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Terrorism, at its core, seeks to instill fear and advance political or ideological objectives through acts of violence, usually by targeting civilians. To the terrorists, any victim and all victims are secondary to the broader message or agenda they seek to promote. Innocent men, women, and children are considered “legitimate” targets, not because of who they are, but because of the shock value their suffering or deaths might generate. For terrorists, there are no moral or legal boundaries when it comes to progressing their cause.
This past weekend, the world witnessed one of the most horrendous terrorist atrocities in the history of terrorist atrocities – the deliberate murder of almost 1,000 Israelis by armed Hamas terrorists in Southern Israel. It was mass murder in a hail of bullets on a scale not seen since Srebrenica in 1995, almost 30 years ago.
And whereas the victims of the Srebrenica massacre were all men of military age, these victims included men, women and children. Even the elderly were not spared. Thousands more were wounded, and it is believed that at least 150 Israelis have been kidnapped as hostages and are being held in Gaza.
Caught off-guard, Israel scrambled to respond. It took hours for soldiers to make it to Sderot, close to the Gaza border, and to the kibbutzim and villages that adjoin the boundary with Gaza. When the first soldiers got there, they were ill-prepared for the sheer scale of the terrorist invasion, and dozens were killed before they had a chance to protect the civilians they had come to defend.
One of those who died was Binyamin Lev, who served in the same paratrooper unit as our son Meir. On Sunday, Meir was called up for reserve duty, and he is currently serving in Southern Israel. His friend’s death has brought the horror and tragedy of this past weekend into our hearts in a very personal way.
You would think that the sheer brutality of the Hamas assault would evoke sympathy across the board, even among those sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. Well, if you thought that you would be wrong.
In Harvard, the Ivy League seat of learning that is at the summit of international academia, 31 student organizations issued a letter that began “We, the undersigned student organizations, hold the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence.” Meanwhile, the university administration – which quickly condemned President Putin and Russia after the invasion of Ukraine – was notably silent on the atrocities unfolding in Israel.
Larry Summers, who served as Harvard University’s 27th president from 2001-2006, was fiercely critical of both the students and administration of the university. Reflecting on his long association with Harvard, Summers expressed his deep disappointment, noting on X that: “In nearly 50 years of @Harvard affiliation, I have never been as disillusioned and alienated as I am today. The silence from Harvard’s leadership, so far, coupled with a vocal and widely reported student groups’ statement blaming Israel solely, has allowed Harvard to appear at best neutral towards acts of terror against the Jewish state of Israel.”
Elsewhere, the virtue signaling and moral equivalence rhetoric has been spewing out thick and fast – and it is nothing short of sickening.
Tiffany Cabán, a New York City councilwoman, tweeted “My wholehearted commitment to safety, peace of mind, and collective self-determination for the Israeli people in no way contradicts my commitment to liberation and human rights for the Palestinian people. In fact, those commitments are one and the same. Nothing can free everyday Israelis from danger and fear unless it also frees everyday Palestinians from oppression and occupation.”
That was it. No condemnation of the Hamas invasion, nor even an indication that she thinks that the unprovoked, indiscriminate mass murder of civilians is morally repugnant and a war crime. Some might argue that underlying tensions and historical grievances provide context for the Hamas attacks, and clearly, this is what Cabán and her ilk are trying to convey.
However, no grievance justifies the indiscriminate and deliberate killing of civilians, irrespective of which side one supports.
Meanwhile, in New York this past Sunday, as Israelis and Jews around the world mourned the victims of the horrific terrorist atrocity, hundreds of pro-Palestinian demonstrators gathered to express their support for the Hamas-perpetrated bloodbath.
They assembled in Times Square, displaying Palestinian flags while chanting “Globalize the intifada,” and calling for Israel’s destruction. The atmosphere among the demonstrators was unusually nasty. As they chanted “700” – a reference to the reported number of Israeli casualties – several held up seven fingers, and also made throat-cutting motions to Jewish demonstrators across the square.
The Western world is going through a crisis of identity and instability. Democracy is teetering on the brink, and the guardrails of our society are crumbling before our eyes. Tragically, the media is complicit in this slide toward moral anarchy, as victims are portrayed as victimizers, and murderers are depicted as heroes. Our universities are hotbeds of woke activism that revels in trendy causes and superficial sloganeering, while all around the rot is advancing at a pace not seen in living memory.
The Iran-backed Hamas regime in Gaza is not a liberationist group fighting for the rights of Palestinians. It is an evil homicidal group intent on mayhem and genocide. The weirdest aspect of all of this is that they don’t even pretend they are nice – on the contrary, they are quite open about being evil.
Over the past few years, many people have questioned Israel’s stranglehold blockade of Gaza, suggesting that the restrictions be lifted. This past weekend, during the disturbing few hours that Hamas ran amok in Israel, and in the days since, we have all discovered exactly why Israel has had this policy.
The events of last weekend have starkly highlighted the perils Israel faces. Now more than ever, the global community must recognize the imperative of rooting out Hamas and its supporters, so that they are consigned to the annals of history, where they belong. Anything less would be willful suicide.
Photo: The bodies of people, some of them elderly, lie on a street after they were killed during a mass-infiltration by Hamas gunmen from the Gaza Strip, in Sderot, southern Israel, Oct. 7, 2023. REUTERS/Ammar Awad