Each time Israel has given up land in its quest for peace, the vacuum has been filled with terrorists, David Friedman* said on Washington Watch Wednesday.
"In the past Israel has, at the world's insistence, managed a conflict – which means every few years Hamas will shoot some rockets, and Israel will retaliate," Friedman told show host Tony Perkins.
"They'll degrade Hamas' capabilities, but then they'll be built back. They'll be built back with an enormous amount of money from Iran which has gotten way, way richer over the past three years. If you compare the amount of oil they sold in 2022 to the amount they sold in 2020, it's about eight times the amount."
As a result of last Saturday's attack by Hamas, which has slaughtered more than 1,000 innocent civilians and taken many more hostage, the mindset in Israel has changed. Patriotism is now at an all-time high, and a nation divided by political unrest over the summer has come together in pursuit of one clear goal – and it isn't asking anyone's permission.
Giving up land in exchange for peace has been a failed philosophy, Friedman said.
"It will continue to fail. I wish we didn't have to learn this lesson in such a painful way. The brutality is unthinkable, indescribable. I didn't think human beings were capable of such brutality … the babies, forcing children to watch their parents being slaughtered, forcing parents to watch their children being slaughtered, taking Holocaust survivors, 90-year-old women, who never thought they would live to see this type of behavior again … they're now being held hostage in Gaza.
"Israel has not been given permission from the world, including the United States, to win a war, and that's why this thing keeps popping up over and over and over again. Right now, it's not about managing a conflict; right now, it's about winning a war. They have to win the war," Friedman said.
Attack makes Israel's summer of division just a memory
Just last month, the Jewish nation faced deep divisions over a new law passed by Netanyahu's government that limits the authority of Israel's Supreme Court. Thousands of Israelis blocked main roads and access to the main airport in protests. In Jerusalem, police turned a water cannon on some protestors and dragged away others by force in what was called the deepest political splits the country has seen in decades.
After one infamous Saturday morning, Friedman explained, the country became united.
"The flip side, if there is any kind of a silver lining, it's that the people of Israel are united I think as never before. Israelis of all stripes and views and philosophies are coming home to their basic values," he shared. "People are flying in, Israelis on vacation all over the world are flying back, rushing back, to join the reserves, the join the Army. Those who are not in the Army are doing everything they can to help the troops.
"The philanthropy that's coming in from all over the Diaspora is extraordinary. This is a terrible price to play for that unity, but when Israel is united in this way, and when the world is united around Israel, not just the Jewish world, but the Chrisian world, it gives us all a certainty that with God's help Israel is going to prevail," Friedman said.
According to the former ambassador, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) were caught off guard by the number of volunteers in the wake of the attack.
"They're short on all kinds of supplies because they didn't expect this overwhelming response. We heard over a month ago from some people in the military who didn't like the way the politics was going say, 'We're not going to serve under this government.' Well, that's all out the window. People are rushing to serve, the patriotism here and the determination … this is a 'Never Again' moment," Friedman said.
While support for Israel has come from many voices worldwide, so has opposition. Many who have opposed Israel for years, painting it as an oppressor for its policies in dealing with the Hamas-led Gaza Strip, continue to voice opposition to Israel.
Reports say as many as 300,000 IDF troops have amassed at the Gaza border for an apparent ground invasion.
'Let me tell you about that Gaza Strip'
Friedman says while the Gaza Strip – which Israel evacuated in 2005, leading to free elections and a Palestinian people who chose Hamas – may be known for the density and poverty of its population, it has riches that most of the world doesn't understand.
"That Gaza Strip has one of the longest stretches of beachfront of any nation in the Mediterranean. It's got exactly the same beach as you'll see in Tel-Aviv, which has one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Gaza has mansions where a lot of the corrupt leaders live," he described.
"Now, why is Gaza a place that neither you nor I would want to live? Because of Hamas, not because of Israel. There's not a single Jew living in Gaza, not a single Israeli soldier stationed in Gaza. There's not anything Israel wants from Gaza other than for them to have a quiet border," Friedman continued.
"Instead, Hamas has taken over the Gaza Strip … in an election. People chose Hamas, and Hamas wants to kill Jews – and because Hamas wants to kill Jews and destroy the nation of Israel, Israel is not letting the people of Gaza travel freely into their territory."
Friedman argued that if the Palestinian people would deny Hamas, the conflict would end as far as Israel is concerned. But given the status quo, comparing the Hamas attack to the Holocaust, he said, is not overthinking the moment.
"What happened on October 7 was a day of the Holocaust. It's not the same in scope as the Holocaust. In the Holocaust, that happened every single day; but this was a day that could literally be pulled out of those ugly years. It was entirely reminiscent of the cruelty and barbarity of the Holocaust."
Nevertheless, Friedman remains optimistic Israel will overcome.
"We use the phrase 'Never Again' very freely to make sure there will never be another Holocaust. Hopefully we're going to prove that 'Never Again' is not an empty slogan," he shared. "'Never Again' really means something, and it's going to show that the difference between the Holocaust and today is that now there's a state of Israel, now there's a state that's committed to defending the Jewish people – and they're going to prevail."
* David Friedman served as U.S. ambassador to Israel during the Trump administration.