The absurdity of what so-called “ceasefire advocates” are pushing for in Gaza becomes clear when you adjust the scene a bit. In what other hostage standoff do we yell “ceasefire” at the cops negotiating the captives’ release? Or at the FBI agents pursuing a kidnapper? There’s a reason the Taken movies starring Liam Neeson aren’t called Ceasefire, Ceasefire 2, and Ceasefire 3.

Hamas could end this war tomorrow by surrendering and returning the hostages. A ceasefire is on the table; the Israelis aren’t the real obstacle. What the activists are pressing for is unilateral disarmament. They want forfeiture. They want a state to betray its most fundamental obligation to its citizens.

Abraham Lincoln was supposedly a fan of the joke: How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg?

Answer: Still four! Calling the tail a leg doesn’t make it one. And calling something a ceasefire doesn’t make it one, either.

When even Bernie Sanders animatedly insists Hamas cannot be left in power in Gaza, what you have is something close to consensus. The reality is that if Hamas must be removed, any ceasefire worth its salt would lay out exactly how the terror group will surrender to its own dismantling. And public discussion of a ceasefire would be dominated by debate over exactly this: How and when Hamas will accept its fate and release the hostages.

Yet the practice of tearing down posters of kidnapped Israeli children has only grown as some sordid act of resistance, its notoriety being a mark of pride. But the essential reason for it is that a great many people are made genuinely uncomfortable by the reality of Israeli humanity and Israeli suffering. Their anger is directed not at the kidnappers of children but at those who publicly call for the captives’ return and post information about them. They don’t want people to know about the existence of those taken from their homes and their families by a genocidal terror army.

When police in New York were compelled by city regulation to remove some of the posters that were in the subway, they read each one and looked into each face. “Four years old. Jesus,” one said before starting to remove them with care. That is the normal response—before Oct. 7, most of us would have expected anyone in that same position to have that same reaction.

And most of us would have expected any list of demands by activists in America to have “free the hostages” right up top, followed by “drop your weapons and exit the premises in an orderly fashion.” Instead, we’re fighting over recognition that the hostages exist and that Hamas has done evil. The revelation that American citizens were included in the more than 200 captives taken by Hamas did nothing to bridle the outpouring of anti-Israel sociopaths’ fury at innocent victims.

So here we are, pretending to have a debate about a ceasefire because what these same sociopaths want is to erase Jewish victims from the conversation. This is their demand.

And the reason that is their demand is because Israel’s mission in Gaza is just. The plain facts of the events of the past month leave no doubt, so those facts must be scrubbed meticulously from public attention. That is why they complain that Israeli screenings of videos taken by Hamas are somehow “Israeli propaganda.” Because they do not expect to win public opinion to their side if people know what actually happened.

Until the demand for a ceasefire includes a demand for the freeing of all hostages and closing the book on the Age of Hamas, advocates will not move the war closer to peace. But that’s not what they really want anyway, is it?

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