No evidence yet that the shooting of three Muslim students in Vermont was a hate crime

December 7, 2023 • 10:40 am

On November 25, you may recall, three young Palestinian-Americans, Kinnan Abdalhamid, Hisham Awartani, and Tahseen Ali Ahmad were shot n Burlington, Vermont. Two of the injured were American citizens (not “Palestinians”); the other a legal resident.  The alleged shooter, Jason Eaton, was captured and appears to be mentally ill.

Two of the students have been treated and released from the hospital, but the third was shot in the spine and may never walk again. This was a reprehensible crime that may have stolen a huge part of the life from one victim.

But was it a hate crime?

On December 1 I wrote about how desperately the media seemed to want it to be a hate crime, for it fit the narrative of “Isamophobia” touted by progressives. Muslims, too, seemed to share the notion that it must have been a hate crime. After all, two of the boys were wearing kaffiyehs, the Palestinian headscarf, and they were speaking Arabic to each other.

Now, eleven days later, it appears that there is still no evidence for the alleged perpetrator having a particular hatred for Muslims, even though his social media posts have been thoroughly scrutinized. And yet the desire for this to be an “Islamophobic” crime remains.  Here’s from an op-ed in the latest Harvard Crimson (bolding is mine)

At Stanford University, campus police are investigating allegations that a student wearing a shirt with the Syrian city of Damascus written in Arabic on it was struck by a car, the driver of which yelled, “Fuck you people.” At George Washington University, students reported instances of strangers ripping hijabs from the heads of Muslim students. And at Yale University, a message declaring “Death to Palestine” was found written on a whiteboard inside of a student dorm building.

On Nov. 25, this bigotry turned into bullets.

That day, three Palestinian college students in Vermont were shot while speaking Arabic and wearing keffiyehs, traditional Palestinian scarves. That attack on Hisham Awartani, a student at Brown University; Kinnan Abdalhamid, a student at Haverford University; and Tahseen Ali Ahmed, a student at Trinity University, should remind the nation of the consequences of ignoring anti-Palestinian racism.

These racist attacks are not isolated incidents.

Note the complete lack of doubt in the bit above.

VICE News, an uber-woke organ, has combed through Eaton’s social media posts, and though there’s evidence of an unbalanced mind (Eaton struggled with depression and also went through 19 jobs in nine years), there’s not a hint of hatred of Muslims or Arabs. Nevertheless, the VICE article is called “Everything we now abut the man accused of shooting three Palestinian students in Vermont” with the dark subheading, “Social media accounts linked to Jason J. Eaton by VICE News show a number of troubling posts.”  Troubling? Any sign of “Islamophobia”?

Nope; the “troubling” bit is that his posts often appeared unhinged. Here’s what VICE dug up:

But Business Insider also cited evidence, first uncovered by Vice, of a “conspiratorial” bent in posts on what appear to be Eaton’s social media accounts, most of which have since been deleted or locked. One, on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, said “Libertarians want trans furrys to be able to protect their cannabis farms with unregistered machine guns.”

Further evidence of Eaton’s worldview comes in 2004, when the Portsmouth Herald in New Hampshire, which belongs to the USA TODAY Network, reported Eaton was presenting a lecture at a local church about, in Eaton’s words, “taking back the money and power that consumers have ceded to multinational corporations.”

And there’s this:

One of Eaton’s struggles was with romantic relationships, according to a police report. On Oct. 21, 2019, two officers from the Dewitt Police Department in New York, near Syracuse, were dispatched to the residence of a woman who had a previous relationship with Eaton, but who said he was now continuing to text her after she told him to stop.

No mention of Muslims yet. Here’s an implicit accusation of anti-Muslim bigotry from a Professor at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard:

You can find any number of Muslims who are convinced that this was a hate crime motivated by anti-Islamic sentiment itself inflamed by the war. Here’s part of an NPR interview with Abed Ayoub, National Executive Director, Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee (my bolding)

  • William Brangham:

    As we reported, we still don’t know what the motive is here, whether this was a random attack or whether these young men were specifically targeted because they’re Palestinian.

    The families, as you know, put out a statement today saying they clearly believe that this is a hate crime. And I want to read an excerpt of this. They place the blame on: “U.S. media and even elected officials from the highest levels of the government have repeated racist and dehumanizing language in recent weeks. This hateful rhetoric emboldens people to act with violence.”

    I’m curious, do you share that same belief?

Abed Ayoub:

Absolutely.

Our belief has been that the rhetoric against Arabs, against Palestinians in this country, the dehumanization of Palestinians would eventually lead to these violent hate crimes we’re seeing. That’s exactly what’s happening. That’s what happened in Chicago to Wadea, the 6-year-old was stabbed.

That’s what happened in this situation and other examples that our office has been fielding across the country since early October. So the rhetoric, the way we’re being dehumanized and the way Arabs and Palestinians are being portrayed leads to these violent hate crimes.

And, unfortunately, this may not be the last incident we hear of, unless there’s an effort to change the rhetoric and to change the way we are being portrayed.

I could give many more examples, but you can look them up yourself  The point is that people are willing to believe something without any evidence, and that “something” is what fulfills the ideological narrative they’ve embraced. One would think that Muslims and advocates of comity would be happy if there were no evidence that Eaton hated Muslims. Then it would be a simple “non hate” crime, perhaps one prompted by an unstable mind, and Islamophobia wouldn’t be as pervasive. But people seem to want that not to be true.

It’s also an example of how the divisiveness of people based on their identity has become embedded in society. If a Muslim, black, or Jew has been killed, we assume automatically that their race or religion was a factor.  But really: we need some evidence before rushing to judgement.

Holiday snaps: Boston and Cambridge

December 7, 2023 • 9:15 am

Here are a few photos I’ve taken in Cambridge and Boston during the past few days. My dining has been sporadic and not that photogenic, so there aren’t any pictures of fancy meals.

A new duck for me: a male ring-necked duck (Aythya collaris) on Fresh Pond in Cambridge. It’s a diving duck, and, sure enough, it dove several times, but it was wary and this is the best photo I could get with a telephoto lens.

Lamb rogan josh at the Maharaja Restaurant in Cambridge. They used to have a great buffet, but sadly, it’s gone. The food, however, is very good.

Do you remember “Car Talk,” the fascinating auto-repair show that used to be on NPR, hosted by the Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers (Tom and Ray Magliozzi)? Well, that show originated from Harvard Square. As Wikipedia notes,

The show’s offices were located near their shop at the corner of JFK Street and Brattle Street in Harvard Square, marked as “Dewey, Cheetham & Howe“, the imaginary law firm to which they referred on-air. DC&H doubled as the business name of Tappet Brothers Associates, the corporation established to manage the business end of Car Talk. Initially a joke, the company was incorporated after the show expanded from a single station to national syndication.

The offices are still there, though the show is gone (Tom died in 2014). Here’s the building and the famous sign:

I hope you recognize the pun in the name.

Two days ago I wandered down to the Boston Common and the adjacent Public Garden with one aim: to photograph the bronze statue of Mrs. Mallard and her eight ducklings, all modeled on a single drawing in the best children’s book ever written, Make Way for DucklingsThe book, written and illustrated by Robert McCloskey and published in 1941, recounts the story of Mr. and Mrs. Mallard, a mated pair of ducks and their ducklings, who, after many travails, find a home in the pond in the Public Gardens. Here’s an illustration from the story showing Mrs. Mallard (Mr. Mallard was a deadbeat dad who largely abandoned the family) with her eight ducklings getting some help crossing the street. The ducklings were named Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack, and Quack.

The sculpture I wanted to see (and have seen many times before), was created by Nancy SchönWikipedia says this:

The original set of bronze statues was installed in the Boston Public Garden in 1987, and a copy was installed in Moscow at Novodevichy Park in 1991.

. . . The Make Way for Ducklings sculpture is routinely dressed in outfits throughout the year, for various Boston sports teams, for events such as the Boston Marathon, and for holidays such as Mother’s Day.

I knew that they would be dressed for the cold, but here’s what the undressed ducks look like  (photo from Wikipedia). The poses are identical to one of the illustrations in the book.

And here’s the whole family, wearing little hand-knit sweaters to keep out the cold (my photos):

Mrs. Mallard’s hat had slipped off, so I put it back on:

. . . and the eight babies, each with a different costume. My friend Tim walked by the ducklings on Tuesday (later on the day I visited), and reported that two duckling costumes were missing. The miscreant who removed them should be arrested! Fortunately, they were all dressed when I saw them.

Hand knitting on the sweaters!

Across the Boston Common is a new statue, “The Embrace,” by Hank Willis Thomas. Wikipedia says this:

The artwork commemorates Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, and depicts four intertwined arms, representing the hug they shared after he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. The work was created by welding together about 609 smaller pieces. The sculpture has received largely negative responses from critics and the public.

The negative responses were based largely on the fact that it shows only the intertwined arms and not Martin or Coretta. But that seems petty when you see the sculpture, which I liked:

An inscription by the statue:

. . . and the Massachusetts Statehouse, the Capitol building of the state, first constructed in 1798 and expanded in 1895. It’s one of the oldest existing state capitol buildings.

A panorama of downtown Boston from the Boston Common (click to enlarge). My shadow is at right.

Some food.  First, a lamb gyro, salad, and fries from The Greek Corner Restaurant in Cambridge (as I said, I didn’t eat fancy food):

And no visit to Cambridge is complete without a visit to America’s finest purveyor of homemade ice cream, Christina’s. Here’s the list of flavors, which I’ve put in black and white to make the flavors more legible. Too much choice! It was hard for me to decide, as I was having only two scoops:

Azuki bean and green tea is a great Japanese-style mixture (carrot cake, which has a cream-cheese-icing flavor, is also excellent), but I had to get their best flavor, burnt sugar. It is the best flavor of ice cream in the world. With it I had a scoop of ginger-molasses, which was excellent. If you go to Cambridge and don’t go to Christina’s, you’ll have missed a great culinary experience.  My cup:

Thursday: Hili dialogue

December 7, 2023 • 6:45 am

Welcome to Thursday, December 7, 2023: National Cotton Candy Day. Cotton candy is simply spun sugar with coloring, and thus will instantly dissolve in water. This raccoon finds that out to his dismay:

It’s also Letter Writing Day,International Civil Aviation Day, and National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day (the US was attacked by Ja0an on this day in 1941 the next day we were in World War II.

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the December 7 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*War news from the NYT. Israel is busy sniffing out Hamas leaders in southern Gaza:

Israel was pressing on with its pursuit of top Hamas leaders in the southern Gaza Strip, as civilians forced into slivers of land on the southern edge of the enclave faced continuing bombardment even in the places they were told to go by the Israeli military.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday that Israeli troops had surrounded the home of Yahya Sinwar, the leader of Hamas in Gaza, in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis. Israeli authorities have said that Mr. Sinwar masterminded the Hamas attacks in Israel on Oct. 7. It was not immediately clear if Israel had confirmed his presence inside the home.

“He can escape, but it is only a matter of time until we reach him,” Mr. Netanyahu said in a video posted on the social media site X.

Some of the tens of thousands of people ordered to leave parts of Khan Younis have fled farther south to Rafah, a city along the border with Egypt and one of the few remaining places Israel’s military has told displaced Gazans they can seek safety.

Later on Wednesday, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, the Israeli military’s chief spokesman, said Mr. Sinwar was “not above the ground” but did not provide any additional details about where they believed he is.

I’m convinced now that Israel is dead serious about eliminating Hamas. I don’t know if they can weaken it to the point of disappearance, or what will happen after the war, but it’s also clear that the U.S. is not going to make Israel participate in a cease-fire that will end hostilities.

*The NYT describes the questioning of the Presidents of MIT, Harvard, and Penn by Representatives on the House Education and Workforce Committee, whose Republican determined to make mincemeat of the -entitled heads of elite colleges (see some of the exchanges here).

The criticism leveled at these Presidents is apparently on two fronts. The first, and least important, is whether it violates the speech codes of the universities. The second is whether it is considered Constitutional free speech by the University. The questions are connected if the university’s speech code adheres to First-Amendment style speech, which is automatic at public universities but not at private universities like these three.

However, calling for the genocide of Jews, the big deal here, usually does not violate the First Amendment unless it’s a form of personal harassment of individual Jews, is likely to lead to imminent and predictable violence, or creates an atmosphere of bigotry in the workplace, which is NOT out in the open quads but in the classrooms. Thus, the Presidents are correct in saying that whether calling for the genocide of Jews (or of any race) is illegal “depends on the context.”

Another issue is whether the universities previously criticized forms of speech that were legal under the First Amendment but don’t do so with antisemitism. That would be hypocrisy in treating speech, but I didn’t see the Representatives discussing that issue (I didn’t watch the whole several hours of the questioning). But all the fracas is about whether the Presidents would condemn statements about killing Jews, but I think that those who demand the three Presidents be fired for answering “it depends” don’t understand the First Amendment.

Here’s an example of Congressional bullying of the Presidents on these grounds.

From the NYT:

Support for the presidents of Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania and M.I.T. eroded quickly on Wednesday, after they seemed to evade what seemed like a rather simple question during a contentious congressional hearing: Would they discipline students calling for the genocide of Jews?

Their lawyerly replies to that question and others during a four-hour hearing drew incredulous responses.

“It’s unbelievable that this needs to be said: Calls for genocide are monstrous and antithetical to everything we represent as a country,” said a White House spokesman, Andrew Bates.

Josh Shapiro, the Democratic governor of Pennsylvania, said he found the responses by Elizabeth Magill, Penn’s president, “unacceptable.”

Even the liberal academic Laurence Tribe found himself agreeing with Representative Elise Stefanik, Republican of New York, who sharply questioned Harvard’s president, Claudine Gay.

BUT (bolding is mine)

But on the question of disciplining students for statements about genocide, they tried to give lawyerly responses to a tricky question involving free speech, which supporters of academic freedom said were legally correct.

But to many Jewish students, alumni and donors, who had watched campus pro-Palestinian protests with trepidation and fear, the statements by the university presidents failed to meet the political moment by not speaking clearly and forcefully against antisemitism.

I’m sorry, but a lawyerly answer is the correct one and, as the article notes above, the Presidents’ answers are “legally correct”. It’s irrelevant about whether those answers offend Jews and are seen as promoting antisemitism. The question is about whether such speech is allowable by a University itself. And the answer is “It depends.”  Of course free speech must protect odious speech, and this is one of the hard cases, like the ACLU allowing the Nazis to march through Skokie. Isn’t that antisemitic speech?

Below Liz Magill personally damns calls of genocide, and then admits that such speech is “harassment and intimidation” at Penn so she’s confusing matters further. She first says speech is legal under the First Amendment, but perhaps it violates Penn’s code of conduct anyway.  This could all be resolved if University speech codes were like Chicago’s: conforming to the First Amendment, period.  Magill is confused, but yes, her focus on the First Amendment led her to give the correct answer. Perhaps calls for genocide do violate Penn’s own speech code, but if that’s the case they need to modify their speech code so it becomes like the University of Chicago’s.

I see from today’s news that damnation of the three Presidents and calls for their firing, on the grounds that calls for genocide should be totally banned at their schools, are nearly universal. I dissent from these calls for firing.  I am of course a secular Jew, and find the cries for Jewish genocide deplorable. But deplorable speech is often protected by the First Amendment, as it should be.

*It’s clear that many people, particularly young ones, don’t know jack about the history of the relationship between Israel and Palestine, though that doesn’t stop them from supporting Palestine as People of Color oppressed by White Adjacent Settler/Colonialist Israelis. The ignorance of the young in particular is highlighted by a survey in a WSJ commentary, “From which river to which sea?” You can guess what it’s about (and you better know that it’s the Jordan River and Mediterranean Sea!):

When college students who sympathize with Palestinians chant “From the river to the sea,” do they know what they’re talking about? I hired a survey firm to poll 250 students from a variety of backgrounds across the U.S. Most said they supported the chant, some enthusiastically so (32.8%) and others to a lesser extent (53.2%).

That’s 88% of the students (granted, a small sample) who supported the chant.  Taken literally, the call means that the chanters are calling for the elimination of Israel, but only half of these neuronally deprived students, or 41% of all of the students, could name the relevant bodies of water:

But only 47% of the students who embrace the slogan were able to name the river and the sea. Some of the alternative answers were the Nile and the Euphrates, the Caribbean, the Dead Sea (which is a lake) and the Atlantic. Less than a quarter of these students knew who Yasser Arafat was (12 of them, or more than 10%, thought he was the first prime minister of Israel). Asked in what decade Israelis and Palestinians had signed the Oslo Accords, more than a quarter of the chant’s supporters claimed that no such peace agreements had ever been signed. There’s no shame in being ignorant, unless one is screaming for the extermination of millions.

Would learning basic political facts about the conflict moderate students’ opinions? A Latino engineering student from a southern university reported “definitely” supporting “from the river to the sea” because “Palestinians and Israelis should live in two separate countries, side by side.” Shown on a map of the region that a Palestinian state would stretch from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, leaving no room for Israel, he downgraded his enthusiasm for the mantra to “probably not.” Of the 80 students who saw the map, 75% similarly changed their view.

They should stop chanting, then, as no construal of that phrase can be taken to mean “we want a peaceful two-state solution”!

An art student from a liberal arts college in New England “probably” supported the slogan because “Palestinians and Israelis should live together in one state.” But when informed of recent polls in which most Palestinians and Israelis rejected the one-state solution, this student lost his enthusiasm. So did 41% of students in that group.

A third group of students claimed the chant called for a Palestine to replace Israel. Sixty percent of those students reduced their support for the slogan when they learned it would entail the subjugation, expulsion or annihilation of seven million Jewish and two million Arab Israelis. Yet another 14% of students reconsidered their stance when they read that many American Jews considered the chant to be threatening, even racist. (This argument had a weaker effect on students who self-identified as progressive, despite their alleged sensitivity to offensive speech.)

This is more evidence that the young students, who are those who most oppose Israel’s military action in Gaza, don’t know what the genocidal chant really means. Have they ever simply thought of what does this sentence say?

*A group of Oakland, California public-school teachers are planning a big pro-Palestinian “teach in”, which apparently will present propaganda to students.

Dozens of public school educators in Oakland, Calif. are planning to present pro-Palestinian lessons on Wednesday as part of an unauthorized teach-in.

The school district said this week that it opposed the event, and some Jewish groups and parents condemned it and called for teachers who participate to be disciplined.

The teach-in was organized by a group of activists within the local teachers’ union, the Oakland Education Association. But the union president, Ismael Armendariz, emphasized that the materials had not been reviewed by his group.

The event’s anonymous organizers created a lengthy list of suggested curriculum materials for all grade levels, from pre-K through high school. The document calls Israel an “apartheid state” and refers to “the historic and unfolding oppression and genocide of Palestinians.”

Nate Landry, 40, a parent in the district who is acting as a spokesman for the organizers, said teachers saw the proposed curriculum as “a corrective” to mainstream education materials that take a pro-Israel view.

. . .Much of the recommended material comes from pro-Palestinian advocacy groups.

coloring book for elementary students features a Palestinian character who says, “A group of bullies called Zionists wanted our land so they stole it by force and hurt many people.”

It also introduces the argument that Palestinian refugees have a right to return to the land that makes up the Jewish state. Children are prompted to solve a maze and given the instructions, “Handala has his family’s old house key. Now, he needs your help to get back home to Palestine! Trace a way home for Handala.”

I’m not sure what the “conventional” (i.e., pro-Israel view is, or if it’s really taught), but I object to this just as I’d object to pro-Israel propaganda. This is a case of teachers propagandizing their students with “progressive” ideology, and it’s wrong.

*Finally, there was a Republican Presidential debate last night, but who cares? Trump is going to be the nominee. Perhaps he can nominate the “winner” of the debates as VP (that would probably be Nikki Haley), but Trump, who might blow and artery and die in his second term, doesn’t want a strong VP, and doesn’t care who replaces him. A precis from the WaPo (if you care):

Four Republican presidential contenders clashed in Wednesday’s presidential primary debate, as former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis sought to solidify their second-place position with less than six weeks left before the Iowa caucuses. Former president Donald Trump once again skipped the showdown.

Haley, who has surpassed or tied DeSantis in early state public polling, found herself the target of attacks early on, and at one point former New Jersey governor Chris Christie came to her defense. Haley and DeSantis continued to tussle on China, while Christie used his airtime to hit Trump for skipping the debates. Christie accused his opponents onstage of being hesitant to cross Trump, who holds a dominant polling lead in the primary race. Meanwhile, tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy espoused conspiracy theories and leveled personal attacks on his rivals.

Meh. The question is whether Trump will be prohibited from running by the more than two dozen charges against him, even if he’s not yet convicted by next November. Who knows?

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is hard at work editing:

Hili: This paragraph must be re-written.
A: Why?
Hili: Tautology.
In Polish:
Hili: Ten akapit trzeba przerobić.
Ja: Dlaczego?
Hili: Tautologia.

*******************

From Christopher, a Dave Blazek cartoon:

Time Magazine has chosen its Person of the Year. Meh again; I’m more interested in her cat! Swift seems to be the new Beatles, but I find her music boring.

From Stash Krod, a nightmarish website entrée:

From Masih, retweeted by Richard Dawkins; the link to her interview with Richard is below (and here).  Masih is eloquent as always.

From Paul, another example of Oberlin’s maladaptive wokeness. Kim Russell’s story is here. but she also tells it below.

A multi-cat game from Merilee. The Google translation is this:

During the game  😹 I got home safely (`・ω・´)ゞ

Oy vey!

From the Auschwitz Memorial, a man who survived only two months in the camp:

THREE tweets from Dr. Cobb. First, an amazingly flexible woman followed by a passel of angry chickens:

Joni was a great painter and designed some of her own album covers:

Not much difference except for color:

More on the violence by Hamas against Israeli women

December 6, 2023 • 11:30 am

Tom Gross frequently puts out newsletters full of article and videos about the Hamas/Israel war, a newsletter not available to the public. I do, however, have permission to reproduce it here. Below I’ve taken a lot of his latest summary and indicated what I’ve used, indenting Gross’s words. Then I added a few more recent articles on the sexual violence used by Hamas on October 7.

This is a particularly important series of articles and videos because Western feminists (and UN Women itself) have deliberately ignored the hideious sexual violence practiced on Israeli and foreign women on October 7. This silence (and of course the violence that was ignored by feminists) is really something to get agry about.

Gross’s original article and link is below, but I believe the Sunday Times piece been retitled online as “The Hamas fighters were raping her. She begged them for death.”

METOO EXCEPT IF YO’RE A JEW

[Note by Tom Gross]

I attach a number of videos I cut and posted. You may wish to watch them when you have time.

After that, there is a front page article from yesterday’s Sunday Times of London. It is doubtful that other media — and certainly not the New York Times — would inform its readers the full extent of what Israeli Jews suffered in such detail.


EXTRACTS

DISBELIEF AT THE LACK OF INTERNATIONAL SYMPATHY DESPITE THE SAVAGERY OF THE ATTACKS

Christina Lamb, one of Europe’s most experienced foreign and war correspondents, writes in the (London) Sunday Times:

 

Although what you see below is undoubtedly paywalled (click on it), judicious inquiry may yield you a full copy. Tom Gross’s email has the whole text, but you can’t see it.

Here’s an extract I’ve chosen:

After an hour, he peeked out. “I saw this beautiful woman with the face of an angel and eight or ten of the fighters beating and raping her. She was screaming, ‘Stop it — already I’m going to die anyway from what you are doing, just kill me!’

When they finished they were laughing and the last one shot her in the head.

. . . . “Opening the body bags was scary as we didn’t know what we would see. They were all young women. Most in little clothing or shredded clothing and their bodies bloodied particularly round their underwear and some women shot many times in the face as if to mutilate them.

“Their faces were in anguish and often their fingers clenched as they died. We saw women whose pelvises were broken. Legs broken. There were women who had been shot in the crotch, in the breasts … there seems no doubt what happened to them.”

Her team had to wait while doctors, dentists and DNA experts worked to identify the bodies before they could then gently put them in white linen burial shrouds. “We are just normal women not doctors, we never expected to see such horrors,” she said. Yet what really made them cry was the occasional flash of colour. “Some bodies we took out had pretty pink or bright purple nails — and we would all pause and at that point many of us broke down.”

Now, back to Tom’s links, these ones to videos. I’ve replaced the YouTube links with the videos themselves:

Sasha Ariev talks about her sweet teenage sister Karina, 19, kidnapped alone by Hamas, still a hostage:

Horrifying: Eyewitness account of Hamas gang rape, cutting off breast of Jewish woman on Oct 7, 2023

AMONG PREVIOUS VIDEOS:

JewsToo. Jewish women in LA show what is happening to Israeli Jews

Western feminists supporting Hamas should watch this 9-second clip from Hamas’ own recordings

Sheryl Sandberg has emerged as one of the most vociferous critics of feminists (actually, everyone) who remained silent in the face of Hamas’s violence. One example of her eloquence is below:

Sheryl Sandberg: Why are the women’s organizations and UN ignoring Israelis who were raped, murdered?

Click on all the headlines to go to the links (these were chosen by me, not Tom Gross):

About time the NYT highlighted this! A quote from the above:

On Monday, some 800 people, including women’s activists and diplomats representing about 40 countries, crowded into a chamber at U.N. headquarters in New York for a presentation laying out the evidence of large-scale sexual violence, with testimony from witnesses like Ms. Mendes and Mr. Greinman.

“Silence is complicity,” Sheryl Sandberg, the former Meta executive, told those assembled. She, along with Gilad Erdan, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, was among the event’s primary organizers. “On Oct. 7, Hamas brutally murdered 1,200 souls and in some cases, they first raped their victims,” Ms. Sandberg added. “We know this from eyewitnesses, we know this from combat paramedics, we would know this from some victims if more had been allowed to live.”

Hamas has denied that its fighters committed sex crimes, which it said would violate Islamic principles.

But ample evidence has been collected, like the bodies of women found partially or fully naked, women with their pelvic bones broken, the accounts of medical examiners and first responders, videos taken by Hamas fighters themselves, and even a few firsthand witnesses like a woman, in a video made public last month by police officials, who said she had watched Hamas terrorists take turns raping a young woman they had captured at a music festival, mutilate her and then shoot her in the head.

Biden waited too long, too, but at least he said something:

President Biden on Tuesday condemned the “unimaginable cruelty” of Hamas attackers who raped and mutilated women in Israel on Oct. 7, and he blamed the group’s refusal to release its remaining female hostages for the breakdown in cease-fire talks.

Speaking at a fund-raising event in Boston, Mr. Biden cited reports that Hamas fighters “used rape to terrorize women and girls” on Oct. 7, as they swept through Israeli towns and a music festival in the southern part of the country, killing more than 1,200 people, according to Israeli authorities.

“Over the past few weeks, survivors and witnesses of the attacks have shared the horrific accounts of unimaginable cruelty,” Mr. Biden told donors at the event at a Westin hotel. “Reports of women raped — repeatedly raped — and their bodies being mutilated while still alive — of women corpses being desecrated, Hamas terrorists inflicting as much pain and suffering on women and girls as possible and then murdering them.”

He added: “It is appalling.”

Bret Stephens, who doesn’t adhere to the NYT’s love of Palestine and hatred of Israel, is a sensible voice on the Hamas/Israel war (my opinion ,of course):

An excerpt (Jayapal’s weaselly words are in a video below):

On Sunday, CNN’s Dana Bash asked Representative Pramila Jayapal why so many progressive women have been silent about the extensive reports of widespread rape and sexual assault carried out by Hamas against Israeli women during the massacres of Oct. 7.

What followed was a master class in evasion, both-sidesism and changing the subject from the chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

“I’ve condemned what Hamas has done,” Jayapal allowed, briefly, before moving immediately to condemn Israel. Bash persisted: “I was just asking about the women, and you turned it back to Israel. I’m asking about Hamas.”

“I’ve already answered your question, Dana,” Jayapal replied, adding that while rape was “horrific,” it “happens in war situations. Terrorist organizations like Hamas obviously are using these as tools. However, I think we have to be balanced about bringing in the outrages against Palestinians.”

. . . it took U.N. Women, the agency that has that mandate to look out for women’s rights globally, eight weeks before issuing a perfunctory statement saying it was “alarmed” by accounts of gender-based atrocities during the attacks of Oct. 7.

As for other so-called human-rights organizations, the website of Human Rights Watch — which includes a page ostensibly devoted to women’s rights — has dozens of news releases about the war in Gaza. Not a word about the rapes. From Amnesty International: nothing that can be found on its website. The National Organization for Women denounced the Oct. 7 attacks on the day they occurred and last week issued a news release condemning “rape as a weapon of war.” But it contained no mention of Hamas.

Why not?

In a remarkable floor speech last week, Chuck Schumer, the Senate majority leader, spoke of “the sting of the double standard,” which, he said, “is at the root of antisemitism.” He also recalled a talk he heard in college by Abba Eban, then Israel’s foreign minister, who confronted left-wing hecklers at an event at Harvard.

“We have lived with the double standard throughout the centuries,” Eban told the protesters, Schumer said. “There are always things the Jews couldn’t do. Everyone could be a farmer but not the Jew, everyone could be a carpenter but not the Jew, everyone could move to Moscow but not the Jew, and everyone could have their own state, but not the Jew.”

To which one can today add: Every victim of sexual violence should be heard; no condemnation of rape should ever come with qualifiers; “Silence Is Violence.”

But not when it comes to Jews.

Jayapal is a “progressive” Democrat and a reliably Israel-condemning member of “The Squad”.  Her strategy for ending the war: “it’s complicated.” She says there’s an alternative for Hamas as the leader of Gaza, but doesn’t say who it is. The Palestinian Authority? She’s asked “who’s going to get rid of Hamas if there’s no continuing war?. She blames Israel’s attack on Gaza for the failure of Hamas to disappear, but Hamas isn’t going to voluntarily go away.  Jayapal also lies about Hamas using civilians as human shields, not admitting that it even happens.

As for the question Stephens mentions above if brought up at 6:45, and Jayapal waffles, condemning what Hamas did but then begins chastising Israel for violating “international humanitarian law.” What’s notably absent is Jayapal’s condemnation of the genuine violations of international law by Hamas. This woman blames everything on Israel, which she clearly wants to disappear—even though she calls for a two-state solution.

As Stephens says, this is a great exemplar of one-sideism masquerading as general humanitarianism.

Finally, an NBC News report summarizing the sexual violence of Hamas.

 

Three University Presidents testify in Congress about antisemitism

December 6, 2023 • 9:45 am

A ton of readers and friends have sent me videos of the interrogation of three University Presidents (Harvard, MIT, and Penn) yesterday by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. Yes, some of the Presidents waffled or seemed unprepared for the Congressional grilling (they should have had a mock “interrogation” beforehand at their schools), but, except for Harvard’s Claudine Gay, who seemed pretty much out of it, they did okay. (A video of the entire hearing is at the bottom of this post.)

Where the Presidents apparently failed, at least in the eyes of the House members who interrogated them, was in their unwillingness to affirm that their universities unequivocally condemned antisemitism, especially calls for genocide of the Jews. But I think the representatives were misguided.

Calling for genocide of Jews, or saying stuff like “gas the Jews” is, in fact, nearly always speech that is legal under the First Amendment. The only time it isn’t is when it constitutes personal harassment of someone, creates a hostile atmosphere in the workplace, or is meant to incite imminent and predictable violence.  Thus, a group of Students for Justice in Palestine standing on campus in a permitted demonstration and chanting “Gas the Jews” or “Another intifada,” or even (I haven’t heard this), “Genocide against Israel!” is in conformity with the courts’ interpretation of the First Amendment.

Repeated harassment of a Jewish person is of course illegal, as is any form of harassment, and is properly against university rules. Likewise, creating an atmosphere in the classroom designed to intimidate or harass Jews is also illegal, though the line between teaching one’s opinion and what Jewish students see as harassments could be tenuous.

Finally, it’s hard to imagine a situation in which calling for genocide of the Jews in an on-campus speech could -lead to imminent and predictable lawless violence against Jews. Even if you say this in front of Jewish students, that would incite violence only if there were people there prepared to commit violence if they heard such a statement. I have not seen this on any campus, but it’s conceivable.

Because I believe that all universities should have speech codes like Chicago’s, which conform to that Amendment, I think the only way to answer the question “Do the values of your university unequivocally condemn calls for genocide of the Jews?” is “It depends.” That is what the three Presidents tried to say. And for that they were universally condemned. Apparently the Representatives (and some people who wrote me) don’t understand their own Constitution.

Here’s an example, but first the YouTube notes:

Harvard University President Claudine Gay, the University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology President Sally Kornbluth testified before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on Tuesday about the universities’ response to antisemitism incidents that have occurred on campuses since Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

Below: New York Republican Congresswoman Else Stefanik bullying (there’s no other word for it) the three college Presidents, mocking their responses and saying that there’s only one right answer: a college must condemn calls for genocide of the Jews no matter what the circumstances.  She is relentless and clearly interested only in humiliating the Presidents.

Below Stefanik goes after President Gay further, but also mentions racist comments as well as antisemitic ones.

Gay responds that calls for genocide against Jews, “is against the values of Harvard.” She screwed up here, for Harvard does not (or should not) have values, and I doubt that there is even a “Harvard code of conduct” that stipulates such a value. (If it does, it quashes free speech.) This is one example of where Gay should have been better prepared. Likewise, she doesn’t handle very well Stafanik’s question about why Harvard was dead last on FIRE’s ranking of colleges’ policies on freedom of speech.

But Gay does say that odious speech is allowed under many circumstances, and in that case she’s right. But her handling of the pro-Palestinian statement blaming October 7 on Israel, in which she had to issue not only an initial statement, but then two subsequent corrections, was hamhanded.

My own prediction is that Gay won’t be President of Harvard much longer. She just doesn’t seem to have the composure or judgement to hold such a position.

Below is a statement from Harvard’s Hillel chapter criticizing President Gay for refusing to ban calls for genocide against the Jews. (h/t Mark). The statement reads in part:

A call for genocide against Jews is always a hateful incitement of violence. President Gay’s failure to properly condemn this speech calls into question her ability to protect Jewish students on Harvard’s campus.

While highlighting the conflict between free speech and intimidation or offense by Jewish students, this misunderstands the First Amendment.  Yes, these calls are calls for violence, but they aren’t (and shouldn’t be) illegal since they aren’t intended to produce imminent and predictable violence Here we see how organizations abandon adherence to freedom of speech when it leads to speech considered odious.

Dear Harvard Hillel Community,

Earlier today, Harvard President Claudine Gay testified before Congress about rising antisemitism at Harvard. When pressed during her testimony, President Gay repeatedly equivocated, refusing to characterize calls for the genocide of Jews as a breach of Harvard’s code of conduct, instead saying the offense “depends on the context.”

President Gay’s refusal to draw a line around threatening antisemitic speech as a violation of Harvard’s policies is profoundly shocking given explicit provisions within the conduct code prohibiting this kind of bullying and harassment.

We are appalled by the need to state the obvious: A call for genocide against Jews is always a hateful incitement of violence. President Gay’s failure to properly condemn this speech calls into question her ability to protect Jewish students on Harvard’s campus. Chants to “globalize the intifada,” an endorsement of violent terrorist attacks against Jewish and Israeli civilians, and “from the river to the sea,” an eliminationist slogan intended to deprive Jews of their right to self-determination in Israel, have become tragically routine at Harvard. President Gay’s testimony fails to reassure us that the University is seriously concerned about the antisemitic rhetoric pervasive on campus. We call on President Gay to take action against those using threatening speech that violates our community standards.

We do agree with President Gay’s testimony that education on antisemitism is urgently needed at Harvard. Harvard Hillel is ready to work with the administration to bring robust education and training on the history of the Jewish people and the evolution of antisemitism to every audience at Harvard — administration, faculty, staff and students.

We will continue to hold the University administration accountable to make Harvard a place that Jewish students can learn, live, and thrive without fear and intimidation.

Sincerely,

Jacob Miller

Harvard Hillel President

Rabbi Getzel Davis

Harvard Hillel Campus Rabbi

Below is a clip (h/t Al) in which Representative Tim Walberg (Republican, Michigan, though the nametag says Representative Thompson) asks Harvard’s Claudine Gay how non-odious views—like accepting the sex binary or having heterodox opinions on sex and abortion could lead to professors being fired (he’s referring to Carole Hooven, who I had dinner with last night) and to Tyler Vanderweele)—while having reprehensible views like calling for genocide of Jews is okay.  He’s trying to paint Gay as a hypocrite. Gay doesn’t handle the question well: another example of her hamhandedness.

Carole Hooven corrects the record; she was not fired by Harvard, and she links to a piece that explains what happened to her.

VanderWeele wasn’t fired either: here’s his story (he’s still at Harvard).

The whole interrogation seems to me an attempt of Republicans to flex their muscles by humiliating the elite: the Presidents of three high-class colleges.  Yes, there is a hard problem to deal with: how to maintain freedom of speech while preventing an atmosphere of hate from pervading their campuses. I have no solutions to offer, but the Republicans here seem to be bullying the Presidents. That said, the Representatives do highlight this conflict, which has led to difficulties on campuses.  But they could have been less hostile!

Someone pointed out Gay’s hypocrisy on Twitter (“X”), contrasting her words on George Floyd with her reluctance to condemn antisemitism (Harvard has no policy of institutional neutrality), and I retweeted it with a comment:

Finally, here is the full hearing: nearly 5½ hours:

Jesus ‘n’ Mo ‘n’ purity

December 6, 2023 • 8:15 am

Today’s Jesus and Mo strip, called “spiral,”  came with a few short words and a link:

Oh, just get on with it, for God’s sake.

The link refers to a “purity spiral,” which according to Wikipedia is:

. . . . a form of groupthink where it becomes more beneficial to hold certain views than to not hold them, and more extreme views are rewarded while expressing doubt, nuance, or moderation is punished (a process sometimes called “moral outbidding”). This feedback loop leads to members competing to demonstrate the zealotry or purity of their views.

And here’s an example as the boys prepare to sing a duet:

 

 

 

 

Wednesday: Hili dialogue

December 6, 2023 • 6:45 am

Welcome to a Hump Day (“Ден на грпка” in Macedonian): Wednesday, December 6, 2023, and National Gazpacho Day, a day of cultural appropriation You cannot eat it unless you’re of Spanish or Portuguese ancestry:

It’s also National Microwave Oven Day, St. Nicholas Day, National Pawnbrokers Day, and, in Canada, National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the December 6 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*War news from the NYT. The whole tenor of the NYT’s coverage of the war is about how Israel’s military response to Hamas’s attack is damaging everything, and, frankly, I’m tired of this bias, for the military is also eliminating Hamas, which impoverished Gaza as a military and terrorist government.

But here’s one example of where they try to justify Hamas’s toll of Israeli’s killed, even though Hamas lies like a rug. This also includes some war news that’s surely accurate, but I’m now convinced that the editors of both the NYT and the Washington Post want the war to end with Hamas still around and Israel pulled back to its former border—and perhaps the papers even secretly want Israel to vanish, which would happen if Hamas is not taken down.  An excerpt:

The Israeli military said on Wednesday that its forces were advancing around the southern city of Khan Younis, where Israeli commanders have described house-to-house gun battles with Hamas fighters in some of the heaviest fighting of the two-month-old war.

A military spokesman, Avichay Adraee, warned Gazan civilians not to approach Salah al-Din Road, the main highway that connects Khan Younis to northern Gaza, calling it “a battlefield” and “extremely dangerous.” Gazans attempting to head north to seek refuge should instead use the main coastal road, he said in a post on social media, although it was unclear whether many people would do so given the intense bombardment — or how many could see the information given communications disruptions in Gaza.

On Tuesday, Maj. Gen. Yaron Finkelman, head of Israel’s southern command, had said its forces were battling in “the heart” of Khan Younis, where the fighting was “the most intense day since the beginning of the ground operation” in late October.

Hamas said it had killed 10 Israeli soldiers in the city and had injured several more, a claim that could not be immediately verified. Nir Dinar, a spokesman for the Israeli military, said the army did not comment on casualties until after soldiers’ families were notified.

Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza, also claimed in online posts that its fighters had totally or partially destroyed 24 Israeli military vehicles; that its snipers had shot at least six soldiers in the city; and that eight Israeli soldiers were injured with an anti-personnel bomb, though it did not say where.

Get a load of this “reporting”:

None of Hamas’s claims could be immediately verified, but the pace of the posts seemed to confirm Israeli accounts of intense urban combat around Khan Younis, the largest city in the coastal enclave’s south.

In other words, “we can’t verify Hamas’s claims about the deaths of Israeli soldiers, but they are buttressed by how fast Hamas issues posts, so the claims are probably true.”

*From reader Ken, some rare good news:

According to this section of the Death Penalty Information Center’s Year End Report, for the first time since such statistics began being kept, more Americans (50%) believe that capital punishment is unfairly applied than that believe it is fairly applied (47%).

There may be hope yet that we will become a civilized society.
The Year End Report is chock full of interesting information.

*You’ve probably heard that climate-change activist Greta Thunberg has become an ardent supporter of the Palestinian cause against Israel.  If you want to read more about it, here’s a Guardian op-ed sent in by reader Niklas, “We won’t stop speaking out about Gaza’s suffering—there is no climate justice without human rights.”  Somehow Greta has managed to connect her movement for awareness of global warming with Israel’s “genocide” against Gaza. Here’s how she does it (remember, she’s the first author of this stuff):

More than 15,000 people, of whom at least 6,000 were children. That’s how many people Israel has reportedly killed in the Gaza Strip in a matter of weeks – and those numbers are still rising. Israel has bombed basic societal infrastructure and civilian targets such as hospitals, schools, shelters and refugee camps. Israel has imposed a siege, preventing food, medicine, water and fuel from reaching the 2.3 million Palestinians trapped in the occupied Gaza Strip, leading Oxfam to accuse Israel of employing “starvation as a weapon of war”.

Dozens of United Nations experts have described the situation as “a genocide in the making”, hundreds of international scholars have warned of an unfolding genocide and prominent Israeli genocide expert Raz Segal has called it “a textbook case of genocide”. But most of the world, particularly the so-called global north, is looking the other way.

Despite these horrors, some have chosen to focus the public debate on attempts to delegitimise statements about Gaza made by young people in the climate justice movement. Contrary to what many have claimed, Fridays for Future has not “been radicalised” or “become political”. We have always been political, because we have always been a movement for justice. Standing in solidarity with Palestinians and all affected civilians has never been in question for us.

Advocating for climate justice fundamentally comes from a place of caring about people and their human rights. That means speaking up when people suffer, are forced to flee their homes or are killed – regardless of the cause. It is the same reason why we have always held strikes in solidarity with marginalised groups – including those in Sápmi, Kurdistan, Ukraine and many other places – and their struggles for justice against imperialism and oppression. Our solidarity with Palestine is no different, and we refuse to let the public focus shift away from the horrifying human suffering that Palestinians are currently facing.

That’s a pretty tenuous connection, but it gives Thunberg a chance to vent her spleen against Israel. Although the article does mention the Hamas attacks of October 7, it doesn’t mention the hostages; and the bulk of the article is devoted to condemning Israel, not Hamas or Palestine. All this goes to show is.that although Greta might be savvy about promoting climate-change awareness, she’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer when it comes to judging military conflicts.

The authors didn’t neglect giving their pronouns, but one has “all pronouns’!  All of them?

Greta Thunberg (she/her), a Swedish activist who inspired Fridays for Future, a movement of school strikes against global climate inaction

Alde Nilsson (all pronouns), a global development student and climate justice activist with Fridays for Future Sweden

Jamie Mater (they/them), a researcher and climate justice activist with Fridays for Future Sweden

Raquel Frescia (she/they), a writer/researcher and climate justice activist with Fridays for Future Sweden

*Here’s a new Gallup poll on the proportion of Americans in various groups who support or don’t support Israel’s military actions in Gaza.

The first bit of data:

Half of Americans approve of Israel’s military action in the Hamas-led Gaza Strip, and 45% disapprove, according to a Gallup poll conducted several weeks after Hamas launched a deadly attack on Israel that led to a major military operation by Israel.

I would have thought that the green bar would be longer. Nearly half of Americans apparently think that Israel should have done either nothing or very little in response to Hamas’s brutal attack.

More: a big age effect, so the youngest Americans are least approving of Israel’s going into Gaza, while older people are more approving. (No surprise there.) People of color are far more disapproving than are white people, while there’s not much effect of education on the data. Finally, Democrats are far more disapproving than Republicans, while Independents are in between.  The Democrats are clearly clueless, and Biden is right to buck them, though how long he can fight the “progressives” on this one is unknown.

And what about Biden’s handling of the crisis?

President Joe Biden’s 32% approval rating for his handling of the Israel-Hamas situation is lower than his already-anemic 37% overall job approval rating in the new poll.

This approval deficit is especially pronounced among the groups who are most opposed to Israel’s military action in Gaza: Democrats, people of color, women and young adults. These groups express significantly less approval for the job Biden is doing on the Middle East situation than they offer for his job performance overall.

Finally, 72% of Americans are following the Middle East situation either very closely or somewhat closely, a figure that increases with both age and education.

*Here’s a video from Tom Gross with the caption below. As you’ll see, Amit was released, so it’s a sort of happy ending, though we don’t know what happened to her in captivity.

Amit bravely tries to fight off seven armed terrorists. She is the freedom fighter, not them

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili shows off her knowledge of evolutionary history:

A: What are you looking at?
Hili: At a V-formation of dinosaurs.
A: Those are probably geese.
Hili: It’s possible.
In Polish:
Ja: Na co patrzysz?
Hili: Na klucz dinozaurów.
Ja: To chyba gęsi.
Hili: Możliwe.

*******************

From Bat: Columbia University circling the drain. You can bet that someone will be defending the “offensive” today. However, this conference was canceled by Columbia on the grounds that the organizers violated university protocol.

From the Absurd Sign Project 2.0:

From Masih; what a horrible existence this poor protestor has to lead.

How the UN is complicit in propagandizing kids and fomenting Jew hatred:

From Barry, who adds, “See? A dog can be helpful.”  Yes, to a cat!!

From Jez (I may have posted this before):

From Bat: “A minute and a half clip of Julia Steinberg from The Free Press testifying before Congress on education that ties DEI structure with the Jew hatred she sees at Stanford and on other campuses”:

From the Auschwitz Memorial, a woman who died in the camp at about 32:

Two tweets from the estimable Dr. Cobb. First, an obsessed d*g:

Matthew calls this one “saucy,” but it’s good advice:

Intercessionary prayer fails again, this time with covid recovery

December 5, 2023 • 11:30 am

This is the third study I know of in which intercessory prayer (prayer by strangers for the afflicted) has failed to show results.  The first two papers, whose titles are below (click to read) showed that such prayer failed to help patients with heart disease.  I’ve discussed these before, and you can see for yourself that if God exists, listens to prayer, and sometimes responds, He clearly was not listening in these two experiments.

I give the conclusions of each of the first two studies below. Notice that the second study was funded in part by the John Templeton Foundation, which clearly hoped for a positive result!

First, a study from 22 years ago:

Conclusion: The study found no evidence of an effect of intercessory prayer on the primary outcome of mortality or on the secondary outcomes of hospitalization time, ICU time, and mechanical ventilation time.

Second, a study from 17 years ago:

Sadly, no gods with any power to respond to prayer did anything. Note as well that, in fact, intercessory prayer increased (nonsignificantly) the percentage of  bad outcomes (bolding is mine). Perhaps god doesn’t like intercessory prayer!

Results: In the 2 groups uncertain about receiving intercessory prayer, complications occurred in 52% (315/604) of patients who received intercessory prayer versus 51% (304/597) of those who did not (relative risk 1.02, 95% CI 0.92-1.15). Complications occurred in 59% (352/601) of patients certain of receiving intercessory prayer compared with the 52% (315/604) of those uncertain of receiving intercessory prayer (relative risk 1.14, 95% CI 1.02-1.28). Major events and 30-day mortality were similar across the 3 groups.

Conclusions: Intercessory prayer itself had no effect on complication-free recovery from CABG, but certainty of receiving intercessory prayer was associated with a higher incidence of complications.

And look at the acknowledgements:

This study was supported by the John Templeton Foundation. The Baptist Memorial Health Care Corporation supported the Baptist Memorial Health Care Corporation site only.

And here’s the latest study, published in a weird journal, but one that is peer-reviewed: Heliyon. Here’s what Wikipedia says about it:

Heliyon is a monthly peer-reviewed mega journal covering research in all areas of science, the social sciences and humanities, and the arts. It was established in 2015 and is published by Cell Press. The journal is divided into numerous sections, each with its own editorial team.

Click the title to read, or you might find it more convenient to download the entire pdf here. The reference is at the bottom of the page.

The experiment was done in Brazil, and I don’t think I need to reprise the methods and results since the summary below gives all the essential information. I’ve highlighted the lack of positive results by bolding part of this summary:

Between September 2020 and December 2020, a total of 199 participants (out of 244 that were screened) were randomly assigned to either the Intervention group (n = 100) or the control group (n = 99, Fig. 1). Baseline characteristics, presented in Table 1, were well balanced between the two groups. The study population consisted of 34 % women, with a mean age of 61 years. Additionally, 44 % of participants had hypertension, and 6 % had obesity. At the end of the study, no significant difference in the primary outcome of mortality was observed between the intervention and control groups. Among the 99 subjects in the control group, there were 8 deaths, and the same number of deaths [8] occurred in the intervention group (HR 0.86, 95 % CI 0.32 to 2.31; p = 0.76). Similarly, there were no statistically significant differences in the secondary outcomes between the two groups. The need for ICU admission (p = 0.471), length of stay in the ICU (mean difference 􀀀 0.77, 95 % CI -4.13 to 3.20; p = 0.70), need for mechanical ventilation (p = 0.457), duration of mechanical ventilation (mean difference 3.89 days, 95 % CI -7.09 to 14.71; p = 0.54), and length of hospital stay (mean difference 1.96, 95 % CI -2.78 to 7.85; p = 0.45) were all similar between the two groups, as shown in Table 2. Due to the necessary change in participant identification during the study, we also evaluated the outcomes among participants who were identified by initials and received direct prayers (Table 3) and among participants who were identified by the number of the hospital beds (Table 4). Similarly, we did not observe any changes in the primary or secondary outcome. 

Other aspects of the study worth knowing about include the fact that subjects were admitted to intensive care or clinical inpatient facilities with a PCR-confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19. All patients were older than 18, and were used regardless of their religion or lack thereof. The study was double blind with a control group of patients; patients didn’t know whether they were being prayed for (half were; half were not) and the pray-ers didn’t know the names of the patients, who were identified and prayed for only by their initials and, later, by the number of their hospital bed (God presumably knows all this stuff).

The pray-ers were “Protestant religious leaders” who were able to pray daily for one of the patients. And the prayer devoted to each patient was INTENSIVE, as detailed below:

Each intercessor prayed from their own homes or workplaces, dedicating a total of 240 min per day, divided into three shifts of 80 min each (morning, afternoon, and night). The content of each prayer was not specifically assigned, but it was required to include the following topics: 1) preservation of the patient’s life, 2) avoidance of orotracheal intubation or mechanical ventilation for those not yet intubated, 3) shorter duration of intubation and mechanical ventilation for those already in that state, 4) reduced length of stay in the ICU, and 5) reduced total length of hospital stay.

Now that is what I call prayer. Nevertheless, there was no difference in the outcomes of the experimental (prayed-for) and the control (not-prayed-for) group). The authors do give some caveats, including the small sample size and the fact that the method of identifying patients changed mid-study from initials to hospital bed number (Brazilian law was invoked), but if there is an omniscient God, He should know these things.

This is three out of three studies that haven’t worked.  The possible explanations include these:

1.) There is no God to hear the prayers.

2.) There.is a God, but he can’t hear the prayers.

3.) There is a God who hears the prayers, but he pays no attention to them.

4.) God doesn’t want to be tested, and so ignored the whole experiment. But note that God was effectively tested in a Bible passage (1 Kings 18) in which sacrifices were offered to a false god versus the real God simultaneously, and only the sacrifices to Yahweh worked. This was a controlled experiment!

5.) Protestant prayers are less effective than prayers of other denominations.

Inventive readers can think of other explanations.

Of course as an atheist I think that #1 is the right answer. As the late Victor Stenger said, “The absence of evidence [for God] is indeed evidence of absence if the evidence should be there.”

Naturally this study won’t make a dent in the belief of the godly, for they will simply discount it on one ground or another—probably #4 above.  All we can say is that three sincere attempts to see if prayers work showed that they don’t.

And did I mention that although Lourdes is full of discarded crutches and wheelchairs, there are no false eyeballs or prosthetic limbs on display? Apparently God can cure lots of stuff, but is impotent before blindness and amputation.

________________

Soubihe Junior NV, Bersch-Ferreira ÂC, Tokunaga SM, Lopes LA, Cavalcanti AB, Bernadez-Pereira S. 2023. The remote intercessory prayer, during the clinical evolution of patients with COVID -19, randomized double-blind clinical trial. Heliyon. 2023 Nov 17;9(11):e22411.

doi: 10.1016/j.heliyon.2023.e22411. PMID: 38045114; PMCID: PMC10689938.