In the early 2000s, a common complaint among local cops was that people who served on juries had been watching too much CSI, the police procedural that convinced viewers that if someone were really guilty, there would be “DNA evidence.”

The Mideast version of “the CSI problem” is “the Fauda problem.” In 2016, Netflix picked up the streaming rights to a popular Israeli TV thriller centered on members of Israeli units that go undercover to infiltrate Arab terrorist cells. The show was a hit and earned three more seasons. It also supercharged the perception that every Israeli spy was James Bond and every soldier was G.I. Joe, an idea lampooned so well in Adam Sandler’s spoof You Don’t Mess With the Zohan.

Israel’s influential Western critics seem to think Zohan was a documentary.

There were the leaks from the Biden administration to Politico, describing the tightrope that the White House apparently wants Israel to walk in Rafah, where four Hamas battalions remain: “Senior U.S. officials have told their Israeli counterparts the Biden administration would support Israel going after high-value Hamas targets in and underneath Rafah—as long as Israel avoids a large-scale invasion that could fracture the alliance.”

In practice, this means “top administration officials have signaled to Israel that they could support a plan more akin to counterterrorism operations than all-out war, four U.S. officials said.”

How might these officials expect Israeli troops to get to high value targets “underneath Rafah” without securing the parts of the city with entrances to those underground tunnels and facilities? Are we thinking Sonic the Hedgehog here, just run fast enough to tear up the ground in front of them? They certainly don’t have time to make like Andy Dufresne in the Shawshank Redemption, slowly digging his own tunnel over the course of 19 years. Surely any successful such operation would require some rudimentary teleportation.

Former British foreign secretary and current head of the International Rescue Committee, David Miliband, would like the IDF to do its best impression of the Amazing Mumford from Sesame Street and wave a magic wand shouting “A la peanut butter sandwiches,” after which there would be a poof, and a safe route for humanitarian aid would appear from the sands of the Levant. This route would be immune to Hamas’s bullets and other marauders, presumably because of a Zionist Force Field built around it by enterprising researchers at the Technion.

Miliband doesn’t get into specifics: “There is no good reason why aid cannot reach Gaza by land today. The Israeli authorities have the ability to create conditions for safe and effective distribution of aid, but they are not doing so.” How does he know? Well, perhaps he just knows.

Then there is the question of whether Israel’s broader war strategy from the start was the problem. Could Israel have achieved its objectives while vastly limiting civilian harm?

This is, by the way, a worthwhile question to ask in any war. So if there’s an answer, let’s hear it.

In the Wall Street Journal, Richard Haas takes his best shot at it. It’s important to be clear on the goals of the war, first. Here’s Haas: “Israel had not just the right to respond but the necessity: to show that Hamas would pay a high price for its savagery, to keep the perpetrators from killing again and to recover those who had been taken hostage.”

So we’re clear: Any IDF response had an obligation to redeem hostages and to prevent Hamas from being able to reprise an attack like this.

Much of the piece is Haas retelling, from his perspective, what has already happened. When he gets to what Israel should have done differently, his argument seems to jettison the agreed-upon goals and obligations laid out at the beginning. For example, according to Haas, Israel should have begun by doing nothing: “Had Israel waited to respond after Oct. 7, Hamas’s atrocities would have dominated the news, allowing Israel to focus international attention on the barbaric attack, made possible by the group’s backers in Tehran. New sanctions could have been imposed against Iran; aid to Hamas from Qatar and others could have been halted. Pressure could have been raised on both Iran and Hamas to release the hostages.”

I want to point out first that Israel did indeed wait to launch its ground incursion, but that it was quite literally impossible for Israel not to respond in some fashion immediately because—and this is key—the attack was still ongoing after Oct. 7. Israel had been invaded. It had to drive the invaders out and that includes the stragglers who stayed in Israel seeking to cause more havoc. Indeed, the overall plan seemed to be for Hamas terrorists to make their way across Israel’s narrow waist and set the West Bank on fire. And because hostages were taken into Gaza, it would have been inexcusable to wave to them from the border rather than immediately work to stop their captors or disrupt their communications.

So Israel responded but didn’t invade.

More important is the fact that Haas’s predictions of global sympathy do not bear any resemblance to the real world. There would have been sanctions on Iran, but there aren’t now because Israel waited only three weeks before invading? The word nonsense does not begin to do this idea justice. Qatar would voluntarily halt funding? Iran would feel pressure to get the hostages out?

Let me remind everyone that the pro-Iran and pro-Hamas demonstrations began immediately in the wake of the attack, not after the response. And the public pressure being put on the Biden administration is coming from a large group of people who explicitly believe the Oct. 7 attacks were justified “resistance.” What headlines would’ve changed their minds? They know what happened.

We have seen a series of figures insist that Israel could’ve done this all differently, and then when pressed for details, they give us… absolutely nothing whatsoever. This is not a television show. Israelis are people—a fact far too rarely acknowledged these days.

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