The moral imperative to destroy Hamas has come roaring back to the front burner with the revelations of the terrorists’ abuse of Israeli captives, especially young children. Israel first announced its intention to defeat and disempower Hamas after the attacks of October 7. When Israeli leadership refused to waver from this goal, Western observers realized it wasn’t mere bluster.
There followed a wave of warnings that this war aim simply wasn’t realistic. Now that we appear to be at a moment of renewed Israeli resolve to carry out its mission in Gaza, those admonishments are likely to resurface as well. Though some were clearly offered in sincere good faith, the arguments against trying to destroy Hamas boil down to some form of: the ideas animating the terrorist group cannot be eliminated. Even if true, that’s irrelevant to Israel’s war aims.
The Islamic State, similar to Hamas not only in its medieval barbarity but in its governing of territory that includes civilians, is also animated by ideas. And, to be clear, those ideas are consequential.
Barack Obama famously referred to the Islamic State as al-Qaeda’s “jayvee team.” But he also had a habit of discounting the Islamic nature of terror groups, including the Islamic State. “ISIL is not ‘Islamic.’ No religion condones the killing of…