Commentary Magazine


No, Israel Isn’t Losing a War It’s Winning

One of the oddest tropes of the past week has been too-clever-by-half theorizing that Israel is losing its war against Hamas even if, from all accounts, it is winning the war against Hamas—by knocking out Hamas’s missiles from the air, destroying its tunnels on land, killing its terrorists, and going after its weapons depots. The only way it can be deemed to be losing is if you think the war is primarily a public-relations battle for the hearts and minds of people who already have a fixed opinion of who the good guys and bad guys are in this struggle. It’s not.

If reports are true, over the past week Israel managed to uncover and disrupt a plot for the mass killing of Jews inside Israel on Rosh Hashanah. Forget the missiles; for that reason alone, the war has already been won.

So how is Israel losing? Oh, it seems Israel is getting bad press.

What else is new? What else is new about any of it?

Is Israel isolated in Europe? That isolation has been deepening for a decade. Has Barack Obama turned unfriendly? Well, his unfriendliness is far from new, as this piece of mine from July 2009 would suggest. Has the incursion led to an increase in overt anti-Semitism? Well, if so, any effort to excuse away such monstrousness by citing this war is nothing less than an act of blaming-the-victim. If Israel were to restrain itself from countering a mortal threat because it feared the promulgation of documents like this, it would be betraying its own reason for existence: a homeland for the Jewish people that needed and needs to exist precisely because of sentiments that help create documents like these—sentiments that are then turned into action, and into Kristallnacht, and into gas chambers.

The one deeply troubling fact that has emerged over the past week, in a Gallup poll, is that Americans under the age of 30 believe Israel’s action in Gaza is unjustified by a margin of 51-25 (24 percent have no opinion). Every friend of the Jewish state should be troubled; every enemy should rejoice. But then, why should it be otherwise, exactly? There is a man in the Oval Office who has spent five and a half years effectively preaching that extrication from conflict is a noble act. Is it any wonder that the age cohort most supportive of Obama—the cohort, by the way, that knows and cares the least about the world outside the borders of the United States—would be discomfited by a country that makes unapologetic use of its military in its own defense?

UPDATE: A new Pew poll suggests the views of Americans 18-30 are more favorably disposed toward Israel than Gallup–38 percent say Israel’s response has either been appropriate or hasn’t gone far enough, compared to 29 percent who say it’s gone too far.

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11 Responses to “No, Israel Isn’t Losing a War It’s Winning”

  1. DAVID MARKS says:

    I don’t think the war has increased antisemitism, it simply revealed it.

  2. A RABINOVTZ says:

    The under 30 anti-Israelism has at least as much,and probably more to do,with the relentless ant-Israel agitation on”elite’ campuses the since 67 war.Anti-semitism will disproportionally affect this group after long long after Obama is gone,just as it preceded him.


    This is the same old anti semitism . The same as the cossack with his knaut . The same as the willing executioner and his sonderzug . The disease mutates and reappears in a different mask but it is the same disease.


    Ladies & Gentlemen, welcome to 1939!!

  5. KENT LYON says:

    Obama has pretty much convinced the know nothing generation (under 30) in America that not only should Israel not exist, but that America should not exist either.


    The press declares that Israel is losing due to bad press. It’s a self fulfilling prophecy.


    America has fallen into an abyss of ignorance and immorality caused primarily by incompetence in its education and governing responsibilities. We have allowed for ignorant generations who neither care nor are aware of Americas responsibilities to its citizens and to the rest of the dependent world. As Israel shows the way toward lasting peace via military strength creating a new responsible Palestinian governing body followed by peace inspired economic prosperity, a declining panic riddled Western Europe will have to find its own solutions to solve the problems it suffers from having sold itself to religious fanatics. The world of Islam is fractured between unbridled fanaticism as we see in Syria, Iraq and Iran against the more rational Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Jordan and ultimately, even Qatar and Turkey. We are at a threshold. Israel is the first to pass through – aided by the latter of the Islamic breach who follow next, and await to crush those who defy their commitment to a world of peaceful tolerance.

  8. JOE MAHONEY says:

    I would put most of the blame on the incompetence of the last two administrations. Americans are understandably wary and weary after two wars thousands of miles away that have ended badly or are ending badly. Israel is defending its’ very existence, this is not a war of choice.


    While Israel is not losing the Gaza war, and has some accomplishments, it is delusional to maintain that it is winning. Hamas maintains the initiative and Israel responds. That is not the actions of a victor dictating a course of action. Why Israel does not act more decisively against Hamas and its leadership I do not know. The Israeli public seems to overwhelmingly want this, the soldiers seems ready, but the high command and the political leadership vacillates. Why this is so, whether it is intelligence the public doesn’t see, American pressure, fear of losses to both sides, who knows? If it is the oft bruited fear that a worse organization would rise in the stead of Hamas, then Israel’s policy really is foolish, because it doesn’t seem to get much worse than Hamas. In any event, what is happening now might not be a defeat, but it is not victory.


      Irael public supports the war – but wouldn’t support a carpet bombong whihc is what it would take to clear the place of Hamas – alternatively door to door urban fighting would be devasting to all involved and also not supported. How would a civilized society respond to pictures on t.v. of teenagers with hand granades hidden in their hands facing down IDFers, reluctant to shoot a kid?

      The last total victory in memory is Japan’s surrendor – which the US guaranteed with an occupation force, later converted to US troops invited to stay by the reformed and democratic Japanese government.

      Total victory has become a rare occurance – the main reason why peace negotiations are meaningless – only vanguished people surrender and accept terms. Others wait for another day.

      Has Israel gained? Certainly. (1) Fewer rockets. (2) Fewer tunnels. (3) Punishment meted out to the agressors. (4) The home front sees that their government will not tolerate Gazanians firing on Israeli civilians. (5) Message to Iran – Israel is united to fight the agressor.

      • JONATHAN KEILER says:

        You are perhaps right on the first three points, but not the last two. Hamas is not only still shooting rockets into Israel but taking the initiative and attacking into Israel. The IDF has lost many more men on Israeli soil in the last few days than it has in Gaza. Thus, if I were Israeli I would not be convinced that the government won’t tolerate rockets (it does so long as there are not a lot of them.) Secondly, the Iranian government has to be impressed by Hamas’ performance, and encouraged that the Israeli government under attack cannot agree to even strike Hamas’ main command centers in Gaza. What does that say about Israeli determination to go after Iran’s nukes?

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