ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 144

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OP-ED: DAY 23 OF THE WAR

Shock at the October 7 catastrophe gives way to horror and fury at global immorality

Brief empathy over the Oct. 7 catastrophe is shifting to a global effort, propelled by Israel-haters and antisemites, to deprive us of the right to ensure it will not happen again

David Horovitz

David Horovitz is the founding editor of The Times of Israel. He is the author of "Still Life with Bombers" (2004) and "A Little Too Close to God" (2000), and co-author of "Shalom Friend: The Life and Legacy of Yitzhak Rabin" (1996). He previously edited The Jerusalem Post (2004-2011) and The Jerusalem Report (1998-2004).

  • Protesters hold placards and wave Palestinian flags during a 'March For Palestine' in London on October 28, 2023, as they call for ceasefire in the war between Israel and Hamas. (Henry Nicholls/AFP)
    Protesters hold placards and wave Palestinian flags during a 'March For Palestine' in London on October 28, 2023, as they call for ceasefire in the war between Israel and Hamas. (Henry Nicholls/AFP)
  • An Israeli army officer gives journalists a tour, Friday, July 25, 2014, of a tunnel used by Palestinian terrorists for cross-border attacks, at the Israel-Gaza Border. (AP Photo/Jack Guez, Pool, File)
    An Israeli army officer gives journalists a tour, Friday, July 25, 2014, of a tunnel used by Palestinian terrorists for cross-border attacks, at the Israel-Gaza Border. (AP Photo/Jack Guez, Pool, File)
  • The results of a UN General Assembly vote on a resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza on October 27, 2023. The resolution, which did not mention Hamas, passed 120 votes to 14.
    The results of a UN General Assembly vote on a resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza on October 27, 2023. The resolution, which did not mention Hamas, passed 120 votes to 14.
  • Israeli soldiers drive an armoured personnel carrier (APC) near the border with the Gaza Strip, in southern Israel, Sunday, Oct. 22, 2023. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
    Israeli soldiers drive an armoured personnel carrier (APC) near the border with the Gaza Strip, in southern Israel, Sunday, Oct. 22, 2023. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

More than three weeks after that blackest Shabbat in our Israeli history, we remain, unsurprisingly, a nation deep in shock.

Shocked at the unrestrained murderous savagery that thousands of our neighbors unleashed upon us — the hysterical exultation with which they ripped away 1,400 lives in ways many of us still will not bring ourselves to watch.

Shocked that we allowed it to happen — that we were so devastatingly complacent, misguided, delusional; so convinced that everything they were showing and telling us about how they were going to murder us was untrue. That our political leaders so misjudged and underestimated the depth of their hatred, and their capacity to turn it into action. That our military chiefs were so unconscionably unconcerned, so distracted.

Shocked at ourselves, too, in any and every field — emphatically including journalism — where a greater capacity to look our enemies in the eye, and internalize what they had in mind for us, might, just might, have helped shift the national mindset toward thwarting this unprecedented catastrophe.

But the shock is also expanding, now, to horror, disappointment and fury at the shift outside Israel — from brief, initial empathy for all those whose lives were shot and burned and butchered away, for their bereft and broken families and for the innocent snatched away into Hamas’s underground hellholes, to a rising global effort to deprive us of the right to ensure it will not happen again. A rising global effort propelled by Israel-haters and antisemites, assisted by falsehoods and misrepresentations everywhere from TikTok to supposedly responsible media, and inflated by fools, to try to halt our military response, or limit and undermine it. Basically, to tell us that what happened on October 7, if it happened, was terrible, but we need to get over it. Subverting “Never Again,” and telling us instead, well, yes, Almost Certainly Again.

We watch, from the midst of a war imposed upon us in the most monstrous circumstances, the growing refusal abroad to maintain any kind of intellectual honesty and morality about what happened and is happening — to distinguish between victims and aggressors, to understand that Israelis were massacred in our homes by members of an Islamist death cult and that if the killers are not prevented from doing so, they will be back, stronger and more inhumane. And that if noncombatant Gazans have been dragged into the bloodshed, that is despite the IDF seeking to minimize the harm to civilians and because Hamas is abusing them to try to survive — abusing them as “human shields” in the schools, mosques, hospitals and homes of Gaza, human shields for insistent inhumanity. (Hundreds of the killers fled from massacring Israelis to safety beneath Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital, the IDF Spokesman said on Friday.)

As I have written before, Israel is fighting not in retaliation or out of revenge, but in order to ensure that Gaza’s terror-government, which seized power after Israel withdrew from the Strip in 2005, cannot survive to repeat its barbarism; to deter our other more powerful enemies; and to restore Israelis’ faith that we can live here in something close to safety.

Our shock is spreading, too, to include fears for the well-being of those overseas who stand up for Israel and for Israel’s obligation to protect its people in the face of those who aim to wipe us out. Thunderstruck by the soaring hostility to Jews evidenced online, at anti-Israel protests, on university campuses and beyond, we worry for Jews worldwide, their own security undermined in a conflict resonating globally, in which defenders of Israel are being denounced and deterred.

And, finally, the shock at where we find ourselves is moving to encompass heart-stopping concern for our uniformed relatives and friends who fought so valiantly when belatedly alerted to the disaster that was unfolding in the south on October 7, and who are now entering Gaza in growing numbers to try to defang Hamas. We fear for their safety as they move to tackle these exultant killers in their lairs.

Even now, after everything that happened on October 7, we worry that our soldiers, and their commanders, may still underestimate the depths to which our enemies will sink, the methods they will employ, the fresh horrors they will seek to unleash, in their unstinting, obsessive effort to take Israeli and Jewish lives.

And still, amid the widening shock and horror and anger and worry, we know that we must prevail. Facing an enemy that glories in death, the people and nation of Israel insist on life.

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