It happens every single time Israel and Hamas go to war. We see the same arguments the instant Hamas’s rockets go up and the IDF’s bombs fall down. Immediately a great many of Israel’s critics latch on to two profoundly wrong narratives and then spread those wrong narratives far and wide, undermining the formal truths of an intractable conflict.
Those two wrongs are simple: 1) that Hamas is lashing out at Israel because it possesses “legitimate grievances” against Israel; and 2) that Israel’s response—in large part because it’s almost always deadlier than Hamas’s attack—is “disproportionate” to the threat and thus both illegal and immoral. Let’s deal with each in turn.
First, I want to be abundantly clear that I am not asserting that Palestinians do not possess legitimate grievances against Israel. Israel is not perfect, and its American allies and supporters should not pretend that it is. It is worth untangling and understanding, for example, the land dispute that’s triggered violence in East Jerusalem. It’s worth questioning Israeli settler policies and practices, and it’s worth asking whether the West Bank is now so carved up by Israeli settlements that it will be increasingly difficult to form a viable Palestinian nation as part of any permanent “two-state” solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
But I want to be equally clear that none of that analysis applies to the actions of Hamas, a jihadist terror organization whose stated aim is abundantly, perfectly clear: the destruction of the state of Israel. Its dedication to jihad is obvious from its charter. Its slogan is, “Allah is its target, the Prophet is its model, the Koran its constitution: Jihad is its path and death for the sake of Allah is the loftiest of its wishes.”