On October 7, 2023, Israel suffered a terrorist attack that took an estimated 1,200 lives, the vast majority of whom were civilian victims of Palestinian thugs who streamed out of the Gaza Strip into southern Israel on the ground and from the air to butcher all in their path. Victims included women, children, and even babies.
Warfare in the age of social media comes to our screens in real-time and what you see cannot be unseen. Unfortunately, social media is a cesspool when it comes to any discussion of such issues. After participating against my better judgment, I decided to step back and put my thoughts about these events into a brief article.
Israel is a country of nine million inhabitants with Jews accounting for approximately three-quarters of the population. It is not hyperbole to compare October 7, 2023 to September 11, 2001. Fewer civilians were killed in the recent atrocities, at least so far, but a far larger percentage of Israel’s population was taken. In both cases, the attacks were atrocious, but the September 11 hijackers killed most of their victims from afar. The butchers of October 7 did their deeds up close, no doubt looking into the eyes of the victims they raped, tortured, beheaded, and paraded in front of cameras.
The Hamas terrorists did not attempt to hide their war crimes. Indeed, they are proud of their crimes and want the entire world to see it and hope it inspires fellow travelers both inside and outside Israel to commit similar atrocities against Jews.
History did not begin on October 7, 2023. There’s a long history of war and animosity between Israelis and Palestinians dating back to Israel’s independence in 1948. Like many Americans, especially those with family ties to Israel, I have read about the country’s history and the conflicts. Reasonable people can disagree about the overall Israeli/Palestinian conflict, where the peace process went astray, and who is most to blame. However, no grievance can possibly justify what took place on October 7, at least not among those who consider themselves civilized human beings.
War is an inevitable part of the human condition. It always has been, and I believe it always will be. The price is too often paid by civilians who find themselves in harm’s way. Civilized societies make good faith attempts to minimize civilian casualties. Barbaric societies are indifferent to civilian casualties. Terrorist societies seek to maximize civilian casualties.
Hamas, and all those who support and incite it both within the Gaza Strip and elsewhere, fall squarely in the category of terrorists and should be treated as such.
In the aftermath of the attacks, various far-left political organizations in the United States felt that it was appropriate to give an unqualified endorsement to Hamas. This includes multiple student groups at Harvard, Tufts, and other prestigious universities as well as so-called “social justice” organizations. It is impossible to not see the underlying antisemitism of many of these groups. No matter what their thoughts might be on the Israeli/Palestinian situation, they had full knowledge of the atrocities committed on October 7 and freely chose to align themselves with terrorists.
Many are now trying to walk back their comments, but the internet never forgets.
I often think about how an advanced society such as Germany in the 1920s and 1930s could have supported the extermination of millions of people. The “slippery slope” analogy is overused, but the reality is that acceptance of genocide is a progression from soft bigotry to explicit bigotry to vilification to persecution to pogroms, and eventually to the “final solution” of men like Adolf Hitler. When you see your society start down such a slippery slope, it is the duty of all citizens to call it out forcefully.
I have a special responsibility to speak out on this topic given that one side of my family were victims of the Nazis. I would not be typing these words today if my mother’s family had not found a way to get the forged papers required to escape from the Nazis in 1940. After years as refugees very far from home, they eventually returned only to find the evils of communism and, finally, sought refuge in Israel. So, this is personal for me in many ways, but even if I had no such ties, as an American there is a duty to use one’s platform to speak out against outright evil.
Perhaps some readers feel that this brief article is venturing “outside my lane”, but I alone get to decide what my “lane” is.
I have typically avoided political topics except those directly related to business and investing and I have no intention of writing on foreign policy on a frequent basis. However, there are times when it is not only appropriate but necessary.
Thanks for reading.
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