September 11 as Viewed from the Israeli Embassy

Twenty-two years ago today, al-Qaeda simultaneously attacked U.S. cities with airplanes filled with unsuspecting passengers, murdering thousands of Americans. At the time, Mark Regev was a spokesperson at Israel’s U.S. embassy; he began that fateful day preparing for an official visit from then-Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer on September 12. He recounts his experience:

It wasn’t too long before my colleagues and I were instructed to exit the embassy. But with the defense minister arriving the next day, and so much still to do, my immediate reaction was to view the evacuation directive as unnecessary. I attributed it to the legendary overzealousness of embassy security which was always prioritizing safety at the expense of everything else.

Ambassador David Ivry was a former commander of the Israel Air Force (IAF), deputy IDF chief of staff, director general of the Ministry of Defense, national security advisor, and long experienced at handling a crisis. . . . When I barged into his office, Ivry must have thought my behavior somewhat detached from reality. For when I complained that the security people were preventing me from preparing for Ben-Eliezer, the ambassador looked at me and said: “Mark, you don’t understand, there isn’t going to be a visit.”

[In Israel, then-prime minister Ariel] Sharon set the tone. In a televised address to the nation, he proclaimed: “The fight against terrorism is an international struggle of the free world against the forces of darkness who seek to destroy our liberty and way of life.” Israel, he declared, was prepared to provide the U.S. with “any assistance at any time.” . . . Across Israel, many hoped that with America experiencing Islamist terror firsthand, Washington policymakers could now better appreciate the realities that Israelis had been facing daily.

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: 9/11, Al Qaeda, Ariel Sharon, U.S.-Israel relationship

Only Hamas’s Defeat Can Pave the Path to Peace

Opponents of the IDF’s campaign in Gaza often appeal to two related arguments: that Hamas is rooted in a set of ideas and thus cannot be defeated militarily, and that the destruction in Gaza only further radicalizes Palestinians, thus increasing the threat to Israel. Rejecting both lines of thinking, Ghaith al-Omar writes:

What makes Hamas and similar militant organizations effective is not their ideologies but their ability to act on them. For Hamas, the sustained capacity to use violence was key to helping it build political power. Back in the 1990s, Hamas’s popularity was at its lowest point, as most Palestinians believed that liberation could be achieved by peaceful and diplomatic means. Its use of violence derailed that concept, but it established Hamas as a political alternative.

Ever since, the use of force and violence has been an integral part of Hamas’s strategy. . . . Indeed, one lesson from October 7 is that while Hamas maintains its military and violent capabilities, it will remain capable of shaping the political reality. To be defeated, Hamas must be denied that. This can only be done through the use of force.

Any illusions that Palestinian and Israeli societies can now trust one another or even develop a level of coexistence anytime soon should be laid to rest. If it can ever be reached, such an outcome is at best a generational endeavor. . . . Hamas triggered war and still insists that it would do it all again given the chance, so it will be hard-pressed to garner a following from Palestinians in Gaza who suffered so horribly for its decision.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict