As I write, the news is of an impending Israeli invasion of Gaza in response to the horrors of Hamas’s brutal wave of terror. How, everyone asks, could this have happened? Ayaan Hirsi Ali observes that Israel was taken by surprise partly because it was distracted by internal discord. But another distraction she notes is created by anti-Israel activists who insist that Israel is simply paying the price for its aggression; it must, per Jeremy Corbyn and his fellow travelers, end its “occupation” of Gaza.

This is just one example of the incoherence of decades of unthinking pro-Palestinian, anti-Israeli rhetoric. As Ali writes, “Ironically, these very same people tend to be the ones warning Israel not to launch an invasion of Gaza — is it occupied or not?” More sophisticated observers avoid this incoherence and insist instead that Gaza is under siege. But if it’s under siege, how is it that Israel must not lay siege to Gaza by cutting the electricity and the water and blockading food deliveries?

There is no shortage of these incoherences. Palestinians wish to end the settlements in the West Bank — but describe Nahal Oz and Sderot, which are outside Gaza and very much in Israeli territory, as “Israeli settlements.” Attacks of astonishing barbarity far outside the Geneva Conventions are promptly followed by warnings that Israel must not commit war crimes — something Israel is extremely scrupulous about, unlike its enemies.

The Palestinians face, they say, “another nakba,” a repetition of the expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians in 1948 (itself a historical distortion for another day), and style the Israeli warning to Gaza residents to move south as “ethnic cleansing,” per Representative Ilhan Omar and many others. But if Israel didn’t provide such a warning and a window during which Palestinians could flee the coming invasion, they would be guilty of the unnecessary deaths of a vast number of civilians — surely worse.

These incoherences arise from refusing to accept certain basic historical facts. The world enables the pre-modern barbarities of Hamas by arguing that Israel is making life impossible for the Palestinians of Gaza, besieging 2.3 million of them in what is routinely called some version of “the world’s largest open-air prison.” But Israel limits ingress and egress to and from Gaza (as does Egypt, note well) only because, after Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, Hamas fought and threw out the governing Palestinian Authority (tossing some off the tops of buildings) and established a regime utterly committed to destroying Israel. Another incoherence: We are apparently to create a “Free Palestine” by giving a freer hand to a totalitarian regime that refuses to establish a democratic polity, denies equal rights to women, and murders gay people. (The only place safe for gay people in the Middle East is Israel, something waved away by anti-Zionists as “pinkwashing.”)

It’s an inconvenient truth for those issuing pro-Hamas declarations that Hamas lives by a Covenant that calls for waging jihad — holy war — in order “to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine.” But it does live by these words, and it means what it says. Its updated charter from 2017 says exactly the same thing, a little more circumspectly. From the very beginning of its rule in Gaza, it has taken money from the international community not to create a better life for those it governs, but to turn Gaza into a forward rocket base for attacks against Israel.

Too few people understand that this is what Hamas is about. Hamas is not seeking a two-state solution. Since the 1936 Peel Commission, the Jews have accepted any number of plans to divide up the territory. The Arabs have rejected every single one. This is why Representative Rashida Tlaib, a Palestinian-American, has a T-shirt that shows the entire State of Israel as Palestine. Nor does Hamas’s claim to all the land west of the Jordan River simply involve expelling the Jews, which would anyway be a larger ethnic cleansing than any they claim is now taking place against them. The Jews are to be killed. That’s in Hamas’s original Covenant, too, which famously includes this Hadith, or saying of Muhammad: “The Day of Judgment will not come about until Muslims fight Jews and kill them. Then, the Jews will hide behind rocks and trees, and the rocks and trees will cry out: ‘O Muslim, there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him.’”

Not Israelis. Not Zionists. Jews. Islam is not an animist religion — and yet, to help destroy Jews, even the rocks and trees will come to life. Hamas’s updated charter insists that it is merely opposed to Zionists. But the world seems at last to have understood the true nature of the organization — and there has never been any shortage of calls to kill Jews since the updated charter was published.

So, Hamas wants to claim the entire country and regards it as a holy duty to kill the Jews who live there. This is why Israel kept a tight control on Gaza — and this is why, when its attention lapsed, Hamas terrorists burst out and raped, burned, gassed, and beheaded men, women, children, and babies. Why did they reduce their leverage by murdering babies, instead of taking them hostage? Because, as people say, that’s who they are. And, as people also rightly say, when someone shows you who he is, believe him.

This article was published on October 25, 2023.