Cliff May is founder and president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) and a columnist for the Washington Times. He is a veteran reporter, foreign correspondent, and editor for the New York Times and other publications. Cliff’s current column is “The speech Biden should make now” (at FDD, where it is posted with links). Cliff has kindly given us his permission to post his column on Power Line. He writes:
My fellow Americans, as you know, the war between Israel and Hamas has resumed.
That’s because Hamas broke the humanitarian ceasefire that my administration worked so hard to arrange.
Hamas fired more rockets at Israel, murdered four Israelis in a terrorist attack in Jerusalem, and refused to release, as they’d agreed, women and children they’re holding hostage – American citizens among them.
This conflict could end tomorrow if Hamas commanders in Gaza would release those hostages, put down their weapons, and surrender.
Hamas leaders living in luxury in Qatar could order their Gaza commanders to end the fighting.
Iran’s rulers, sponsors of Hamas and oppressors of their own people, could help bring this conflict to an end.
But none of them are doing that, which tells me they regard Gazan civilians as sacrificial pawns.
That said, I’m asking our Israeli friends – as they defend themselves by dismantling Hamas’s terrorist capabilities, terminating Hamas’s rule of Gaza, and searching for their kidnapped citizens – to do all they can to save the lives of noncombatants in Gaza.
Make no mistake: No military in the world works harder or risks more to comply with the laws of armed conflict than the Israel Defense Forces.
By stark contrast, Hamas commits war crimes consistently, blatantly, and boastfully – using Gazan men, women, and children as human shields. Hamas’s supporters deny, ignore, or condone these war crimes.
Ghazi Hamad, a senior Hamas member, has vowed that his organization plans to attack Israel “again and again” as it did on October 7 – meaning with mass murder, mass rape, stealing babies, and other atrocities – until the Jewish state is “completely destroyed.”
Yahya Sinwar, the Hamas commander in Gaza, called October 7 a “dress rehearsal” for future attacks on Israel.
Hamas’s supporters chant: “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!” That’s a call for the annihilation of Israel and the extermination of Israelis.
In other words, it’s a call for genocide, a second Holocaust.
And to that I say: “Never again!” Not on my watch! And not, I pray, on the watch of any American president who comes after me.
As my Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, said on Friday: “Israel has the right to do everything it can to ensure that the slaughter Hamas carried out on October 7th can never be repeated. Hamas cannot remain in control of Gaza. It cannot retain the capacity to repeat that carnage.”
At the same time, I want to ensure that sufficient aid goes to Gazans who don’t want to fight and die for Hamas. And, as Tony also noted, Israel has plans to “do everything possible to protect civilians” until such time as this war that Hamas began – and is still fighting – concludes.
When that time comes, there can be a future for Palestinians in both Gaza and the West Bank. I think they should have a state of their own. But it must be a state that peacefully coexists with Israel.
Tragically, Hamas – and Palestinian leaders from Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem during World War II, to Yasser Arafat to Mahmoud Abbas – have only made it more difficult to achieve that goal.
OK, folks, here’s where I make some news. The late, great economist John Maynard Keynes said: “When the facts change, I change my mind.” Well, some facts have changed.
For example, a retired Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps general in Iran last week acknowledged – bragged actually – that he had supplied Hamas with rockets, and that he’d spent time in Hamas’s tunnels conducting “training courses.”
Last week also, a bipartisan majority in the House passed a bill meant to cut off Tehran’s access to tens of billions of dollars in additional economic relief. I get the message.
And on Sunday, a US Navy destroyer and three commercial vessels came under attack from Tehran-enabled Houthi terrorists in Yemen.
Look, no one can say that President Obama and I didn’t extend our hands – over and over – to Iran’s rulers. But they never unclenched their fists.
Based on these changed facts, a mid-course correction is required – a different and tougher approach. You’ll soon be hearing – and seeing – more about this policy shift.
In line with that, you may have read an op-ed I recently wrote observing that both Hamas and Russian President Vladimir Putin are attempting to erase nations from the map.
I noted that both also “hope to collapse broader regional stability and integration and take advantage of the ensuing disorder.” I neglected to include Iran’s rulers in this piece. I should have.
To my disappointment, Xi Jinping is backing both Moscow and Tehran while continuing to threaten the people of Taiwan.
It’s now clear to me that America and its allies face no greater threat than that posed by the axis of Chinese Communists, Russian imperialists, and Islamic Republic of Iran jihadis.
So, America and its allies must have the military and economic strength to deter our adversaries.
How will you know that I’m doing what’s necessary to meet this most serious of challenges? As my father used to say: “Joey, don’t tell me what you value, show me your budget. I’ll tell you what you value.”
My final word for today: Last month, I was the first U.S. president to visit Israel in a time of war.
I reminded Israelis that one of my predecessors, President Harry S. Truman, was the first world leader to recognize Israel. I said that Americans have “stood by her ever since” and I promised that “we’re going to stand by her now.”
I intend to keep my promise as Israelis do the hard job of finishing the war that Hamas – and its terrorist sponsors – started.