Jeff Jacoby

Media coverage of the hostilities in Gaza tends to focus on rockets and casualties and diplomatic maneuvering. Not emphasized nearly enough is the vast moral distance that separates Israel from its terrorist enemy. Israel and Hamas are not at war over territory. What divides them is an unbridgeable cultural abyss. On one side is a Jewish state that seeks peace with its neighbors and has repeatedly offered deep concessions to achieve it; on the other, a fanatic regime of jihadists who glorify death, abominate Jews – and are obsessed with eradicating that solitary Jewish state.

"Our struggle against the Jews is extremely wide-ranging and grave," avows the hate-drenched Hamas charter. Success will not come, declares Article 7, "until Muslims will fight the Jews and kill them; until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: 'O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him!'"

By now it shouldn't come as news that Hamas means what it says. By now it should be obvious even to the congenitally naïve that so long as Hamas rules Gaza – a de facto Palestinian state, no matter what anyone calls it – it will never end its quest for Israel's annihilation. To Western eyes that may seem an improbable objective, given Israel's enormous military edge. But Hamas understands the value of terror. When it can send hundreds of rockets slamming over the border, when it can force Israelis to listen constantly for the siren that means they have just 15 seconds to find shelter, Hamas inches toward its goal. And when Israel finally retaliates and only then does an international uproar ensue, Hamas inches closer still.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton headed to the Middle East on Tuesday. The UN secretary-general called for a cease-fire. President Obama's spokesman insisted that "the best way to solve this is through diplomacy." But what can diplomacy achieve with an enemy that rejects the basic norms of international behavior? That is not only indifferent to the suffering of its own people, but welcomes it for its propaganda value? That rejoices in suicide terrorism, and runs TV spots promising more of it?

Any cease-fire now means a win for Hamas, which will go on fomenting violence, hatred, and death. Diplomacy cannot solve the problem of terrorist regimes. Neither can unilateral concessions or UN resolutions. The only solution is to deprive the terrorists of power. So long as Gaza remains a Hamas-ruled tyranny, peace will remain but a dream.

Jeff Jacoby

Jeff Jacoby is an Op-Ed writer for the Boston Globe, a radio political commentator, and a contributing columnist for Townhall.com.