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COMMENTARY: Try a little honesty about Israel

Scan news accounts of anti-Israel campus and street protesters. Read their demands and manifestos. Collate the confusion after Oct. 7 from the Biden administration.

Here are 10 of their most common untruths about Oct. 7 and the war that followed.

“Progressive Hamas”: Gay and transgendered student protesters in America would be in mortal danger in Gaza under a fascistic Hamas that has banned homosexual acts and lifestyles. Anyone protesting publicly against Hamas or its allies would be arrested and severely punished.

Women are segregated in most Hamas-run educational institutions. Under the Hamas charter, women are valued mostly as child-bearers. By design, there are almost no women in high positions in business or in government under Hamas.

“Colonists and settlers”: Students scream that Israelis are “settlers” and “colonists” and sometimes yell at Jewish students to “go back to Poland.”

But the Jewish presence in present-day Israel is deeply rooted in ancient tradition. Dating back at least three millennia, the concept of “Israel” as a distinct Jewish state, situated roughly in its current location, is ingrained in history.

By contrast, the much later Arab invasions of the Byzantine-controlled Levant and their arrival in Palestine occurred about 1,800 years after the establishment of a Jewish Israel.

“Two-state solution”: When student protesters scream “from the river to the sea,” that is not advocacy for a two-state solution. It is a call to eliminate the state of Israel — lying in between the Jordan River and Mediterranean Sea — and its 10 million Jewish and Arab citizens. The Hamas charter is a one-state/no-Israel agenda, which we saw attempted on Oct. 7.

“Occupied Gaza”: Gaza was autonomous. The Israeli border is closed, but so is the Egyptian border. There have not been any Jews in Gaza for nearly two decades.

So on Oct. 7, Gaza was not occupied by Israel. It was under the control of Hamas, designated by the U.S. government as a terrorist organization. After being elected to power in 2006, Hamas canceled all subsequent elections and ruled as a dictatorship. Gaza forbids Jews from entering Gaza and has driven out most Christians. Israel hosts 2 million Arabs, both as Israeli citizens and residents.

“Netanyahu is the problem”: The United States and Europe claim that the conservative government of Benjamin Netanyahu is alone behind the Israeli tough response in Gaza. Thus, both the European Union and the United States are doing their best to undermine or even overthrow the elected Netanyahu administration.

Yet, most Israelis support Netanyahu’s coalition government’s agenda of destroying Hamas in Gaza. There is no evidence that any other alternative Israeli government would do anything differently from the present policies toward Hamas.

“Targeting civilians”: After murdering nearly 1,200 Israelis on October 7, Hamas scurried back to Gaza and hid in tunnels and bases beneath hospitals, schools and mosques. Its preplanned strategy was to survive by ensuring Gaza civilians would be killed. Hamas has indiscriminately launched more than 7,000 rockets at Israel, all designed to kill Jewish civilians.

Outside assessors have concluded that Israel has not inadvertently killed a greater ratio of civilians to terrorists compared to most other urban fighting conflicts elsewhere, and perhaps even fewer than American engagements in Mosul and Fallujah.

“Protesters are pro-Palestine”: Increasingly, protesters make no distinction between supporting “Palestine” and Hamas. Their chants often echo the original Hamas eliminationist charter and recent genocidal ravings of its leadership. Some protesters wear Hamas logos and wave its flag. Many cheered the Hamas massacre of Oct. 7.

“Anti-Israel is not antisemitic”: When protesters scream to Jewish students to “go back to Poland” or call for the “Final Solution,” or assault them or bar them from campus facilities, they do not ask whether they are pro-Israeli. For protesters, anyone identifiable as Jewish becomes a target of their antisemitic invective and violence.

“Genocide”: Israel has not tried to wipe out the Palestinian people in the fashion of Hamas’ one-state solution plan for Jews. Before Oct. 7, some 20,000 Gazans a day requested to work in Israel — on the correct expectation of much higher wages and humane treatment.

If Hamas had come out of its tunnels, separated from its impressed civilian shields, released its surviving Israeli hostages, and either openly fought the Israeli Defense Forces or surrendered the organizers of the Oct. 7 massacre, no Gaza civilians would have died.

According to Hamas’ questionable “genocide” figures, roughly 4 percent of the Gazan population died during the Israeli response to Oct. 7. At least a third to almost half of those deaths, according to various international observers, were Hamas terrorists.

“Disproportionate response”: Iran tried to send 320 missiles and rockets into Israel. Israel replied with three. Hamas launched 7,000 rockets into Israel and slaughtered 1,200 Israelis before the IDF responded in Gaza, often dropping leaflets and sending texts to forewarn citizens.

Israel has been disproportionate only in the effectiveness of its response. Hamas and its Iranian benefactor intended disproportionately to hurt Israel but utterly failed.

So Israel proved to be competent, and Hamas incompetent, in their similar efforts to use disproportionate force.

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at Stanford’s Hoover Institution. Contact at authorvdh@gmail.com.

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