David Harsanyi

In our nation, even twisted extremists are welcome to express their opinions.

Take, for instance, the young Muslim woman in Florida who used her constitutional right to tell Jews to "go back to the oven!" last week. Or the more befuddled protestor in New York, who brandished a sign that read, "Death to All Juice."

And I thought we Jews ran this country. Clearly, someone is sleeping on the job.

These rare but revolting displays of hate do offer the Juice a valuable reminder that a secure Jewish state in Israel is a historic imperative.

Nevertheless, it is distressing to hear the large number of supposedly peace-loving critics of Israel, in essence, defend Hamas, one of the most virulently nonintellectual, illiberal, bellicose, misogynistic, hateful and violent brand of religious fanaticism on earth.

It's no easy trick, mind you. After all, the magnificently overused "cycle of violence" -- a platitude that shrewdly spreads blame equally among the culpable and innocent -- has, thankfully, cliched itself to death. So now, detractors have turned to a feeble argument, which claims Israel is guilty of failing to deploy a "proportional" response against Hamas.

It is said that every story has two sides. In this tale, one group has a nihilistic interest in placing Jews in ovens (though Hamas, without Iran, lacks the technological capacity to construct a match, much less an oven) and the other side, a stubborn habit of postponing this fate.

For Israel, there is no choice. There is no political solution. No happy ending. No one to talk to. The present circumstance in Gaza refutes the left's quixotic notion that antagonists can just, you know, hug it out for peace. It also counters the neoconservative idea that democracy will spread among people who place no value on freedom.

Because Gaza is free. Obviously, the Palestinians cannot be placated with an independent state -- a gift they never had until Israel handed them Gaza with nary a condition. But this is not a 3,000-year-old war steeped in ancient history, despite widespread perceptions. This was a 20th-century battle between Jewish and Arab nationalists. It has turned into a more insidious 21st-century war with Islamic fundamentalism.

Hamas will not be romanced by the idea of "building bridges" with Israel. There are not enough conferences rooms in Oslo or Davos to persuade Hamas even to recognize the existence of a Jewish state.

And Hamas is uninterested in cease-fires, except when it is in need of reloading rocket launchers -- supplied by mullahs of Iran.