 10/7 it launched a coordinated series of surprise attacks and killed more than a thousand Israeli civilians.
Israel cannot live with such a threat on its doorstep; everyday life is impossible under such conditions. It must root out these terrorists, destroying their weapons and resources and infrastructure and leadership, in order to be able to function as a society.
But rooting out Hamas from its nests in Gaza will involve terrible violence. In the course of this violence, innocent Palestinians will die. And their deaths will be every bit as tragic as the deaths of Jews on 10/7.
We must not dismiss any of these lives. All of them are precious. The loss of any of them is a tragedy.
At the same time, we should not equivocate, because Hamas and the Israeli government are not the same. As President Biden put it on Tuesday,