I've found myself - yet again - nonplussed at the outpouring of emotion over the situation in Gaza. All over the world Israel is being condemned for defending itself against terrorist attacks, which aren't even mentioned by most of its critics. At the same time, many of those defending Israel are ignoring the fact that Palestinians have a legitimate grievance against being dispossessed of lands that were theirs and being treated like dirt by the 'occupiers'.
The situation is not dissimilar to that faced by many people in South Africa under the iniquitous policies of apartheid. Those opposed to apartheid (including myself) regarded it as one of the most evil systems of government since Nazi Germany; but while some argued that violence was acceptable to overthrow it, others (again including myself) believed that "two wrongs don't make one right", and that violence inevitably would backfire against those it sought to help. That was why I had no moral objection to serving in the South African armed forces against terrorism, because the terrorists were worse than the system of government they sought to overthrow. I've spoken of their tactics elsewhere.
One can condemn Israel's continued occupation of Palestinian lands, and its mistreatment of the Palestinian people. Those are undeniable realities that no objective observer can ignore. However, that same objective observer must acknowledge that the terrorism employed against Israel by Hamas and its fellow travelers is an evil far greater than occupation or mistreatment. The terrorists seek to destroy innocent civilians, to terrorize - literally - an entire people. They know only the politics and the rhetoric of hatred and religious-extremist nihilism. They have got to be stopped, because they're worse than the problem they allegedly want to resolve. Consider:
- Hamas deliberately conceals its weapons in and launches them from civilian sites, including hospitals, schools and residential buildings, knowing that Israeli retaliation will cause civilian casualties that they can exploit for propaganda purposes.
- Hamas deliberately brainwashes its children to become murderers, suicide bombers and 'martyrs', as evidenced by their own TV programs.
It's a moral quandary that in the end has only one practical, feasible answer. The worst evil must be confronted and defeated before the lesser evil can be addressed. That means that the cancer of terrorism must be rooted out and eradicated before issues of occupation and subjugation can be given the attention they require. To do it the other way around is to place human life at a lower level than political correctness . . . and Israel has every right to reject that position with all the contempt it deserves. This is the ultimate failure of the argument that "the end justifies the means". When those means are terror and indiscriminate murder, which Hamas has employed against Israel, they cannot possibly serve any good 'end' or objective; and when one side is consistently guilty of employing such tactics first, then decrying the enemy's use of retaliatory tactics, there's not much room left to doubt who's the most guilty party.
I don't believe for a moment that Israel is blameless in this fight; but I believe it has more right on its side in the present impasse than does Hamas. The latter is using terrorism as a normal modus operandi; the former is trying to oppose it. The facts speak for themselves.