I’ve sent this article from to several people (all sympathetic to Israel), and all of them found it one of the best articles of its kind. From the Free Press, it may be free of access, and I hope so.
Michael Oren is identified as “formerly Israel’s ambassador to the United States, a Knesset member, and a deputy minister of diplomacy in the prime minister’s office. For more of his writing on Israel visit his Substack, Clarity.” He also has a Wikipedia page.
This article shows his realization, after the butchery of October 7, that this wasn’t a war against Israel, but against the Jews. Most of us know that, but he writes with great style and conviction, and his own story of awakening is absorbing. Click the headline to read:
I’ll give a few excerpts:
It wasn’t the rallies with “Keep the World Clean” posters and chants of “gas the Jews.” Nor was it the glorification of Hamas paragliders by the Chicago branch of Black Lives Matter or, in New York and London, the tearing down of posters with the faces of Israeli children held hostage by Hamas. Not even the off-the-charts uptick in antisemitic incidents in Germany (240 percent), the United States (nearly 400 percent), and London (1,353 percent) convinced me.
It was, rather, one of those realizations that so many generations of Jews before me have experienced. A realization that they, like me, surely tried to push out of their minds until the reality became unmistakeable.
This war is not simply between Hamas terrorists and Israelis. It is a war against the Jews.
. . .The insight began with the international media’s coverage of the conflict. Again, it wasn’t the press’s insistence on calling mass murderers “militants” or citing Hamas and its “Health Ministry” as a reliable source. For close to fifty years—as a student activist, a diplomat, a soldier, a government and military spokesman, and above all, as a historian—I’ve grappled with the media’s bias against Israel. I’ve long known that the terrorists are “militants” solely because their victims are Jews, and only in a conflict with Israel are terrorists considered credible.
Instead, it was the media’s predictable switch from an Israel-empathetic to an Israel-demonizing narrative as the image of Palestinian suffering supplanted that of Israelis beheaded, dismembered, and burnt. It was the gnawing awareness that dead Jews buy us only so much sympathy.
In fact, there is probably a formula. Six million dead in the Holocaust procured us roughly 25 years of grace before the Europeans refused to refuel the U.S. planes bringing lifesaving munitions to Israel during the Yom Kippur War in 1973. Fourteen hundred butchered Jews bought us a little less than two weeks’ worth of positive coverage.
Europeans, it’s long been said, never forgave the Jews for the Holocaust. Their guilt was collective and their antisemitism no longer socially acceptable. What a relief many of them felt when it became de rigueur to call Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians Nazi-like. Similarly, haters of Israelis can’t forgive them for being massacred by Hamas terrorists on October 7, and were relieved when, on October 17, they could go back to vilifying the “colonial apartheid state.”
If it’s a formula, it’s not linear, for taking 25 years to get over the Holocaust works out to be 657 Jews forgotten per day, while taking 10 days to get over the death of 1400 Jews (Oren dates the re-vilification of Jews to the explosion of the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital on October 17) works out to be 140 Jews forgotten per day. The rate of forgetting has slowed. (Forgive me, but I’m a scientist and had to check the calculation!) What’s important is not the rate, but the fact that Jews are blamed for their own annihilation, but it takes a while to come around to that view. Read Dara Horn’s excellent book, People Love Dead Jews.
Though understandably feeling vengeful toward Hamas and their allies in Gaza, the vast majority of Israelis do not want innocent Palestinians to die. Hamas, however, places its bunkers, rocket launchers, and headquarters in civilian areas. Though Israel warns these noncombatants to evacuate, Hamas tries to prevent their flight, sometimes at gunpoint. The goal is twofold: to kill as many Israelis as possible, and to kill Palestinians to win the sympathy of the world and so that Israel can be denounced internationally for war crimes.
Hamas’s strategy is clear. Yet much of the press prefers to ignore it. Instead, it repeatedly accuses Israel of seeking to inflict the maximum number of civilian deaths and especially of children. In the media’s rendering, Israel is the new Herod butchering Palestinian innocents.
, , , ,Forgotten are the thousands of Gazans who followed Hamas terrorists through the ruptured fence into Israel where they joined in the mutilations and raping. Forgotten are the Gazans who beat and spat at a nineteen-year-old Israeli woman who was raped and paraded through their streets. Gone were Gazans who gave out candy and celebrated the slaughter of 1,400 civilians who were truly innocent.
As I wrote in the comments today, there are not two classes of Palestinians; Hamas on one hand and innocent, non-Jew-hating Palestinians on the other. Although most Palestinians don’t want Hamas in power, many of them do sympathize with Hamas. Of course that doesn’t make even the Jew-haters deserving of death, but neither does it make them free from opprobrium for hatred or for their jubilation (and dispensation of sweets) when Jews are killed. See this site for an incisive gloss on that view.
Oren holds the journalists responsible for fanning the flames of Jew hatred, and certainly that is the case: most of the liberal mainstream media, including the BBC and the New York Times, have made the conflagration worse with their reporting, particularly the NYT’s pinning the hospital explosion on Israel from the get-go. That helped get a peace summit canceled! But of course there are others responsible as well, including some American congresspeople.
But the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is purely Hamas’s fault. As a deputy minister in the prime minister’s office, in 2017–18, I was tasked with improving living conditions in Gaza. I learned how Hamas used Gaza’s water pipes to make rockets and dug tunnels under the aquifer and drained it. I learned how Hamas diverted electricity to illuminate its underground bunkers and drastically limited the supply of basic commodities to the population, keeping it dependent on the terrorists. I learned that, when it came to Hamas, everything I knew about human decency was irrelevant.
These are my responses to the journalists. They listen but are seldom, if ever, convinced. Much of the press, I’ve learned, has internalized the ultimate antisemitic myth: that Jews just have it coming.
Remember, when you shake your head in disgust when you hear that Palestinian hospitals are running out of power because of the no-longer-extant siege, remember that, at least according to the IDF, Hamas has 500,000 liters of fuel squirreled away in storage tanks. Now the source is the IDF, but I consider them more reliable reporters than Hamas, and of course everyone knows that for years Hamas has sequestered tons of money and goods, taken from their people, to further terrorism. Why do people forget that, or that Hamas cares more for killing Jews than protecting non-terrorist Gazans?
In an agonizing irony, Hamas and its supporters have succeeded where the Jews have long failed. Incontestably now, anti-Zionism is antisemitism. Hatred of the Jewish nation-state cannot be distinguished from hatred of the Jewish people. The war between Hamas and Israel, involving the largest and cruelest loss of Jewish life since the Holocaust, is a war against Jews everywhere. To paraphrase Holocaust historian Lucy Dawidowicz, this is the second war against the Jews.
You don’t have to be in the Middle East to see that. Any campus will do, including my own.