Article by Rafael Bardají published by Voz Media, 23 October 2023.
The barbarity and horror unleashed by Hamas on October 7 against Israeli citizens, foreign workers, visitors of many nationalities and soldiers of the Israeli Defense Forces, not to mention the continuous bombardment from the Gaza Strip with rockets fired indiscriminately at Israeli soil, no matter where they land, is not only a Palestinian attack against Israel. In fact, it would be a grave mistake to stick to this interpretation. It is true that Hamas terror had a direct impact around Gaza, in southern Israel, and that under the shock of that moment we have been focused on what is happening in the area. But the Hamas attack goes far beyond Gaza itself and Israel.
And we are not referring to the growing possibility that Hizballah will open a northern front as soon as Israeli troops penetrate Gaza – after all, both groups, though very different, obey their masters in Tehran. Staying at the regional level would also be a mistake. It must be stated clearly. By attacking Israel, Hamas is attacking the Western world. The demonstrations that have been taking place in most European capitals and major American cities, the widespread outbursts of anti-Semitism, the calls for holy war from our streets and squares, and, unfortunately, the multiple attacks, some of them regrettably deadly, perpetrated by Islamists shouting the slogan ‘Allah is the greatest’, are not only a clear proof of the extension and penetration of Islamism within our democratic and liberal societies, but also the mobilization capacity of Islamism disguised as a pro-Palestinian national cause.
October 7 2023 will go down in history as one of the worst days experienced by the Jewish people and, possibly, as the worst in Israel since its establishment. On Yom Kippur, just 50 years ago, there were armies that wanted to annihilate the tiny Jewish State; now, it has been terrorist militiamen who have assaulted, tortured, mutilated, burned and kidnapped essentially civilians, whom they took as the preferred target for their orgy of terror.
We already know that the Hamas attack was possible by its audacity and, above all, by three tactical, operational and strategic failures on the part of Israel. It is true that there were not enough troops on guard; it is true that, without communications or a clear idea of what was going on, it reacted slowly. But perhaps the most serious thing is not all of the above, but the belief accumulated in Israel over years that Hamas was content to initiate a cycle of limited violence every two years, absorb the retaliation and return to its trenches until the next attack. Israel, which knew itself to be always stronger, believed it could control Hamas because its leaders were rational. Without rational actors there can be no deterrence.
Well, from a strategic point of view, what Hamas has achieved is to dynamite in one day the Israeli consensus. Hamas is no longer just another Palestinian actor, in competition with the Palestinian Authority, but, in its nature, a jihadist group comparable to the Islamic State, ISIS, Daesh or whatever you want to call it. Therefore, a group with which no negotiations can be sustained, with which no dialogue can be held, and from which any accommodation can be expected. From this new vision, the only future that can be planned for Hamas is that of its disappearance.Read more: An attack on Israel, an attack on the West
Evidently, this new objective is easier to enunciate than to carry out. For two reasons that Hamas is well aware of: first, its disguise as an agent fighting for a free Palestine; second, being at the service of Iran, his masters in Tehran will come to its defense at some point, directly or indirectly. Both reasons complicate Israel’s military planning and action. As we have already seen it, by artificially separating Hamas from the Palestinian people, Israeli leaders are asked to be proportional in their response, not to increase the suffering of the people, not to prevent humanitarian aid to Gaza.
Jerusalem is playing along this hypocritical game, perhaps to avoid further diplomatic criticism in the short term, but it would do very badly by allowing itself to be cajoled by the humanitarian wailings of the Borrells from the EU and company. We are not saying that there are no Palestinians who oppose Hamas and abhor the terror of its leaders, but, if they are, they are a silenced minority. We cannot forget that, in the 2006 elections, naively promoted by George W. Bush and his diplomatic team, a clear winner emerged: Hamas. It displaced the the Palestinian Authority administration, carried out a coup d’état and took absolute control of the Gaza Strip.
In fact, those who today clamor for the recognition of a Palestinian state should know, unwittingly, that Palestinian state has existed since 2006, since the rise of Hamas, and it is called Gaza. Its government controls the borders, exercises administration, distributes wealth, supports an army and, yes, because it spends almost all of it on its own salaries and on building tunnels and missiles with which to attack Israel, it depends on foreign financial aid, Qatar, and the EU. In Gaza they have no water because the pipes are used as rocket launching tubes; they destroy the electricity cables supplied by Israel; and the cement for construction, instead of for habitable houses, is used to shore up the network of tunnels. If it were for Hamas, its people would eat gunpowder.
We have not only seen the jubilant expressions of joy of the Gazans after hearing about the attack on Israel . We saw the same in the West Bank after the 9/11 attacks. That’s tjhe problem of having an education system that is a factory of incitement to hatred and violence. We have also witnessed the chants of extermination and holy war against all infidels in the streets of Europe and North America, wrapped in Palestinian flags… and also Taliban and Islamic State flags. Dominique Bernard, the high school teacher stabbed to death by a young Muslim in Arras, France, shouting ‘Allah is the greatest!’, was not Jewish. The two Swedish fans who were on their way to watch their team play in Brussels and were also shot and killed while shouting ‘Allahu akbar’ were not Jewish either. No, jihad does not distinguish between Jews and Christians, but between faithful to Allah and infidels to be subdued or eliminated.
That Israel is therefore rethinking its strategic vision of who it faces and how to fight it successfully is good news. And if Hamas wat not counting on it, so much the better. But it must be recognized that the terrorist group has inflicted a heavy blow on Israel that goes beyond the very high number of casualties, the barbarity and sadism employed, and the kidnapping of innocent citizens. It has been said that October 7 was the Israeli 9/11. We are inclined to think that it is rather the Spanish 3/11, the day when Islamists blew up several trains killing more than 200 people, injuring more than a thousand and, not less important, changing the electoral result of the 14th, raising a radical socialist candidate whom even his own people considered a loser before the attack; a pacifist, woke and anti-Western candidate. If 10/7 is not for Prime Minister Netanyahu what 3/11 was for Spanish Prime Minister Aznar, the mournful end of a successful political career, it will be a miracle. It may not have been its goal, but if by its attack Hamas manages to present itself as the one who politically brought down the Israeli PM, they will score an important point.
Be that as it may, the Jewish people have given ample proof over the centuries of knowing how to find a way to overcome the most devastating moments in history, from the singling out, attacks and pogroms to the Nazi Holocaust. We do not know if because they consider themselves God’s chosen people they have been so hated. But they have been, and they are. And perhaps this should be another of the great lessons of this tragic attack: Israel has every right to be treated as a normal country, just another democracy. But it is not so. Anti-Semitism is easily and quickly disguised as anti-Israelism or criticism of the Israeli government, but it is still pure and simple anti-Semitism. Just look at the voices that claim not to be anti-Semitic, but critical of Israel’s policies. The most prominent of the international extreme left and the old fashion right.
Israel will do well to be wary of the world . Prosperity quickly produces prosperity, as we have seen in the rest of the Western world. But the United States, after its 9/11, fought wars in distant lands, Afghanistan and Iraq, from which it was able to withdraw when it chose to do so. Israel does not have that luxury: it is in the middle of a huge honet’s nest. A very unequal hornet’s nets, it is true, but where the winning horse is always the stronger. And if appeasement with Hamas Islamism is no longer an option, sooner or later it will have to cease to be so with respect to Hizballah in Lebanon. Not to mention an Iran to wiping Israel off the map.
We said at the beginning that this Hamas attack goes far beyond the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, even beyond the regional scene. After all, the most imminent concern of the Israelis, of course. But for a European or an American, this Hamas attack must be understood in a broader scenario. On the one hand, the attack would not have been possible without the intervention of Iran, a revolutionary country that does not hesitate to ally itself with its religious opponents (Hamas is not Shiite but Sunni) if it can advance its agenda of global destabilization. And on Iran’s side, at present, is Putin’s Russia, more closely linked than ever after the thwarted Russian invasion of Ukraine and the need to rely on Iranian military assistance, especially in the area of long-range drones. And next to Russia we find the imperialist China of Xi Jinping, another leader dissatisfied with the international order. All of them have coinciden in an axis of disparate interests, but they have in common the desire to displace the United States and the West and impose their rules of the game. Totalitarian, anti-democratic and theocratic in the case of Iran. In short, it is what is called in the usual strategic jargon the great powers competition.
But in addition to that, which is no small challenge, the West faces another existential challenge: Islamism . And Islamism has two fronts: the external, as seen with Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and then with the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq; but there is also an internal front: the growing swaths of the Muslim population in Western countries. True, not all Muslims are radicals, but what distinguishes the current emigration from the first in the 1970s is that the latter came from Muslim countries with regimes of a secularizing socialist nature or, later, with non-religious nationalist governments. But that reality collapsed in the 1990s, with the rise of Islamism inculcated, like it or not, thanks to Gulf money and the Saudi Wahhabi theological current. And the closer we get to the present time, the more emigration is increasingly exposed to fundamentalist ideas that, at the very least, disregard many of the values of tolerance, gender equality, religious freedom, which are consubstantial with our democracies and which, in an increasing of cases, serve for a rapid evolution from religious rigorism to jihadist terrorism. What has been chanted these days in our streets have not been words in favor of Palestine, but rather calls for an uprising against the infidels. It was the hou of holy war.
Thus, the Western world faces a double problem: the new Axis of Evil and Islamism. We do not know if we have the necessary tools to deal with the former, no matter how much NATO may crow about Ukraine. But we fear that to fight Islamism we are unarmed. We tend not to believe the importance of religion and think that Islamism can be moderated and convinced. The same thing that many in Israel thought until the 10/7.
We cannot forget either that the Western left has done and will do whatever it can to put an end to our way of life. They have been confused for many years, but they have finally convinced themselves that Islamism will be the engine of change that the proletariat did not know how to be or did not want to be. With a Pope more concerned about climate change than about the faith of his parishioners, a right wing that only feels comfortable talking about budgets, it is a pity that the new right, which seemed to have understood the brutal assault on our civilization and the corrosive and suicidal role of current immigration policies, has become self-absorbed and lacking in steam.
We have always believed and defended that if, under the impulse of its multiple enemies, Israel was to fell, we would fall behind. Because we saw the defense of civilization against barbarism at the gates of Israel. We are very afraid that, if we do not remedy this situation as soon as possible, we will be the first to fall. That is why it is vital for our future that Israel emerges victorious and strong, despite what it has suffered. Its success against Islamism is the best contribution to our own defense, to our own existence.