Walter E. Block and Alan G. Futerman

Walter E. Block and Alan G. Futerman are co-authors of The Classical Liberal Case for Israel with commentary by Benjamin Netanyahu (Springer Publishing Company)

Many commentators are now calling for peace in the Middle East. If they are well-intentioned, they are naïve and ignorant. Some of them are not. Note that apart from the still incessant launching of rockets from Gaza aimed at Israeli civilians, the monstrous initial invasion of Israeli territory and subsequent mass murder and destruction by Hamas has been contained by the IDF. These terrorist assassins are no longer marauding, murdering, destroying, burning, beheading, raping and kidnapping. At least the rate of these depredations is now severely truncated.

We are now in the second phase of this conflagration: the Israeli response to this brutal and unwarranted attack on women and children and the elderly.

If “peace” breaks out right now (we are writing on 10/23/23), or, better yet, if it had done so a few days ago, Hamas would have literally gotten away with murder (and torture, and other unspeakable evils too). They would have suffered from no IDF reaction at all.

Is this what the Middle Eastern “peace-niks” really want? If so, they are aiding and abetting sickening attacks on innocent Jews. If that is not their goal, they should cease and desist from their cries for “peace.” That would be the peace of the grave for Israel.

We must distinguish between short and long run peace. Yes, posit that Israel stops on the dime. Not a single additional rocket will be sent in the other direction, westerly that is, from Israel to Gaza. No more airplane strikes. And certainly no land invasion. It is even possible that if Israel pursued this “pacifist” policy, Hamas would agree to relinquish all of its Jewish hostages (although they would probably insist, in addition, that all the murderous Palestinian terrorists now in Israeli jails also be released). After all, they are great “humanitarians”: they have already agreed to release a few of the more than 200 hostages they hold, even a Jew or two. Then, yes, there would be “peace.”

Until the next time, that is. Presumably, Hamas would give it a rest for at least a few weeks or so. They would exult in the success of their October 7, 2023, depredations. There would be more dancing in the streets and the giving out of candy to children in celebration of their “victory” over Israel. Others, such as Hezbollah, we suspect, would also honor this “peace” at least for the same few weeks or so, while all of Israel’s enemies girded themselves for the next strike. If Israel acted in this “peaceful” manner, this time, why would they not do so the next time, and the time after that too, would be the conclusion drawn in the Arab world. Moreover, what would Israel’s Arab allies think? Would they continue to be partners with a country that doesn’t severely punish those who savagely murder more than 1,200 of its citizens in a region where only the strong survive? In parts of the Middle East, the perception of weakness from the part of an enemy amounts to an existential danger.

If Israel disarmed, there would no longer be any such country, and all of its Jewish citizens would be murdered. If Hamas and other such groups, including Hezbollah and their ultimate masters in Iran, deactivated their weaponry there would be peace, real peace, with no scare quotes surrounding that word.

Given that this scenario is extremely unlikely to occur, what is the path to peace in the Middle East, to real peace, to long run peace?

It is at present, paradoxically, war. And not just “lawn-mowing,” a superficial battle as the New York Times recommends. But, rather, precisely what they inveigh against: “Once and for All” war. War to end the need for any further war. War of the sort conducted by the Allies vis a vis Nazi Germany in 1945. Only then will real peace be achieved.

For all too long Israel has been seduced by the siren song of achieving a good reputation abroad and promoting the good will of world opinion. Israel has for far too long pulled its punches. It has not fought against its enemies with the intensity, the resolve, the ferociousness that other nations have exhibited. The United States, for example, dropped no leaflets in its treatment of Dresden, Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II. Israel has made too many announcements of its intentions and was too restrained with action.

Yes, the way forward toward peace, real peace, permanent peace, long run peace is to demonstrate that Israel will no longer tolerate the abominations dished out to it with glee by theocratic murderers.

Its motto henceforth ought not to be “Peace”, but “Peace through strength.” Or: “Never Again.” (Where have we heard that before?) But this time, really mean it and act on it. No peace without justice. Without it, the massacre is guaranteed to occur once again. Israel must not let it happen and the West must support it. Otherwise, Israel will be in an existential danger of which what we saw on October 7 is only a prelude. And make no mistake, if such catastrophic scenario occurs, the rest of the West are next.

No justice, no peace!