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The Left is Flunking the Moral Test
Moral equivocation in Israel’s war with Hamas is senseless.
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As of this writing, more than 1,200 Israeli civilians are dead, and at least 22 Americans, as a result of the invasion of Southern Israel by the Iran-backed terrorist organization, Hamas. It is the worst single-day massacre of Jewish people since the Holocaust, a mass casualty terrorist event that is fast becoming a global geopolitical crisis.
Israeli seniors were slaughtered while waiting for the bus. Over 250 concertgoers were killed, many of them from around the world; some of the women at this concert were raped beside the corpses of their friends before being butchered or dragged to Gaza. People were gunned down in their cars. Others were hunted down from house to house, killed while trying to protect their families. At least forty babies were murdered. Children as young as 9 months old were kidnapped. A pregnant woman had her body dissected so that the fetus slowly died outside the womb. In some cases, these terrorists filmed their atrocities using the phones of the people they were killing, uploading the videos to victims’ social media pages, which is how family members found out.
A little bit of background is necessary here. Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in the mid 2000s and hoped to never have to return, and Hamas immediately took over. If Gaza remains an “open-air prison,” it is of Hamas’s own making. In the wake of Israel’s withdrawal, the terrorist group that ascended to power dismantled civilian infrastructure and transformed its stronghold into a fortress where jihadists are trained to strategically use terror and taught that it is their divinely ordained obligation to obliterate their perceived enemies. The Hamas Charter explicitly states as much and is not meant as mere words: Hamas is dedicated to the eradication of the Jewish State and the wholesale liquidation of Jewry within the Middle East in the name of Islam. They don’t operate with a secular program of liberation in mind; everything they do is in fulfilment of an Islamist commitment to genocide. These people are terrorists catalyzed by a fundamentalist, sharia-supremacist interpretation of Islamic scripture.
But far from acknowledging all of this, the mainstream media has spent the past few days pushing a narrative that prioritizes a both-sidesism over the truth. Jeffrey Blehar notes that this is for reasons that have everything to do with “a patronizing failure of liberal Westerners” to understand that Hamas really is plain evil and their insistence — conditioned by years of social justice educational orthodoxy — on assigning de facto innocence to anyone who can claim the mantle of “the oppressed.”
As David Zweig highlights, the media’s chosen language reveals as much.
Below, note the use of the word “militants” by the New York Times instead of “terrorists,”1 which is no doubt the result of a formal editorial decision-making process, and which betrays the paper’s position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:
The Times was far from alone in attempting to frame the attack in a way that gives credence to the idea that violence against Jews is political and the power imbalance between the Palestinians and Israelis is somehow exculpatory. Basically the entirety of establishment media in America — including the Associated Press, the Washington Post, NBC, CBS, ABC, and PBS, among other outlets — in covering the events of the past few days has primarily used “militants,” and secondarily “fighters,” “gunmen,” and pretty much any term other than “terrorists.”
NPR was so intent on using “militants” that it deceptively altered a quote from Jonathan Conricus, an Israeli Defense Forces spokesperson:
“Our troops are still fighting and hunting down” remaining Hamas militants, Israel Defense Forces spokesperson Jonathan Conricus said, out of some 1,000 militants who “went house to house, building to building in search for Israeli civilians.”
The actual statement from Conricus reads: “Our troops are still fighting and hunting down the last terrorists that are still inside Israeli territory… we assess that there were approximately 1,000 terrorists who participated in yesterday’s invasion of Israel. About 1,000 bloodthirsty Palestinians who went house to house, building to building in search for Israeli civilians.”
It’s one thing for NPR to view Conricus’s use of the word “terrorist” as inflammatory or inappropriate; it’s another thing entirely to not allow readers to see the actual language used by a government official and make their own judgement about it. Moreover, as Zweig points out, the use of “terrorists” is clearly appropriate and by-the-book correct here and coincides with the U.S. government’s definition of international terrorism and its view of Hamas. The U.S. Department of State lists Hamas as a terrorist organization; and Chapter 113B, section 2331 of the U.S. Criminal Code states that terrorism is any act that attempts to intimidate or coerce a civilian population, influence government policy by intimidation or coercion, or affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping.
Legacy media’s studious avoidance of the word underscores why Elon Musk’s X (formerly known as Twitter) is so vitally important. For all the talk of the social media platform’s degradation as a source of information, it has allowed people to see the scope of the horror in its unvarnished magnitude. This unfiltered access is far preferable to the sanitized lens that the mainstream media foists upon viewers and readers as it seeks to construct self-affirming narratives that vindicate the partisan loyalties of its target audience.
Understand something: There really aren’t two sides to what happened this weekend. The line delineating good and evil couldn’t be more clear in this case. We’re talking about a display of medieval barbarism that would make ISIS blush, and it presents the most basic moral test imaginable.
And yet, Leftists are failing the test in droves, relying on opacity and pseudo-profundity to convey the sentiment that “oppressed people have a right to commit mass murder,” and claiming that the savage, hostage-taking, extensively planned razzia needs to be “viewed in context.”
While it’s long been known that self-identified Democrats are more sympathetic to the Palestinians than to the Israelis, it’s still shocking to see some of these morons ululate and cheer the naked slaughter of innocent civilians and use condescending agency-denying progressive cant to explain away Hamas’s depravity. What’s certainly not shocking, considering how rotten to the core academia is thanks to Leftist influence, is that many of these people are future graduates of our most “prestigious” universities.
Columbia student groups called the attack on Israel “an unprecedented historic moment for the Palestinians of Gaza, who tore through the wall that has been suffocating them.” Students for Justice in Palestine2 at Swarthmore College released a statement celebrating Hamas’s attack as a “heroic example for those struggling toward global liberation” and lauding the “martyrs” who “valiantly confronted the imperial apparatus that has constricted their livelihoods.” The head of the Student Bar Association at NYU Law sent out a note stating that “Israel bears full responsibility for this tremendous loss of life.”3 George Washington University held a rally where attendees chanted, “From the river to the sea!”—an explicit call for genocide. A joint statement issued by dozens of Harvard student organizations declared “the Israeli regime” is “entirely responsible for all unfolding violence.” Not a single Ivy League school has issued a statement about the atrocities committed by Hamas.
And then there are the Leftists who cast Hamas as a quotidian political entity that is simply engaged in a process of “decolonization,” which gives it carte blanche to commit ethnic cleansing.
Saturday, right as the pogrom was reaching its crescendo, Najma Sharif, a writer for Soho House magazine and Teen Vogue, posted on X: “What did y’all think decolonization meant? vibes? papers? essays? losers.” This was liked more than 100,000 times and reposted nearly 23,000 times — by, among others, the Washington Post’s global opinions editor, Karen Attiah — before Sharif locked her account.
“Shabbat shalom and may every colonizer fall everywhere,” wrote Barnaby Raine, a professor at Brooklyn Institute for Social Research who received his PhD in history from Columbia.
“Settlers are not civilians. This is not hard,” said Yale professor Zareena Grewal.
There’s been a lot of this “decolonization” talk floating around academia in recent years, where rationality is so often subordinated to specious and often impressively idiotic ideologies picked up in overpriced seminar halls, and it gets at the main point pressed by militant progressives, which is that Israel is an illegitimate settler state that has practiced apartheid since its inception. What people need to understand, writes the American Mind’s Seth Baron, is that the Left’s persistent antipathy towards Israel doesn’t necessarily stem from antisemitism. They don’t hate Israel because it’s a Jewish country; they hate it because it’s a white country.
Never mind that Israel’s Jewish population includes people of all skin tones; the Zionist project is still classed as a racist colonial state built on stolen land that must be radically “decolonized.” Israel is merely a synecdoche for white supremacy. That’s why Leftists call it an apartheid state despite it bearing no resemblance to apartheid South Africa. But also don’t forget that the Left calls America an apartheid state, too, and that this characterization will become even more common as our white population shrinks below 50%. Predominantly white countries aren’t permitted to exercise control of their borders because that’s “racist,” and ending majority-white populations is the major project of the global Left. Israel merely tops the list. When Leftists at George Washington University say “Decolonization is not a metaphor,” they’re telling us that Hamas is right, both in theory and in practice.
Members of the so-called “Squad” are chief purveyors of this “decolonization” nonsense, and they have spent the past few days giving voice to a pernicious and false moral equivalence, assigning agency only to Israel and absolving those who savagely attacked the softest of soft targets. Each of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Cori Bush, and Ilhan Omar voiced pro forma condemnations of Hamas’s sneak attack—mealy-mouthed statements used as prelude to the more important issue of how Israel brought this upon itself and should not respond to what is clearly an ongoing and rapidly developing threat. Even Karine Jean-Pierre called their Hamas apologia, which has set the tone for many political intellectuals and journalists, “disgraceful” and “repugnant.”
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called for “an immediate ceasefire” Saturday afternoon, after Hamas massacred the Israelis but before the Israelis could respond. Rashida Tlaib’s statement did not mention Hamas at all; she said we must dismantle “the apartheid system that creates the suffocating, dehumanizing conditions that can lead to resistance.”4 Cori Bush declared, “As part of achieving a just and lasting peace, we must do our part to stop this violence and trauma by ending U.S. government support for Israeli military occupation and apartheid.” And Ilhan Omar retweeted a statement from Yousef Munayyer, the former executive director of the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights: “The international community must immediately sound the alarm to prevent atrocities and war crimes, which an Israel with unhinged leadership can easily carry out again.”5
Push came to shove, and they could not come out and say, “You should not behead babies. You should not rape women. You should not burn people alive in their homes.” It speaks to their moral cowardice and hypocrisy as “human rights advocates.”
I’m not a cheerleader for war, and I’m certainly wary of the U.S. getting involved in another proxy conflict, but Israel deserves the time and space to defend itself. In the meantime, we should all push back against the politicization of Jewish murder.
The national leadership of Students for Justice in Palestine declared the weekend’s events a “historic win for the Palestinian resistance,” touting Hamas’s success in “catching the enemy completely by surprise.”
Chicago-based law firm Winston & Strawn LLP rescinded the student’s post-graduate offer of employment.
In 2019, Rashida Tlaib got emotional at a hearing on migrant children being separated from their parents at the border, calling it “traumatic” and “inhumane.” But she had no comment when asked about Israeli children being beheaded by Hamas terrorists.
Remember that these four, along with fire alarmist Jamaal Bowman, are all members of the Democratic Socialists of America, an organization that held an “All Out for Palestine” rally in Times Square less than a day after the attack. “And as you might have seen, there was some sort of rave or desert party where they were having a great time until the resistance came in electrified hang gliders and took at least several dozen hipsters,” a speaker at the rally proclaimed to a crowd that cheered and guffawed.