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Hamas Seizes the Advantage

Yup, we got played by a bunch of murderous thugs from the stone age. The world hasn't yet quite processed what it's like to have leveled a city of 2 million mostly innocent civilians. When it inevitably does my fellow Jews won't like the results.

No about of double talk about Hamas is going to excuse our over the top response. Aren't we supposed to be the good guys? Our beef is with terrorists not every Palestinian who walks the earth.

Hamas Seizes the Advantage

After the massacres of Oct. 7, the burden is now on Israel to end the war in Gaza.

By Daniel Henninger, WSJ

Nov. 29, 2023

As predicted, events since the Hamas massacre of Oct. 7 have unfolded in a way that puts Israel, the victim of the mass slaughter, at a significant political disadvantage.

News reports say Egypt and Qatar, the two nations involved in hostage-release negotiations, are pushing for a long-term cease-fire. The Biden administration, we may assume, will support this goal.

In short, Hamas’s planners and fighters look likely to survive without personal accountability for the 1,200 killed on Oct. 7. Instead, the burden will fall on Israel to assent to talks with Hamas, whose goal remains removing the rest of Israel’s more than nine million people.

Credit is due Hamas—and its partner Palestinian Islamic Jihad—for figuring out the utility of modern sensibilities, especially in the U.S. Initially the world was shocked that Hamas kidnapped young children and pregnant or elderly women. This week’s dramatic release of 4-year-old American Abigail Idan is exemplary. Hamas murdered her parents, then took the child to Gaza.

Hamas understood that the unprecedented horror of its Oct. 7 attack would melt away amid daily media attention to the unbearable horror of these vulnerable hostages and the realities of war inside Gaza. Responding to the second horror has forced Israel’s army to stand down, possibly putting other Israelis at mortal peril from attacks by Hamas and Hezbollah.

Professional terrorism has come a long way. One of the earliest acts of Palestinian terror, by a Hamas precursor called Black September, was the kidnapping of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics, televised to the world. It ended with the deaths of athletes and terrorists. In 1985, Hezbollah and Abu Nidal terrorists hijacked two separate airliners and attacked airports in Rome and Vienna.

Ultimately the world took precautions, internalized these terrorist attacks, and in some sense learned to live with them. The post-9/11 airport-security lines have become an accepted annoyance. But by kidnapping babies, children and grandmothers, terrorism had finally hit on a tactic the world could not absorb.

For the record, the Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram kidnapped 276 schoolgirls in 2014, which led for awhile to the global social-media campaign #BringBackOurGirls. It accomplished little. Some 100 girls remain missing, and those terrorists, now affiliated with Islamic State, continue their assaults.

No one can be unmoved by the reunions of the Israeli hostages with their families. But it is impossible not to miss a second dilemma. Israel said Tuesday its goal remains to dismantle Hamas. But how, when the current standoff gives Hamas an incentive to hold some hostages indefinitely?

Meanwhile, running alongside are anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian demonstrations like those in New York City the past week. Protesters glued themselves to Sixth Avenue, blocking the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Hours later, they vandalized the facade of the New York Public Library’s main building, doing an estimated $75,000 of damage.

On Saturday, they moved on the Museum of Natural History—closed in anticipation—demanding to be let inside to see exhibits of the “colonizers,” burning an Israeli flag and shouting that the police officers protecting the museum were equal to the “KKK.”

As we went to press, these activist groups planned to wreck the Wednesday evening lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. A social-media post said, “Bring your flags, signs & keffiyehs, mobilization, not celebration!” Apparently baby Jesus is also complicit.

Add the campus demonstrations, and this constitutes Joe Biden’s Democratic youth base, which is pushing the president and his party toward equivocal support for the state of Israel.

The intensity of these demonstrations calls to mind the early 1970s, when some members of the left-wing group Students for a Democratic Society tipped over to become a domestic terror group called the Weather Underground. They blew themselves up while making bombs in a Greenwich Village townhouse.

In the U.S., we have arrived at a familiar crossroads. Amid a growing atmosphere of civil disorder, much of it organized, we can either stand back and live with it or push back, deciding that the potential price to our own security eventually could be too high.

New York again illustrates the challenge. The police detained some of the rampaging pro-Palestine protesters, but there’s little prospect of Manhattan’s progressive District Attorney Alvin Bragg prosecuting them. After the city’s George Floyd protests (including store lootings), which ran almost daily for weeks, state Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit—against the New York City Police Department for mishandling activists.

Right now cops and demonstrators, not to mention store-smashing thieves, know the previous structure for maintaining order is dormant.

A word returning to fashion in national-security circles is “deterrence.” Deterrence is a bow to the dangers of accommodating disorder. The Netanyahu government’s accommodation of Hamas in Gaza was a deterrence failure. Communist China’s military expansiveness is a deterrence failure, as are the attacks by Iran’s proxies on U.S. forces and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Virulent antisemitism on U.S. campuses is a deterrence failure. The border is a deterrence failure. So is urban crime. It adds up.

As an entry point for discussion on how to avoid calamity, a simple proposal: Start doing the opposite. Relearn deterrence.

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