For you [Israel] are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.” (Deuteronomy 7:6).
I have been quite taken aback by what I have seen this week. I think many of us have had difficulty processing it.
The massacre at the music festival alone is sufficiently chilling and gut-wrenching. It is estimated that a few thousand young people were observing the end of the Jewish holiday season at the Tribe of Nova music festival, which quickly became the location of the worst mass slaughter of Jews since the Holocaust.
Some have reported seeing parachutes dropping from the sky while the parachutists were apparently filming the festival attendees on their phones. Truckloads of armed men soon arrived, and the killing began as the panicked crowd attempted to escape. “Those who tried to reach their cars to escape were slaughtered as the Hamas killers waited at the exits. In one festival tent, bodies of the murdered lay piled together where they’d been shot en masse, like the scenes of Jews shot and dumped into ditches in World War II.” (Wall Street Journal, Oct 10, 2023).
260 bodies have been found so far. This is to say nothing of the raping and killing that has occurred elsewhere.
This hatred for the Jews is eternal. Many of Israel’s Arab neighbors call for, in their nations’ founding charters, the literal annihilation of Israel. I’m not suggesting the Palestinian issue is not complicated, it is. I’m saying Israel is regularly attacked and when it responds—with Palestinian women and children intentionally and strategically placed to be killed during the response—Israel is accused of being a butcher.
While this murderous brutality is evil it has a clear strategic purpose. As the Wall Street Journal has stated:
“As this war escalates, it is important to understand that the savagery is essential to Hamas’s goals. Their wanton bloodlust is designed to work twice over. They murder, rape and mutilate Israelis, knowing that in its response Israel will wreak havoc on Palestinians. Israel, unlike its enemies, will do what it can to avoid punishing the innocent. But innocents will suffer, because Hamas has positioned them precisely for this purpose. The terrorists’ objective is truly indiscriminate destruction. For them a dead Jew is a bonus, but a dead Palestinian is a trophy they can parade before credulous Western media to convey some supposed moral equivalence between their depravity and the actions of a beleaguered nation seeking to preserve its very existence.” (G. Baker, WSJ, 10/o9/23).
Israel is a very small country (9.3 million) and is not going to be able to any longer risk danger from Hamas or other terror groups with Gaza and Palestine so close to it. Over the decades, the Palestinians have had many opportunities to make peace, through Yassar Arafat and others, but don’t really seek it. However, as Golda Meir has observed, “you cannot negotiate with someone who has come to kill you.”
I have heard calls for “peace in the Middle East” but what would that look like when your enemy despises—and wishes to end— your very existence. As Benjamin Netanyahu has said “if Israel’s enemies laid down their weapons, there would be no more war. If Israel laid down its weapons, there would be no more Israel. “
Why is this occurring now?
It’s really a mystery why Hamas would do what it did last Saturday. It must have known that sending terrorists to kill civilians would provoke complete and total destruction of the Gaza strip by Israel. Perhaps Iran—upon whose funding Hamas relies—promised Hamas it would hit Jerusalem with a nuke. Maybe Hamas thinks it can hide behind hostages or that forcing Israel into a 2 or 3 front war provides the best chance to destroy it. Whatever the case, I think it miscalculated because even the doddering, feckless Biden would likely be willing to blast Gaza with the U.S Navy, to say nothing of the American war supplies we are already providing to Israel.
I see no outcome in which Israel is annihilated or Gaza comes out as anything but a pile of rubble—a parking lot. Israel can simply no longer risk not having total control of this physical buffer zone area around its nation. In the meantime, it needs our prayers.