Peter King

Why is Israel urged not to ‘overreact’ against Hamas?


If ever there were a just war, it is Israel’s war against Hamas. If ever there were a war in which there is no moral equivalence, it is Israel’s war against Hamas. If ever there were a war with potential regional and global implications, it is Israel’s war against Hamas.
That’s why I believe it is disgraceful and indefensible for so many in the media, in academia and in political circles to be suggesting, and acting as if, there were “two sides” to this war. As if Israel has to defend its military action, and somehow it is the Palestinians in Gaza who are victims.
The war began when Hamas launched a terrorist attack targeting Israel’s most innocent noncombatants, murdering children, women and the elderly, killing 1,400 Israelis and taking more than 200 hostages. These noncombatants were not “collateral damage.” They were Hamas’ intended victims. This was the ultimate in depraved terrorism. Israel has not only the legal and moral right to retaliate against Hamas, but the moral obligation to defend its citizens by doing all it can to destroy Hamas.
Yet with each passing day, we see media commentators, student demonstrators and morally challenged politicians such as U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, of Michigan, anguishing over the plight of the Palestinians and the concern that Israel will “overreact” to a terrorist attack that resulted in the equivalent of 40,000 dead in the United States. Most shockingly, we saw the same cast of characters accept Hamas’ unsubstantiated claim that an Israeli rocket had destroyed a hospital in Gaza, causing more than 500 innocent fatalities.
Some Americans are calling for a ceasefire. Unfortunately, President Biden added to the moral and strategic confusion when, during his meeting in Israel with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he referred to Hamas as the “other team” and cautioned Israel against overreacting.

What has happened to our ability as a people to make moral distinctions and judgments and recognize the difference between good and evil, victim and assailant?
Would anyone have suggested in the days following the attack on Pearl Harbor that President Franklin D. Roosevelt call for a ceasefire with Japan, or that he and Gen. Douglas MacArthur assure the world that the United States would not overreact? Would FDR, then Gen. Dwight Eisenhower and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill have been called on to ensure that they would observe the rules of war in combating Hitler?
Would the media have felt obligated to give “both sides” of the story? To give equal time to Hitler and Japanese Emperor Hirohito? Would any American, let alone the president, have referred to Nazis or the Gestapo as the “other team”? Would the media have gone through the streets of Dresden, Hamburg or Berlin looking for civilian casualties, or taking at face value Nazi claims of American war crimes?
The reality is that there will always be unintended civilian casualties in any war. This will be especially true in any war with Hamas, which intentionally locates its fighters, rockets and artillery in densely populated civilian areas. Unlike Hamas, Israel will make every effort to avoid civilian deaths, and certainly won’t target noncombatants.
Waging war against Hamas goes far beyond retaliation or revenge. Hamas must, to the greatest extent possible, be annihilated, to prevent future attacks on Israel’s citizens. Hamas is also a proxy for Iran, which is the largest state sponsor of terror in the world and an ever-growing military — and soon to be nuclear — threat to the region and the world. Hezbollah, headquartered just north of Israel in Lebanon, possesses over 100,000 rockets, and is also a wholly owned subsidiary of Iran.
Israel is our strongest ally and the only democracy in the Middle East, the most volatile region in the world. This current war is not a battle for turf or bragging rights. It is a struggle that Israel is waging for itself and for all civilized peoples. Israel deserves our full, unqualified support for its own success and security, and the future of the world as we know it.
It is also time for the United States to restore its sense of moral balance, and accept the reality that there can be no moral equivalence in this struggle between good and evil. Stand with Israel!

Peter King is a former congressman, and a former chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security. Comments?