Like me, you have probably been riveted all weekend by news about the Hamas attacks on Israel. I have heard that Israelis are calling it the tofet: the Inferno.
Bari Weiss describes it as Israel’s 9/11: “Think about 9/11 and the kind of shock and terror we felt. That is what Israelis feel today. That is the level of devastation Israel is now experiencing.” But I find this analogy strangely minimizing.
What’s happened in Israel is not the equivalent of what happened to the US on 9/11. What happened there is our darkest, wildest imaginings of what we feared might happen after 9/11.
I recall a 1998 film that projected what would happen to America, the kind of raw fear we would live in, if New York City were subjected to a large-scale, unpredictable string of terrorist bombings. That film was trotted back out after 9/11 because it evoked our deepest fear: What if this is only the beginning?
But even that does not quite capture what happened in Israel, because Israel is vulnerable in a way America is not and never really has been. It is a small country wedged in among people who hate it, deeply and viciously. Its entire existence is predicated on the ability to keep those people out. On Saturday, they broke in.
There are three big lessons from this event—two for Israel, one for the United States.
1. The Palestinian cause is genocide.
This was not a military strike and was not intended to achieve any tactical goal. Its sole purpose and goal was the murder of Jews. Saturday showed us concretely the only conception Palestinian leaders have of victory: Gunmen wandering the streets of an Israeli town, murdering, raping, and brutalizing a helpless enemy. This was not a means to a goal. It was the goal.
Note that this attack was meticulous planned over two years, and note specifically how Hamas fooled Israeli politicians and Israeli intelligence.