Imagine we could turn the clock back to Oct. 6. How would Israel and Hamas respond? In a nanosecond, Israel would say “yes.” In a nanosecond, Hamas would say “no.”
Why would Hamas say “no”? After all, Israel has now killed a larger number of Gazans than the number of Israelis that Hamas murdered, raped and kidnapped on Oct. 7. Much of Gaza’s infrastructure has been destroyed. There is likely more death and destruction to come as Israel seeks to make good on its pledge to destroy Hamas and rescue the hostages.
Nonetheless, if you think Hamas would turn the clock back, you fundamentally misunderstand what Hamas is and what it wants.
Hamas has never made a secret of its aims. Unlike the Nazis, who attempted to hide their genocidal conduct, Hamas’ 1988 “Covenant” openly proclaims that its goal is to achieve martyrdom while killing Jews who control “Islamic lands.”
According to this cult of martyrdom, Israel’s retaliation for Oct. 7 is Hamas’ highest achievement. The death of thousands of its fighters and Gaza civilians not only fulfills Hamas’ religious duty to die for the sake of Allah but also serves a critical political goal.
Encouraged by Hamas and its supporters in the West, antisemitism has exploded since the war began, with endless slanders of Israel, including the absurd charge of “genocide.” The barrage of anti-Israel invective has infected the media, universities, public spaces and even the International Court of Justice.
This validates Hamas’ strategy of first murdering and raping its way across southern Israel and then reaping the benefits of Israel’s inevitable retaliation, which satisfied the terror organization’s suicidal theology and its propaganda ambitions.
Israel is confronting an enemy that not only proudly declares its ambition to exterminate the Jews, but literally prays to God for its own death. At the same time, Israel faces an international community that cannot or will not process the reality that dying for the sake of Allah is Hamas’ “highest goal” and what that means for Israel’s security.
Unable or unwilling to comprehend Hamas’ deranged thinking, the international community has created an alternate reality that tries to explain the jihadist mentality with “reason” and “logic.”
It believes that the explanation for such suicidal violence must be the “occupation,” the “relentless” construction of “settlements,” the “Judaizing of Jerusalem” and so on. What else could it possibly be? After all, “victims” can’t be perpetrators.
If one cannot see what is staring you in the face — Hamas’ religious opposition to Jewish sovereignty within any borders — these simplistic ideas are the only refuge. And they work. They lead to such absurdities as the continuing demand for a two-state solution; even though, after Oct. 7, any accommodation between Israel and the Palestinians is further away than ever before.
For all these reasons, Hamas wouldn’t dream of turning back the clock. The death and destruction it has caused on both sides has been an enormous win, fulfilling all its religious and political fantasies.
Only by destroying Hamas’ war-making abilities — an essential goal that, except for the United States, the international community seems hellbent on preventing — can Hamas’ horrific invasion of Israel end in defeat. And until the moment it is defeated, Hamas is winning.
Gregg Mashberg is a member of the board of directors of the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism. Follow him on X @gregg_mashberg