Walrus Magazine Column Claims It’s “Questionable” Whether Israel Has Any Right To Self-Defence Against Hamas At All

December 6, 2023

In her November 29 column in The Walrus entitled: “What Does ‘Defence’ Really Mean,” Samia Madwar, one of the magazine’s senior editors, asked readers to ponder what constitutes self-defence, and to what degree Israel is limited in its ability to defend itself.

Instead of beginning such a discussion by evaluating the capabilities and aims of Hamas, an Islamic terrorist group dedicated to Israel’s wholesale destruction, Madwar argued that many crimes have been committed under the guise of self-defence, including the Holocaust, since the Nazis “painted Jews as dangerous,” the Rwandan genocide, and others.

Such a point is so all-encompassing, it is essentially meaningless. It is self-evident and hardly bearing to mention that any excuse, no matter how flimsy, can be used to justify and commit genocide. Rather than shining any light on the question of proportionality in war, Madwar’s examples serve only to falsely imply a similar flimsy rationale behind Israel’s war with Hamas.

Madwar’s article moved beyond her use of sloppy historical examples to overt falsehoods. In one instance, she wrote that “given that Gaza is under Israel’s occupation, it’s questionable whether Israel can invoke its legal right to military self-defence against it.”

Of course, prior to Israel’s recent invasion to root out Hamas, Gaza has not been under Israeli occupation since 2005, when Israel forcibly withdrew all its citizens, civilian and military alike, from the territory. And while Israel has, in the face of Hamas’ ongoing attempts to smuggle weapons into the enclave, maintained a blockade of the strip (which has not prevented humanitarian aid from entering), this remains a fully legal mechanism.

More importantly, even if Gaza was occupied entirely by Israel, in no way is it “questionable” whether Israel is able to protect its citizens from attack by the Hamas terrorist group.

Madwar mis-labels Israel’s war against the group as a kind of misplaced bloodlust. In the absence of facts, Madwar instead resorted to baseless platitudes, writing that “many have rightly questioned how many Palestinians Israel needs to kill before it feels it’s sufficiently defended itself.”

Israel has been clear from the immediate aftermath of Hamas’ October 7 attacks that its goal has been, in addition to the release of all hostages kidnapped by Hamas, the defeat of the terrorist group as the governing entity in the Gaza Strip. This can hardly be surprising. The group has made no secret of its desire to annihilate Israel through violence, and replace it with an Islamic State-style regime.

Madwar does briefly acknowledge that “Hamas is bent on Israel’s annihilation,” but immediately wrote that “Israeli officials have promised to ‘destroy Gaza.’”

Madwar does not cite whom these officials are, but it appears to be Israel’s former ambassador to Italy, and a former member of Israel’s Knesset, neither of whom are representatives of Israel’s government, and certainly do not speak for the policy of the Israeli government.

While Hamas explicitly calls for the annihilation of Israel, Israel sends thousands of trucks worth of humanitarian aid into the coastal territory. While Hamas marauds through southern Israel, murdering, raping, and torturing, Israel drops leaflets and warns civilians to flee areas of heavy fighting.

Claiming that there is a comparison between the goals of Hamas and Israel is not only false, it is patently dishonest and egregious. While only Madwar knows if her intentions were malice or simply a result of astounding ignorance, the result is the same.

Madwar’s article ends by quoting Arwa Damon, a former CNN correspondent, who said that in order to bring peace, Israel needs to “address the factors of what made this individual…want to pick up a gun and shoot at me or send a suicide bomber at me.”

Fortunately, one need not speculate on what will make Hamas lower its weapons. Their founding charter and their leaders spell it out clearly: the total destruction of Israel. Until commentators like Madwar stubbornly refuse to listen to Hamas’ stated goals, and instead concoct their own rationales as to why Hamas carries out terrorism, they will continue to produce de facto justifications for violence, and in turn, all but guarantee that Palestinians in Gaza will continue to suffer under Hamas’ genocidal rule.


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