This is not a usual topic for an IBJ column, but these are unusual times.
My wife, Meg, and I recently returned from a trip with our business partners to Israel. Two-thirds of the way into the flight home, we learned in real time of the atrocities committed in southern Israel by the terrorist organization Hamas.
Upon landing early Oct. 7, we were devastated to learn that we had lost our dear friend, Ofir Libstein, mayor of the region of villages near Gaza. Ofir was shot to death while defending his village. Ofir was in Indianapolis just two months ago to meet with Indiana peers in agriculture, ag-tech, high-tech and politics (and also to attend my son’s bar mitzvah). Many burgeoning relationships came from his visit, and our business community stood to gain from future partnerships. Sadly, it is not to be.
Meg and our 15-year-old daughter, Sophie, were with Ofir the Friday before our departure, just hours before the terrorist invasion. Sophie was invited to spend Shabbat (the Jewish Sabbath) with Ofir’s family and thankfully declined because she wanted to return to her school and friends. She would have stayed at Kfar Azza, one of the villages so sadly in the news. She could easily have been the victim of murder or worse.
In the eyes of Hamas, she is not a 15-year-old kid on a study-abroad program. She is a legitimate target, like every resident of Israel, no matter your age, religion or ethnicity. Sophie spent the first week of this war in Israel scared to death. Scared of the rockets, scared to shower, scared of terrorist infiltrations. She, like every person with at least a shred of humanity, is appalled at the images of decapitated babies, the stories of raped girls. She is disgusted by the videos of hundreds of Gazans surrounding pickup trucks laden with Israelis, dead and alive, cheering and partying as candy is handed out to children.
As a community, we are proud of the American support of Israel as she struggles to provide security to her citizens. However, in addition to Sophie’s physical fear, she is disheartened by the equivocation of many Americans who are too biased to see this as an attack on all that America holds dear, who advocated for America’s fight against Al-Qaeda, ISIS and the Taliban but support Hamas because Hamas kills Jews. You don’t have to agree with the policies of the Israeli government to have the moral clarity to condemn the decapitation of babies. Could the bar get any lower?
This is a fight against barbarism, one of good versus evil. This was not resistance; this is not a territorial dispute. This was a crime against humanity, a war crime of unimaginable proportions. America entered World War II after 2,400 were killed in Pearl Harbor. With 1,300 and climbing massacred Israelis, there must be a retaliation that ensures this will never happen again. Civilian casualties are sure to follow, made worse by Hamas blockades of the humanitarian corridors set up by Israel and the sealing off of the border crossing from Gaza to Egypt.
I call on you to be clear-eyed: There can be no equivocation, only humanity. Look at the images, watch the videos. Internalize the many instances of rape, beheadings of babies, entire families bound together and shot, and residents burned inside their homes. Do not hide from the raw, terrible truth.
No civic leader should shrink from the duty to defend American ideals from those who would explain away these heinous acts as “resistance.” This is all of civilization’s fight— yours, too. Do not accept any equivocation for the acts of these murderous terrorists.•
Greg Maurer is the founder and managing director of Heron Capital Venture Fund.