By Harry Ben-Zvi and Gidon Ben-Zvi
By accepting a cease-fire with Hamas, Israel’s leaders have revoked Israeli citizens’ inalienable right to live free within secure borders. Choosing shame over victory, the government in Jerusalem has allowed the terrorist group ruling Gaza to dictate the timing and terms of the 12th cease-fire agreement in less than two months.
This sad state of affairs is the result of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s acceptance of the inevitability of Hamas rule over Gaza. In response, the Israeli electorate is rapidly abandoning their elected leader: from a high of 82 percent, Netanyahu’s approval rating has plummeted to 38 percent in less than a month.
Israelis of every political persuasion, age, gender, religious stream and socio-economic strata have come to realize an essential truth: Israel can defeat Hamas and Islamic Jihad by temporarily occupying the Gaza Strip and demilitarizing these and other terrorist groups.
Similar to the U.S. handling of a defeated Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, quiet borders tomorrow are predicated on a focused, aggressive and comprehensive Israeli military campaign inside Gaza today.
Much like other terrorist outfits, including Peru’s Shining Path and Sri Lanka’s Tamille Tigers, the government in Jerusalem can end Hamas’ genocidal reign within a relatively brief period.
First, Israel’s leaders need to redefine the benchmark for victory.
The destruction of 31 terror tunnels is not a victory. Neither is the bombing of approximately 5,000 terrorist sites across the Gaza Strip. Killing a few Hamas head honchos has done little more than provide laudatory headlines for pro-government Israeli news outlets to print.
All these much-touted successes are little more than the means to what has not yet been defined as the end: safeguarding Israel’s historic and human right to live as a sovereign country among the family of nations.
Israeli leadership has first procrastinated and then reluctantly approved measured, restrained operations against an enemy committed to a total war of extermination.
This latest cease-fire will do little more than preserve Hamas’ self-proclaimed right to threaten every Israeli man, woman and child with rocket fire as it sees fit.
Interestingly, Israel’s most eloquent defenders and harshest critics share one fundamental belief about the country: the Jewish nation is unlike any other.
Prime Minister Netanyahu is acting out of fear that if Hamas is eliminated, the world will turn against Israel, turning the Jewish state into an international pariah.
Yet Netanyahu and his supporters seem to have forgotten the most basic lesson of contemporary Jewish history: Israel’s national aspiration has never been to be merely tolerated by the international community, but to plant the tree of liberty in the heart of the most despotic region on earth.
Let an impotent United States, certain European governments and of course the United Nations obsess over maintaining geopolitical stability.
Israel is the first and possibly last great hope for democracy in the Middle East. As such, the Jewish state must aspire to more than just exist. Israeli leaders are charged with a sacred duty: to provide for the well-being, individuality and happiness of every citizen.
How does a cease-fire with 15,000 well-financed fanatics do that?
View other essays by Gidon Ben-Zvi that have appeared in the Algemeiner here.