‘It’s Not about Managing a Conflict, It’s about Winning a War’: Former Ambassador
It was considered one of the most beautiful stretches of beaches along the Mediterranean, but it’s all but unrecognizable now. “For those who don’t know,” former U.S. Ambassador David Friedman explained, the Gaza Strip has “exactly the same beach as you’ll see in Tel Aviv,” a stunning ocean-scape that’s been reduced to hellish chaos, the setting of a bloody war that was inconceivable even a month ago. But this is what comes of appeasement, the Trump diplomat said — a brutal, indescribable mess.
“You know, every time Israel has [surrendered] territory, that vacuum has been filled with terrorists,” Friedman shook his head. In Lebanon, it was Hezbollah. In Sinai, it was ISIS. “When they left Gaza, the vacuum was filled by Hamas. Giving up land and hoping for peace is a failed strategy. And it will continue to fail,” he argued. “I wish we didn’t have to learn this lesson in such a painful way, as we’ve learned these last few days.”
The more horrors that surface from Saturday’s slaughter, the more leaders are incapable of describing them. Some, like John Kirby, are reduced to tears. Fox News’s Trey Yingst got choked up on television from the savagery he witnessed on the ground. “When you watch the Israeli press at night, you see scenes of parents showing up to — ” he blinked and started to cry. “Sorry, it’s … it’s difficult,” he said. “But parents are showing up to give hair of their kids to the authorities to see if they can match DNA to the bodies” because their faces are too mutilated to identify.
Men who’ve dealt with some of the worst evil on the planet are stunned by the images they’ve seen. U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who has spent a good deal of his career fighting human butchers like ISIS, told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that what Hamas did “is worse than what I saw with ISIS.” These are “wild animals,” the prime minister told his people, explaining how violently girls were raped and how the terrorists built towers of spare tires to trap and burn people alive.
“It’s absolutely demonic,” Friedman told Family Research Council President Tony Perkins on “Washington Watch.” “I mean, look, taking a pregnant woman, slaughtering her, ripping open her belly and then, you know, throwing around the fetus. I mean, it’s — I don’t think the English language has words to describe this because it’s never happened.”
So to see the world erupt in support of Palestine, to see thousands pour out into streets around the globe on Friday in support of the monsters that did this, it’s beyond his comprehension.
“You know, there are some crazy people out there that claim that this is a natural outgrowth of Israel’s oppression of the people of Gaza,” Friedman pointed out, but “there’s not a single Jew living in Gaza. There’s not a single Israeli soldier stationed in Gaza. There is nothing Israel wants from Gaza other than to have a quiet border.” But after 2005, he explained, Hamas took over the strip in an election. “People chose Hamas, and Hamas wants to kill Jews. And because Hamas wants to kill Jews and destroy the state of Israel, Israel is not letting the people of Gaza travel freely into their territory or … import massive weapons from the Mediterranean Sea. But it’s all because of Hamas.”
“If tomorrow, Gaza was to be liberated from Hamas and they said, ‘You know what? Enough of this craziness. We’re going to go build hotels along the Mediterranean. We’re going to restore some of the incredible farmland’ that grew some of the best fruits and vegetables that I remember when I was a kid. … There would be nothing to complain about,” the ambassador insisted. “So if there’s going to [be] any blame cast … that blame [should] 100% be directed at Hamas, nobody else. … Gaza is not a place that Israel is oppressing. It’s a place Hamas is oppressing.”
With the help of Iran, Friedman is quick to point out. “In the past, Israel has — with the world’s insistence — managed a conflict — which means that every few years Hamas will shoot some rockets, Israel will retaliate, they’ll degrade Hamas’s capabilities, but then they’ll be built back. … [And] I should point out that they’re being built back with an enormous amount of money from Iran, which has gotten way, way, way richer over the last three years. If you compare how much oil they’ve sold in 2022 to what they sold in 2020, it’s about eight times the amount. ... The Israelis are suffering, and the Palestinians are suffering. And the only ones who are making any money and prospering [are] Hamas and Iran.”
But this is no longer about “managing a conflict,” he argued. “Right now, it’s about winning a war.” And if there is a silver lining to any of these unspeakable tragedies, it’s that the nation is ready to. “The patriotism here and the determination [is astonishing]. … Israelis of all stripes and views and philosophies are coming home to their basic values. They’re joining together. People are flying in. Israelis on vacation all over the world, are flying back, rushing back to join the reserves to join the army. Those who are not in the army are doing everything they can to help the troops. So, this is a terrible price to pay for that unity. But Israel is united.”
Calling the northern border a “tinderbox,” Friedman called for prayer. “I think that as much as we need weapons and artillery and brave soldiers, we need God’s help.” Saturday was “a day of Holocaust,” he said somberly. But “the difference between the Holocaust and today is that now there’s a state of Israel … a state that is committed to defending the Jewish people. And they’re going to prevail. They have to prevail, because this is just the tip of the spear. … These barbarians are out for every American. They’re out for everyone who values freedom and democracy and who is of a different faith than theirs. So … failure is just not an option here. And there won’t be any failure.”
Suzanne Bowdey serves as editorial director and senior writer at The Washington Stand.