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The Most Important Story By Far

Monday, January 5, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt
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I’ll be very sorry to see Al Franken be declared a winner today, though of course there’s at least one more round to go in the courts.

And I’m intrigued by the talk of a massive tax cut in the stimulus package. The president-elect surprised us with his national security selections, and perhaps he will with his economic program as well. When he meets with GOP Leaders McConnell and Boehner today, they should push the tax cuts and a strong spending surge for nuclear power. A package they could support would be good for the country.

The departure of Bill Richardson makes you wonder how long it will be to a Patrick Fitzgerald in the Enchantment State calls a press conference.

But as interesting and important as all these stories are, the pale in comparison to the battle in Gaza to topple Hamas.

Hamas is an al Qeada-like terrorist organization, and though manned by Sunnis, it operates as the proxy of the radical mullahs of Iran. As long as it controls Gaza i poses a threat not just to Israel but to Egypt and the wider region, as well as the future of all Palestinians. Bill Kristol is correct today to note in his New York Times’ column:

An Israeli success in Gaza would be a victory in the war on terror -and in the broader struggle for the future of the Middle East. Hamas is only one manifestation of the rise, over the past few decades, of a terror-friendly and almost death-cult-like form of Islamic extremism. The combination of such terror movements with a terror-sponsoring and nuclear-weapons-seeking Iranian state (aided by its sidekick Syria) has produced a new kind of threat to Israel.

But not just to Israel. To everyone in the Middle East -very much including Muslims -who aren’t interested in living under the sway of extremist regimes. And to any nation, like the United States, that is a target of Islamic terror. So there are sound reasons why the United States -whether led by George W. Bush or Barack Obama -will stand with Israel as it fights.

Every civilian casualty in Gaza is a terrible thing, but terrorists work to maximize civilian casualties, and Israel cannot allow Hamas to create a zone within which it is invulnerable to attack. Now that it is launched, Israel must stay as long as necessary to uproot Hamas and provide at least an opportunity for the people of Gaza to join with the people of the West Bank in some sort of near-normal state not constantly thirsting for war with Israel.

The stakes are thus huge, though apparently only little understood by most of the networks. The coverage of the battle against Hamas is startlingly void of any characterization of Hamas, as though Hamas was a state actor and not a terrorist group. Israel’s battle against Hamas is exactly the battle America wages against al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, except that Hamas’ outrages against Israel are more recent in time, and continue to this day.

The left —see Simon Tisdall’s column in The Guardian— is angry that the president-elect hasn’t come out forcefully criticizing Israel. This is astonishing, as the president-elect, if he does anything before taking office, must confirm that the United States stands with its closest ally in the region. Surely the incoming Secretaryof State will make that clear in her first week in office, and if the left screams, so be it.

The longtime enemies of Israel in the West confuse their old grievances against the Jewish state with today’s challenges. Hamas is not Fatah, and Iran is not Egypt of 1973. Whatever one thinks of the fence, of the Lebanon invasion of 1983, of the refusal to divide Jerusalem etc, the nature of Hezbollah to the north, Hamas to the south, and especially Iran over the horizon oblige Israel’s critics to give up their canards and deal with the fact that you cannot negotiate with entities that want your total destruction. Any commentary that doesn’t acknowledge the nature of Hamas is as dishonest as it is ignorant of the reality facing Israel today, one which the new president should acknowledge as soon as he enters office -if not sooner.

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