Monday, June 24, 2024 -
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Israel is the canary in the world’s mine

The headspace and dimension I have connected with and chosen to tap into since Oct. 7 has been more emotional, more spiritual, than political.

Yet as time and again the news of the war has swirled around me, I can’t help but notice certain features of the news cycle and world reactions. They are shocking yet not surprising. One example of many begins with the world telling Israel not to enter Rafah, the designated terrorist organization Hamas’ last stronghold.

I am no military expert or army general, but it’s pretty common knowledge that one of the features of effective battle in wartime that leads to victory is the element of surprise. Since when does a military announce to the world its plans of invasion or attack? Since when does a military prepare the enemy, so to speak, to be prepared for attack? What other military in the world would announce ahead of time a military operations that it is planning on conducting ?

Removing the element of surprise is pretty mush a guarantee of losing the battle or the war.

Yet here we are, and time and again that is precisely what Israel has been doing: literally giving the civilians in Gaza a chance to exit to save themselves from war.

By announcing to the world its plans, Israel is literally trying to save Gazan civilians, to provide ample opportunity for adjacent countries like Egypt or Jordan — or for any other humanitarian effort — to step in and prevent Gazan civilians from getting caught in the crosshairs of a battle in Rafah.

By Israel announcing a planned military operation, Israel is communicating to Hamas as well. With every utterance Israel expresses about a planned military operation in Gaza, it is as though Israel is saying to Hamas: Surrender!

Israel is giving Hamas the opportunity — and also giving the world the opportunity to pressure Hamas to surrender, and to return the Israeli civilians back to their rightful home, from where they were stolen.

Yet somehow, the onus, the pressure, the urgency consistently and unjustly — and quite frankly ludicrously — is put on Israel, which is fighting a defensive war it didn’t start or want.

Experts in urban warfare at West Point have appraised as excellent Israel’s valiant efforts and accomplishments at not harming civilians on the scale that could reflect the uniquely complex and profound challenge of urban warfare. Of course, one innocent dead civilian is one too many. But nothing Israel ever does seems to satisfy the insatiable, never ending demands of the world, though. No matter what Israel does, the goal posts shift again.

It was called “Land for Peace” when Israel left Gaza in 2005 in the hopes of the Palestinians returning Israel’s withdrawal with peace for Israel and the start of a dignified Palestinian state, an autonomous future of its own. However, the “fruits” of that Israeli withdrawal are Oct. 7 and this war. That’s what the exodus of Jews from Gaza sowed.

What kind of Land for Peace? Hamas, duly elected by Gazans, doesn’t want Israel to exist, never mind in peace, side by side.

Hamas doesn’t even provide to the Red Cross the absolute bare minimum of a list of hostages who are still alive.

It’s now a question of who will free the hostages, Hamas or Israel. Every moment that passes that Hamas chooses not to release the hostages sustains Israel’s duty to do all it can to free them in a way that yields safety and security for them and all of Israel’s civilians.

If Hamas cared about its own civilians, it would have surrendered long ago, not to mention not inflicted on Israel the most vicious massacre in modern history. I sometimes wonder whether the civilians of Gaza will take a turn toward helping Israel defeat Hamas. Dangerous for them. Easier said than done. But it’s still sad to see that for the most part they have not.

The tragedy of innocent civilians paying the price of war is one of the features that makes war the hell it is. The allies in WW II didn’t show concern for the civilians of Germany or Japan. The Allies’ goal was to defeat the spreading evil that threatened our entire world. The world’s interference, in choosing to pursue Israel, rather than its aggressive malignant and brutal attacker, Hamas, is a moral and strategic error of historic proportions. The consequences will long reverberate and I hate to think how many more innocent civilian lives in the future.

It makes me wonder whether perhaps I ought to be more attuned to the political machinations transpiring at breakneck speed, bringing our world to new realities we hardly could have imagined even the previous week.

Copyright © 2024 by the Intermountain Jewish News

Tehilla Goldberg

IJN columnist | View from Central Park

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