Israel Must Finish Rafah

To stay alive, Israel must finish the job.
May 8, 2024
An Israeli soldier walks near an armored personnel carrier near the border with the southern Gaza Strip on May 7, 2024 in Southern Israel. (Photo by Amir Levy/Getty Images)

Six months after Islamists murdered 1,200 innocent Jews in Israel, the war effort is at risk of stalling.

Agitators successfully turned college campuses into anti-Israel pressure campaigns. Students are waving Hamas and Hezbollah flags. Young agitators unable to distinguish Palestine from Narnia are demanding something they cannot articulate. Rioters seized college buildings without resistance because professors and administrators empathized with them.

President Biden is helpless to calm matters, caught in a self-made electoral vise. He stayed silent as Arab Muslims in Michigan chanted 鈥淒eath to America鈥 and 鈥淒eath to Israel.鈥 Pres. Biden cravenly sacrificed doing what is right in favor of appeasing Michigan voters vital to his reelection.

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman offered advice that no Israeli leader should ever follow. Mr. Friedman insisted Israel had to choose between Rafah and Riyadh.

Friedman posits that letting Rafah survive would bring Israel global goodwill and normalized relations with Saudi Arabia. Burning Rafah to ashes would anger the House of Saud and render Israel international pariah status.

From premise to solution, Friedman is wrong. He treats life like junior high school, where social cliques matter. If geeks, dorks and dweebs would only humiliate themselves, the cool kids will somehow like them. This defies reality. Prom queens do not date band geeks. Mean girls do not stop gleefully torturing their bullying victims.

Israeli military force created normalized relations with Egypt and Jordan. Diplomacy emanated from Israel鈥檚 military victories, not Israeli restraint. Allowing Hamas and Hezbollah to survive to curry favor with the Saudis is nonsensical.

Saudi Madrassas teach Wahhabism. Saudis murdered 3,000 Americans on September 11th, 2001. There is little to like or emulate. Saudi Arabia is tolerated because they have oil. Their best national quality is being less awful than Iran. That is not a ringing endorsement of coolness.

More importantly, Saudi Arabia is a paper tiger with no military. Collapsing their kingdom could take 10 minutes. Crashing the price of oil would bring the Saudis to their knees.

Friedman鈥檚 binary choice between Rafah and Riyadh is folly. Israel can have it all. Smashing Rafah to pieces would remind the world that Israel will not be bullied into national suicide. Once Rafah is finished, Riyadh will eagerly seek to align with the winners. Saudi Arabia will choose cool kid Israel over ugly duckling Iran.

The Saudis care little about Rafah or displaced Egyptians and Jordanians calling themselves 鈥淧alestinians.鈥 The Saudi princes are survivalists. They would instantaneously sacrifice fellow Arabs to prevent their kingdom from being toppled. Saudis know their true enemy is Iran, not Israel. Saudis and Israelis both love conducting business deals.

Friedman鈥檚 most grievous error is assuming Israel can survive without total war victory. Friedman believes total victory is impossible. On the contrary, anything less than total victory would cripple Israel. If Rafah is spared, Netanyahu鈥檚 government would crumble. While many politically liberal and leftist people and organizations want this, it would be catastrophic for Israel and the region. A strong Israel is key to regional stability. A weakened Israel delivers chaos. Iran would move speedily toward developing atomic bombs. Saudi Arabia and other Arab Muslim nations would conduct an arms race. Nuclear Armageddon would be a possibility.

Conversely, Israel could do the one thing that takes a brutally tough character mold. Israel can yell 鈥渢o hell with public opinion鈥 and wear being hated as a badge of honor. This strategy effectively powered entities as diverse as George W. Bush and Dick Cheney to the 1970s Oakland Raiders.

The big picture is history, written by the winning side. Israel鈥檚 survival requires killing Islamist terrorists on their border before the Islamist terrorists murder Israelis. 鈥淣ever again鈥 must transcend hollow bumper sticker slogans.

Jewish existence is dependent on successful military incursions, not skilled public relations.

Jewish existence is dependent on successful military incursions, not skilled public relations. As was the case after the Israeli bombing of the 1982 Iraqi Osirak reactor, condemnation of Israel will fade. 九色 cycles wither. Death is permanent.

To stay alive, Israel must finish the job. Riyadh will fall in line. The Iran domino matters. Toppling Iran鈥檚 genocidal mullahs requires that Israel give Rafah Islamists the mother of all military lashings.

Eric Golub is a retired stockbrokerage and oil professional living in Los Angeles.

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