Red lines or victory?

A recent headline in the Wall Street Journal expressed Hamas’ last chance in its terrorist war against Israel: “Hamas Pins Survival Hopes on Ramadan.” The sub headline reveals its strategy: “Group’s leader in Gaza counts on holy month to pressure Israel to end the war.”

In a softball interview on MSNBC by Washington Post reporter Jonathan Capehart, President Biden claimed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu disregards “innocent lives” in Gaza, adding that should Israel invade Hamas’ last holdout territory in Rafah, it would be a “red line.”

Where have we heard that before? President Obama said if Syria used chemical weapons against its people that would be a “red line.” Syrian President Bashar al-Assad used them. Obama did nothing.

Perhaps more than any other nation Israel goes out of its way to protect innocent lives, oftentimes at the cost of Israeli lives. Biden has acknowledged that. He has also acknowledged that Hamas hides out among civilians and uses them as human shields. That familiar strategy is designed to persuade nations and the media to pressure Israel to cease military operations without reciprocity or an agreement to release the remaining 100-plus hostages.

There is only one reason to fight a war and that is to win. If the goal is anything less than victory, the war is not worth fighting.

This business about “red lines” seems to be limited in its application to Israel and its supposed “ally,” the United States. Each time Israel is attacked the U.S. initially supports the Jewish state, but if the conflict is prolonged, that support weakens as the media and other nations pressure Israel to stop short of victory, thus ensuring the inevitability of more wars. This is not a secret. Hamas and other anti-Israel groups openly state their goal is to eliminate Jews and their nation. Why do so many not believe them?

Israel’s enemies have no red lines. They kill civilians at will, especially Jewish civilians (remember Oct. 7?). There was no red line or concern for German civilians during the early 1945 carpet bombing of Dresden and other cities of the Third Reich. Same with Japan when President Truman ordered atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, ending World War II. The exact number of civilian deaths remains in dispute, but most historians agree it was in the hundreds of thousands.

When a surgeon does not completely remove a cancerous tumor it almost always grows back. It is the same with Hamas. Unless its leadership is eliminated, along with as many of its terrorist fighters as possible, Hamas will live to kill another day. Perhaps the civilians who voted for Hamas to take leadership in Gaza will think twice before doing so again. That would be a bonus for peace.

Why should Israel be pressured into pausing its road to victory against Hamas because of Ramadan? Do Israel’s enemies pause their attacks in recognition of Jewish holidays? Have we forgotten the coalition of Arab nations that attacked Israel during Yom Kippur in 1973? Or do double standards not matter when it comes to Israel? 

In an op-ed column for The Wall Street Journal, Letters editor Elliot Kaufman writes: “There is an idea that it is wrong to fight an Islamic country during the holy month of Ramadan. … It’s nonsense: Look at Egypt and Syria’s 1973 Ramadan War against Israel or Iran’s 1982 Operation Ramadan against Iraq.”

The late World War II General Douglas MacArthur said: “There is no substitute for victory.” That applied to Germany and Japan 80 years ago. It also applies now in Israel’s war for survival against Hamas and others that wish to destroy the Jewish state. 

Readers may email Cal Thomas at tcaeditors@tribpub.com.