This is the West’s war too

Gideon Sa’ar is a minister in the Israeli Government, a member of the Security Cabinet and chairman of the New Hope Party.

In 2005 Israel withdrew from Gaza. It uprooted every Israeli and every community. Every Israeli grave was relocated. All soldiers were withdrawn, and military bases shuttered. Israel unilaterally withdrew to the pre-1967 border.

Gaza has always been an epicenter of hate, incitement, and terrorism against Israel. Since Israel’s withdrawal, instead of choosing prosperity and peace, instead of developing Gaza into the Singapore of the Middle East, Hamas and Islamic Jihad decided to use the entity as a launching pad for their armies to wage their war against Israel.

In the past decades and elsewhere in the Middle East (Lebanon, Yemen and others), Islamist terrorists have taken control and created “terror states” that operate and function completely differently from normal sovereign states.

They’re not just a “terrorist organization” acting within the territory of another country. They control every aspect of the territory they occupy and exploit resources and civilian populations for their war effort. This is the phenomenon of a terrorist state.

The barbarous attacks of Hamas on October 7 against Israeli civilians were an act of state madness, aside from the utter immorality of mass murder and rape. It is not rational to start an all-out war against a much stronger country. But their rationale is different. It is fanatical.

To grasp the antisemitic and psychotic state of mind of this movement, it is enough to read Hamas’s founding charter.

According to Hamas, the murder of Jews is a religious commandment. According to the charter, Jews, in their minds, are responsible for every war or destructive historical event, including those where Jews themselves were victims. Among the events, the French Revolution, the Communist Revolution, the First and Second World Wars, the founding of the League of Nations (to control the world), and the establishment of the UN.

In their eyes the entire land of Israel is sacred to Muslims until the resurrection of the dead and therefore nobody has the authority to relinquish any part of it whatsoever.

To try and legitimize the barbaric massacre that took place on October 7 is as absurd as trying to find justification for the perverse, murderous attack by al-Qaeda against the U.S. on September 11 2001. It’s the same madness, the same extremism, the same cruel murderousness.

The reason for the attack on Israel was simple: Hamas wants to destroy the state of Israel. Hamas’ conflict with Israel is not a territorial one, it is a total ideological one.

Since the 1979 Iranian Revolution, radical Islam has become an ideological rival of the democratic West. Radical Islam totally rejects Western values and wants to destroy Western civilization — so much for Francis Fukuyama’s theory of “the end of history.”

Strategically, as it did on September 11, or during terror attacks inspired, encouraged and sometimes organized in European cities, radical Islam always seeks to attack people as well as nations on their own soil and in their own homes. It’s an attempt to undermine a sense of safety and security and to instil fear. Hamas’ charter states that no one will enjoy peace and security unless under the control of Islam.

There is only one way to deal with terror states. Total war that ends with the destruction of the regime and its military capabilities — like the war the United States led against ISIS or like the Second World War. Truth be told, you cannot wipe out an ideology — after all, there are still Nazis in the world. But the danger they pose today is different from the Nazi regime.

Radical ideologies are far more dangerous when they control or form a state, or a territorial caliphate. That is why the United States, along with its allies in the Middle East and Europe, decided it couldn’t allow Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s Islamic State to persist. The same goes for Hamas.

During the nine-month-long battle for Mosul, the world saw ISIS use thousands of people as human shields. Thousands were kidnapped and executed who didn’t want to be human shields. ISIS terrorists shot civilians who sought to flee to safety. Hamas operates in the same way.

The Hamas terrorist, in some cases, is less than one mile from where our citizens were butchered, beheaded, and cold-heartedly slaughtered. But make no mistake, Israel is the West’s frontline in the Middle East — Israel is certainly not the end game as far as radical Islam is concerned. And Israel’s war against radical Islam is also the West’s war — even if it refuses to acknowledge that.

Israel is grateful to the United States, to its people and the administration led by President Joe Biden for unwavering friendship that is once again standing up to the test. But the loss of moral clarity and compass in some of America’s top university campuses is extremely concerning — so too are the pro-Hamas protests in American and European cities with participants baying for the destruction of the Jewish state.

Israel has no choice but to inflict an absolute defeat on Hamas. This war comes after six previous military rounds when Israel didn’t utilize its full might against Hamas. Since 2007, when Hamas seized control of Gaza, Israeli citizens have been subjected time and again to constant rocket, missile, and mortar fire on their homes.

The war being waged by radical Islam against the West and its values is only at its start. Al-Qaeda, ISIS and Hamas are the opening chapters in a war against the West and its values. In fact, radical Islam already has a grip on many European cities.

It is imperative for the West to learn an important lesson that Israel knew in the past and unfortunately forgot in recent times: It is better to fight your enemy on their territory rather than wait for them to come to you.

Patience and tolerance towards a radical ideology that doesn’t recognize the legitimacy of your way of life is the greatest enemy of peace and coexistence. If the Western way of life is important and meaningful, then there must be a willingness to stand up and fight for it against its foes.

Israel’s war against Hamas is crucial to the safety and security of its citizens but not only to them. It is also vital to the security of the democratic West and to the United States.

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