The media wants a hate crime

December 1, 2023 • 9:00 am

You have surely heard that three young Palestinian-Americans, Kinnan Abdalhamid, Hisham Awartani, and Tahseen Ali Ahmad, were shot on November 25 in Burlington, Vermont. Two of the injured were American citizens; the other a legal resident.  The alleged shooter, Jason Eaton, was captured and appears to be mentally ill. From the NYT:

They were shot and wounded on Saturday by a white man with a handgun while they were walking near the University of Vermont, the police said. Two of the victims were wearing Palestinian kaffiyehs, a traditional headdress.

The young men told family members they were speaking a hybrid of English and Arabic before the man shot at them four times without saying anything before the attack, according to a family spokeswoman.

Two of the victims were in stable condition, the authorities said. The third sustained much more serious injuries.

The one with serious injuries was shot in the spine, and may never walk again. This is a terrible attack, and, while we can be grateful that nobody was killed, losing your ability to walk is horrible. The shooter has been charged with second-degree murder, and, if he’s guilty, which seems likely, will be spending a long time in either prison or a mental hospital.

So far the cops haven’t found any evidence that Eaton was motivated by anti-Muslim sentiments, and yet the media is full of pronouncements that it must have been a hate crime. After all, it was three Palestinians speaking Arabic and wearing kaffiyehs.

It’s not hard to imagine that both Palestinian-Americans and the mainstream media really want Eaton to have been “Islamophobic,” as this fits the desired narrative, which is that Muslims are widely subject to Islamophobia in America, and that has murderous consequences.

Of course there is bigotry in America, bigotry against both Muslims and Jews, but that doesn’t lead to the conclusion that any Jew or Muslim who is victim of a crime was a victim because of his or her religion. That has to be found out via investigation, which could lead to “hate crime” charges. (As I’ve said, I’m still conflicted about we should even have the category of “hate crime”, since many other motivations are reprehensible; but sussing out why a criminal did what he did is important if you think that punishment should involve rehabilitation.)

At any rate, I have seen nothing in the press decrying the rush to judgement against Eaton, who is being touted as a murderous Islamophobe without any evidence. Here’s some stuff from the news showing this rush:

From the NYT, in an editorial which is all about the likelihood that this was an anti-Muslim hate crime (my bolding)

tThe authorities have not yet added a hate-crime enhancement to the charges against Mr. Eaton, who moved to the neighborhood a few months ago and has struggled with depression, according to his mother. Still it’s hard to ignore the current atmosphere of tension and vitriol surrounding the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas, which has led to clashes and hate incidents around the country.

Note the devious way that the author connects the shootings with the war, and presumably with “Islamophobia”.

From NBC News:

The mother of one of the Palestinian American college students shot on the street near the University of Vermont has no doubt that the men were targeted and says the shooting should absolutely be treated as a hate crime.

. . .“There is no doubt,” she said. “It just defies logic. Why else would it be? … If they were not wearing the kaffiyeh. … If they were not speaking Arabic.”

She said she would be disappointed if the violence were not treated as a hate crime. “It would be sorely disappointing only because the facts are so obvious,” Tamimi said.

From the BBC, the mother of another of the injured men:

The mother of Mr Awartani, who is the most seriously injured out of the three with a bullet lodged in his spine, told the BBC she believed the attack was a hate crime.

“This man did not accept people who were different from him. And he wanted to destroy that,” said Elizabeth Price, who headed back to Vermont after the shooting, from her home in the West Bank.

From the Associated Press:

“Based on the information that is available, it appears this crime might have been motivated by the victims’ identity and, if that is true, it would be appropriate to seek the hate crimes enhancement,” [ACLU of Vermont Advocacy Director Falko] Schilling said, adding that the motive behind the shooting will be critical in determining whether this is treated as a hate crime.

Still, Chittenden County State’s attorney Sarah George told reporters on Monday that the state doesn’t “yet have evidence to support a hate crime enhancement,” which under Vermont law must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

“I do want to be clear that there is no question this was a hateful act,” she said.

This conflates a “hateful act” with a “hate crime”; George can’t resist implying that this may indeed have been a hate crime. But if the shooter was mentally ill, he may not have even been filled with hate, but with some twisted thoughts that we can’t fathom.

From Reuters:

Families of the victims issued a joint statement earlier in the day urging authorities to investigate the shooting as a hate crime, as did the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, a U.S.-based advocacy group.

“The surge in anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian sentiment we are experiencing is unprecedented, and this is another example of that hate turning violent,” ADC National Executive Director Abed Ayoub said.

Again, the ADC is assuming that the crime stemmed from hatred of Arabs and Palestinians. Thje tweet below that says the ADC had “reason to believe” it was a hate crime. Is that because the victims were wearing Palestinian scarves and speaking Arabic?

Here is a proper response (in Vox): a call to determine if it was indeed a hate crime:

CAIR [the council on American-Islamic Relations] is among the groups that have called on law enforcement to review whether bias played a role in the college students’ shootings in Vermont. “We encourage law enforcement to file state and federal hate crime charges if the evidence confirms that anti-Palestinian racism motivated this attack,” the organization’s executive director Nihad Awad said in a statement.

You can find many similar statements implying that this surely was a hate crime, but I’ll leave you to search.

Now it’s understandable that the mothers of the injured men would want to find a motive, as crimes without known motives are especially disturbing to friends and relatives of victims. But the mainstream media has a responsibility to be, well, responsible, and remind us all that there is as of yet no evidence that Eaton was motivated by anti-Muslim bigotry.  The search is on by both local police and the feds, but so far all we know is that Eaton has a history of depression and had been reported to the police for harassing an ex-girlfriend. If -he was Islamophobic, it seems that we would know by now.

It’s curious to me that the MSM has a narrative that seems to want this to be an Islamophobic hate crime. Wouldn’t it be better if it wasn’t one, so that we’d have less violent anti-Muslim bigotry than we thought? But we also know that the liberal MSM is pro-Palestinian, and it may be in their interest to push the idea of pervasive anti-Muslim bigotry in America. (It’s similar to when papers like the NYT credulously reported that a hospital was destroyed by an Israeli bomb when, in fact, it was hit by an Islamic Jihad rocket gone astray).

Let’s just wait, shall we, for the evidence about Eaton’s motives to come out, if it can be found.

Vis-à-vis hate crimes, I see four reasons to punish those who violate the law, as far as I can see

  1. Deterrence
  2. Sequestration: keeping bad guys off the streets
  3. Reformation of the criminal
  4. Retribution

I’m opposed to retributive punishment as it presupposes that the criminal had a choice, and I’m a hard determinist who doesn’t believe a criminal could have chosen not to commit the crime. Gregg Caruso, also a hard determinist, thinks that deterrence is not a valid reason for punishment, either, because it violates Kantian morality by using a person to affect others. (I disagree.) I

f someone is determined to have committed a crime out of racial or ethnic hatred, that would affect the way they should be reformed, but if having an extra-long sentence is supposed to deter others from bigotry, then we need to know if that deterrence really works. (We already have evidence that capital punishment does not deter murder.) I suspect that the “hate crime” charge does not deter bigots, either.

Right now, I’m thinking that juries or judges should determine whether hatred was a motive, but shouldn’t necessarily impose to longer sentences unless those longer sentences act as a deterrent. Thus finding out the motive is important in reforming a criminal, but not necessarily in deciding whether to give him a longer sentence.

Others may feel differently from me about hate crimes, and that’s fine: just weigh in in the comments below. But what’s not at issue is whether Eaton shot the men out of anti-Muslim hatred, for the answer to that is “we don’t know yet, and maybe never will.”

From Jerry: Hili dialogue

December 1, 2023 • 6:45 am

I’m BAAACK, but with a truncated Hili dialogue, and am allowing Dr Cobb to go back to his book writing. (Thanks to him for yesterdayt’s Hili.

Greetings from sunny (but crisp) Cambridge on Friday, December 1, 2023.  Yep, it’s December now, and today is National Fried Pie Day, a speciality of the American South. It’s also these food months:

It’s also National Pear Month, National Egg Nog Month and National Fruit Cake Month.  There is, of course, only one fruitcake in existence, which is endlessly passed from hand to hand.

It’s also Bartender Appreciation Day, Eat a Red Apple Day (I dislike all of these mush bombs; give me a tart Granny Smith), National Christmas Lights Day, National Pie Day, Rosa Parks Day  in Ohio and Oregon (she wasn’t born or died on this day), World AIDS Day, and Military Abolition Day in Costa Rica, one of the few countries in the world that doesn’t have an army; it was abolished on this day in 1948.

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the December 1 Wikipedia page.

War news from various sources:

*I’m writing this on Friday morning, and just discovered, as I predicted three tweets down, that Israel has resumed fighting in Gaza after the latest truce expired. However, talks are continuing over reviving the “pause.”  But lordy, why did Hamas fire rockets on Israel, which apparently started the war again?. Also, yesterday Hamas released eight hostages instead of the promised ten, though Israel released the usual 30 terrorists. And don’t forget the Hamas bus shooting in Israel (see below), which killed three. It’s almost as if Hamas wants the conflict to restart, or perhaps thought Israel would swallow this stuff and keep the pause simply to get the hostages back:

A weeklong cease-fire in the Gaza Strip collapsed on Friday morning after Israel said Hamas had fired rockets toward Israel in the hours before the truce was set to expire, and Israel responded with strikes on the territory.

[JAC: “Israel said:. . . “Israel said”. Does the NYT have any way of checking whether this is true, or are they doing lazy journalism?

International mediators said talks were continuing in the hopes of quickly reviving the truce, which saw the two adversaries exchange hostages and prisoners and brought a respite from Israeli bombardment for Palestinian civilians in Gaza. Despite increasing international pressure to reach a more comprehensive cease-fire, Israeli officials have emphasized in recent days that they intend to destroy Hamas, the armed group that controls most of Gaza.

Hamas blamed Israel for the collapse of the cease-fire and said in a statement that it had offered to release more hostages, including older people, but that Israel had made “a prior decision to resume the criminal aggression.”

Israel, for its part, said that Hamas had violated the cease-fire agreement by firing on Israel and failing to release as many hostages as it had promised. Hamas released eight hostages on Thursday, two fewer than expected, after releasing at least 94 since the truce began.

. . . On both sides, the trade focused on women and children. Officials from both Israel and Hamas said the armed group had few hostages remaining in those categories, while Hamas has said that it would demand a higher price for releasing Israeli men or soldiers of either sex.

How can those who support Hamas’s side justify a three-to-one trade of hostages versus terrorists, which of course is “disproportionate”. And now it may bet even more lopsided.

However, talks over a new truce are still going on:

International mediators said talks were continuing in the hopes of quickly reviving the truce, which saw the two adversaries exchange hostages and prisoners and brought a respite from Israeli bombardment for Palestinian civilians in Gaza. Despite increasing international pressure to reach a more comprehensive cease-fire, Israeli officials have emphasized in recent days that they intend to destroy Hamas, the armed group that controls most of Gaza.

*I don’t know if this counts as a Hamas violation of the “pause,” but three Israelis were killed at a bus-stop shooting in Jerusalem; the NYT appends, “. . . Israeli officials say” to the headline. Doesn’t the Gray Lady have reporters in Israel who can verify this?

Hamas seems to be responsible, as they admitted it:

At least three people were killed and six others wounded when two Palestinian gunmen affiliated with Hamas opened fire near a bus stop on the outskirts of Jerusalem on Thursday morning, according to the Israeli authorities.

. . .Israel’s Shin Bet security service said that the gunmen were Palestinian brothers from East Jerusalem who were affiliated with Hamas, the armed group that controls most of Gaza, and that both had been jailed for what it called “terrorist activity.” In a statement, it identified them as Murad Nimr, 38, and Ibrahim Nimr, 30.

Hamas said the men were members of its armed wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades. In a statement on the Telegram messaging app, Hamas — which the United States and many other nations classify as a terrorist group — called the attack “a natural response” to Israel’s “brutal massacres” in Gaza.

. . . Benny Gantz, an Israeli politician and member of the country’s wartime emergency government, said the deadly shooting only strengthened Israel’s resolve “to continue the fighting with might and determination against the murderous terrorism which threatens our citizens.”

From Reuters:

The slain victims were identified by Israeli media as a woman in her 20s, a woman in her 60s and a 74-year-old rabbi.

If this isn’t breaking the “pause”, I don’t know what is.  And this is one reason why a “one state solution” proposed by a reader yesterday is futile. Even a two-state solution won’t work until we have honest negotiators on both sides, which we don’t, and even then I wouldn’t bet on it.

*From The Jerusalem Post and other sources, we hear of some pretty shocking news involving an employee of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East; the infamous UN branch called UNRWA, known to employ members of Hamas:

One of the hostages, recently released from Gaza, revealed on Wednesday that he was held for nearly 50 days in an attic by a teacher from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

The story was publicized on X by Channel 13 journalist Almog Boker.

The hostage also said that the teacher who held him captive was a father of 10 children. He had barely been provided food or medical attention, and was locked away by the teacher, he said.

. . . A report from the beginning of the month saw a UNRWA-run school in Nablus in the West Bank posting a video to its official Facebook page in which a young student called for the victory of Hamas’s “jihad warriors” in Gaza.

The UNRWA has long been known to be complicit in formenting Jew hatred in Gaza; it even uses textbooks in its schools that push anti-Semitism and martyrdom. But this is worse: an employee is complicit in Hamas’s terrorism and kidnapping. Can we expect to see the UN fire this employee and condemn his action?

*[Written yesterday evening] The WaPo reports that Biden has prompted Secretary of State Blinken to pressure Israel into producing a more concrete plan to protect civilians if the war resumes:

The Israeli government agreed to put in place a “clear plan” to protect civilians prior to resuming hostilities in southern Gaza, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Thursday after a day of meetings with Israeli leadership, a sign of intense U.S. pressure for Israel to minimize the grave humanitarian toll that defined the war’s first severalweeks.

The conversations were the toughest to date from Blinken, and, by his account, they resulted in concrete assurances from the Israelis that they would change the way they are fighting their war on Hamas, the group that attacked Israel on Oct. 7. But other comments from Israeli officials made it clear that they intended to abandon the week-long pause in their military campaign as soon as Hamas stops releasing hostages.

“We made clear the imperative that before any operations go forward in southern Gaza that there be a clear plan in place that puts a premium on protecting civilians as well as sustaining and building on the humanitarian assistance that’s getting into Gaza,” Blinken told reporters in Tel Aviv. “And the Israeli government agreed with that approach.”

Well, if the new plan saves more civilian lives than the old one, that’s good; I do wonder what concrete steps the plan will involve. But it’s this, more than anything else, that convinces me that the war will resume eventually, and that the U.S. will continue to support Israel if it does.

*Meanwhile, in the rest of the world, Russia’s Supreme Court has apparently (and shamefully) cracked down on LGBTQ activism.

 Russia’s Supreme Court effectively outlawed LGBTQ+ activism on Thursday, the most drastic step against advocates of gay, lesbian and transgender rights in the increasingly conservative country.

Ruling in response to a lawsuit filed by the Justice Ministry, the court labeled what the suit called the LGBTQ+ “movement” operating in Russia as an extremist organization and banned it.

The ruling is the latest step in a decade-long crackdown on LGBTQ+ rights in Russia under President Vladimir Putin, who has emphasized “traditional family values” during his 24 years in power.

Thursday’s closed-door hearing lasted four hours. No one besides Justice Ministry representatives were allowed in, and there was no defendant. Journalists were taken into the courtroom only for the reading of the verdict by Judge Oleg Nefedov, who wore a face mask, apparently for health reasons.

I was curious about why Russia needs to take a step like this—until I got to the part about Putin.  Even so, I’m not sure how LGBTQ activism is going to erode traditional family values. It just expands them a bit.

*Finally, the horror we’ve all ignored for a few months, described in Robert Kagan’s WaPo column, “A Trump.  dictatorship is increasingly inevitable. We should stop pretending.”

et’s stop the wishful thinking and face the stark reality: There is a clear path to dictatorship in the United States, and it is getting shorter every day. In 13 weeks, Donald Trump will have locked up the Republican nomination. In the RealClearPolitics poll average (for the period from Nov. 9 to 20), Trump leads his nearest competitor by 47 points and leads the rest of the field combined by 27 points. The idea that he is unelectable in the general election is nonsense — he is tied or ahead of President Biden in all the latest polls — stripping other Republican challengers of their own stated reasons for existence. The fact that many Americans might prefer other candidates, much ballyhooed by such political sages as Karl Rove, will soon become irrelevant when millions of Republican voters turn out to choose the person whom no one allegedly wants.

For many months now, we have been living in a world of self-delusion, rich with imagined possibilities. Maybe it will be Ron DeSantis, or maybe Nikki Haley. Maybe the myriad indictments of Trump will doom him with Republican suburbanites. Such hopeful speculation has allowed us to drift along passively, conducting business as usual, taking no dramatic action to change course, in the hope and expectation that something will happen. Like people on a riverboat, we have long known there is a waterfall ahead but assume we will somehow find our way to shore before we go over the edge. But now the actions required to get us to shore are looking harder and harder, if not downright impossible.

This is not only possible, but probable. And horrible. How can a mentally ill dictatorial narcissist be the person Americans want to lead their country?

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Andrzej is cynical in a chinwag with Hili:

Hili: Falling leaves broaden the horizon.
A: Sometimes they rerveal the ugliness

In Polish:

Hili: Spadające liście poszerzają horyzonty.Ja: Czasem odsłaniają brzydotę.


From Thomas; NO FREE WILL IN DOGS! (A Dave Coverly Speedbump cartoon.)

After I mentioned that Biden and Netanyahu were dancing to the tune of Hamas’s violin, reader Rosemary used AI to make this meme (she calls Hamas “gerbils”):

From The Absurd Sign Project 2.0:

From Masih, who walked out of a meeting with the German government because they wanted to keep it secret (as an anti-regime Iranian activist, they argued that they can’t be seen meeting with a woman who’s constantly hectoring Iran for its policy towards women). See her explanation in her tweet.

Translation of the German by Google: the “empty promises” must refer to Germany’s promises to help oppressed Iranians.

Is this feminist foreign policy? The people in #iran have long been disappointed by the empty promises of the Federal Republic. I suspect a lot more now! @ABaerbock @AuswaertigesAmt @AlinejadMasih @simamoradb51053 @DEonHumanRights

From Jez. What a beautiful litter!

Another from Jez, who says, correctly, “A great tweet.” Absolutely!

From Luana: Princeton shames itself again. “Jewish supremacy? And in the land of Palestine/Israel? What land is that?

You can read the whole letter at The Daily Princetonian, which also has the list of signers.  As one reply tweet notes, “Not a single STEM professor in the signatories, and that probably tells you something.”  One excerpt:

We oppose all forms of colonialism, racism, antisemitism, Islamophobia, and apartheid. We stand against white supremacy in the United States and against Jewish supremacy in the land of Palestine/Israel.

We support those in Palestine who have called for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) and listen to their call for international solidarity in their struggle to:

– end Israel’s occupation and colonization of Palestine and all Arab lands occupied in June 1967, including the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights;

Their demands also include a Palestinian “right of return”. Dream on, comrades! And I’m SO glad I’m not at Princeton. (As a high-school student, I wanted to go—I was enamored with Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise—but my parents said we couldn’t afford it.)

From Malcom: Cat + Xmas trees = fun:

From the Auschwitz Memorial: An eight-year-old girl, gassed upon arrival:

Two tweets from Dr. Cobb: First, an awesome cup. I want one! (The video seems a bit wonky on “X”):

Matthew also loves Victor Borge (who was funny), and sent me this video to make me laugh:

Some more Hili news from Jerry

November 30, 2023 • 6:45 am

I am cooling my heels at Midway Airport, with 45 minutes until boarding (I wasn’t groped), and am adding a few items that you might want to read.

In the news, Henry Kissinger died at 100.  Only the good die young. I won’t celebrate his death, as he had people who loved him (a mystery!), but if you want to see the truth about the man, read Hitchens’s The Trial of Henry Kissingera scathing indictment of Kissinger’s diplomatic manipulations in SE Asia and South America.

As expected, Israel and Hamas extended their “pause” one more day, which is part of Hamas’s tactic (and it’s working) to get a permanent cease-fire.  Who wins? Hamas, who gets terrorists released from Israel and, I suspect, won’t be thrown out of there’s a permanent cease-fire. Alternatively, as the moron Thomas Friedman has suggested, Gaza could be governed by the Palestinian Authority, which is just as corrupt and nearly as terrorist-ridden as Hamas. What does Israel get in such a deal? Its hostages back, so the status quo is resumed. Will there be a two-state solution? Not that I see, for the Palestinians never wanted it, and Israel knows what will happen if they share a border with a Palestinian state.

From the NYT:

Israel and Hamas said they agreed Thursday to extend their cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, keeping alive tenuous hopes for a lasting halt to the fighting.

Minutes before the truce was set to expire on Thursday morning at 7 a.m. local time, Hamas said in a statement that it would last another day. Israel’s military announced the deal on social media around the same time, but did not immediately provide details on a timeline.

Qatar, the chief mediator, said the two sides had agreed to extend the pause for an additional day with the same conditions in effect.

International negotiators had worked into the night to lock in an extension, seeing it as the best way to ease the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, secure the release of more Israeli captives and slow the war’s surging death toll for at least a little longer.

Officials with knowledge of the talks said they also hoped that the succession of short-term pauses would pave the way toward a larger goal: negotiations over a longer-term cease-fire to bring the war to a close.

Here’s Hamas’s strategy:

One of those people said the mediators expect that the longer the quiet lasts, the harder it will be for Israel to restart its offensive and extend it to southern Gaza, where senior Hamas leaders are believed to be hiding.

And Biden, too, is dancing to Hamas’s violin:

On Wednesday, President Biden appeared to couch his otherwise strong embrace of Israel by suggesting that more fighting would benefit Hamas.

“Hamas unleashed a terrorist attack because they fear nothing more than Israelis and Palestinians living side by side in peace,” Mr. Biden said in a post on X, formerly Twitter. “To continue down the path of terror, violence, killing and war is to give Hamas what they seek. We can’t do that.”

No, Mr. President, more fighting will destroy Hamas.  Here Biden is walking back his support for Israel in favor of a “two state solution”, which any fool knows is impossible right now.

To see a sensible take on the issue, read this column by Bret Stephens (the only NYT op-ed columnist who hasn’t been blinkered by Hamas).  The more liberal columnists have no idea what to say except “we need peace and I don’t know how to get it”.

Click below to read:

The “1948 narrative” is one in which the foundation of Israel is deemed illegal and must be reversed, ending the existence of the country.

When Mohamed Khairullah, the mayor of Prospect Park, N.J., said “75 years of occupation is too long” at an October rally, he was embracing the 1948 narrative. When Rashida Tlaib, the Michigan congresswoman, posted that “75 years later, the Nakba continues to this day” and declined to accept Israel as a Jewish state, she was embracing it. When Judith Butler, the Berkeley professor, told an interviewer that “the roots of the problem are in a state formation that depended on expulsions and land theft to establish its own ‘legitimacy’” and supported a binational state, she was embracing it. When the Los Angeles chapter of Black Lives Matter responded to the Oct. 7 massacres with a Facebook post claiming, “When a people have been subject to decades of apartheid and unimaginable violence, their resistance must not be condemned, but understood as a desperate act of self-defense,” it was embracing it. When the BBC Arabic service repeatedly described ordinary Israelis as “settlers,” it was embracing it.

Such embraces have consequences.

For one, they put a growing fraction of the progressive left objectively on the side of some of the worst people on earth — and in radical contradiction with their professed values.

“A left that, rightly, demands absolute condemnation of white-nationalist supremacy refuses to disassociate itself from Islamist supremacy,” Susie Linfield, a professor of journalism at N.Y.U., wrote in an important recent essay in the online journal Quillette. “A left that lauds intersectionality hasn’t noticed that Hamas’s axis of support consists of Iran, famous most recently for killing hundreds of protesters demanding women’s freedom.”

. . .It’s fine for Israel’s harshest critics to ask hard questions of Israel’s leaders. But when those same critics stop asking equally hard questions of Palestinian leaders, they are not advocating a cause. They are merely submitting to a regime.

The world, including Israel, has a common interest in an eventual Palestinian state that cares more about building itself up than tearing its neighbors down; that invests its energy in future prosperity, not past glory; that accepts compromise and rejects fanaticism. Since Oct. 7, the loudest professed champions of the Palestinian cause have advocated the precise opposite. It may be a recipe for smug self-satisfaction, but it’s also how to kill a Palestinian state.

Stephens too wants a Palestinian state (one can hardly say otherwise unless you favor mass expulsion of Gazans to other countries), but, hard as I try, and much as I wished for a two-state solution, I can’t see a path to that result. At any rate, the far left, and now even more centrists Democrats, are pushing Biden along a path that may end in the erasure of Israel.

Another article worth reading if you’re a fan of the Red Cross. They really dropped the ball (actually, deliberately fumbled it) during this war. From the Israel National News (Israeli news is often more reliable than liberal American MSM):

An excerpt:

Under the hostage deal between Israel and the Hamas terrorist organization, the Red Cross was supposed to be able to visit the Israeli hostages who have been held in Gaza for nearly two months. The original date for the end of the ceasefire has passed and it has been extended, and still not a single visit to a hostage has occurred.

The Red Cross did not even try. When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his government that the agreement allowed the Red Cross to visit the hostages, the organization did not spring into action. It did not demand that Hamas fulfill its obligations under the deal, let alone under international law. It did not put any pressure on Hamas. Instead it equivocated, questioning whether the deal really allowed for the organization to do the job it was supposedly created to do.

When the family of Elma Avraham, one of the hostages released this week, attempted to give the Red Cross the medication she needed so she could receive proper medical care while in Hamas captivity, the Red Cross refused them outright.

Elma, who is 84, had to be hospitalized in serious condition when she was returned. According to her daughter Tal Amano, she had a body temperature of just 82 degrees Fahrenheit and a heartrate of just 40 beats per minute.

The Avraham family’s pleas were repeatedly rejected, with one Red Cross official asking: “Again you came with her package of medications?”

Read the whole thing. The Red Cross, like many independent organizations, NGOs, and even UN organizations like UNRWA and UN Women, have basically ignored the plight of Israelis in this war. At least they (along with many other groups) been exposed for what they are.

A few tweets to lighten things up.

From Jez, who says “they should have seen it coming”:

From Barry:

Well, this is a downer, but it’s about the death of humanity. As Matthew commented, “we are fucked”:

I don’t think these “innocent civilians” are giving the hostages a fond farewell:


Thursday: Hili dialogue

November 30, 2023 • 3:39 am

by Matthew Cobb

PCC(E) is off for some much-needed R&R so posting will be light/non-existent today and tomorrow.

As winter approaches, Hili, like all cats, is wary:

A: Why are you so suspicious?
Hili: I heard the weather forecast.
In Polish:
Ja: Czemu jesteś taka podejrzliwa?
Hili: Słuchałam prognozy pogody.
You will probably have seen that Henry Kissinger has died, aged 100. As Tom Lehrer said, (the precise words vary on the internet): ‘Political satire became obsolete when Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.’
However, Kissinger may have been responsible for what was probably the only good thing that President Nixon ever did. In November 1969, Nixon unexpectedly and unilaterally discontinued the US biological warfare programme; within two years Us bioweapon stockpiles were destroyed. These weapons all used existing microbes to infect humans or animals and were of the kind that had been developed during and after the second World War (the Japanese used them and Churchill was keen on the idea, ordering 500,000 anthrax bombs from the United states). In 1972 the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) was created and eventually signed by eighty-five nations including the United states and the Soviet Union, coming into force in 1975.
There are many problems with the BWC (it is toothless and did not prevent the USSR from developing terrifying bioweapons, and probably other countries too – including the USA and Israel. But it was still a step forward.
One factor behind this still unexplained decision (Nixon did not refer to it in his memoirs) may have been the friendship between Kissinger, who was Nixon’s National security Advisor and Matthew Meselson, molecular biologist and long-time opponent of biological warfare.
For more about this, see Dyson, F. (2003), New York Review of Books, 13 February 2003. And my book on genetic engineering, AS GODS (in the USA) and THE GENETIC AGE (in the UK and elewhere).
Feel free to chat away BTL about Kissinger, anniversaries, or whatever  you want.

Ilya Shapiro on free speech

November 29, 2023 • 12:00 pm

I found this article from the Free Press extremely useful in understanding the nature and limits of free speech, something more important than ever in this period of protest. Is it “free speech” to shout antisemitic slogans? How about students interrupting classes with political harangues? Can you lose a job because you approve of Hamas’s butchery?  The piece will answer these and other questions.

First, the bona fides of the author:

Ilya Shapiro is the director of constitutional studies at the Manhattan Institute and author of Supreme Disorder: Judicial Nominations and the Politics of America’s Highest Court and the forthcoming Canceling Justice: The Illiberal Takeover of Legal Education (HarperCollins). He also writes the Shapiro’s Gavel newsletter on Substack.

Click the screenshot below to read. I’ll just give a list of the questions Shapiro answers, briefly summarize his response, and make a few comments of my own. Click to read for free. Excerpts from the piece are indented:

Conduct, like flag-burning, can fall under the rubric of free speech, but some conduct doesn’t:

What are some examples of protest activities that are rightly considered conduct rather than speech? 

In drawing the line between speech and conduct, some cases are easy.

Beating someone up, as has happened at Columbia and Tulane, is assault. Crowding around someone in a threatening manner, like a group of Harvard students—including an editor of the Harvard Law Review—did to an Israeli student who filmed their protest, is commonly known as the crime of “menacing.” A pattern of actions designed to frighten and harass someone, like forcing Jewish students into the Cooper Union library while pounding on the doors and windows, is stalking. Defacing someone’s property by spray-painting swastikas and slogans, as happened at American University, is vandalism. So is tearing down posters—at least on private property and in most campus settings. And masking at a protest, also a hallmark of events sponsored by the Students for Justice in Palestine organization, is illegal in many states—a remnant of the battle against KKK intimidation.

Are genocidal slogans like “globalize the intifada” or “from the river to the sea” protected by the First Amendment? 

It depends on the context.

First, a clear-cut case: the Cornell student who posted death threats online to Jewish students was rightly arrested, because, as the Supreme Court held, the Constitution doesn’t protect “those statements where the speaker means to communicate a serious expression of an intent to commit an act of unlawful violence to a particular individual or group of individuals.”. . . .

Wait, but isn’t shouting antisemitic epithets hate speech?

Offensive or “hate” speech is constitutionally protected—including burning a flag or giving a racially charged speech to a restless crowd.

But even undeniably protected speech can be off-limits in certain contexts. . . . .

What about the interruption of classes and speakers by protesters? Isn’t this just more speech that’s protected by the First Amendment?

. . .students aren’t allowed to shut down events, disrupt classes, or otherwise interfere with university programs.

The week before Thanksgiving, Josh Hammer’s speech at the University of Michigan was disrupted by anti-Israel protesters (Hammer is Jewish). Meantime, a student at MIT commandeered a math lecture to protest what he called the “ongoing genocide of Gaza.”

It’s in no way a free speech violation to prohibit students from shouting down professors and speakers.

This event, mentioned above and shown below, is not free speech (the disruption starts at 0:44; it’s a pro-Palestinian rant decrying Israeli “genocide”, followed by chanting. It may be legal if the professor allowed it to happen, which seems to be the case, but I wonder if students could protest this being allowed at all. After all, it did disrupt class.

There have been reports at many campuses of professors celebrating Hamas’s massacre. Is this acceptable speech?

Professors have the same free speech rights as anyone else, but HR manuals correctly admonish faculty and administrators not to create hostile educational environments.

Also, professors don’t have the right to harangue in class, or talk at length about subjects other than the one being taught. You also cannot create a hostile class environment with your speech (Shapiro gives examples).

Many of the students who participated in the protests at MIT and elsewhere are foreign nationals. What are their free speech rights as noncitizens? 

Although foreigners can’t be punished for speech any more than citizens, there can be repercussions for affiliating with certain groups or calling for violence. The Immigration and Nationality Act allows the denial or revocation of a visa of “any alien who. . . endorses or espouses terrorist activity or persuades others to endorse or espouse terrorist activity or support a terrorist organization.”

This is why MIT declined to punish the students who engaged in illegal protest activities (sitting in offices and so on). This, of course, empowers foreign students to do whatever they want, knowing that MIT will not discipline them.

What if an institution knows that Jewish students are being threatened and does nothing, or creates impotent task forces without addressing immediate threats? Or what if officials take ideological sides (like an administrator at the University of Chicago who marched with SJP protesters) or egg on a mob shouting down a speaker (like Stanford Law’s DEI dean at Judge Kyle Duncan’s event in March)? 

This is where Title VI of the Civil Rights Act comes in.

Title VI prohibits any entity that receives federal money (including student loans) from discriminating on the basis of race, color, or national origin, which the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) understands to include “actual or perceived” ancestry, ethnicity, and religion.

There are already lawsuits in progress by Jewish students against NYU for title VI violations, and seven other schools are being investigated by the feds. These include claims of both discrimination and harassment.

Is it legal to ban or suspend Students for Justice in Palestine from campus? 

I would have answered “no,” but it has been banned from some universities, both on the grounds of repeatedly violating campus rules and for providing material support for terrorism [Hamas]” As Shapiro says:

So if a state can establish that SJP is in effect acting as Hamas’s PR agency on campuses, governors would be in the clear to stop taxpayer support. As with cases of “true threats” and “incitement,” the devil is in the details, so it’s heartening that public officials like Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares are launching investigations of assorted nonprofit organizations with potential terrorist ties.

I wouldn’t support its banning here, though I think the organization is reprehensible. But if it is violating the law by supporting terrorism (I have no idea if that’s the case), then yes, I wouldn’t be opposed. But organizations simply supporting Palestine or calling for the elimination of Israel are exercising freedom of speech, and such groups should not be banned.

Some prominent alumni have suggested that businesses not hire students who have joined statements in favor of Hamas. Isn’t that participating in cancel culture?

I don’t think that any of this qualifies as cancel culture, at least if one defines that term as (1) forming a mob (2) to seek to get someone fired or disproportionately punished (3) for statements within the societally permissible range of policy views.

I was surprised to learn a while back that companies can hire anybody they want so long as the companies don’t engage in systematic discrimination based on race, religion, and so on. If you approve of Hamas’s activities, for example, which is why Harvard students decided to back off on their statement that Israel was responsible for the October 7 massacre, any law firm can say, “No, we don’t want people like you.” That’s not religious discrimination.

Readers are advised to read Shapiro’s piece, which I’ve condensed quite a bit, as there’s lots to learn about the present situation and what you can and cannot do legally.  I should also add that nonprotected speech that could get you arrested, but is done peacefully for the sake of changing people’s minds, can still get you arrested, but it’s known as “civil disobedience.” Sometimes I approve of this: the most notable example involved peaceful demonstrations, such as sit-ins, marches and attempts to register to vote, which were illegal in the Jim Crow South, but whose violation eventually played a huge role in passing the Civil Rights acts of 1964 and 1965.

This would be a good piece to give entering students when colleges create orientation units about free speech, as all of them should be doing!

The reprehensible organization UN Women can’t find the ability to condemn Hamas’s gender-based violence. It tried to, but then removed its post immediately.

November 29, 2023 • 10:10 am

About a week ago I called attention to how Western feminists have largely ignored the violence inflicted on women by Hamas (rape, killing of pregnant women, parading the bodies of naked women in Gaza, etc.), and added this cartoon by Guy Morad.

In this case you can’t accuse Israel in a “both sides do it” scenario because IDF soldiers simply don’t rape Palestinian women.

One of the organizations that has resolutely ignored Hamas’s gender-based violence is, of course, affiliated with the anti-Israel United Nations: its organization UN Women, whose mission is stated below:

UN Women is the global champion for gender equality, working to develop and uphold standards and create an environment in which every woman and girl can exercise her human rights and live up to her full potential. We are trusted partners for advocates and decision-makers from all walks of life, and a leader in the effort to achieve gender equality.

UN Women regularly tweets and posts on their Twitter and Instagram pages about gender-based violence in many countries.  Here, for example, is a presentation of Palestinian female deaths in Gaza, as well as Palestinian women who have been displaced from their homes by war or have become widows.  This, of course, is the result of Israel defending itself against Hamas’s massacre of October 7, but all UN Women has to say is this:

Following the 7 October 2023 horrific attack by Hamas on Israel and the ensuing intense bombardment on Gaza by Israel, UN Women has worked to analyze the differentiated impact on women, men, boys, and girls, to ensure adequate responses to their needs.

There is nothing about Israeli women who were widowed, killed, or lost their children. There is nothing about the “bombardment” being a self-defense move by the IDF in a territory where civilians are used as human shields. In fact, UN Women has not called out the gender-based violence inflicted by Hamas on October 7, though of course it would have done so had that violence occurred in countries other than Israel.

As you can read in this Jerusalem Post report below (click to read), UN Women almost decried what Hamas did, but then, with the flimsiest of excuses, retracted its condemnation:

Get a load of these excerpts (indented):

Nearly 50 days after Hamas’ attack on Israel left 1,200 dead, and after weeks of criticism over its silence about allegations of sexual violence during the attack, the women’s rights group UN Women issued a statement condemning the terror group on Friday.

Then it deleted the post.

Here’s that first post, which is really hard to find on the internet (it’s in a tweet by news anchor Stella Escobedo). This must have been a screen capture during the brief time when UN Women had a spine:

“We condemn the brutal attacks by Hamas on October 7 and continue to call for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages,” read the initial statement, posted on UN Women’s Instagram page. It was soon replaced with a statement that dropped the condemnation of Hamas and only called for the release of the hostages.

Here’s the replacement statement, straight from the Instagram site:


Why did they do that?  Priorities, my dear readers:

Reached for comment, UN Women told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the Instagram post had been scheduled in advance and was deleted because the message in it no longer reflected where the organization wanted to put its main focus.

“In any social media team managing multiple campaigns and during a very busy time like the one we are now with 16 Days of Activism, mistakes can occur,” a representative for UN Women said in a statement sent to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

In particular, said the spokeswoman, Inés Esteban González, the release of some hostages over the weekend as part of a temporary truce changed the organization’s priorities.

If you believe that, I have some land in Florida I want to sell you.  Why couldn’t they leave the first one up and then add the hostage-release one? You know why: UN Women doesn’t count Israeli women.

But there has been pushback:

Word spread quickly among Jewish women activists and Israelis, reigniting their contention that UN Women — an official arm of the United Nations focused on promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment — holds a double standard when it comes to gender-based violence against Israeli women. Some of the critics — including Sheryl Sandberg, a former top Meta executive — have lobbied openly on the topic. Many have used the hashtag “#MeToo_UNless_UR_A_Jew.

Sheryl Sandberg’s powerful article about Hamas’s sexual violence, published on CNN, is called “Something we can all agree on“.

After an initial statement on Oct. 13 condemning the attacks on civilians in Israel, all of UN Women’s public comments about the war and its impact on women had centered only on Palestinians. Last week, Sima Bahous, the group’s executive director, called for an extension of the current temporary truce into a permanent ceasefire and for the release of all hostages.

The National Council for Jewish Women, which had previously criticized UN Women’s silence on sexual violence against Israeli women, said the group’s second statement last week was inadequate.

“The delayed issuance of a statement that fails to explicitly address the severity of Hamas’ terrorist attack on Israel — such as the brutal murder of over 1,200 people in Israel, torture, and rape of women, as well as the targeting of civilians and families — is equally reprehensible,” the statement said. “Immediate and unequivocal acknowledgment of these atrocities is imperative, given the blatant violation of international law.”

From another article in the Jerusalem Post, a statement from the sister of kidnapped hostage Shani Goren.  According to the latest tabulation of hostages, Goren is still held captive by Hamas.

If you want to read more about feminists’ shameful turning of their heads away from what Hamas did, read this article in Tablet (click to read for free).

A short extract:

Now, despite seeing Hamas’ rape cult, not one gender studies department has defended even one victimized woman. Feminists have long taught us to believe the accuser and not blame the victim. For years, progressives insisted, in academic papers, on T-shirts, even on coffee mugs, that when fighting oppression, “silence is consent,” or even that “silence is violence.” On Oct. 7, the violated women shouted, shrieked, cried, begged, rape after rape, cut after cut, fighting off these assaults with their voices and their bare hands as best each could. Some hostages may still be struggling. By contrast, violating every feminist principle I’ve ever read and respected, today’s feminist movement is violently, silently, consenting to this mass crime against women and against the victims from three-dozen different countries. Some even doubt the testimonials—and the staggering, bloody, heartbreaking evidence of stripped women paraded through Gaza’s streets. Robbing someone of their story is a secondary offense—but nevertheless inexcusable.

If justice is indivisible, these women deserve justice—and empathy too—whether or not you like Israel or abhor it and its policies. If rape culture is never OK, all civilized people should repudiate so many Palestinians’ and progressives’ delight in spreading these videos and cheering these crimes. In their silence, most leading feminists became complicit, aiding and abetting this mass attempt to dehumanize women just because they’re Jews—or happened to be on the Gaza border that day.

This shameful behavior by UN women, and by other feminist organizations, is an instance of what I call MacPherson’s Law, which goes something like this:

“Whenever two progressive principles clash, the one that loses is the one that involves women.”

In this case the clashing principles are that raping and killing women constitutes inexcusable gender-based violence, versus the principle that those committing gender-based violence are in fact oppressed people of color. It doesn’t matter that in this case the “oppressed people of color” were Hamas butchers. . .

Youngest Hamas hostage and family reported killed

November 29, 2023 • 9:20 am

This is ineffably sad, though of course the killing of any Hamas hostage is ineffably sad. But in this case, as reported by Reuters, the three hostages, said to be killed by Israeli bombardment, included the youngest one, ten months old.

A short report from Reuters:

The armed wing of Palestinian militant group Hamas said on Wednesday that 10-month-old child Kfir Bibas, his 4-year-old brother and their mother were killed in previous Israeli bombardment of the Gaza strip.

The Israeli army said it is checking the claim by Al Qassam Brigades. Reuters could not immediately independently verify the claim.

Let’s hope the statement is wrong.  As reader Jez said when he heard this on the BBC, “I smell a rat.”  If the trio were killed previously, why did Hamas wait to announce it until now?  My own guess, which I hope is wrong (I’m hoping they’re alive, as Hamas has reported deaths wrongly), is that if this is true, the baby died of other causes and then Hamas killed the rest of the family to prevent this disclosure. Having the bodies can give us clues.

Jesus ‘n’ Mo ‘n’ Cosmic Schmucks

November 29, 2023 • 9:00 am

Here’s today’s Jesus and Mo strip, appropriately titled “Schmuck” (“jerk” in Yiddish, but can also mean “penis”), came with this note:

Ladies and gentlemen, the Cosmic Schmuck Principle at Overweening Generalist.

And here’s the Cosmic Schmuck Principle at

The Cosmic Schmuck Principle holds that if you don’t wake up, once a month at least, and realize you have recently been acting like a Cosmic Schmuck again, then you will probably go on acting like a Cosmic Schmuck forever; but if you do, occasionally, recognize your Cosmic Schmuckiness, you might begin to become a little less Schmucky than the general human average at this primitive stage of terrestrial evolution. – p. 21, Natural Law: Or Don’t Put A Rubber On Your Willy

This jibes with a similar principle that I came up with myself.  There are actually two:

Coyne’s Principle of Life #1

Nobody thinks they’re a jerk
But there are plenty of jerks in the world
Ergo, plenty of people lack all self-awareness.

I added this one later:

Coyne’s Principle of Life #2

Everbody thinks they have a good sense of humor
Plenty of people don’t have a good sense of humor
Therefore, plenty of people are fooling themselves.