Six more Israeli hostages died in the hands of Hamas

December 3, 2023 • 1:58 pm

This sad news (click on the screenshot to read) comes from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, self-described as:

. . . . .a Washington, DC-based nonpartisan 501(c)(3) research institute focusing on national security and foreign policy. FDD does not accept donations from any foreign governments.

A precis:

Israeli authorities announced the death in captivity of six more Israelis held hostage by Iran-backed Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip. In announcing the Nir Oz deaths, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said on December 1 that the deaths were determined by a team of experts “based on findings that were collected, and intelligence.”

Kibbutz Beeri — one of the Israeli border communities overrun by Palestinian terrorists in the October 7 assault that triggered the war in Gaza — said that 70-year-old resident Ofra Keidar had died in Hamas captivity. Hamas terrorists had murdered her husband, Sammy, during the initial assault in which she was seized.

The IDF said four residents of Kibbutz Nir Oz who had been abducted also died in Gaza. They include Eliahu Margalit, 75; Ronen Angel, 54; Maya Goren, 56; and Aryeh Zalmanovich, 86. Goren’s husband, Avner, was murdered at the kibbutz on October 7. Hamas published a video of the ailing Zalmanovich on November 16, in what Israel described as psychological warfare.

A sixth Israeli citizen, Guy Illouz (also spelled “Iluz”), 26, was abducted from the music festival and dragged into Gaza. A group representing hostage families reported him killed on December 1.

I can’t find a current count of hostages who have died, but it must be at least eleven (I can’t find a notice), a count that may include the youngest hostage 10-month-old Kfir Bibas, supposedly killed with his 4-year-old brother Ariel and their mother Shira Bibas (this has not been verified by the IDF).

Three points: the deaths were ascertained only by the IDF, and apparently were not announced by the Palestinians, Hamas or otherwise. That seems to be just one more unconscionable act in a string of such acts by the terrorists.

Second, trading hostages for terrorists will be made more difficult if Israel doesn’t even know which hostages are still alive. Presumably Hamas wouldn’t agree to a trade unless the hostage was alive.  They need to provide the IDF with a list of all living hostages.

Finally, some of the hostages are apparently not held by Hamas, but by other terrorist groups like Islamic Jihad, which claims it’s holding 30 hostages. And that group wants every imprisoned Palestinian terrorist released before they’ll let the hostages go, or so they claim. This would make bargaining doubly hard.

But apparently the trading is stopped; Israel is again going after Hamas.

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.

USC abrogates freedom of speech: Jewish professor banned from campus for saying he hoped that all members of Hamas would be killed.

November 28, 2023 • 9:15 am

John Strauss, an economics professor at the University of Southern California (USC), has suffered one of the most ridiculous instances of professorial “cancellation” that I’ve heard of. He’s being punished by USC simply for exercising his right of free speech. (Although USC is a private school, it has a free-speech code that is close to the University of Chicago’s, and does not exempt “hate speech” so long as it conforms to the courts’ interpretation of the First Amendment.) Here’s an excerpt from their code:

Our longstanding policies also declare that the University of Southern California is committed to fostering a learning environment where free inquiry and expression are encouraged and celebrated and for which all its members share responsibility. Dissent — disagreement, a difference of opinion, or thinking differently from others — is an integral aspect of expression in higher education, whether it manifests itself in a new and differing theory in quantum mechanics, a personal disagreement with a current foreign policy, opposition to a position taken by the university itself, or by some other means.  The university is a diverse community based on free exchange of ideas and devoted to the use of reason and thought in the resolution of differences.  The university recognizes the crucial importance of preserving First Amendment rights and maintaining open communication and dialogue in the process of identifying and resolving problems which arise in the dynamics of life in a university community.

Sadly, Professor Strauss, who is Jewish, uttered a statement that, while conforming to USC’s definition of free speech, has gotten him into big trouble. Click below to read about it in the Los Angeles Times.

Most of the incident was filmed, and, indeed, Strauss was simply using his free speech. There are data!

The details from the LA Times:

Until recently, USC professor John Strauss was known mostly for his research on the economics of developing countries, with decades of fieldwork in Indonesia and China.

That changed Nov. 9, when Strauss stopped before students staging a walkout and protest calling for a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip and holding a memorial to thousands of Palestinian civilians killed in the Israel-Hamas war.

The economics professor’s interactions with students that day ended with the 72-year-old Strauss, who is Jewish, declaring: “Hamas are murderers. That’s all they are. Every one should be killed, and I hope they all are killed.”

Strauss told a group of pro-Palestinian students demonstrating on campus: “No, shame on you. You people are ignorant. Really ignorant. Hamas are murderers. That’s all they are. Every one should be killed, and I hope they all are.”

Students captured those remarks on their cellphones, almost instantly seeming to recognize a viral moment. “Can you say that for the camera?” one pressed.

Within hours, Strauss’ comments were posted online, shared and reshared on X, Instagram, Facebook and TikTok.

Here’s the full clip of the interaction with pro-Palestinian students that got Strauss in trouble. I can’t make out what he’s saying, but even the complaining students verified that what he said is what’s given above: wishing for Hamas members to all be killed:

More from the paper:

As his remarks raced across the internet, his condemnation of Hamas was often excised, leaving only his “hope” for “all” to be killed. Captions and comments online framed his demand for “every one” to be killed in myriad, at times deceptive, ways. One Instagram post shared to millions of users claimed falsely that Strauss told the students, “[I] hope you get killed….”

Some of the clip was truncated to make Strauss looks as if he were saying that all Palestinians should be killed. Here’s that clip:

He was punished by USC almost immediately after “offended” students complained to the University. Need I add that saying one thinks members of Hamas should be killed is simply freedom of speech? It can’t even be considered hate speech or incitement to violence because presumably there were no members of Hamas in attendance! Further, trying to kill all members of Hamas is in fact Israel’s precise goal in the recent war.

Within a day, an associate dean told Strauss that he was on paid administrative leave, barred from campus, and that he would no longer teach his undergraduates this semester.

Within the week, a petition demanding that USC fire Strauss for his “racist, xenophobic behavior” and comments that “promote and incite violence” had collected more than 6,500 signatures.

Meanwhile, more than 9,000 signed a counter-petition decrying USC’s treatment of Strauss as “unjust,” saying he was the victim of online misinformation, and demanding that the university reinstate him.

Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Los Angeles, called for USC to launch an investigation into Strauss and to take actions to protect “Muslim, Palestinian and Arab students as well as any others who are targeted by hate and bigotry.”


Jonathan Friedman, director of free expression at PEN America, criticized USC for “a shocking overreaction,” adding in a statement, “What USC has done runs counter to the university’s obligation to foster dialogue and debate.”

By now, millions have viewed portions of Strauss’ remarks, and his statements — and USC’s response — have become a Rorschach test for a war raging 7,500 miles away.

With its political, ethnic, generational and religious fault lines, the incident has reignited intractable debates over campus censorship, academic freedom and student safety. Nearly every student who spoke to The Times for this article would do so only on condition of anonymity, citing a fear of online harassment

Need I add that that this is punishment, both investigations and barring a professor from campus—punishment for exercising free speech? That violates USC’s own policies and is something for which Strauss could sue the school.  Oh, and he stepped on a paper list of putative killed Palestinians, which he avers (and I believe) was an accident. And, at any rate, that “offense” is not why Strauss was punished:

Near a busy campus corridor, the event also included a memorial to Palestinians killed in Gaza since Oct. 7, a death toll that was then about 10,000 and that has since grown to more than 13,000, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry. Partly enclosed by a fence, the memorial featured four long rolls of paper, at least 18 inches wide, unfurled several feet across the ground. On the paper were printed thousands of names.

Students said that when Strauss came to the demonstration, he stepped on the paper. One student said he was “desecrating the names.”

“All I did was walk through the crowd,” Strauss said, insisting he never saw the list of names but spotted the memorial later in the day after the crowd had dissipated. He acknowledged that he “might well have accidentally walked on” the list but said it was “completely unintentional.”

No one appears to have recorded the first interaction, but students say his presence caused a stir.

Yes, of course it did; he’s known, he’s Jewish, and he wished for Hamas to be killed—a sentiment that many of us probably share. The event blew up more as Muslim or pro-Palestinian students weighed in to damn Strauss. This puzzles me because pro-Palestinian students finally admitted that Strauss was referring to Hamas, not Palestinians. But it didn’t matter: once you’re offended, the cortisol keeps circulating until you get the professor fired. I’ve bolded one bit of the report below:

But as the clip circulated online, it was at times trimmed to a few seconds of Strauss uttering, “Every one should be killed.”

The captions and superimposed text in social media posts could be minimal, misleading or wrong.

“This zionist econ professor purposefully stepped on the list of martyrs before our march and came by again after & said ‘everyone should be killed,’” a student group posted on Instagram.

Another post on Instagram, shared by @CravingPalestine and activist Shaun King, among others, said Strauss “threatened these students ‘hope you get killed and I hope they all are (*Gaza)” during a campus rally for Gaza.” That post has been viewed more than 3.2 million times.

At one point, the group Trojans for Palestine clarified on Instagram that Strauss “did not say he wanted Palestinians to be killed, but Hamas,” according to screenshots of the post.

Then, the group appeared to walk it back: “With his hateful rhetoric, you can draw your own conclusion about whether or not he wished death upon just Hamas or civilians as well.”

Within hours of Strauss’ recorded comments, USC’s Muslim Student Union issued a statement saying that Strauss was “repeatedly calling for the murder of the entirety of Palestine” and expressing “a desire for the death of those supporting Palestine.”

What we see here is a group of The Offended admitting that Strauss was talking about Hamas, but then adding, in a reprehensible bit of rhetoric, “you can draw your own conclusions”. But there’s a video, and the video, even according to the Trojans for Palestine, shows that Strauss was talking about Hamas. The conclusion to be drawn is simply that Trojans for Palestine are trying to get a Jewish professor punished for wishing for the extermination of Hamas.

Since then, USC has backed off a bit: it now allows Strauss to teach undergrads, too, but only remotely. He is still banned from campus. And now he is, as expected, being deluged with hate mail (this is of course legal unless that hate mail threatens him).  Complaints have also been fired against him by USC’s “equity, diversity, and Title IX office”. For what, I wonder? Haven’t the administrators viewed the “incriminating” video? If they had acted properly, they would have seen the clip and dismissed the case as in conformity with the University’s freedom of speech policy. But they didn’t.

And so the Academic Freedom Alliance has provided Strauss with a lawyer, and FIRE has written a letter to Carol Folt, USC’s President, which includes the following paragraphs:

Neither the First Amendment nor USC’s policies shield Strauss from every consequence of his expressionincluding criticism by students, faculty, or the broader community. Criticism is
“more speech,” the remedy to offensive expression the First Amendment prefers to censorship.  But university policies that invoke the First Amendment limit the types of consequences that may be imposed on protected expression, and who may impose them.

Restricting Strauss to teaching remotely the rest of the semester is precisely the type of consequence for constitutionally protected expression that USC’s First Amendmentmirroring Faculty Handbook plainly prohibits, because such a restriction is likely to chill future faculty speech. The question is not whether formal punishment is meted out, but whether the institution’s actions “would chill or silence a person of ordinary firmness from future [expressive] activities[.]”  Courts have explicitly recognized consequences similar to those imposed on Strauss, such as changes to working conditions or restricting access to the institution’s facilities as sufficiently chilling speech. Whether the university labels the restriction “administrative leave” is irrelevant to the analysis: USC violated Strauss’s free speech rights by imposing the remoteteaching restriction in response to his protected expression.

They’re right and USC is acting shamefully. It doesn’t matter what Strauss said so long as it conformed to protected First Amendment speech, which it surely did. And I’d be just a peeved if he walked by a bunch of pro-Israel students and said that Israeli West Bank settlers who attacked Palestinians should all be killed.

USC has a history of both administrative and student anti-Israel or antisemitic actions (see the open letters here, here, here, and here). While some of this is protected speech, and other letters call for the University to violate institutional neutrality (which it does NOT have anyway), these incidents have, in toto, created a climate at the University in which Jewish students feel endangered.  And if that impedes the function of the University, which is to teach such students and not chill their speech, the atmosphere needs to be addressed. I don’t know what to do about that without asking for violations of the First Amendment or of the principle of institutional neutrality (USC doesn’t have it, but all schools should). Still, the one thing that USC can do is not cancel professors who criticize Hamas.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: If you think Dr. Strauss has been unfairly treated, you can send an email to USC here via the FIRE website. I did, and I wrote my own email although there’s a boilerplate one on the site.

h/t: Anna

News from Tom Gross

November 26, 2023 • 10:00 am

You can’t get Tom Gross‘s informative (and yes, pro-Israel) newsletter, but I am chuffed to receive it and be allowed to duplicate it here. Gross is described by Wikipedia as a  “British-born journalist, international affairs commentator, and human rights campaigner specializing in the Middle East.”  What he says is passionate but sensible, so here you go. All photo captions and bolding are Gross’s, and his text is indented.

Yael, 3, was one of eight Israeli children freed yesterday, most without either their mother or father. Even younger Israeli children remain in captivity.DON’T BE FOOLED BY HAMAS PROPAGANDA, JUST BECAUSE THE WESTERN MEDIA IS


[Notes below by Tom Gross]

Just a collection of quick notes below, though I would suggest watching the video clips below if you have time.

Several people have written to me “The released Israelis don’t look as if they spent 50 days as hostages. I mean they look well!”

To which I replied:

“Of course, Hamas are only releasing the ones they have looked after well. Others have been beaten and raped. Don’t be fooled by the propaganda. For example, it’s probably why Hamas did not release the younger brother of one of the hostages yesterday when they were meant to according to terms of their agreement with Israel.”


In several cases, the freed hostages have been forced at gunpoint (while their relatives are still being held in Gaza) to smile and wave as if they have been some kind of guests of Hamas. See this very short clip, for example:

Pointing guns at them, Hamas force released hostages to wave and smile for the cameras



The BBC and other stations have said “the hostages have been joyfully reunited with their families.”

This is very misleading.

See this short clip from Israeli TV:

Child hostages released without mothers, brothers, as Hamas breaks yet another ceasefire condition

[Note that Hamas agreed, in this swap of terrorists for hostages, not to separate children from their mothers or siblings. They violated this condition.]



Israeli-Irish girl Emily Hand, who turned 9 while being held hostage in Gaza and who was released late last night, wasn’t “lost” as the Irish prime minister told the world (see his tweet below, as well as press statements). She was kidnapped by a bloodthirsty terror group, who murdered her mother* and her school friend on October 7.

And she wasn’t “found,” as  as the Irish prime minister claims. claims. She was released last night after Israel provided substantial amounts of fuel yesterday to that very same terror group so they could fire more rockets at Israeli civilians, and after Israel’s release of convicted violent Palestinian criminals yesterday, mostly young men aged 17 and 18, several of whom had been arrested for stabbing attacks or assembling bombs.

[JAC: Yes, below is the tweet from Leo Varadkar, the Irish Taoiseach (prime minister). For some reason I can’t fathom, the Republic of Ireland seems inordinately fond of Hamas.  Emily Hand was presumed dead, and initially her father said that he would rather have had his daughter dead than be taken hostage by Hamas. On October 31, the IDF told him that no remains of Emily had been found at Kibbutz Be’eri, where she lived, and that gave him hope again. I presume he regrets his initial statement.]



Also not reported by western media:

Now Emily (pictured below last summer in Israel before her kidnapping) will find out that the Israeli woman who raised [her] as her own – Tom Hand’s ex-wife – was murdered* by Hamas on October 7. (Emily’s own Israeli birth mother died of cancer when Emily was two.)

Other stuff from the newsletter:


As we know from Hamas’ own videos and statements, some Israelis were selected for murder on October 7, some for kidnapping and some for rape.

Demonstrators in Los Angeles make the point:

[JAC: notice that this demonstration is absolutely peaceful. And I think the bloodied woman makes a very effective statement. She’s likely modeled on this Hamas video, which now blurs the blood on her rear end, almost certainly the result of rape.]

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


The Israeli Foreign Ministry strongly criticized the “UN office for women’s issues” for taking 50 days to comment on the sexual violence against young girls and women perpetrated during Hamas’s October 7 massacre.

The UN finally issued a brief and highly inadequate statement yesterday (Saturday) expressing “alarm”.

“We remain alarmed by gender-based violence reports on 7 Oct & call for rigorous investigation, prioritizing the rights, needs and safety of those affected,” the UN office for women’s issues said.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry responded: “For almost 50 days UN Women has been SILENT on the rape, murder and kidnapping of hundreds of Israeli women and girls. Seven weeks later and all they can muster is ‘alarm.’ Disgraceful.”

The American National Council of Jewish Women called the UN Women’s statement “reprehensible.



Channel 12 in Israel reports that Hannah Katzir, 77, only learned after she was freed on Friday night that her husband Rami was murdered and that her son Elad was abducted into Gaza on October 7.

Channel 12 added (having spoken to family members of the hostages) that the released hostages feared for their lives while they were being transferred by Hamas to the Red Cross yesterday in Gaza, because as they drove to Khan Younis onlookers hurled stones and other objects at their van.

Some of the hostages survived on only rice during their last two weeks of captivity, Channel 12 added.



Some newspapers, have now reported on the Hamas murder of Palestinians on Friday evening, which I mentioned in my dispatch yesterday (Saturday) morning.

For example, the London Telegraph reports:

Two men accused of spying for Israel were executed in the West Bank, with their bodies dragged through alleys in Tulkarem before being hung from a pylon by a cheering mob.

A Palestinian journalist, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, said the men were beaten and stomped on by residents before being hung up from an electrical tower and then dumped in a skip.

Videos show hundreds of Palestinians crowding around the entrance of the camp and filming the violence with their phones.

JAC: I will add this from Palestinian Media Watch.  The text is from the site:

Released terrorist hopes for more kidnappings to “empty the prisons,” blesses Hamas for her freedom in exchange for Israeli hostages

One of the Palestinian female terrorist prisoners who has been released in exchange for 26 Israeli hostages who had been held captive by Hamas in Gaza since they were brutally taken from their homes on Oct. 7, is hoping for more kidnappings “to empty the prisons.”

Welcomed by a crowd of cheering Palestinians after her release, terrorist Hanan Barghouti praised Hamas – “the resistance” – for her freedom, thereby blessing their terror attack on Israel on Oct. 7 and the taking of over 200 hostages. She implicitly called for more kidnappings when she expressed hope that “the resistance will release all the female prisoners, and will empty the prisons”.

Barghouti has been in Israeli prison for two months, detained without being arrested or charged. This kind of administrative detention, which can last for a long time in Israel, is something I object to strongly, and is illegal in the U.S.  Nevertheless, Barghouti’s statement that more Israelis should be kidnapped to empty the prisons of terrorists who have been tried and convicted is still reprehensible.

I’ll also add this, which shows how Hamas is “playing the world like a violin”. The guest (yes, on Fox News) is former Deputy National Security Adviser K.T. McFarland.  Her prognostication seems about right to me, is Hamas’s recipe for staying in power by having the world, including the U.S., making the cease-fire permanent.

Coleman Hughes attacks comparisons between Palestine and the struggle of blacks for freedom in South Africa and America

November 24, 2023 • 11:30 am

Coleman Hughes has published this piece in two places: on his own Substack site, and at the Free Press. Since I first noticed it at the latter site, I’ll put the screenshot for the FP version below (click it to read), but you can also access it on his own site here (be sure to subscribe if you read regularly). Hughes, only 27, has already developed into an intellectual force to be reckoned with. (In light of his comparison with the struggles of blacks that’s the subject of his piece, I feel obliged to add that Coleman is black.)

His Wikipedia bio says this:

Coleman Cruz Hughes (born February 25, 1996) is an American writer and podcast host. He was a fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research and a fellow and contributing editor at their City Journal, and he is the host of the podcast Conversations with Coleman

(I was on that podcast once, and found it very enjoyable. For a non-biologist (his undergraduate degree is in philosophy), Coleman knows a ton about evolutionary biology).

The podcast adds this:

Hughes began studying violin at age three. He is a hobbyist rapper—in 2021 and 2022, he released several rap singles on YouTube and Spotify, using the moniker COLDXMAN, including a music video for a track titled “Blasphemy”, which appeared in January 2022. Hughes also plays jazz trombone with a Charles Mingus tribute band that plays regularly at the Jazz Standard in New York City.

That’s what I’d call a polymath!

At any rate, in this piece Hughes discusses several ways in which people have compared the conflict between Israel and Palestine with the “struggle for black freedom”—not only the one right after the Civil War but the continual struggle for civil rights in America that flowered in the 1960s with the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights act of 1964 and 1965. He adds in as well the ending of apartheid in South Africa (remember, Israel is often, and wrongly, called “an apartheid state”).

He makes one valid comparison between blacks and Jews, which is the desire to return to one’s ancestral homeland. In Jews it’s reflected in the continuing migration of Jews to Israel from all over the world after pogroms and other forms of persecution; in American blacks it was the “back to Africa movements”, which began after slavery ended and are most famous for Marcus Garvey’s campaign that brought thousands of American blacks to Liberia. But as far as the struggles of both African and American blacks for freedom, Coleman doesn’t buy the comparison to Israel.  But in general Coleman’s comparison is not of the blacks to Israelis Jews, but of the black struggle for freedom with the Palestinian struggle against Israel. And here he finds the common comparisons specious:

A key difference between the nature of the Israeli-Arab conflict and South African apartheid is that Israeli policies in the occupied West Bank—checkpoints, movement restrictions, and so forth—are rooted in legitimate security concerns rather than racism. Because the word security has been dulled through overuse, it is crucial to remember what it really means. Security means preventing what happened on October 7—which Hamas has promised to do over and over if given the chance. No function of the state could be more important.

Some critics of Israel will be quick to point out that defenders of South African apartheid also used “security” as a justification for the apartheid system. The difference is that in the case of South Africa, it was a false pretext. In apartheid South Africa, marriage (and even sex) between blacks and whites was punishable by prison time. South African officials would decide your race (and therefore your fate) by running a comb through your hair. If it ran all the way through without too much resistance, you were considered legally white.

These policies, which lie at the core of apartheid South Africa, were the result not of security concerns but of an ideological obsession with racial classification and a horror at the thought of “race-mixing.” Such policies would be unthinkable in Israel, where Arab Israelis are full citizens, enjoying the right to vote, serve in the Israeli parliament and the Knesset, and even sit on the Supreme Court.

Now it’s never been clear to me whether those who accuse Israel of being an “apartheid state” mean that treating Arab citizens of Israel as second class citizens, which is really the only valid way to say “Israel is an apartheid state”. Such a construal is simply wrong. Arab Israelis have all the rights of Jewish Israelis. They are on the Supreme Court, they sit in parliament (in about the proportion they exist in Israel, about 20%), and it’s forbidden to discriminate against them. In fact, Arab Israeli citizens have more rights than Jewish Israelis, in that they do not have to serve in the IDF unless they want to (all Jewish Israelis must serve at least two years).  One more difference: Arab Israelis get their religious holidays off work, while Jewish Israelis get their religious holidays off work.  Oh, and the Arab Israelis demanded their own school system, which they got, but they can of course send their kids to non-Arab schools (as Jews can send their kids to Arab schools). The former is more common, I hear, because the “Jewish schools” are perceived to be better. But there is no “apartheid” here: anybody can go to any school they want.

The only other way to construe Israel as an “apartheid” state is the claim that it oppresses and dominates Palestine: an inter-territory form of apartheid. This of course is open to vigorous dispute. One argument, for example, is that Palestinians in the West Bank can’t vote in Israeli elections. However all Palestinians in areas A, B (the two wholly Palestinian areas) and C (mixed Arab and Jew), can vote in Palestinian elections.  (Palestine outside of Gaza consists solely of area A and B of the West Bank.) Moreover, a Palestinian Israeli citizen retains their Israeli citizenship forever (as do their kids) if they move to any of the three areas of the West Bank. (Jews are not allowed in areas A and B).

There are other arguments for “apartheid” of course, including the claims that Israel oppresses Gaza or the Palestinian territories, but I don’t want to deal with those right now, except to point out that you could apply similar arguments to other places, like North and South Korea, or Russia and Crimea; but those arguments are never applied.”Apartheid state” is reserved for one country, and one country only.

But I digress. Back to Coleman, who I was glad to see agrees with me that the real apartheid state in this conflict is Palestine. Within the territory they do not allow Jews to settle, much less vote, and they oppress women, gays, apostates, and infidels. Hamas differentially treats its own members compared to Gazan citizens. And if you’re talking between territories, it is Palestine who continually commits terrorism against the citizens of Israel, not the other way around.  Further, it is Palestine which inundates its children with hatred of Israel and Jews, while this simply doesn’t happen in Israeli schools. That hasn’t escaped Hughes’s notice:

As with every society on Earth, there is racism in Israel. But the truth is that if you’re looking for the closest analogue to the racist propaganda experienced by blacks in European-offshoot societies, you will find it not on the Israeli side but on the Palestinian side. Consider the ghoulish, antisemitic TV programs that indoctrinate Palestinian children. There is no Israeli equivalent.

There is yet another inconvenient fact for those who want to reduce the Israeli-Arab conflict to a competition between European settlers and people of color: the majority of Israeli Jews are not European. They are Mizrahi Jews—hailing from the Middle East and North Africa. What’s more, it is not the European Jews but the Mizrahi Jews—who are difficult to visually distinguish from Palestinians—that form most of the voting base of the right-wing parties that Israel’s critics consider to be the truly racist ones.

This difference between Israel and Palestine in the degree and nature of intra-country oppression as well as in the kind of brainwashing and hatred poured into Palestinian but not Israeli children is so striking that those who make accusations of Israel as the world’s only “apartheid state” are sliding towards antisemitism—if they aren’t that way already. Those accusations, as unfounded as they are, are touchstones of either active or latent antisemitism—similar to those who shout the genocidal “From the river to the sea. . ” chant.

As for the American struggle for black freedom, Hughes also rejects comparisons with Palestine and Israel:

When ideologues co-opt the African American freedom struggle and compare it to the Palestinian national movement, they do black Americans a grave disservice. Black Americans (aside from a fringe) did not seek to dominate and destroy white society, as Martin Luther King Jr. emphasized frequently in his speeches. African Americans pursued equality before the law and better economic circumstances. In black history, you can find the occasional Nat Turner, the slave who led a rebellion and advocated killing all whites. But compared to the leaders of the struggle—giants like Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King—radicals like Turner amount to a footnote in the black American struggle for equality.

Even early Malcolm X, the most prominent mouthpiece for black radicalism, was not interested in a violent takeover whereby blacks would run all of America and render whites second-class citizens. When he expressed black nationalism as more than a metaphor, he made clear that he was interested in a partitioning of black and white states inside America or a black ethnostate somewhere outside of America entirely.

Palestinian leaders, by contrast, seek dominion over all the land existing between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

. . . .As for tactics, there is nothing in the history of mainstream African American political activism analogous to Hamas’s use of its own people as human shields; their use of a civilian hospital as a torture chamber; their denial of resources to their own people despite billions of dollars in international aid; their system of cash rewards to incentivize suicide bombings against civilian targets; their indiscriminate rocket fire on civilians; their practice of taking children and the elderly as hostages; and the combination of millenarianism and genocidal bloodlust evoked in their founding charter.

If you’d like to defend Hamas, then go ahead. But do not take the easy way out by making farcical comparisons between the black freedom struggle and Palestinian nationalism or between European colonialism and Zionism.

If you disagree, you’re free to do so here, even though most of these words are Coleman’s. However, I happen to agree with them.

The degree of historical ignorance—probably willful ignorance—of sloganeering in this war is appalling. We have not only the “apartheid state” trope, but also the “from the river to the sea” mantra, and, finally, the “anti-Zionism is not antisemitism” claim. I’ve already discussed the last one, explained why it’s wrong, and discussed why there’s no coherent interpretation of antizionism that isn’t at bottom antisemitism. But I’ll leave that one for now.

More tunnels under al-Shifa hospital: an embarrassment to the Western media and an indictment of NGOs

November 23, 2023 • 11:15 am

Maybe I’m just cynical, but all the reports I saw in the liberal media, which includes the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and the Guardian, seemed positively gleeful that Israel couldn’t instantly uncover all the tunnels that the IDF claimed were under al-Shifa Hospital.  If they couldn’t, the papers’ implications went, then Israel would have done yet another bad thing: attacked the hospital on assumptions that turned out to be false.

I wasn’t that worried, though, because for at least a decade the press, foreign or Anglophone, have realized that al-Shifa was being used as an enormous human shield, with command headquarters under the hospital, and tunnels that linked to the many kilometers of other tunnels in Gaza.  Because the first shaft that Israel found went into a tunnel with a “blast door” to resist explosions, although the IDF did find one shaft that linked to a tunnel, the IDF had to proceed carefully and slowly. Hamas booby-traps tunnels (six IDF soldiers were killed and one was blinded ten years ago when they tried to stick a camera into a Hamas tunnel). To see the dangers that these tunnels pose for soldiers who need to examine them and ultimately destroy them, click on the link in the last sentence. And yet the NYT expected the IDF to fully reveal the situation within a day or two.

At any rate, the IDF’s discovery of a shaft that connected to a tunnel, as well as weapons inside al-Shifa, made me pretty confident that the IDF was right. It would just take time to suss out the Hamas headquarters beneath the hospital.  And now that a week has gone by, the excavations have indeed turned up evidence that not only is there a huge of tunnels from al-Shifa that connect to other tunnels, but also a ton of armaments. The tunnels are well equipped with plumbing and electrical wiring. (This, by the way, is why Hamas is so desperate for fuel and why they take it from hospitals: they need to keep their tunnels lit and aerated).

Of course the Israeli papers had the news about the new discoveries two days before, say, the NYT. Below are two headlines from the Jerusalem Post that detail the new findings. (Click to read.)


You can read for yourself, but here are a few excerpts. Notice, in the third paragraph, the sophisticated weaponry found in the hospital complex. You can see some of it in the first video below.

The IDF on Wednesday brought The Jerusalem Post and selected other media outlets to view Hamas’s terror infrastructure at Al Shifa Hospital, especially its several-hundred-meter tunnel network, up close.

This was the first time that a reporter from the Post had crossed into Gaza since the IDF withdrawal in 2005, and it brought up close everything the IDF had found since November 15 that Hamas had tried desperately to hide at Shifa Hospital.

Laid out next to the Qatar facility within the Shifa complex was a vast amount not only of Hamas guns and grenades which the IDF found hidden throughout the hospital, but also rocket-propelled grenade launchers, large and small advanced drones for delivering explosives, and a variety of sophisticated intelligence platforms.

A bit more:

The vastness of the tunnel itself, with the Post viewing a variety of sophisticated rooms and the blast door which the IDF displayed earlier this week, was testimony to how important this location was to Hamas.

Among the rooms was a spacious bedroom with two large beds and a large modern air conditioning unit, a kitchenette, a bathroom, and other facilities, as well as extensive plumbing and electrical wiring to enable all of the infrastructure.

. . . They had intelligence about Hamas’s tunnel network at Shifa Hospital long before arriving at the site. However, not only is the hospital site immense, with an extensive number of spread-out buildings and courtyards, but also, they said, they had found signs that Hamas went out of its way to cover up and fill in the already well-concealed tunnels once they suspected that the IDF might take control of Shifa.

. . .An initial breakthrough came on November 17 when the IDF destroyed a small structure that looked suspicious and was able to find one of the shafts and entrances to the greater tunnel network under the rubble of that structure.

The IDF showed the Post where the structure had previously stood and the initial shaft of the tunnel which they found, including the unusual spiral staircase which the IDF had presented at a press conference.

However, only several days later were they able to locate the more important part of the tunnel network, including all of the specialized rooms, likely used by Hamas battalion commanders.

Part of the delay was due to the priority of searching room-to-room for Hamas terrorists, weapons, intelligence, and anything linked to hostages or murdered Israelis.

Another delay came when the IDF announced on November 19 that it had arrived at a blast door whose breach required great care if troops were not to lose the opportunity to follow the tunnel beyond the door.

Here’s a video from yesterday which shows not only the weapons recovered from the hospital complex, but shows a female IDF soldier actually walking into the tunnel and showing the bathroom and sophisticated facilities.  These tunnels are a lot fancier than I imagined! Imagine their cost! A few years ago Hamas claimed there were 500 km of tunnels, but of course what Hamas says can’t be trusted at the best of times.

Here’s an IDF officer giving a longer tour of the al-Shifa tunnels. One even had an elevator! He goes through the blast door that was finally checked out and opened. You can imagine how much it cost to build this stuff. If there really are several hundred km. of tunnels, that explains why Hamas impoverished Gaza by taking aid money to build these things.  And that shows that they cared more about their mission to kill Jews than about the welfare of their own fellow Palestinians.

This is perhaps the most convincing piece of evidence in the post, as the guy shows off the long tunnels for 15 minutes, and yet the NYT still says this:

The Israeli military sought on Wednesday to bolster its assertions that Hamas uses tunnels beneath Gaza’s largest hospital, releasing a series of videos that it said showed “dozens of meters of a tunnel system” beneath the complex of Al-Shifa Hospital.

Israeli and American officials have said that Hamas uses hospitals to provide cover for its military operations, accusations that Hamas and hospital administrators have denied. Israel, under increasing international pressure to prove those claims, has released several videos to press its case, showing elements of its cautious exploration of underground structures the military identifies as Hamas tunnels. The videos so far — including those released on Wednesday — have not shown conclusive evidence of a vast network of tunnels.

Does the paper think the Israelis have faked those tunnels, like the supposedly faked Moon landing? At some point they’ll have to admit that Israel and the Western non-liberal-MSM media was correct: Hamas was using the hospital to foment terrorism by trying to deter Israeli attacks.

Here a Finnish journalist reports that a rocket was fired at Israel from the hospital’s back parking lot.  All of this was done, of course, to deter Israel from attacking the hospital. And firing rockets from hospitals is a serious war crime.

Here’s an group of Hamas terrorists surrendering to the IDF as they emerge from a tunnel. Notice that the IDF doesn’t kill them, as Hamas would were the situation reversed.

You don’t want to see these four photos unless you can tolerate viewing the bodies of people killed at the Nova Music Festival, but it serves as a reminder about why Israel is defending itself so vigorously. Again, the sights are graphic, so don’t watch if you don’t want to see dead and bloody bodies.

Finally, here’s a long excerpt from the NGO Monitor detailing how the Non-governmental organizations were complicit in rejecting the claim that al-Shifa Hospital was a Hamas facility and command post. Many of these NGOs seem to me to be “useful idiots”, denying what everybody else knows in their desire to help Palestinians. That is, of course, a humane and worthy desire, but if they try to fulfill it by hiding the activities of terrorists, or denying what they know, then they are complicit in terrorism. So is the UNRWA, not formally an “NGO” but an agency of the United Nations that foments hatred and division (they’re well known for producing textbooks full of Jew hatred that are used by Palestinian school children) and, in fact, employs members of Hamas.

I’ve concluded that these NGOs and agencies like UNRWA were not ignorant of Hamas’s activities in al-Shifa, but knew very well about them but ignored them. How could they not? Everybody that worked in these hospitals knew the situation. ‘

This means that these organizations are complicit in the terror, Jew hatred, and death purveyed by Hamas. Here’s a list of them and how they denied Hamas’s activities in not only al-Shifa hospital, but other Gazan hospitals as well. The text from NGO Monitor is indented.

The evidence is overwhelming and incriminating. Hamas systematically exploited Al-Shifa Hospital and other medical centers in Gaza for command and control centers, terror tunnels, weapons storage, hiding kidnapped hostages, and murdering kidnapped hostages.

The newly released videos are disturbing, but they are not surprising. For nearly fifteen years, Israeli and American officials have publicly acknowledged the existence of Hamas’ headquarters under Al-Shifa Hospital, and the international media has reported on the active presence of Hamas in hospitals, including during rounds of armed conflict.

However, there is one network that has constantly denied Hamas’ exploitation of Al-Shifa and other hospitals in Gaza — the influential community of ostensible human rights NGOs, humanitarian aid organizations, and their UN agency partners. Many of these groups have been actively complicit in covering up the diversion of aid by Hamas. Some of them employ Hamas and other terror operatives. At the same time, these groups have disseminated disinformation regarding Israeli operations and have likely lied to government donors in auditing and oversight processes. As documented below, the NGO strategy of denial and extensive obfuscation has  continued and increased during the current Gaza conflict, despite the evidence.

Most troubling, as suggested by the videos of Hamas terrorists openly bringing hostages and captured military vehicles into Al-Shifa’s grounds, it seems likely that NGO officials – particularly those connected to self-declared humanitarian NGOs – had firsthand knowledge of Hamas’ illegal use of Al-Shifa, but remained silent. If this is proven, the NGOs bear responsibility for failing to report on these blatant violations of international law, human rights norms, and medical ethics. Any medical staff involved in covering up these activities could also face civil and criminal liability in both domestic and international courts. Donor governments to these NGOs and UN agencies must launch immediate investigations.

Relevant International Law

Contrary to the claims of many NGOs, hospitals and other medical facilities lose their civilian status if “they are used by a party to the conflict to commit, outside their humanitarian functions, an ‘act harmful to the enemy’.” Examples provided by the International Committee for the Red Cross include “a hospital [] used as a base from which to launch an attack; as an observation post to transmit information of military value; as a weapons depot; as a center for liaison with fighting troops; or as a shelter for able-bodied combatants.”

Statements from NGOs

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, Doctors Without Borders)

MSF repeatedly denied that Hamas was present in Gaza hospitals, with an official claiming that “we have seen no evidence that the hospital buildings or the compounds are being used by Hamas as a military base.”

I long ago stopped donating to MSF, even after Kelly Houle and I gave them over $10,000 that we realized from selling my multiply-autographed and illuminated copy of Why Evolution is True. Now I really regret having supported them. I’ve heard that MSF won’t employ Israeli doctors, either, and I wrote them asking whether that was true. I never got an answer.  I would never give them another cent. Readers can make up their own minds about supporting this and other organizations that may be complicit with terrorism.

And there are many more:

Human Rights Watch (HRW)

On November 14, HRW published a statement referring to “Unlawful Israeli Hospital Strikes” and stating that Israel’s claims that “Hamas uses hospitals as terror infrastructures” were “contested.” According to HRW, “Human Rights Watch has not been able to corroborate them, nor seen any information that would justify attacks on Gaza hospitals.” (Notably, the same statement repeated, without any caveat, claims from Palestinians who communicated with HRW “by phone.”)

Amnesty International

On November 14, an Amnesty tweet suggested that Israel could not attack Hamas installations even if they were “near hospitals”: “Hospitals and medics must be protected at all times. No one should be conducting hostilities near hospitals or endangering the lives of the sick and wounded, or the doctors and nurses desperately trying to save lives in nightmarish conditions.”

But their tweet applies to Hamas as well! Amnesty International is another NGO that I will never support. Maybe, one might suggest, Hamas shouldn’t put its military facilities near hospitals!

Oxfam International

On November 10, Oxfam published a statement, completely ignoring Hamas operations in hospitals and misrepresenting the relevant provisions of international law: “Attacks on hospitals packed with civilians in need of urgent treatment and seeking shelter are abhorrent and can never be justified….Indiscriminately firing on civilians in hospitals is not just a war crime, it’s an assault on humanity” (emphases added).

Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC)

On November 11, NRC published a statement claiming, “We are horrified by reports of relentless attacks on Gaza’s hospitals…. It is an affront to wage war around and on hospitals….The harm to patients besieged in hospitals and the lasting effects of depriving the population of major medical facilities in a time of armed conflict may very well be unlawful. Medical facilities and personnel exclusively engaged in the treatment of the sick and wounded have special protection under international humanitarian law that must be respected in all circumstances. Failure to do so amounts to a grave breach of international humanitarian law.”

Save the Children

On November 10, Save the Children published a statement, “Hospitals and schools cannot be battlegrounds, and children cannot be targets. Yet in Gaza all three are attacked on a daily basis.The continued, systematic assaults must end. Even during wartime, basic elements of humanity must prevail.”

Al-Haq, Al Mezan, Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) (Donors include Sweden, Spain, Switzerland, EU, Norway, Netherlands, France, Denmark, UN agencies)

On November 2, 2023, Al-Haq, Al Mezan, and PCHR published a statement, “Gaza Hospitals Are Collapsing and Can Be Targeted Anytime: The International Community Must Intervene and Stop More Israeli Massacres of Palestinian Civilians.” In it, the NGOs alleged that “on 27 October 2023, the spokesperson for the Israeli army incited for the targeting of the Al-Shifa Hospital. The pretext for this claim is the alleged presence of tunnels beneath it, a claim repeatedly made by Israel that has not been substantiated with any reliable evidence. Al Mezan, Al-Haq, and PCHR express concerns that this could be a prelude to justify the potential targeting of the hospital, as seen in previous incidents, potentially leading to thousands of civilian casualties.”

Bisan (Donors include EU, Spain, Belgium, Germany)

On November 16, 2023, Bisan published, “Urgent Appeal to Protect Al-Shifa hospital and All Healthcare Facilities.” According to Bisan’s misstatement of international law, “…In times of war, the targeting or neglect of healthcare facilities not only violates international humanitarian law but also erodes the fundamental principles that form the backbone of our shared humanity…The deliberate targeting of hospitals is a blatant violation of these agreements and represents a reprehensible departure from International law and International humanitarian law.”

Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO) (Donors include EU, Italy, Switzerland)

On November 16, 2023, PNGO alleged that “What happened in Al-Shifaa medical complex goes beyond a flagrant transgression and is an absolute war crime.” According to PNGO, “The violent war against the Palestinian people, and specifically the Gaza Strip is continuing…the barbaric attack on the Al-Shifaa complex in Gaza City…under baseless excuses and pretexts…”


On November 15,  in response to a report of IDF finding weapons in Al Shifa hospital, Director of Caabu Chris Doyle tweeted, “Did anyone think there was ever going to a world in which the Israeli army did not say this? It all is possible for sure, Hamas may well have done, but any ‘evidence’ would have to be properly verified. Earlier Israeli efforts were far from conclusive.”

There you go.  If you think all these organizations didn’t know what’s going on, well, I can’t help you.  The fact is, as has been realized for over a decade by those with neurons, that Hamas used hospitals to shield its terrorists from attack by Israel. And Israel will dismantle these structures, and will do so taking the greatest care not to hurt civilians. The quote below is from the first report above (Maglan is a special recon unit of the IDF and the sentence refers to the al-Shifa complex):

Senior IDF officials have emphasized that they were deeply involved in ensuring that Maglan soldiers had extra restrictive rules of engagement when entering the complex, which Hagari said on Tuesday had contributed to not a single civilian being killed during the IDF’s operation to take control.

This is a country that is supposed to be committing genocide on all Palestinians?


Addendum: Even the very venues that questioned about whether Hamas could be in al-Shifa right now had reported earlier that it was a fact. Here: from Human Rights Watch, The New York Times, PBS, and the Washington Post! There’s more at the link, but I’ll spare you. But have a gander:

Even Human Rights Watch took notice. On June 12, 2007, HRW reported that Hamas was taking advantage of the Al Shifa hospital:

Fatah and Hamas forces engaged in battles in and around two Gaza Strip hospitals on Monday. After Hamas fighters killed Fatah intelligence officer Yasir Bakar, Fatah gunmen began firing mortars and rocket-propelled grenades at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, drawing Hamas fire from inside the building, killing one Hamas and one Fatah fighter. [emphasis added]

The June 30, 2007 issue of the British Medical Journal, corroborated the situation in an article quoting one of the doctors confirming that the hospital is infested with Hamas terrorists:

The medical staff are suffering from fear and terror, particularly of the Hamas fighters, who are in every corner of the hospital.

At Shifa Hospital on Monday, armed Hamas militants in civilian clothes roved the halls. Asked their function, they said they were providing security. But there was internal bloodletting under way.
…Hajoj, like five others who were killed at the hospital in this way in the previous 24 hours, was accused of collaboration with Israel. [emphasis added]
The article recounts how the hospital was used as a stand-in for the central prison during Operation Cast Lead, though there was not much of a trial.
Hamas was all over. in control, and taking advantage of the protection that Al Shifa offered.

WIDE ANGLE reached a doctor in Gaza who believes Hamas officials are hiding either in the basement or in a separate underground area underneath the hospital and said that they moved there recently because other locations have been destroyed by Israel. The doctor, who asked not to be named, added that he believes Hamas is aware that they are putting civilians in harm’s way. [emphasis added]

Five years later, things had not changed, except that the Washington Post acknowledged that the hospital was being used as a headquarters. On July 15, 2014, William Booth reported about a brief cease-fire during Operation Defensive Edge:

At the Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, crowds gathered to throw shoes and eggs at the Palestinian Authority’s health minister, who represents the crumbling “unity government” in the West Bank city of Ramallah. The minister was turned away before he reached the hospital, which has become a de facto headquarters for Hamas leaders, who can be seen in the hallways and offices. [emphasis added]

How the liberal media has changed now that the woke are in charge of it!

Homage to Orwell: a critique of a New York Review of Books piece that damns Israel

November 20, 2023 • 9:20 am

The New York Review of Books (NYRB) has published a joint letter, presumably written largely by Ta-Nehisi Coates, that incorporates all the usual anti-Israel tropes of the progressive Left, including the ridiculous accusation that Israel is engaged in “ethnic cleansing” and “crimes”.  (If Hamas is guilty of anything, it’s not mentioned.)

There are about 85 signers, most of whom I don’t recognize (many have Arabic names), but all of them identify as “writers and artists who have been to Palestine to participate in the Palestine Festival of literature.”  This apparently gives them special privilege to criticize Israel’s action of self-defense in its campaign to eliminate Hamas.  The letter briefly mentions Hamas’s attack on October 7, but in a very weird way, which motivated a followup article in The Atlantic.

First, the short NYRB piece (click to read):

And the meat of the letter’s accusations. In fact, this comprises all of them. I’ve put in bold the phrases that inspired Gal Beckerman’s Atlantic piece below:

Israel has imposed what it calls a “complete siege” and told 1.1 million people in Gaza to evacuate within twenty-four hours. To where? After six days of bombing that have already killed 2,215 people, 724 of them children, in the fourth major aerial bombardment in the sixteenth year of closure the question—to where?—rings unanswerable around the world. When Israel’s top general refers to Palestinians as “human animals” and the US State Department deletes a statement calling for “a ceasefire,” then we fear we are watching an ethnic cleansing on a scale unseen in decades.

The governments of the USA, UK, France and others are participating in this crime by ramping up military support for Israel as it wages a war that its officials have plainly stated aims to turn Gaza into a city of tents, or even worse, empty of its people. A population of over two million people, mostly from families that were made refugees in 1948, half of whom are children, have been living under an Israeli and Egyptian blockade since 2007, and to many of them, being told to leave again is not an option. On Saturday, after sixteen years of siege, Hamas militants broke out of Gaza. More than 1,300 Israelis were subsequently killed with over one hundred more taken hostage—some of them friends and family of signatories to this letter. We deplore the loss of all innocent life and now, as we write this letter, Israel is executing the largest expulsion of Palestinians since 1948 as it bombs Gazans without discrimination.

Our words feel small in this terrifying escalation. After so many years and so many deaths we must all, together, say this has to end, and that it can only end with a free Palestine.

Note that the slaughter of October 7 is described as “Hamas militants breaking out of Gaza,” and that’s all they wrote. The rest is criticism of Israel as well as of the UK, France, and the U.S.  There’s plenty to criticize even in this short piece. Yes, the Israeli general’s statement was deeply unwise, but calls for a ceasefire are equally unwise, for those are really calls to end the war, give Hamas time to regroup, and to get the IDF back to Israel. I’m starting to realize that calls for a ceasefire are euphemistic calls for Israel to lose the war.

As for the ethnic cleansing, it’s beyond me how a bunch of smart people could have gotten it exactly backwards. Israel isn’t out to wipe out Palestinians. It could have done so at any time within the last couple of decades, but in fact the Palestinian population is growing rapidly. How can that happen if Israel is engaged in ethnic cleansing? They are not targeting all Palestinians, but Palestinian terrorists.  In fact, it is Hamas, and many Palestinians, who have explicitly wanted to—and tried to—ethnically cleanse the Jews. That cleansing is stipulated in Hamas’s original charter, and terrorists target not IDF soldiers, but all Israelis. After Israel is gone, they’ll start on Jews in the rest of the world.

Two more corrections. The “expulsion of Palestinians in 1948” wasn’t as portrayed.  The vast majority of Arabs who fled Israel in 1948 left voluntarily for several reasons: they didn’t want to get caught in the war (five Arab armies marched on Israel and there was going to be fighting); Arab leaders told Arabs to leave temporarily for their safety, assuming that the war would be over in about week, with the complete defeat of Israel;  and, finally, Arabs living in Israel who took up arms against Israel were defeated and subsequently expelled along with their families.  All of them thought they would return shortly when Israel was defeated, but for some reasons that are historically inexplicable (at least to me), Israel, which had no formal army, defeated those five Arab armies. The Arabs could not go home again, though they still claim a bogus “right of return”.

Finally, it’s not true that the IDF bomb Gazans without discrimination. That’s simply a lie: the IDF, the world’s most moral army, targets installations of military value. Again, it is Palestinian terrorists who bomb and kill without discrimination: suicide bombers going into pizza parlors are the archetypal example. So are the rockets that Hamas is still firing willy-nilly into Israel, hoping to kill civilians.

As for what the writers mean by “a free Palestine”, well, that’s open to interpretation. If it’s “from the river to the sea,” that’s a call for the end to Israel. But let’s be charitable and say that the writers just want two states: Israel and Palestine. That solution is a long way off, and while it seems to be the only one, there are not good brokers on either side to forge such a solution.

Enough; let’s move on to the published response.

Ta-Nehisi Coates got famous writing for The Atlantic, but now at that venue Gal Beckerman, senior editor of the magazine, responds to the bits in bold above.  His guideline is George Orwell’s famous essay “Politics and the English Language” (everyone here should read it; it’s free at the link), largely about how language can be used to soften uncomfortable political realities.  And that, says Beckerman, is exactly what the NYRB letter does, particularly in the bolded part above. (I’ve already pointed out how the letter distorts history with words like “ethnic cleansing” and “expelled”.)

Click below to read the short response, which is, as the kids would call it, a “sick burn” of Ta-Nehisi and Company. If it’s paywalled for you, a reader found it archived here.

Beckerman’s response, à la Orwell, to the NYRB’s bit in bold above:

Two sentences of the 438-word text have haunted me for days. After deploring Israel’s bombardment of Gaza and fearing for Palestinians who are suffering unspeakable horrors, the signatories stop to describe what in their collective estimation happened on October 7 to unleash Israel’s fury: “On Saturday, after sixteen years of siege, Hamas militants broke out of Gaza. More than 1,300 Israelis were subsequently killed with over one hundred more taken hostage.”

To describe what Hamas did as breaking out of Gaza, as if what happened took place in a spontaneous moment of liberation, is to hide the fact that this was by all accounts a sophisticated and highly planned assault. Hamas didn’t break out of Gaza. Three thousand militants with intent and agency murdered as many civilians as they possibly could with the goal of drawing Israel into a brutal conflict, which is, sadly, precisely what is now taking place. Hamas’s leaders wanted to slow down whatever warming was developing between Israel and the Sunni Muslim states and remind the region and the world that in their eyes there is an existential war going on, one that will not stop until Israel is eliminated. This was not breaking out.

But far more upsetting is that passive voice of the next sentence, a passive voice that reveals a staggering moral blindness. Israelis “were subsequently killed.” Did they spontaneously combust? Were they struck by lightning? Fall down dead at the sight of the militants who had “broken out”? How do we explain this construction other than to call it a cruel abdication of responsibility, a decision on the part of these signatories not to assign any agency at all to Hamas, to blot out from sight the semiautomatic weapons and the knives? “Were subsequently killed.” The long history of excuses for every totalitarian ideology, including the one embraced by Orwell’s “comfortable English professor,” can be reduced to that nasty combination of three words, words from minds who simply refuse to confront the uncomfortable reality that the murder of babies and elderly peace activists was committed in the name of a cause they support.

What the NYRB piece leaves out is as telling as what it says:

Although the writers demand a “free Palestine” and an end to the bombardment, they spare no additional words asking for the release of the nearly 200 hostages taken by Hamas, other than to acknowledge they were captured. The only way to explain this in a statement that evinces such legitimate humanistic worry for the Palestinians is that the hostages, being Israeli—even the nine-month-old among them—are settler-colonizers and not worthy of the writers’ bother. They may have closed their letter by deploring “the loss of all innocent life,” but that sentiment rings hollow after they’ve made clear whose lives they think have value.

Indeed, in a letter that’s devoted largely to deploring “ethnic cleansing” by Israel, describing the “breakout” of Hamas on October 7, and defending apprehensive Palestinian “artists, human rights workers, writers, historians, and activists” (read the first paragraph, not given above), the writers’ claim that they deplore “all loss of innocent life” rings hollow. What you see over and over again in the mainstream media is a short mention of the Israelis killed on October 7—the incident that, predictably, started the war—followed by a long indictment of Israel for defending itself. The Palestinians, assumed to have no agency (something absolutely disproved on October 7), and subject to the “soft bigotry of low expectations”, are sacralized as people of color. As for the Jews, well, who ever cared about them?

One might criticize Beckerman for concentrating on a few phrases in an NYRB letter, but you’d be missing the point that Orwell made:

Is it fair to nitpick at a moment when the death toll is rising, when the placement of a verb seems irrelevant next to all this grief? Not only is it fair; I believe it’s necessary. How we describe what is happening makes a difference in the way we process reality, and opens or closes the door to various possible futures. As Orwell put it in his essay, language “becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts.” This circularity of language and thought should offer us reason to hope, though. It means, as Orwell wrote, “that the process is reversible.” Words have the power to both grant humanity and take it away—so we should use them carefully, especially now.

In the case of the signers of the NYRB, they know language; what happened is simply that their “thoughts were foolish.”

How American progressives have gone astray

November 19, 2023 • 11:30 am

Speaking of the moral weakness of the Western Left when it comes to the war between Israel and Hamas, Susie Linfield, a professor at NYU, has written in Quillette a thoughtful, thorough, and trenchant analysis of the situation.   She’s no unalloyed cheerleader for Israel, recognizing that any lasting peace will require the removal of Netanyahu, and she deplores the violence (and perhaps the presence) of West Bank settlers. But overall, she calls out the Western Left strongly for not adhering to the traditional values and tactics of their philosophy—features that brought them success with things like the civil rights movement. Throwing in your lot with the Palestinian cause and adopting a laissez-faire attitude towards violence, Linfield says, is the road to perdition.

Click to read:

I’m just going to give a few quotes as my insomnia hit me with a vengeance last night, I’ve been awake since 2 a.m. and I can’t brain. Fortunately, Dr. Linfield can.  Here she talks about true progressivism and how it was betrayed by its adherents’ response to the October 7 massacre:

The events of October 7th have clarified to Israelis from across the political spectrum—and should to everyone else—just what it means to make Palestine judenrein, as Hamas’s founding document and its current leaders promise. Indeed, the only way to “free Palestine from the river to sea,” as thousands of demonstrators worldwide are chanting, is to kill (or at best expel) all the Jews who live there, which is precisely what Hamas openly states is its primary goal. (Rep. Rashida Tlaib recently released a video in which she endorsed this demand, which she then ludicrously tried to spin as “an aspirational call for … peaceful coexistence.” Perhaps she imagines that the millions of Israelis expelled from Yemen, Morocco, Iraq, Syria, and a host of other Arab countries will be offered the “right of return.”) Hamas specifies that every Muslim, including women and “the slave,” is duty-bound to join in the eschatological struggle to cleanse Palestine of “the Jews,” whom it identifies as the world’s most powerful force and mankind’s greatest enemy. October 7th was the practice of that principle.

The determination of many on the Western Left to either ignore this program or refuse to believe it—despite Hamas’s consistent candor about its aims and means—is a sign of intellectual Orientalism: Palestinians are viewed only as helpless, reactive victims rather than people who generate ideas and actions for which they can be held accountable. But of course they do create political worldviews and programs, and Hamas has been especially voluble of late in explaining its future plans. Just last week, Hamas leader Ghazi Hamad affirmed that his organization planned many more October 7th-type attacks until it “annihilates” Israel; a week later, Hamas spokesman Taher El-Nounou told the New York Times, “I hope that the state of war with Israel will become permanent on all the borders.” This makes calls for a “mutual ceasefire,” in Tlaib’s words, nonsensical.

What calls for a ceasefire are really demanding is for Israel to stop defending itself, stop trying to eliminate Hamas, withdraw to its previous borders, and probably = make reparations to Gaza for the destruction of the war.  (The calls never seem to mention the continuing firing of rockets at Israel by terrorists trying to kill civilians.) It is a call to return to the status quo, in which Israel will perpetually be attacked by terrorists—certainly more often than before—but will not be allowed to defend itself. Humanitarian pauses? Yes, of course.  Corridors that are truly safe to protect as many civilians as possible? Certainly. But a ceasefire? That’s only one step from the “river to the sea” mentality the mentality that chides Israel for defending itself against the most brutal of attacks. As Cary Nelson wrote in Fathom, in an article called “A ceasefire would normalise the pogrom,”

Those urging a ceasefire stand behind what appears to be the most basic humanitarian motive: prevent further loss of life; end the massacre of innocent civilians. And then the coup de grace is delivered in hypocritical feel good rhetoric: everyone should respect international humanitarian law. Except that Hamas never has and never will honour international humanitarian law.

Meanwhile, no reprisals for murdering men, women, and children are to follow. No sanctions. No punishments. No accountability. The barbaric intimacy of so many of the killings is to be met with stability, frozen in time. We are all to accept what happened and move on.

Fools, hypocrites, dreamers, and antisemites alike stand in solidarity. Except that if the crimes are allowed to stand unanswered they will be repeated or more likely horrifically reinvented within a few years at most. A new standard for monstrous assault on Israelis will be in place.

But I digress. Here’s long except from Linfield’s piece—in effect, a lecture to those on the Left who can’t be bothered by what Hamas did on October 7 or what it is doing now. I’ve inserted some links into the powerful last paragraph so you can look up the cited writers.

There is, and always has been, another tradition, another sense, of what it means to be “progressive” and to stand with the oppressed. In 2011, Fred Halliday wrote an essay titled “Terrorism in Historical Perspective.” It is the most intellectually and morally lucid work on the subject that I know. Halliday addressed himself to his comrades on the Left and made a crucial argument: Any movement that claims to represent an oppressed people must act in an ethical way even if it is not in power and perceives itself as weak. 

Oppression is not a carte blanche for severing heads from bodies, shooting hundreds of young festival-goers, bludgeoning people to death, murdering children in front of parents and vice versa, killing naked women point-blank, and kidnapping babies and the elderly; there is no universe in which these are revolutionary, emancipatory, or anticolonialist acts, much less “beautiful” ones. Sadism and violence are not synonyms. Sexual torture cannot be anti-imperialist—nor is it an understandable, much less inevitable, response to oppression. An eliminationist program is not a freedom charter. History has proved, again and again, that terrorists and freedom fighters aren’t the same, which is why the former never achieve anything approaching either liberation or justice. There is no room for “yes, but.” Why, when it comes to the deaths of Israelis, is this so hard to understand?

The Western Left’s response to October 7th will, I believe, be viewed as a moment of moral corruption on a par with the defense of Stalin’s purges, Czechoslovakia’s antisemitic show trials of 1952, the Soviet invasions of Hungary and Czechoslovakia, and Poland’s antisemitic expulsions of 1968, along with the denial of the Khmer Rouge genocide (see under: Chomsky, Noam) and the adulation of China’s vicious Cultural Revolution. Since October 7th, there have been a handful of liberal and Left writers who have written bravely and honestly: Jonathan Freedland and Howard Jacobson in the Guardian, Michael Walzer in the Atlantic; Michelle Goldberg at the New York Times, Alan Johnson and Cary Nelson in Fathom, Seyla Benhabib on Medium. They are, alas, exceptions. Halliday’s leftism—the leftism of humane universalism rather than anti-imperialism—is in eclipse, as was Memmi’s.

Here’s why the Israeli Left outshines the American Left, a bit that immediately follows the paragraph above:

Except in Israel. Somehow, that nation of genocidal-white supremacist-fascist-settler-colonials has produced a Left that still adheres to the traditional principles of universalist dignity and equality, and that isn’t too squeamish to recognize terrorism for what it is. It rejects Manichean reductionism—something it can ill afford—and can therefore hold more than one thought at a time. It understands that Israel is a powerful country and that it is existentially threatened by its enemies. It understands that it is a perpetrator of the occupation and a victim of terrorism. It knows that one can oppose the way in which Netanyahu’s government is conducting the war while also avowing that a war must be fought. It understands that vanquishing Hamas and defeating the fanatical ultra-nationalists in its midst—and in its government—are not only related but utterly interdependent. It rejects the concept of collective guilt, whether of Israelis or Palestinians. It has a pretty good understanding of what antisemitism is. Of necessity, it comprehends tragedy. Its tone is sober rather than histrionic. These are the people who have done more to defend Palestinian rights and promote Palestinian sovereignty than all the West’s self-aggrandizing decolonialists, boycotters, and anti-imperialists combined.

More opprobrium for the Western Left:

The Western Left, basking in the safe, prosperous cities of the liberal democracies, lives in a very different world from the one Michael Sfard inhabits. Its moral rot may have suddenly become clear, but an ethical collapse takes time to develop. October 7th reveals the long-simmering theoretical confusions, and the moral void, that dominates many of today’s “progressive” movements. A Left that is fixated on “decolonization” mistakes a death cult for a liberation movement and is unable to recognize a bloodbath, even one that was filmed, and publicized worldwide, by the killers themselves. A Left that, rightly, demands absolute condemnation of white-nationalist supremacy refuses to disassociate itself from Islamist supremacy. A Left that divides the world between racists and antiracists and is obsessed with “people who look like me” can’t understand that the clash of two national movements has nothing to do with color or race.

A Left that celebrates diversity vilifies one of the most culturally and ethnically diverse countries in the world. A Left that prizes itself on defending refugees castigates a nation founded almost entirely by refugees—among the most immiserated and persecuted in history—as “settler-colonial.” A Left that divides the world between noble “native” peoples and the aliens who pollute them reproduces the neo-fascist worldview of the far-Right, from Donald Trump to Marine Le Pen. A Left that lauds intersectionality hasn’t noticed that Hamas’s axis of support consists of Iran, famous most recently for killing hundreds of protestors demanding women’s freedom; the homicidal dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad; and Hezbollah, another fundamentalist Islamic group that is dedicated to Israel’s destruction and that terrorizes, and sometimes assassinates, fellow Lebanese who oppose it. What kind of Left gets into bed with such forces? Nor has it noticed that, since October 7th, ISIS and al-Qaeda have urged Muslims to step up worldwide “operations against the Jews” in solidarity with Hamas.

. . . The Left in Israel, unlike the global Left, recognizes that Hamas must be eliminated, not appeased. “A country that doesn’t kill the people who tried to murder my daughters, and those who sent them, has lost its right to exist,” Tibon wrote. Civilians in Gaza must be protected whenever possible, but Hamas’s concealment of fighters and weapons within the civilian population and civilian sites guarantees that the war will be extremely ugly. Postwar, new political landscapes will emerge, though only a fool would predict what they’ll be. (One thing is clear: the political leaderships of both peoples have led them, and each other, to ruin.) October 7th, Tibon wrote, “hasn’t changed my belief, based on a cold, calculated reading of reality, that in the long run we must find ways to share this land. … But first we must survive.” It has become obvious that there are many on the Left who dispute that last sentence.

If you’re ashamed of how “progressives” have behaved in America, failing to adhere to the principles of classical liberalism, you should be even more ashamed now that they’re getting into bed with terrorism. Those who call for a ceasefire are simply blackguards who doesn’t know what a ceasefire means or, if they do, know it means Israel will be forever menaced by terrorists, but even worse than before.

Note that the whole “squad” is in this list.  I can only wonder what these people think a ceasefire means. And the proportion of Americans who want a ceasefire means little to me, for I don’t think they know what they’re calling for. The Biden administration does, and that’s why we don’t have one.

The ignorance is metastasizing:

And what about the death of Gazan civilians? Here’s her take, which is mournful but alert to the fact that those deaths would be much fewer if Hamas didn’t use people as human shields.  It’s hard to argue with the proposition that, indeed, Hamas wants and needs dead Palestinians to carry out its program, which is to get the world to allow them to kill Jews. Linfield’s take:

The Left in Israel, unlike the global Left, recognizes that Hamas must be eliminated, not appeased. “A country that doesn’t kill the people who tried to murder my daughters, and those who sent them, has lost its right to exist,” Tibon wrote. Civilians in Gaza must be protected whenever possible, but Hamas’s concealment of fighters and weapons within the civilian population and civilian sites guarantees that the war will be extremely ugly. Postwar, new political landscapes will emerge, though only a fool would predict what they’ll be. (One thing is clear: the political leaderships of both peoples have led them, and each other, to ruin.) October 7th, Tibon wrote, “hasn’t changed my belief, based on a cold, calculated reading of reality, that in the long run we must find ways to share this land. … But first we must survive.” It has become obvious that there are many on the Left who dispute that last sentence.