Ottawa Citizen Commentators Ignore Need For Hamas To Release Israeli Hostages

November 14, 2023

Since Israel began its counter-terrorism operations against Hamas, the Gaza-based Islamic terrorist group responsible for the October 7 massacre in southern Israel, the largest mass murder of Jews since the Holocaust, calls for a ceasefire have grown in some circles.

In their November 7 opinion column in The Ottawa Citizen entitled: “As Jews, we call for a ceasefire and a just peace,” Talya Stein, Sam Hersh and Miles Howe demand that Israel end its efforts against Hamas, alleging that Israel “appears to have decided that all Gazans must pay the price” for Hamas terrorism.

This is pure cockamamie. Not only is there zero evidence that Israel has carried out collective punishment, as the writers allege, but to the contrary, Israel has been clear since Hamas’ initial terrorist attack that its goal is to degrade Hamas’ capacity to murder Israelis, and to carry out more genocidal attacks against the Jewish State.

All loss of life inside the Gaza Strip is entirely the responsibility of Hamas, a genocidal Islamic terrorist group which declared war against Israel, intentionally embeds its terrorists inside densely-populated civilian areas, hides its terrorist headquarters underneath a major Gaza City hospital, and has actively prevented many civilians in the enclave from finding safety outside areas of fighting.

The authors describe Israel’s efforts in Gaza as “futile acts of vengeance,” and write that it will not “end the recurring violence in Israel and Gaza.”

This is a heinous mischaracterization of the security threats faced by Israel, and one which obfuscates the reality of Hamas, which is dead-set on the total destruction of Israel through violent means, and the creation of a totalitarian Islamic State-style caliphate in its place. This is not an opinion, but an indisputable fact, first spelled out in Hamas’ charter from the 1980s, and repeated proudly by its spokespeople in recent weeks.

Hamas will stop at literally nothing in its quest to destroy Israel, and massacre all the Jews that it possibly can. Stein, Hersh and Howe offer nothing in the way of an alternate method for Israel to protect itself against this deadly threat, preferring instead to offer superficial platitudes entirely detached from any semblance of reality.

Additionally, nowhere in their column calling for an end to Israel’s counter-terrorism efforts did the authors ever mention the hundreds of hostages being held by Hamas inside Gaza or the obvious necessity for Hamas to be defeated.

In their column, the trio describe themselves as “Jews of conscience,” but this is far from the whole story. One of the authors, Sam Hersh, is described in the accompanying biography as a member of the Ottawa chapter of Independent Jewish Voices (IJV), an organization “that opposes racism and advocates for justice and peace in Israel and the Palestinian Territories.”

But in truth, IJV is a notorious anti-Israel pressure group which has called for boycotts of Israel, and has falsely described the country as an apartheid state. These fringe views are nowhere near anything resembling mainstream in Canada’s Jewish community. Stein, Hersh and Howe are certainly entitled to their opinions as three Canadians who happen to identify as Jewish, but it is no less important to set the record straight and for readers of The Ottawa Citizen to understand that these three writers represent a very small minority, even fringe, opinion.

As shown in recent polls, most Canadians recognize Hamas as a terrorist organization, support Israel’s right to protect itself against Hamas, and indeed support Israel’s efforts to invade Gaza in order to remove Hamas from power. These are the voices of mainstream Canadians who recognize that without Hamas’ total defeat, a ceasefire is nothing more than a propaganda victory to a terrorist organization.

No reader of The Ottawa Citizen can possibly take calls for a ceasefire seriously when those making the exhortations cannot even acknowledge, let alone demand, the return of hostages and the defeat and demilitarization of Hamas as an obvious prerequisite to any cessation of hostilities.

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