16 Oct The Struggle in Israel Is Real
In both Israel and Palestinian Gaza, people have been, are being, and will be hurt and killed. One American tendency is to react by saying that because the Hamas attack from Gaza into nearby Israeli towns “started” this conflict, all Palestinians (or, at least those in Gaza) “deserve” whatever retaliation Israel decides to carry out. Another tendency is to deflect blame back on Israel because of its past “wrongs” in Palestine.
Both reactions are overly hasty and could be misguided.
America is a country of laws and – of nearly equal importance, this blog thinks – a country of principles. If we are not going to apply principles in discerning America’s response to a tragic situation like the one in Israel today, then those principles are not of much use.
Principles May Lead to No Mas Hamas
One threshold principle for analysis and decision making is understanding: we must seek first to understand the situation. In search of understanding, this blog will begin with a very brief overview of the four-millennia-old underlying dispute over Palestine.
In the beginning, God created the earth. Later, he promised a man named Abraham a certain area of the world on which to build a great nation of Jewish people, who would worship God there. After eventually being led to that land by a man named Moses, the Jews settled in, but their time in the promised land did not last and they were disbursed throughout the globe. Fast forwarding to the 1900s, those scattered Jews were persecuted severely, most notably by Adolph Hitler. In 1948, after Hitler had been defeated in World War II, the current nation of Israel was created, and Jews returned to that land, which was called Palestine. The non-Jewish Palestinian people for many centuries had believed that land to be theirs, however, not something called “Israel” belonging to any type of Jewish nation. Through a series of wars, the Palestinian people found themselves relegated to two parcels within the boundaries of Israel, which today are known as the West Bank (an area west of the Jordan river) and the Gaza Strip (on the Mediterranean Coast just north of Egypt).
Hamas is a self-proclaimed Islamic resistance organization, which, through Palestinian infighting, in 2007 won control of Gaza and its two million residents. Those residents all live in an area less than one-fourth the size of an average county in Iowa or Minnesota. No doubt egged on and helped by Israel’s sworn enemy, Iran, on October 7, 2023, Hamas evilly committed horrific acts of terrorism in Israel, killing 1,400, mostly civilians.
With that understanding, we turn to the leadership principles of integrity, dignity, respect, and peace to determine how America’s politicians should view Israel’s reaction to the Hamas terrorist attack.
Peace is the most relevant principle in this situation. But that does not mean the United States should discourage Israel’s announced plans to completely eradicate Hamas. If crushing Hamas will bring respect to Israel throughout the Arab and Muslim world, then doings so will promote peace. The elimination of Hamas certainly should at least temporarily end any ongoing strife between Israel and innocent Palestinian civilians.
Gazing Beyond Gaza
In addition, American politicians should speak and act according to principles of integrity and dignity, rather than exploiting the current tragedy for partisan gains. All must refrain especially from the blame game and the rehashing of old political grievances. If necessary and in line with the principles of limited government and protecting the vulnerable, America should provide military support for Israel.
A final point is that American politicians who oppose assisting Ukraine’s war effort should not try to manufacture a false choice between American support for Israel or American support for Ukraine. Much like what happened in Ukraine last year, America’s Middle Eastern friend now has been attacked by our friend’s ancient foe, and there are many similarities in the conflicts. Just as the war in Ukraine involves hostages, civilians, democracy, nuclear fears, and long-standing religious power struggles, the running Palestine-Israel disaster includes all of the same elements. Both also are disputes about who rightfully controls land and governs people.
If American funding, weapons, and intelligence are needed to defend both of our allies and promote peace in both places, we have ample resources to do so.
Written by Quentin R. Wittrock, founder of Principle Based Politics.
Look for his posts each week, as this blog will explore and promote the idea of principle in politics, both as to individual elected leaders and our federal government as an institution.