Viewpoint: War can only end with Netanyahu, Hamas gone

Viewpoint: War can only end with Netanyahu, Hamas gone
Karen Rubin, Columnist

I had little sympathy for Gazans after the Oct. 7  massacre of 1,400 Israelis by Hamas, the equivalent of 10 Sept. 11ths given Israel’s tiny population.

Gazans were complicit, for decades celebrating murderous terrorists as heroes after every atrocity, which seemed timed for whenever Israel got close to negotiating actual peace which would have relieved the very occupation they despise but unifies them in hate.

The latest, most horrendous, evil attack on Oct. 7was timed to disrupt normalization of relations with Saudi Arabia.

But now, I also blame Netanyahu – for the decades of policy that was designed to make a peace agreement impossible in order to keep his own power and empower an increasingly right-wing government.

Since 2016, when he was desperate to stay in power in order to stay out of prison, his actions to neuter Israel’s judiciary and end the rule of law, prompted months and months of protests and resignations from the military and government leadership.

Then in order to cement his own power, he surrounded himself with loyalists, sycophants and lackeys instead of competent leaders, diverted attention and propped up a false sense of security that left Israel vulnerable and exposed, as apparently its own military and security warned but who were ignored. (See New York Times: How Years of Israeli Failures on Hamas Led to a Devastating Attack)

Most of all, Netanyahu should be blamed for squandering the goodwill of the international community and (again) turning Israel into the face of evil, providing the excuse and fuel for rising anti-Israel, antisemitic attacks in the United States and around the world.

But each time the Gazans, 1.1 million of them shoved south where Israel told them to go to be “safe,” plead for Israel to restore electricity and water, Israel should say: Return the 220 hostages and electricity and water will be restored.

The onus should be on Hamas to reinforce the fact that every day this terror group dedicated solely to the annihilation of Israel and Jews fails to return the hostages, it is Hamas, not Israel, that is causing the suffering of the so-called “innocent” Gazans.

Each time they plead for Israel to stop the bombardment, Israel should say: When Hamas lays down its arms, stops firing its rockets, and agrees to a new government, we will stop the bombardment.

Each time they blame Israel for bombing their apartments, hospitals and mosques, they should remind that Hamas has built its terror infrastructure under those structures – Hamas boasts 300 miles of tunnels (half the length of the NYC subway system) built with concrete and steel funded by diverting the aid that should have built solar energy farms, desalinization plants and a vibrant, productive middle-class, instead of an impoverished society dependent upon 400 trucks each day delivering humanitarian aid.

How is Hamas able to amass tens of thousands of rockets but not able to get food, water and medicine through those channels? It is Hamas who has oppressed the Gazans and by extension the Palestinians on the West Bank who have been denied their own state, not Israel which (reminder) unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005, forcibly removing its own settlers.  So much for “land for peace.” So much for a wall.

And so much for prisoner exchanges: The mastermind of the Oct. 7 atrocity, the worst single-day massacre of Jews since the Holocaust that had been in the planning for a year, was one of 1,000 prisoners exchanged in 2006 for one Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, held by Hamas for five years.

But as much as Hamas has used and fueled hate-filled tension that has resulted after every terror attack in order to preserve its own power (and profit), Netanyahu has done everything possible to stoke that tension to take any two-state solution off the table,  put peace out of reach and keep his far-right government in power.

He “tolerated” Hamas while their attacks were considered “manageable,” because he could claim Israel did not have a credible partner to negotiate a secure peace with. Hamas’ declared mission is to annihilate Israel and all Jews – there is no interest in peaceful coexistence but to take it all.

Of course, Hamas and the Palestinians have benefitted from sophisticated agitprop, disinformation, and propaganda campaigns.

But even stripping away the lies and disinformation, such as Israel bombed the al-Ahli Baptist Hospital (it was an errant bomb from Palestine Islamic Jihad), the beleaguered nation faced an international surge in anti-Israel, antisemitic attacks and the humanitarian crsis in Gaza’s south that undermines Israel’s position.

These forces have literally pushed Israel off the high road of justifiable self-defense.

It would seem that Hamas’ savagery was aimed at deliberately provoking an over-reaction from Israel in order to incite the “Arab Street” – the masses of people – against the rulers of Jordan, Egypt and the Abraham Accords’ signatories – United Arab Emirates, Morocco, Sudan, Bahrain, and now Saudi Arabia – from daring to support Israel.

And Iran (which finances Hamas and Hezbollah) and Russia (increasingly dependent upon Iran’s support in its brutal war to destroy Ukraine) are celebrating.

Meanwhile, the far-left Democrats (Justice Democrats, Socialist Democrats of America), which have long supported Palestinians against Israel (piggybacking anti-Zionism with antisemitism), are jeopardizing support for Israel in Congress and even threaten President Biden’s re-election by weakening support in key Electoral College states (Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin).

How happy will Putin and Xi be if Biden falls to Trump or, for that matter, any Republican. The absurdity (irony) is that Trump has pledged to renew his Muslim Ban.

At the same time, Republicans are capitalizing on Biden’s call for humanitarian aid and Israel’s restraint to energize their base.

But that’s the difference with a true leader who has a moral compass and convictions. If anyone can create the necessary coalition to replace Hamas in Gaza and the infrastructure for a two-state solution, it is Biden.

How does this end? Not by a brutal invasion, bombardment and unending occupation. Biden is correct to summon up the mistakes of Iraq and Afghanistan as reactions to the Sept. 11 terror attack.

Netanyahu (who should step down or be forced out for putting self-interest above Israel’s), should be replaced by a leadership that has the credibility, competence and desire to negotiate true peace with security.

Hamas must be replaced by a governing coalition led by Arab League nations.

And the Palestinians have to give up their deal-breaking demands for a unified Jerusalem in the Palestinian state and the Right of Return to Israel and agree to a truly secure peace.

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