Americans should be proud and confident when they look to the future. Barack Obama was sworn in as president today and whether one supported him or not during the campaign, he has earned and deserves our trust. In the final analysis, however, the recent election will not prove as consequential as it may have seemed at first. We still live in the safest country in the world, a place of hope, prosperity and confidence. No one candidate, no one party – even in a tough election cycle – may claim a monopoly on America’s promise. And we are better for it.

Israel does not enjoy these blessings of security and confidence, but it should. While we Americans revel in the inauguration festivities, Israel is recovering from relentless attacks by an enemy that calls for the complete destruction of the Jewish state. Although it has made concessions in recent years in good faith and pursuant to the sentiments of many in the fickle and morally bankrupt United Nations, Israel has endured constant violence and a rain of rockets upon its communities. Civilian cities have not been avoided; they have been targeted. The Israeli people live in fear in their own homes.

Hamas is developing the capabilities of perpetuating and expanding that terror with more powerful weapons that reach more distant targets. These attacks have come with little provocation (the conflict was reignited after an Israeli raid in November), save for the provocation the Jews present to many by merely existing. In the U.N. and the world press, Israel is at best admonished to “restrain” its actions, and at worst called murderous and immoral. A new, perverse and double standard has been set in recent weeks.

The number of rockets that have flown into Israel is in the thousands. The Palestinian death toll is over 1,000 as well. The exact numbers are yet to be determined and may be unclear for some time, but a lack of definite numbers must not cloud principle – statistics have an odd way of hiding morality. By every metric of morality, Israel has a right to respond and defend itself.

This is not to say that the loss of innocent Palestinian lives is not a horrible tragedy, for surely it is. But the culprits, those who must answer for the death of innocents, are not those who seek only to defend themselves, but those who provoke that peaceful nation into a war. Hamas amounts to little more than a murderous cabal that will sacrifice its own people as a part of a reprehensible public relations campaign.

For those disingenuous cynics in the world press, it’s important to remember who began firing rockets first. For those gutless diplomats in the U.N. who advocate a moral equivalence between Hamas and Israel by urging “restraint,” it’s important to remember that the tragic loss of Palestinian lives begins and ends with the bloodthirsty Hamas. For all those disgraceful protesters who soiled Red Square, it’s important to remember how easy it is to criticize with a cheap flyer and how hard it is to live under malicious attack. Hamas and its evil allies will destroy any innocent, sacrifice any woman or child, squash any hope of peace, all in pursuit of its repulsive objectives.

Americans, so rightfully at peace in the blessings of security, must stand in solidarity with Israel in this troubled time. There is little doubt of what the American response would be to rocket attacks against our people. We take our safety seriously. We take the security of our children and our families seriously. When under attack, we rise to the occasion with one firm conviction: Evil may begin with others, but it will end with us.

Israel is no different. It did not seek this war, but it will end it. Israel must end it to protect its citizens and ensure their future security – because Hamas, given the choice, would have it continue. And ending the war does not mean appeasing the hypocritical, cynical and spineless detractors who see no wrong in unprovoked rocket attacks but only evil in the defensive actions of an upstanding democracy. Ending the war requires that Hamas is crippled to the point of dysfunction. The war should end only when Israel can confidently say that a secure life for its citizenry has been restored.

Jeffrey Long is a sophomore in the College. He can be reached at longthehoya.com. Conscience of a Conservative appears every other Tuesday.

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