Home inSight Entering Rafah on Yom HaShoah

Entering Rafah on Yom HaShoah

Shoshana Bryen
SOURCEAmerican Thinker
Smoke after an Israeli strike in Rafah.

Israel’s opening attack on Rafah in Gaza coincides with International Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah).  Israel’s plans and the Biden administration’s response should be understood in light of history and its lessons.

Before engaging, Israel closed down Al Jazeera, the ostensibly independent media outlet that is, in fact, wholly owned by the government of Qatar.  Then, having worked for weeks to establish a temporary refuge outside the Rafah corridor for Gaza civilians, Israel began alerting Palestinians to move to safer quarters — by phone, email, text, loudspeaker, and leaflets — with maps and routes defined.  This is in line with its previous efforts to minimize civilian casualties.  John Spencer, chair of urban warfare studies at West Point, wrote, “Israel has done more to prevent civilian casualties in war than any military in history — above and beyond what international law requires and more than the U.S. did in its wars in Iraq & Afghanistan.”

As the bombing began, the White House released President Joe Biden’s statement, mourning “the six million Jews who were killed by the Nazis during one of the darkest chapters in human history” and recommitting to “heeding the lessons of the Shoah and realizing the responsibility of ‘Never Again.’”

But as events unfold, the administration’s actions belie the president’s words and the “lessons of the Shoah” appear unlearned.  The crucial first lesson is that “Never Again” is a pledge that Israel will defend the Jewish people.

The government of Israel articulated three goals after the Hamas-induced pogrom of October 7: to eliminate Hamas’s military and governing capabilities, to secure Israel’s borders and thus its people, and to rescue any surviving Israeli hostages.  The rescue of Gaza civilians from their terrorist overlords would be a byproduct.

For the U.S., the articulated goal was to negotiate a ceasefire with Iranian-sponsored, Qatar-financed terrorist Hamas, perhaps forgetting that there was a “ceasefire” between Israel and Hamas until October 6.

Elevating American goals above Israel’s goals misses the first lesson entirely.  Israel is an independent, free, and democratic country with a first-class, ethical military.  Its ability to make military and political decisions should be respected by its principal ally and others.

But Washington was adamant.

National security adviser Jake Sullivan — with exactly no military background — opined, “A major ground operation [in Rafah] would be a mistake. … [T]he key goals Israel wants to achieve in Rafah can be done by other means.”

He declined to specify the means.

Israel declined to substitute Sullivan’s judgment for its own.

The Biden administration then denounced the closure of Al Jazeera.  White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre said, “We believe in freedom of the press.  It is critically important, and the United States supports the critically important work journalists around the world do.  That includes those who are reporting on the conflict in Gaza. … [F]reedom of the press is important.”

Yes, it is.  But the “journalist” tag can be — and has been — misused by propagandists and terrorists — including on October 7.  While media outlets may not have been aware of their freelancers’ freelancing with Hamas, free movement of Al Jazeera “journalists” can expose Israeli military information to AJ’s owners and thus to others.  It should be noted that there have been closures and restrictions on AJ in countries including Australia, Bahrain, India, Kuwait, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Syria, Tunisia, Ukraine, the UAE, the U.K., and the United States.

The U.S. can, but Israel cannot?  Again, a lesson missed.

The administration’s insistence that humanitarian considerations trump military reality is a mistake with larger ramifications.  Trying to “protect” civilians in the middle of the battle actually prolongs the war and increases casualties.  But Biden demanded supplies, built a $320-million pier off the Gaza shore (taxpayer money and U.S. service personnel), and failed until this week to recognize publicly that Hamas was stealing aid that entered Gaza.  Taking the mantle of “guardian of Palestinian civilians” in the middle of a war for Israel’s current and future security fails to heed the lesson of “Never Again.”  It is a publicity stunt at Israel’s expense.

The U.N. noted in August 2023 (well before Israel’s entry into Gaza) that 35 million people were on “the edge” of famine in seven countries: Afghanistan, Haiti, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Yemen, and Ethiopia.  It later changed the number to 98.8 million people facing famine in nine countries, adding Syria and the Democratic Republic of Congo to the list.

The administration has contributed to international aid organizations, certainly, but has done nothing directly to alleviate conditions for those 98.8 million people.  Only Palestinians.

President Biden has been rhetorically good on Israel’s security requirements since October 7, and the coordination of Israel’s defense against Iranian attack was excellent.  But its undermining of Israel’s decision-making is a mockery of the “mourning” on Yom HaShoah.