The toll on civilian bystanders in Gaza shocks the conscience, so the heart cries out for it.
My heart cries out for it.
And, yet, my head also cries out: What is the alternative?
Because, in the absence of an alternative, a demand for a unilateral and permanent cease-fire is, in effect, a demand for preservation of the status quo.
And the status quo is unacceptable!
The status quo is more October 7ths — or worse — again and again and on into the indefinite future. Israel cannot and will not accept living with such a continuing threat. Nor should it be expected to. No rational and moral government could.
So, to all those demanding an Israeli cease-fire: where are your corresponding demands on Hamas? Have I missed them? Where are the calls for Hamas to:
- Stop their ongoing war-crimes by immediately and unconditionally releasing all the hostages they are holding?
- Stop their ongoing war-crimes by immediately and unconditionally disentangling their military forces and equipment from the civilian populations and sanctuaries they are using as human shields?
- Surrender the war criminals who planned and carried out the rape, maiming, and butchering of civilians in an unprovoked attack to face justice, either in the Israeli courts or at the Hague?
- Turn control of governance in Gaza over to some organization whose goal is the well-being of the Gazan people rather than conquest and destruction of a neighboring country and its citizens?
And how do you plan to make sure all those things happen? I suspect asking nicely won’t be quite enough…
Yes, I want Israel to stop waging war on Gazans. But…I also want Hamas to stop waging war on Israel! And, when it comes down to it, the reality is that Hamas will never do that. As long as they are left in charge in Gaza, the status quo — constant low-level warfare occasionally erupting into high-level warfare — is going to continue on and on and into the indefinite future.