The pro-Palestinian left in America is engaged in a subtle but relentless campaign to claim a moral equivalence between Hamas and Israel. Listeners to American Radio Journal should see it for what it is: propaganda. And like all propaganda, it is deceitful to the core.
There is a simple way to examine the horrors of war, and they occur on all sides in all conflicts, and differentiate between the parties morally. The key element is stated intention. Hamas intends to kill as many Israelis as possible, without regard to whether or not they are combatants. The stated objective of Hamas is clearly expressed in its charter: that the territory between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River is by divine right Palestinian, and it accepts no coexistence with Israel, no two-state solution. An earlier version of the Hamas charter is more specific about removing all Jews from that area, by any and all means, including genocidal extermination. In that shocking view, there’s no meaningful distinction between killing Israeli armed forces and killing Israeli babies. Therefore, the stated intention of Hamas is genocide, and genocide must be condemned. That does not mean that Israel cannot be criticized for excessive use of force, negligence in not trying to minimize civilian casualties, inhumanely cutting off food and water, and so on – but as odious as those potential acts may be, they are in no sense comparable to genocide.
Israel’s stated intention is defense, not offense. Israel’s rockets, missiles, artillery barrages, airstrikes and ground assaults are all targeted. Sometimes the targeting is wrong, or doesn’t work properly and collateral damage and deaths occur, but not because innocent victims were targeted. Hamas’s stated intention, on the other hand, is total annihilation of Israel, and establishment of a Palestinian state in its place, occupying all the land that now comprises Israel, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. It doesn’t matter to Hamas where the rockets land or whom they kill. Similarly, Hamas’ use of their own people as human shields is immoral.
Tens of thousands of rockets fired so far by Hamas are in one important aspect different from Israel’s munitions: they are untargeted. The difference between targeted and untargeted weapons may seem technical and even trivial to the average person, but from a moral standpoint, it is significant.
The American left is largely supportive of the Palestinian people, and thus inescapably supportive of Hamas. This past weekend, the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania debated a resolution condemning, quote, “Israel’s entrenched discriminatory rule over Palestinians” .. [that] “amounts to the international wrong of apartheid.” Unquote. The resolution is silent on the matter of Hamas’ brutal and inhumane attacks on Israel or their ultimate genocidal intent. The resolution was defeated, but only narrowly. The very facts that it was first conceived and then formally qualified for the agenda are outrageous and telling. Many people in the leadership of that church, which happens to be my own, serve as an example of how close to de facto support of genocide that Christian body has drifted.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that “hundreds of students at Philadelphia’s three largest universities protested in solidarity with Palestinian people in the war-torn Gaza Strip on Wednesday, … part of a groundswell of walkouts at campuses nationwide … over how the academic institutions align themselves in the … conflict.” Penn students were shown in a video to chant, “Israel you cannot hide, we charge you with genocide.”
The term genocide is not one to be thrown around loosely. It is a serious term, one with great moral significance. Israel’s treatment of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank may be subject to criticism as harsh, but it is not genocide. Hamas’s strike on Israel and the long-term strategic goals of Hamas and Hezbollah fit the definition of genocide precisely. There is no moral equivalence between harshness and genocide. Listeners to American Radio Journal know that, and we must be bold in objecting anytime the moral equivalence argument is floated.
(Colin Hanna is President of Let Freedom Ring, USA)