In the wake of the shocking Hamas terrorist attack on southern Israel on October 7, many have attempted to draw parallels to Israel’s “9/11.” However, such comparisons fall short, and President Joe Biden recently pointed out the stark differences between the two tragic events. The death toll in Israel, which exceeded 1,400, represents a significantly larger proportion of Israel’s 9 million population than the 9/11 attacks did in the United States. An equivalent attack in the U.S. would result in about 50,000 deaths.
The critical flaw in this comparison is that a successful Hamas infiltration into Israel from Gaza was precisely the scenario for which Israel was supposed to be prepared, not an unpredictable event. While Hamas bears sole responsibility for its ruthless attack, Israel’s failure to anticipate or adequately respond to the assault, during which terrorists massacred Israeli civilians virtually unimpeded, represents a catastrophic, systemic failure of Israel’s government, intelligence, and military.
The spotlight falls on Benjamin Netanyahu, who, as Israel’s prime minister for most of the past 15 years, has been accused of empowering extremists, undermining Israel’s democratic institutions, fostering government dysfunction and incompetence, and stoking internal conflicts. There’s a warning here for what could happen in America, where former President Donald Trump faces similar criticism.
Netanyahu’s government erred in assessing that Hamas wasn’t interested in a confrontation with Israel at the moment. His long-standing doctrine of allowing Hamas to remain in charge of Gaza to avoid concessions to the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank contributed to the crisis.
As violence escalated in the West Bank, with Palestinian terrorists carrying out attacks against Israelis, the Netanyahu government moved army forces away from Gaza and into the West Bank while ignoring retaliatory attacks by Jewish settlers against West Bank Palestinians.
This ineptitude extended to the security minister, far-right Jewish Power Party leader Itamar Ben-Gvir, and the man in charge of Jewish settlement policy in the West Bank, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who have both incited controversy with their statements.
As tensions mounted, Netanyahu appeared content to let Israel slide into chaos, clinging to power despite facing multiple corruption trials. Many Israelis felt they had lost faith in their government, and extremists dictated government policy.
The parallels between Israel and the United States are striking. The United States is grappling with its own divisions, with many unable to agree on basic facts, such as the responsibility for the January 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
The Republican Party, in particular, has seen a shift towards personality cult politics, causing concern among those who value democratic principles. Extremists are attempting to restrict voter rights in state legislatures and the courts, further deepening the divide.
The continued presence of military-style assault weapons in America poses a significant threat. In this deeply divided nation, where fundamental truths are contested, the ingredients for catastrophe are present.
Israel’s recent experiences should serve as a wake-up call for Americans, reminding them to save their country from the internal divisions and falsehoods that have sown discord. Like Israel, America is at a crossroads, and it’s time to unite and steer the nation away from the precipice before it’s too late.