As I write this article it is the start of Hannukah, the Festival of Lights, a Jewish holiday commemorating the recovery of Jerusalem and the overthrow of the Seleucid Empire in 2nd Century B.C.
The Seleucid Empire invaded in 175 B.C. and expelled Jews from Jerusalem. The historically accurate story of Hanukkah is that the Jews launched the Macabee Revolt in 167 B.C. after the 2nd Temple was looted and Judaism banned. The Jews revolted against their oppressive overlords and by 164 B.C. the revolt was successful.
Now, Hanukkah is a time when Jews light the Menorah and come together as friends and family in peace.
And yet, here we are two millennia later and there is a veil of darkness yet again over Israel, and yet again the Jews face an oppressor who would gleefully expel them from Jerusalem given half the chance.
The terrorist leadership of Hamas only cares about killing Jews. The stories of how they use rape as a threat and a way to control civilians is unprecedented. The use of hospitals supposed to treat the sick and infirm as military headquarters is unprecedented and yes, the stealing of aid meant for the desperate Palestinian civilians is unprecedented.
The harsh reality is that Hamas leaders live in luxury apartments and hotels in Qatar. They are immune from the suffering of Israeli and Palestinian civilians, and they are using innocent civilians as hostages to be bargaining chips. Hamas still hasn’t released all the women hostages. The State Department says that the reason Hamas refused to release all the women who it held hostage was because the terror group didn’t want them to tell what they went through while in captivity in Gaza.
The Wall Street Journal reports that negotiations ended for an extended ceasefire due to Qatar’s request for assurances that Hamas leaders in Qatar and Turkey wouldn’t be targeted. Once again the billionaire terrorists living comfortably abroad will gladly sacrifice every Palestinian life for their own safety.
What do we do in the face of such unspeakable terror? We must have one clear goal and that is the destruction of Hamas and the arrest of all their leadership. The United States must make clear to Qatar and other backers of Hamas that we cannot do business with nations that harbor terrorist baby killers and rapists. Long-term change will only happen in the Middle East if the West weans itself off Middle Eastern oil. Under the Republicans, America was energy-independent, and we must recapture our energy independence and must use our economic and military might to pressure Arab and Gulf states to take a more proactive leadership approach with the Palestinians and we must fully equip Israel so that it can destroy Hamas once and for all.
We have already seen what happens when you try to negotiate with terrorists. Israel agreed to a humanitarian pause so aid could get into Gaza and what did Hamas do? They launched rockets and they killed people in the streets of Jerusalem. The very idea that Hamas should stay in control of subjecting the Palestinian civilians to abject misery cannot be allowed to take hold.
Instead, Hamas must be kicked out and the Arab and Gulf states must fund the reconstruction of Gaza and work with the Palestinian Authority on building a security apparatus and government that focuses on helping the Palestinian people and not enriching the leaders.
Some Gulf states have already signed peace deals with Israel under the Abraham Accords. There needs to be a grand bargain among Israel, Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states that Israel will withdraw from Gaza once Hamas is destroyed in exchange for there to be an Arab-led peacekeeping force in Gaza, reconstruction in Gaza funded by the Arab and Gulf states, and peace treaties with Israel guaranteeing there will be no terrorist regime in Gaza able to ever put Israel through absolute hell ever again.
A year from now, I hope that the Jewish people can light their menorahs in peace and that the Palestinian civilians aren’t under the jackboot of an oppressive, terrorist regime.
Finally, as this is the season of Advent, I cannot think of a better way to end this article than this:
“O come, O come, Emmanuel,
“And ransom captive Israel.
“That mourns in lonely exile here, Until the Son of God appear.
“Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
“Shall come to thee, O Israel.”
May 2024 see both Israelis and Palestinians living in peace.
Neil Fitzgerald is an international nonprofit leader having served in the U.S., U.K. and globally for various nonprofit and charity boards. He served as a conservative council member in the U.K. and as a campaign manager. “Right Here, Right Now” appears Saturdays and rotates among local Republicans.