Two centuries ago, the great German poet Goethe said: “The hardest thing to see is what is in front of your eyes.”
It’s as true today as it was then.
The difference between Hamas and Israel couldn’t be greater – yet you wouldn’t know it when listening to some observers.
For them – whether it’s Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan or Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström – it’s basically all about Gaza’s innocence and Israel’s guilt. With nothing else to do but consider how to provoke peaceful, serene, Hamas-ruled Gaza, the horrible Israelis have decided to make life difficult for local residents.
For a fair share of the media, this is above all a story of Palestinian suffering at the hands of Israel’s military machine. This is a perfect illustration of reverse causality. Hamas threatens and harasses Israel, but it is only Israel’s response that warrants close attention and scrutiny.
Indeed, Goethe was right. There are those who can’t, or won’t, see what’s right in front of them. Ideological blinkers get in the way. Or a failure of imagination about the true nature of Hamas. Or, in some cases, downright hostility to anything that Israel, the Jewish state, does.
It’s high time for moral clarity, not moral fog.
Hamas is a terrorist organisation. That’s its official designation by the United States, the European Union, Australia, Canada and others.
Israel is a democratic country with an independent judiciary, the rule of law, free and fair elections and a robust civil society.
Hamas is anti-Western, antisemitic, anti-gay, misogynist, and anti-intellectual.
Israel is the exact opposite.
Hamas has territorial ambitions on Israel. In fact, that’s putting it too mildly; it would like to replace Israel in its entirety with a Muslim Brotherhood-ruled state.
Israel has no territorial ambitions on Hamas-ruled Gaza. To the contrary, Israel left it totally 13 years ago, with the hope of never having to return.
Hamas has a vested interest in using its Gaza base for permanent confrontation with Israel.
Israel, which, alas, can’t change its geography, has a vested interest in a peaceful, moderate and developing state on its border.
Hamas, the sole ruler of Gaza since 2007, has used the past 11 years to smuggle in weaponry and develop its military, rather than building the foundation of a responsible state.
Knowing this arsenal has been stockpiled for the sole purpose of being used against it, Israel seeks, as any nation would, to prevent Hamas from attaining its lethal goal.
Hamas has no compunction about deploying terrorist cells and weapons in the midst of civilian population centres in Gaza, or, most recently, deploying people along the border and encouraging breaches, fully aware that Israel would have no choice but to appear to be targeting “innocent” people.
Israel goes to unprecedented lengths to avoid falling into the Hamas trap, even phoning and dropping leaflets in advance to warn civilians to leave target areas.
Hamas cynically tells the civilian population to stay put, not to react to Israeli warnings about imminent strikes. The more Palestinian casualties there are, the better, as far as Hamas is concerned – including women and children.
Israel makes every effort to alert its entire population – Jewish, Christian and Muslim – to Hamas missile strikes, and to move people into shelters as quickly as possible.
Hamas uses mosques for storing arms.
Israel uses houses of worship, including mosques, solely for prayer.
Hamas uses schools as weapons depots.
Israel uses schools solely to educate its children – Jewish, Christian and Muslim.
Hamas uses hospitals as terrorist redoubts.
Israel uses its hospitals solely to cure the ill and injured, including residents of Gaza who can’t find adequate care there.
Hamas aspires to kill as many Israelis as possible, firing rockets indiscriminately in all directions.
Israel seeks out only the Hamas terrorist infrastructure, and has aborted many operations when the risks of civilian casualties were too great.
Hamas wouldn’t know how to spell the words “international humanitarian law,” much less adhere to it.
Israel’s defence forces have specialists in international humanitarian law assigned to every unit, in an effort to ensure maximum compliance.
Hamas shouts from the rooftops that Israel is a brutal enemy.
Israel, unlike any other targeted nation in history, is actually providing – right now – most of Gaza’s electricity and much of its fuel and foodstuffs, even as Hamas leaders call for Israel’s annihilation and refer to Jews as targets to be exterminated.
Hamas celebrates death, something few people of good will can understand.
Israel celebrates life, something all people of good will should understand.
David Harris is the Chief Executive Officer of the American Jewish Committee. Reprinted from The Algemeiner © American Jewish Committee, reprinted by permission, all rights reserved.