The Oct. 7 attack on Israel drew the lines between barbarism and civilization more clearly than any other event in the Western world since World War II.
If you think about the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, they were impersonal to the killers – just a strategic concept until the split second when they were accomplished and then there was no time for the killers to celebrate their savagery or for the victims to grasp the evil about to befall them. They were all dead.
But we know from the videos left behind by both the killers and their victims that Oct. 7 was a far different experience. It was not evil at a distance; it was evil up close and personal. You probably have heard of some of the most inhuman moments. The Israeli government showed video compilations of many of the atrocities to reporters and to government officials around the world:
- As reported by The Guardian, “[A] father and his two sons, aged approximately seven and nine, running in their underwear to what appeared to be a bomb shelter. A Hamas attacker threw a grenade, killing the man. The boys emerge bloodied and run. ‘Dad’s dead, it wasn’t a prank,’ one shouts. ‘I know, I saw it,’ replies his brother, later screaming: ‘Why am I alive?’”
- As reported by the Jerusalem Post, one terrorist was so proud of his brutality that he called his parents to brag: “I am talking to you from the phone of a Jew, I killed her and her husband, I killed ten with my own hands … Open your phone and see how many I killed, father. Open your phone, I am calling you on WhatsApp. I killed ten. Ten! Ten with my own bare hands. Their blood is on my hands, let me talk to Mom.”
- As reported by ABC News, the video compilation of the atrocities is grisly and hard to watch. “Militants are busy mashing a dying man’s face with their boots. Another pair screams ‘Allahu Akbar’ as they use a garden hoe to try to decapitate another man. In another house, a gunman sticks the muzzle of his rifle into a room inhabited by a family. It’s a mash of colors. In one, a terrorist is standing on an Israeli man’s chest and shoots him point-blank in the face. Then, the scenes of bloodied bedrooms start to blur. The rooms and the gore are the same – it’s how the bodies are arrayed in death that’s different. There are so many children. Some are jam-packed together in a slippery mass of human flesh. Huge blood stains streak the tiles.”
This is not normal war. It is not normal human behavior. It is the equivalent of Nazi soldiers greeting trains dispassionately at Auschwitz or Dachau and dividing families into those who will live and those who will die, knowing that the gas chamber or worse eventually awaits all of them. It is the ultimate dehumanization of victims who are robbed of their agency, their hope, their joy.
Yet millions of people around the world would have Israel withhold appropriate punishment on the barbarians who gave no quarter to their Jewish victims. We are told that it is a war crime for Israel to engage in a full-scale attack on Gaza because innocent civilians are being killed as a result. The Palestinians, who have supported Hamas for more than 15 years, are now being raised up as innocent victims themselves. Western intellectuals are demanding a ceasefire by Israel to prevent further death.
Really? I recommend that proponents of a ceasefire do a little thought experiment: What if Israel had a nation of Nazis on its border? Yes, those Nazis. The ones who killed 6 million Jews during World War II, and who moreover enjoyed torturing Jews, performing savage experiments on them, and treating them like chattel.
Suppose tens of thousands of Nazis had escaped from Germany and established a refuge for German citizens in the Middle East under the protection of the United Nations. Now suppose that after 15 or 20 years of bordering Israel, this Nazi settlement, this alternate Gaza, had engaged in the kind of behavior that Nazis were known for – attacking Israel just for the sheer fun of killing and torturing Jews, including women, children, babies, and even survivors of the Holocaust.
Suppose they did exactly the kinds of things that the Hamas Palestinians had done? Beheading babies, burning mothers, raping women and then killing them for fun. Videotaping it all for their own amusement and to share with the regular German refugees they had left behind in Gaza, so that they could be lauded as heroes. Heroes who didn’t know the value of human life and taught their children that Jews were not human anyway.
Now suppose further that the Israeli government vowed in response that it would attack the Gaza refuge and would eliminate all the Nazis who had participated in the terroristic orgy of violence. Knowing what you know of the Nazi hatred of Jews, who would dare to deny the Jewish people of Israel the right to defend themselves and to protect their people by destroying the attackers. Remember the “Never Again” slogan that Jews chanted after the Holocaust? Well, Never Again just happened, and it doesn’t matter if the Nazis were wearing swastikas or a keffiyeh, the Arab headdress.
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu raised the same specter of the return of Nazis when he spoke to Dana Bash on CNN’s “State of the Union” about why a ceasefire was impossible:
Look, these savages, they perpetrated the worst horrors on Jews since the Holocaust. The German chancellor, Scholz, called them the new Nazis. Well, look at the old Nazis. The Allies were attacked by Hitler, and so they invaded France and then Germany. And when they did that, they went into the cities. They had to fight the German army that was often embedded in … in the cities… in civilian neighborhoods. And many civilians were killed.
So, who was the blame laid on? Did they say, well … the Allies are wrong, the Allies should stop fighting? Or they said, look, use forces judiciously as you can, but don’t give the Nazis any refuge, defeat the Nazis, which is what we’re doing. … We’re using force in the most judicious way, but we have to defeat these new Nazis. And we will, for our sake, for your sake too.
So, you see, it is not a thought experiment. It is reality. Israel faces a real existential threat, not the fake ones like climate change that American politicians like to tout.
The double standard to which the Jewish state is being held is infuriating. Sometimes war can only be ended by the use of what is called “Total War,” the willingness to inflict an unacceptable level of loss on the enemy. That was the justification for the United States to drop not one but two atomic bombs on Japan to end World War II, killing more than 100,000 innocent civilians. It was the same strategy, if not the same weapon employed in the firebombing of Tokyo and in Germany in Berlin and Dresden. Those weapons did not distinguish between civilians and military personnel.
If we are being honest, the Israel Defense Forces have gone out of their way to behave judiciously against an enemy that has sworn a blood oath against the Jewish state. They drop leaflets to warn the population where strikes will be coming next. They have created safe zones for refugees to travel away from the fighting, and they deliver small explosive strikes as warnings on the roofs of buildings they intend to demolish in the next hour or two. Most recently they attempted to deliver fuel to a hospital under siege, but Hamas would not accept it.
Despite the cynical assertions that Israel is engaged in “genocide” (the stated goal, by the way of Hamas), Israel is doing the opposite. Let’s face it, the Israeli military could have pulverized the entire Gaza settlement immediately after the Oct. 7 attacks, but did not. That is partly because of the hundreds of hostages believed to be held in the tunnel network under Gaza, but also because the Jewish people are not barbarians. The same cannot be said of Hamas, and that’s why the IDF must not stop until the last Hamas terrorist is dead. Whatever it takes.
Frank Miele, the retired editor of the Daily Inter Lake in Kalispell, Mont., is a columnist for RealClearPolitics. His newest book, “What Matters Most: God, Country, Family and Friends,” is available from his Amazon author page. Visit him at HeartlandDiaryUSA.com or follow him on Facebook @HeartlandDiaryUSA or on Twitter or Gettr @HeartlandDiary.
This article was originally published by RealClearPolitics and made available via RealClearWire.