Israel’s Gaza war is self-defense, no apologies needed

Every liberal democrat knows that the moral imperative when fighting a just war is to save yourself, your comrades, and your country

On my first American speaking tour since October 7, I apparently “ruffled some” students’ “feathers,” by refusing to apologize for Israel – or demand that Israel apologize for “killing 20,000 Palestinians.”

Frankly, my unapologetic stance thrilled other students, who crave a moral clarity about Israel missing on most campuses.

But wartime isn’t crowd-pleasing time. My position is clear. I’m sorry. I won’t apologize for Israel’s justified actions in self-defense.

Beware. Too many well-meaning people sloppily spout Hamas propaganda. Beyond unfairly counting natural deaths and Palestinians killed by Hamas misfires, Hamas inflates the “innocents” by at least 12,000 – the number of terrorists killed. Echoing Hamas’s statistics makes all Palestinians “innocent,” no matter how murderous, or deems the IDF the world’s worst army, only killing civilians, missing every terrorist.

Accuracy is essential in this propaganda war against an enemy that lies as shamelessly as it cowers behind civilians in “HaMosques” and “HaMospitals.” Boosting Israeli morale and demoralizing Hamas despite its bravado are central to Israel’s war effort and a critical arena where proud, unapologetic, pro-Israel activists can help.

Why should Israel apologize when Hamas still holds 134 hostages, when we’ve barely finished identifying Israelis burned to a crisp, when our sexually abused and maimed brothers and sisters are still adjusting to the wounds that will forever haunt them? Is anyone demanding Hamas apologize for the destruction it unleashed on October 7, or seeking apologies from Palestinians who joined and cheered? Hamas should apologize for blocking civilians from sheltering in even 10 miles (16 km.) of its tunnel maze.

Resist this perverse cycle of evil: Hamas attacks. Israel counterattacks justifiably. Hamas terrorists hide behind defenses they built by stealing humanitarian aid, exposing their women and children to make propaganda points – and the world buys it.

So, no, Israel should not apologize. Nor has Israel behaved in an “over-the-top” way or “dehumanized” Palestinians – as President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken unfairly charged. Judge Israel by American standards, not Hamas standards. As an American historian, I understand that war is hell: countries go violent when politics fails. The most pressing moral question is: “Is the war justified?” Every liberal democrat knows that the moral imperative when fighting a just war is to save yourself, your comrades, and your country.

True, as Zionists we try fighting as ethically as possible – to preserve the souls of our soldiers and our nation, not just to minimize civilian casualties. And we mourn the unfortunate deaths resulting from impossible choices Hamas foisted upon us. I, for one, am proud of how effectively and carefully Israel has defended itself.

As vice president, Biden didn’t call America’s bloody fight against ISIS “over-the-top.” Both Blinken and Biden supported the Iraq War, and the other post-9/11 wars which killed over 400,000 civilians. I wonder if either believes America “dehumanized” the Germans or the Japanese during World War II. While apologizing for interning Japanese-Americans during World War II, backing the 1893 Hawaiian coup, and enslaving African-Americans, America has never apologized for any disproportionate deaths in wartime.

Every day, Israel takes unprecedented measures to minimize civilian harm in Gaza. It uses less firepower than is optimal, distributes maps revealing its strategies, warns civilians to flee potential targets, and pauses occasionally so civilians (and Hamasniks in street clothes) can escape. Such self-imposed ethical constraints sacrifice surprise, risking Israeli soldiers’ lives.

“No military has ever implemented any of these practices in war before,” West Point’s urban warfare expert, John Spencer, explained in Newsweek.

Photo: Haim Zach, GPO

“No military in modern history has faced over 30,000 urban defenders in more than seven cities using human shields and hiding in hundreds of miles of underground networks purposely built under civilian sites, while holding hundreds of hostages. The sole reason for civilian deaths in Gaza is Hamas. For Israel’s part, it’s taken more care to prevent them than any other army in human history.”

Apparently, I missed the graduate school lectures describing the times America stopped short of winning to please an ally or provided humanitarian aid during wartime – for the enemy to steal.

When rampaging through the Supernova music festival, Hamas kidnapped 22-year-old Omer Weinkert, who suffers from colitis. Shai, his father, wonders why his own Israeli government supplies 100 trucks’ worth of aid daily to Omer’s captors and the so-called “innocents” who would rip his son to shreds – while Omer suffers.

“If we continue to feed the lion, what’s the reason for it to stop?” Shai asks. “Release the hostages and receive the aid; otherwise, it should stop.”

ONLY HILLARY CLINTON has taken responsibility for America’s role in the Hamas buildup and the American “concept” that Hamas is pragmatic. She admitted that on October 6 there was yet another internationally imposed ceasefire – and Hamas broke it, again. Her honesty acknowledges the impossible choices Israel faces.

During the 2014 Israel-Gaza war, the great peacenik, Amos Oz, asked a skeptic: “What would you do if your neighbor across the street sat down on the balcony, put his little boy on his lap, and started shooting machine-gun fire into your nursery?”

In America, I met many smart, caring people. No one effectively answered Oz’s now updated question, “What else would you have Israel do after October 7?” Nor could they convince me why Israel shouldn’t crush Hamas in Rafah. And no well-meaning peaceniks, who had long demanded Israeli ceasefires, apologies, and concessions, acknowledged their faith in the “concept” that prompted this massacre.

Why aren’t they – and the guilty Palestinians – apologizing?

Published by Jerusalem Post