This article originally appeared in the National Post.
By Matthew Bondy, November 21, 2023
Israel probably waited too long.
After the attack by Islamic terror group Hamas against Israeli civilians on Oct. 7, replete with hostage raids and Einsatzgruppen-style butchery of Jewish civilians, the Jewish state had a window to retaliate with near universal moral authority.
But Israel deferred to the call for patience and restraint by the administration of United States President Joe Biden, adopting the corrosive political tactic of delay instead of leveraging its moral authority to spring an immediate response.
This enabled those calling for a ceasefire, including Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly, to publicly call for a “humanitarian truce.”
What’s actually required is the exact opposite of a truce: Israel’s allies, including the United States and Canada, should adopt a policy of branch-and-root elimination of Iran-backed terrorism in the Middle East. Only then will Israel be secure.
Israel isn’t merely fighting Hamas. It’s also fighting the Palestinian Islamic Jihad to the south and the Iran-backed, Lebanon-based group Hezbollah to the north; both are Islamist terror organizations sanctioned by Canada. Israel is surrounded by underground enemies, armed and financed from abroad, and bent on the Jewish state’s outright elimination.
Ultimately, Israel is fighting Iran, the true enemy of freedom in the Middle East and North Africa region. And the illegitimate, theocratic Iranian regime needs to go.
The 1979 revolution in Iran saw a genuinely evil regime take power. Defined by repression at home and aggression abroad, the war criminals in Tehran maintain power only through murder — of their own citizens, of whom they’ve killed more than 500 during recent democracy protests, and of Jews.
Iran’s ability to maintain a modicum of international support doesn’t really make sense, on its face. Its systemic human rights violations within its own borders and its illegal support for terrorism in the region should make for pariah status. But Iran long ago found an elixir to its otherwise likely political isolation: antisemitism.
Writing for the Jerusalem Strategic Tribune last year, noted foreign affairs intellectual Edward Luttwak described Iranian antisemitism as perfectly logical — if horrific — international politics.
“It is easy to identify the purpose of (Iran’s) performative hostility (toward Jews),” Luttwak wrote. “It seeks to diminish, even nullify, the significance of Iran’s Shiism in addressing the Sunni majority of the Muslim world: We hate the Jews more than you do, and that is what really matters.”
Or if you like, the enemy of your enemy is your friend.
While democratic states find legitimacy in their constitutions and the democratic process, despotic regimes have to search for alternative sources. For China, for many years, that source was economic growth. Now that growth has stalled, the Chinese Communist Party is turning to international aggression fuelled by nationalism.
Russia, for another example, flirted with liberalization after the end of the Cold War — but without immediate success in generating more democracy or more economic growth, it pivoted back to neo-imperialism, with nationalism and regional aggression generating enough domestic support for the regime to survive despite phony elections and poor living standards.
Iran, another brutal dictatorship among many, is no different. It doesn’t promise human rights. It doesn’t promise economic growth. It doesn’t promise innovation, tranquility or peace — the currencies of legitimate governments. Instead, it promises death to Jews, death to Israel and death to America. And it hopes that that will be enough to keep it in power.
Except, it’s not — or at least it shouldn’t be.
While it’s tough to pin down the exact line that separates legitimate governments from illegitimate ones — if it even exists — it’s not hard to spot the outliers. Iran demonstrably holds onto power only through crushing internal dissent, as detailed in reports by Amnesty International, and maintains its status in the Middle East only through its leadership in working toward the extermination of Jews and Israel. In other words, through violence and bigotry.
Iranians and their neighbours deserve better.
As long as the revolutionary regime in Tehran survives, so too will the threat to Israel and the world from Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah and Iran’s nuclear program. Not to mention the existential threat to the Persian people.
In other words, this is no time for a ceasefire. The conflict in the Holy Land is not merely a war between Israel and Hamas. It’s a war between western civilization and a near-nuclear theocracy hellbent on terror and destruction.
It would be convenient to avoid that truth. Polite, even. But not wise.
Matthew Bondy is a Senior Fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute.