This opinion piece was submitted to the Union Tribune on July 28, 2014
War is awful. It is terrifying. Innocent people are killed. The trauma inflicted on the soldiers, civilians, and children is worse than tragic, worse than deplorable. The ongoing violence in Gaza is no different; but this conflict brings an unprecedented real-time visual to the violence. Every minute of every day we see pictures of grieving mothers on the front pages of our newspapers, on our televisions and in our social media feeds. We’re seeing the heartbreaking pictures of slain civilians in real time - and they fit right into Hamas’ plan. Sadly, this cynical plan seems to be working.
Hamas knows that they can’t win this fight. Nonetheless, they know that every dead civilian gives them another number to share on social media. In fact, they wrote guidelines for it. The media is there, hungry for the next headline depicting the “massacre”, condemning Israel and undermining its right to defend itself. The hashtag #GazaUnderAttack has had 5.6 million mentions since July 1. #IsraelUnderFire? Just 28,000. The strategy is working, and we’re seeing a shift of international opinion moving away from Israel’s favor.
It weighs on us all. The UN is responding with condemnations for war crimes. Winning the international PR war is the best Hamas could hope to achieve. In reality, more than 70% of Gazans are reported to reject Hamas’ vile tactics and despicable message and, like most people of the world, want to raise their children and live peacefully. They, like us and the rest of the civilized world, want this to end.
Last Wednesday, Hamas’ exiled leader, Khaled Meshaal, rejected a second ceasefire by saying "We reject today and will reject in the future." He then went on to reiterate Hamas' commitment to "continue kidnapping Israeli soldiers" in order to barter for terrorists in Israeli prisons, much as they bartered for Gilad Shalit, who was eventually traded for 1,000 Palestinian prisoners after being held for five years after being kidnapped from a terrorist tunnel operation.
Hamas is an internationally recognized terrorist organization. Their charter calls for the eradication of the Jewish people and the ultimate destruction of the Jewish state. They do not want a ceasefire, they do not want peace for Palestinians; they want a body count. In fact, they assure it. They actively launch rockets from Palestinian hospitals and mosques, ruthlessly use their citizenry as human shields, hide their weapons in UN schools, and invest no money in sirens and shelters. This tragic context is rarely mentioned in coverage of the conflict. Further, Hamas has continually stated that it is ready to fight, no matter what the cost to the people of Gaza.
True to our Jewish values which sanctify all human life, Israel provides food, water and humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza, while its government kills Israelis. There is little reporting of Israeli