Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Understanding the antisemitism of Israel’s “critics”. Part III


Epilogue: The ethnic cleansing accusation. 

The ethnic cleansing accusation is less heard in the anti-Israel discourse. Even though it shares similarities with the act of genocide. This similarity is the concept of the destruction of a community. It is less defined in international law, and therefore less useful for those that wish to harm Israel and its population. The main difference between ethnic cleansing and genocide, is that when it comes to the former, mass murder is a means to end, and not the end itself. When it comes to later mass killing is the final goal.

This accusation is false largely for the same reasons the genocide accusation is false. No one from the Israeli war cabinet made such a statement. And the same measures Israel took to prevent needless deaths of Palestinian civilians exonerate it from both accusations. However, this one is easier to sell. Because there is a political movement in Israel that tries to push this idea. And the level of destruction in many parts of the Gaza Strip raises the dire possibility that there is nothing to return to. Since this is the case, why Israel’s “critics” wasted their time focusing on genocide?  No matter how we look at it, the integrity of the intentions of the accusers will always come into question.

However, this matter relates to something that is real and serious. It is something that the international media has largely overlooked. This is the role of Palestinian civilians in the atrocities of October 7th, 2023. The fact is that once Hamas’ forces took control of a large portion of Israeli territory, with several Israeli communities in it, hundreds of Palestinian civilians followed them, and stormed those communities. There they took part in the slaughter, torture, rape, and abductions of Israeli civilians. Those civilians included children that helped the adults find places where people, including children, were hiding. This fact, along with the surveys that shows that the majority of Palestinians in the WB and Gaza support the atrocities undermined the convictions of many Israelis that there is a significant body of Palestinian civilians that want peace and co-existence. The worse part is that for those living around the Gaza Strip life became frightening and traumatizing. So much so that most have been evacuated to other parts of the country. The idea that you are living next to a large population that is willing to kill you, your family, and your entire community, is naturally traumatizing. And it is not only Israelis that are fearful. So do foreign governments that had farmworkers working in Israel. Those governments ordered their citizens to leave Israel completely, creating a crisis in the field of Israeli agriculture. Because of that evicting the hostile population of the Gaza Strip is the simplest looking solution. Every critic has the right to challenge the morality of this solution. But doing it while ignoring what happened on October 7th and its impact is hypocritical and dishonest. Ignoring this also helps the far right in Israel to push for this solution. It is not unheard of that extremists from opposite ends can be an asset to one another.

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Understanding the antisemitism of Israel’s “critics”. Part II


Part 3: The debate over genocidal language.

The legal definition of genocide under international law, rightfully includes the use of language. Language is a necessary tool when perpetrating a genocide. It dehumanizes the intended victims in a way that denies their humanity and makes the act of killing them justified. Therefore, if someone wants to make a serious accusation of genocide, they must include the subject of the use of language. When it comes to Israel this argument employs a known propaganda trick, taking words out of context. The accusers say that when Israeli leaders call Palestinians human animals, or compare them to Amalek, that language is genocidal.

Israeli leaders did make this kind of comparisons. But not of the entire Palestinian population. Only those that perpetrated the atrocities of October 7th. The biblical Amalek were indeed condemned for annihilation. But that is not why the comparison was made. It was made because Amalek killed women and children, and the elderly. And that is exactly what Hamas did. Hamas are also compared to the Nazis, because that is what the Nazis did. Both have killed women and children, and everyone they could, deliberately. Hamas is also compared to ISIS, because this is what ISIS did. Like Hamas they killed everyone they wanted, women, children, man, elderly. Every person they said had the wrong faith. Extremists’ statements had been made by public figures and some government officials. And the membership of Betzalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben Gvir in this government is indeed an abomination. But none of them is a member of the war cabinet. The members of this cabinet come from the ruling Likud party, and the Mahane Mammlachti party of Beni Gantz. This was the lead opposition party prior to October the 7th 2023. Genocide is an inhumane act. And false accusations of genocide dehumanize those been falsely accused. As do false accusations of ethnic cleansing, apartheid, and colonialism.  

As international law acknowledges, the act of genocide requires dehumanizing language, organization, such as gathering the weapons needed for the genocide. And killing countless of people with the intention to inflict harm. Israel has done none-of those. Its actions saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, and the harsh language used by its decision makers is against the perpetrators of the atrocities of the 7th of October, not all the Palestinians. The one that fills all the check boxes defining genocide is Hamas. They, as well as the PA, have been indoctrinating their population to hate the Jews for years. Hamas has been gathering weapons for the purpose of killing as many jews as possible. It tried to do so mostly with missiles and rockets. But was more successful on October the 7th 2023, when its elite forces gained control over several Jewish communities. There, with the help of civilians from the Gaza Strip, they killed, tortured, and abducted everyone they could. Causing some of these communities to be severely depopulated. This is a genocide. And for years Israeli and pro-Israel activists have been warning against that. The reactions to these warnings were outrageous. Those warning were ignored in most cases, dismissed as demonizing the Palestinians in other cases. And when they did receive some attention by world media it was treated as background noise, and never received the same importance as the issue of the settlements. The examples they brought were either over stretched or form marginal groups. The purpose of those comparisons was to dismiss the accusations under the attitude that said, since both sides are doing it, there is no point in dealing with it. These attitudes, knowingly and unknowingly, made their contributions to the atrocities of October 7th.  This ignored fact of recent history demonstrate the hypocrisy behind the accusation of genocide. Those that were the most silent about Hamas genocidal behavior prior to October 7th; are now making the loudest noises, falsely accusing Israel of genocide. The 2 sides of this hypocrisy show indifference to Jewish lives. And that is the most obvious form of antisemitism.

Part 4: policing the victim.

Another age long antisemitic behavior, a tradition of sort, comes to play here. When a wave of pogroms swept through the Jewish communities of the Russian Empire in the 1880’s, local comities of Christians and Jews were formed for the purpose of investigating the causes of those pogroms. The Christian members in some of those comities decided to change focus. Instead of investigating the causes of the pogroms in the Russian Christian side, where the perpetrators came from, they wanted to investigate the Jews. (On this topic find the Mina Goldberg doctoral work, Berlin 1934.) This was an act of blaming the victims. But it is also an act of policing the victims. It came from people that decided among themselves, and without consulting with their Jewish co members. They decided that the idea of looking for the causes of the pogroms in the Christian side, where the pogromists came from, is wrong, without even exploring it. And they forced their decision on the Jewish members of those committees while ignoring the Jewish protest. Passing critical judgment on other people’s actions and behavior is the act of policing, conducted to make sure they follow the accepted code of conduct. When a crime is committed it is the victimizer that is supposed to be policed, not the victims. Clearly, there was something very twisted in Czarist Russia.

This practice, of passing critical judgment on Jews trying to change the conditions that brought upon them horrific calamities, continues to these very days. The best and most obscene example came from the late Hellen Thomas. The senior and longest serving White House corresponded that chose to end her remarkable carrier with a despicable bang. Following her call for Israeli Jews to return to Germany and Poland, she gave an interview to Joy Behar, then on CNN. There she “clarified.” One of the things she said was “The Jews did not have to leave Germany and Poland following the holocaust since they were not persecuted anymore.” Putting aside the fact that there was nothing much for Jews to return to in those countries, and most of Europe at that time; her statement shows immense ignorance of what suffering is. The idea that after a genocide or a pogrom, survivors can return to their previous lives as if nothing happened is patronizing and grossly insensitive. And when it is aimed against Jews it is clearly antisemitic. And this was a major argument in her critic of Jews trying to change the conditions that made the holocaust possible. The best way seen by many jews at the time was by forming a nation state where they can defend themselves and flourish as a culture. A clear-cut antisemitic attitude was used as an argument to pass judgment on Jews as a whole and forbid them from changing their lives for the better. The antisemitic attitude of indifference to Jewish suffering and concerns, was used as an argument against the very existence of Israel. Not a critique of its policies but denying its right to exist. Since a nation state is the legitimate right of every nation the idea itself is discriminatory towards Jews. The justification for this discrimination is the accusation of ‘taking someone else’s land’. That someone been the Palestinians. This accusation is historically inaccurate.  Most of the land owned by Jews prior to 1948, was purchased from wealthy Arab landlords. After 1948, when Israel was formed, its government gained control of more land. Most of it was state land. Land that was owned by the British government. This was a land one governing authority inherited from its predecessor. The Arab lands that Israel did gain, were gained because of a war of survival. A war Israel did not start. The debate about Israel’s creation is about that part. Was it justified or not. This debate is harsh and painful for both sides. And extremely politicized. But Hellen Thomas earlier statement, about Israeli Jews going back to Germany and Poland, shows that her problem was not with Israel’s conduct during its war of independence, but with its very existence.  She used an antisemitic assumption, to justify an anti-Zionist position. In doing so she demonstrated how little the space is between antisemitism and Anti-Zionism.

Next antisemitic police action against the Jews came courtesy of congresswoman Ilhan Omar, one of the 3 stars of the earlier mentioned squad. The other 2 are of course Rashida Talib, and Alexandria Ocasio Cortez. This one was a part of a package of antisemitic concepts and attitudes. It starts with her infamous “it’s all about the Benjamines” remark regarding AIPAC. This was criticized and denounced as an antisemitic trope because it raised the age-old antisemitic motive associating Jews with money and control. It suggested that a group of people, whose common denominators are been Jewish, and wishing to have good relation between the USA and the Jewish state, are motivated by greed and manipulating politicians by greed. In doing so it denied the existence of common values, common interest, and the legitimacy of other opinions in politics. It is also a double standard. Because it is taken for granted that all immigrant communities in the USA are allowed to desire good relations between their home country, and their countries of origin. But when it comes to Jews, not only it is not okay, but is solely associated with the worse stereotypes of Jews, greed and power. But it is more than just a trope and a double standard. Describing people as so greedy that they refer to their money bills on a first name basis is cartoonish. And describing Jewish “greed” with cartoons is a known tradition of the worse forms of antisemitism. It is a dehumanizing language.

For those who remember this affair from 5 years ago, she did apologize. But that was not the end of it. Afterwards, in a town hall meeting available on youtube, she introduced a problematic world view. She stated that mentioning the suffering of Jews, prevents mentioning the suffering of Palestinians. This is nonsense, because there is no reason that the mentioning of the suffering of one community will come at expense of mentioning the suffering of another community. It also false since descriptions and discussions of Palestinian suffering existed in Jewish spaces in both Israel, USA, and Europe for many decades. It was so effective it founded and motivated political movements that championed the two-state solution, in both Israel and the USA. These movements argued that it will provide security for Israel and will end Palestinian suffering. She was erasing the peace camp.

Next, she said, “What I am fearful is that, because Rashida and I are Muslim, that a lot of our Jewish colleague, a lot of our constituents (she mentioned her Jewish constituency earlier, b.t.), a lot of our allies go to thinking that everything we say about Israel, to be antisemitic because we are Muslim. And so, to me it is something becomes designed to end the debate.” This is a variation of a recognized form of left-wing antisemitism called ‘The Livingstone formulation.’ Named after former mayor of London Ken Livingstone, 2000-2008. It was identified and defined by British sociologist Dr. David Hirsh of Goldsmith University of London, in 2010. It described an institutionalized behavior, especially in the British Labor party under Jeremy Corbin. In this behavior, whenever Jews complained about antisemitism, they were immediately accused of been a part of a conspiracy to remove Jeremy Corbin from his leadership position. This is done without even trying to listen before passing judgement. It was a form of police action. Here, in this quote, Ilhan Omar gives ill intention motives for those accusing her and Rashida Talib of antisemitism. Those alleged motives are racism towards Muslims and attempting to shut down the debate. In doing so, she, like any other practitioner of the Livingstone formulation, ostracizes the complainer through this false labeling. And that is a punishment. This is policing. If antisemitism and racism are factors in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, and they are, exposing them and clearing them away, will help solving it. Ilhan Omar and the rest of the squad are doing the opposite, denying a discussion about it.

If you think this tradition of policing Jewish responses to antisemitism is limited only to Israel related matters, David Chappelle and Jon Stewart are here to demonstrate that it is not the case. Chappelle piece on SNL, following the Kanye West affair, was criticized for been antisemitic. And it was. It was a nasty police action. He mocked the concerns of Jews over antisemitism with 2 contradicting lines. The first one, served as an advice to Kanye West, suggested that American Jews are easily manipulated. Once you formalistically condemn antisemitism, you can throw everything you want at them. The other line introduced the Jews as oversensitive drama queens, because “you cannot say ‘the Jews’ in Hollywood”. This is obviously made up. I guess he can always say it was just a joke. Except his jokes are social commentaries. And this commentary included a defense of Kanye West, as if he confused the large number of Jews in the film industry with control.

In the highlight of this commentary, he forbade Jews from criticizing and taking action against the Antisemitic tweet of NFL player Kyrie Irving. “The NBA told him he should apologize and he was slow to apologize and the list of demands to get back in their good graces got longer and longer, but, this, where you know I draw the line. I know Jewish people have through some terrible s—t all over the world but you cannot blame that on black Americans.” How is criticizing one black celebrity over an antisemitic tweet is blaming black Americans for the troubles Jews had elsewhere? He fabricated something that did not exist and used it as an excuse to monitor, police, “draw the line,” on Jewish reactions to the antisemitism that harms them.

When Jon Stewart commented on the affair in ‘The late show with Stephen Colbert,’ he may have tried to do some damage control. He may have tried to find a POV that both Jews and Black folks can agree with. Whether or not that was the case, the end-result was bad, very bad.

Jon Stewart, been Jewish, has every right to be as harsh as he feels necessary on Jewish issues. Internal criticism is not policing, even when it is harsher. It is also not beyond scrutiny. He argued that penalizing for a thought is wrong. That is a legitimate POV. But that has been the standard operating procedure when other minority groups in the USA were offended by tweets and remarks made by other people. If he is against that mode of activity why he hasn’t said anything about that before? Or since?

He said that the best way to deal with foul ideas is by exposing them to the fresh air. Agreed. But that contradicts his claim that calling them antisemitic shuts down the debate. How can we expose something to the fresh air, and the cleansing sun, without calling it for what it is? The fact that it is Ilhan Omar’s line and not his original thought does not help the image of this argument.

He found one thing Chappelle said to be constructive. “That it shouldn’t be this difficult to talk about it.” That is not exactly what Chapelle had said but that is beside the point. He literally appointed an outsider to measure how Jews response to their own abuse. How can he even suggest monitoring the response of parents when they hear that their kids are called “oven doggers” in the college they sent them to?  Or the responses of members of a community visiting the recent vandalization of their community center or their synagogue? Or seeing and hearing a public figure with millions of followers echoing some of the many tropes that brought so many calamities on the Jewish people?  Abuse is a terrifying experience. Because of that it is always difficult for the victims and those related to them to talk about it.  The reason it is hard to talk about it is because it is an abuse. Because of that the custom in present day society is to allow those affected by the abuse to express their fears, anger, and frustrations, through every means available, except violence, and racial language. Those forms of accepted expression can be silence, tears, or rage. The idea that there should be someone with a barometer measuring these modes of expression is in complete contradiction with this approach.

He argued that conversation and explanations are a better way. He is wrong because the two are not mutually exclusive. There should be a room for conversations between communities, a wide one. For such a conversation to be effective it must not be under the supervision of any barometer of sensitivity. All sides must be willing to listen to each other no matter how difficult it gets. For the conversation to be effective, it cannot avoid the difficult staff. This is also the most likely way to win over the haters. Since it takes on their convictions. But even than I wouldn’t get my hopes up. Such difficult conversations are more likely to prevent the haters from spreading their hate.

Because what Jon Stewart had said was too much of a mess of self-contradictory arguments his remarks cannot be considered an approval of antisemitic behavior. But in adopting Ilhan Omar’s concept that accusations of antisemitism shut down the debate, he does demonstrate how an antisemitic attitude that rises in the conversation about Israel can migrate into the discussion of other Jewish issues that have nothing to do with Israel.

Most of this policing seems like just words. But these words can become actions. It happened in Czarist Russia in the late 1880’s. It is happening now in the International Court of Justice in the Hauge. In Czarist Russia and in other places in recent history Jews were severely punished for defending themselves. With South – Africa’s appeal to the ICJ the risks are different, may be even greater. Here the risk is the nuremberginazation of international law and humanitarian law.

Understanding the antisemitism of Israel’s “critics”. Part I



The global reaction to the horrific atrocities perpetrated by Hamas on Israeli civilians on October 7th, 2023, has been diverse. From pro-Israel reactions to anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian reactions.  Some of the Pro-Palestinian reactions had been called out as antisemitic. These are the glorifications of the atrocities, denying them, and tearing down the posters of the abducted Israelis and those of other nationalities. But that is not enough. Antisemitism will not be truly denounced and ostracized if its more “civilized” and accepted expressions are not recognized and pointed out.

In identifying antisemitism, we need to be aware that there are many forms and levels of antisemitism. There is genocidal antisemitism, one that denies Jews the ability to live, and/or sees the Jewish identity itself as a crime. There is the patronizing approach. This has many forms, such as tokenizing, bossing, preaching instead of conversating. There is of course intolerance, bias, and conspiracy thinking. And many of these forms of antisemitism find their way to accepted and respected forms of conversation and social conduct.

Part 1: Practical language.

In today’s world genocidal antisemitism cannot simply call for the eradication of the Jews. But it can use language to deny them the ability to be alive. Think of the claim heard before October 7th, that the blockade of the Gaza Strip was inhumane, and even illegal. Factually, this accusation is incorrect. False. While there is no denying that a large section of the Palestinian society in the Gaza Strip lived in impoverished conditions, along-side them also existed a social elite and a consumer culture. As well as a productive sector. As for the blockade, this was a military blockade, aimed to prevent the very atrocities it failed to prevent on October 7th, 2023. It was legal because it was implemented on the Israeli side of the border, where Israel’s sovereignty supposed to be undisputed. And because every government on Earth has the duty to defend its territory and the lives of its citizens. If these measures are illegal, cruel and inhumane, then the very lives they had saved, those of ordinary Israelis, are cruel, illegal, and inhumane. And nothing can be more genocidal than denying people the right to be alive. The atrocities of October 7th become therefore the logical conclusion of the illegal and inhumane blockade accusation. Because in cancelling and delegitimizing, through falsehoods, the duty of the Israeli government and the IDF to defend the lives of its citizens; they are also cancelling and delegitimizing the right of those civilians to be alive. And again, that is genocidal.

This is even truer with the current accusations of ethnic cleansing and genocide. Which again are false. Backing these accusations with pictures of destruction from Gaza gives them the appearance of credibility, but that is a propaganda ploy manipulating emotions. And not a fact-based accusation. There are four facts that demonstrate why such accusations are dubious and ill motivated. First, the act of genocide requires a tight control of the ground by the forces of the exterminators. Not of the air above them. The SS had no air wing. In the annals of the genocide that took place in Rwanda in 1994, the Rwandan air force is not mentioned. Apparently, it was destroyed 4 years earlier. And the many genocides that took place throughout the 19th century, before the inventions of airplanes, show that this horrific crime against humanity has no need for air power. Massive air power can do a lot of harm to civilian populations, including war crimes. But only ground forces with total control of the ground can hunt down every person marked for extermination.  

Second, Images of massively destroyed cities came from many modern wars. They all came with stories about huge numbers of dead civilians. But they were never called genocide. Not the bombing of Mosul during the war against ISIS. Not the massive American bombing of North Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. Not the Russian’s actual carpet bombing of rebel held areas in northern Syria. And not the allies bombing of German cities during WW2. They all came with accusations of war crimes, but not genocide. All parties in the debates around those actions acknowledge the existence of legitimate military targets. And that technology has its limits, and therefore, collateral damage is unavoidable. The debate in all those cases is on how much care was given to differentiate between legitimate military targets and the surrounding civilian population. When these are the borders of the debate, even the harshest critic must acknowledge that there is a degree of legal and moral legitimacy to the air campaign, unless the war itself is illegitimate. And yes, even the lenient of critics must be open to the possibility that avoidable civilian deaths had occurred.  An accusation of genocide overdramatized an already horrific situation. And there are never good motives to do that. It attacks the legitimacy of the war itself, denying any legitimacy, even the smallest, from the attacking side. And when that accusation is thrown so easily at a side that defends its own civilians from war crimes aimed at them, as is the case with Israel, there is a room to doubt the intentions of the accusers. Remember Israel has been accused of genocide before. Even when the Arab population in the West Bank, Gaza, and Israel grew several times over, Israel was accused of genocide. Therefore, the third argument is that this accusation already has dubious history.

Mosul 2017

Forth, a major component of the definition of genocide under international law says that genocide is also the act of creating unbearable living conditions for the population targeted for extermination. When Israel and the IDF called the 1.5 million residents of the northern Gaza Strip, to move to the southern part of the Strip, this is the kind of genocide they were accused of doing. The argument behind the accusation pointed to the impoverished conditions that already existed in that part of the Strip. Saying that there is no way they could support those extra 1.5 million people. The problem with that argument is that it is not a very effective way to do this kind of genocide. Here again, a total control of the ground is required to make the genocide successful. With this kind of control, the genocidal forces can deny any help from local sources. As well as any help from outside forces. They can also nip in the bud any show of resourcefulness found among the people marked for extermination.

Here on the other hand, Israel and the IDF told the civilian population to move to the southern border. The border with Egypt. It is an international border where there are very few Israeli forces. This gives them access to outside help from all over the world. With no Israeli forces able to impede or prevent any measure that helps this population of evacuees to survive. While there is no denying that the lives of these evacuees are difficult, there is a difference between war refugees and victims of genocide. Victims of genocide are dead, annihilated, entire populations. War refugees are alive.

What this analysis shows is that Israel is subjected, yet again, to a double standard. What otherwise would have been treated as the possibility of war crimes, is treated as definite genocide. And double standard against Israel has already been recognized as antisemitism masquerading as critique of Israel. The difference between war crimes and genocide may seem minor to some, but it is critical. War crimes can be committed by a party to a war that fights a legitimate campaign. A genocide is inherently illegitimate. And can never be justified. When the charge is made because of a double standard, it is false, and therefore dehumanizing. Since Israel is engaged in a legitimate campaign of defending its civilian population this dehumanization denies them the right to be alive and is therefore a genocidal act.

What we see in this critique is the deadly use of language. One that denies Jews the ability to stay alive against the threats they face.

As this crisis worsens the lives of the displaced Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are indeed in greater jeopardy. Especially from hunger. But when reviewing the parties that have the responsibility to prevent it, one must pay attention to the following factors. The ability of international aid to reach the Gaza Strip. Entry into the Gaza Strip. And distribution of the aid inside the strip. The first is the responsibility of the international community and Egypt. The second is the responsibility of Israel. And the third is the responsibility of Hamas, UNRWA, and other UN agencies working inside the Strip. Putting the blame on Israel for the shortcoming of other agencies will be more than just hypocrisy. It will reward those agencies for their failures. And encourage them not to improve, preserving their inefficiencies in the face of future calamities. Inefficiencies that will certainly harm people in other parts of the world; that have nothing to do with this conflict. Those that already misuse language in a way that denies Jews the ability to be alive, will try to confuse the matters. As the UNRWA revelations demonstrates, some of them will come from the UN.

 Part 2: The depths of hatred.

 What makes this false accusation worse, (yes, it is getting worse), is that this is a spin and a blood libel. Political spins are commonplace in politics. It is the act of taking a maneuver made by a political rivel and spinning it to one’s own advantage. It can be done by exposing falsehoods or fallacies that may exist in the rival’s plan or statement. Or it can be done by falsely associating it with negative subjects. Spins are usually considered dirty politics. As the old Jewish saying goes, “It stinks, but it’s kosher.” But when a good did is spun into the opposite; portrayed falsely as something monstrous; that kind of a spin is a blood libel. The fact is that Israel and the IDF are doing the outmost to keep Palestinian civilians alive, WHILE keeping the mission of destroying Hamas ongoing. Navigating between these two conflicting requirements is a nearly impossible task. What can be done, has been done. And it has saved lives. The warnings given to evacuate saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians by simply keeping them away from a lethal war zone. The slowness of the ground campaign, where it took more than 40 days to conquer just half of northern Gaza, was also because of concerns for the civilians that had remained there. Look at the pictures of ruins from Gaza and try to imagine what would have happened if all those 1.5 million residents had remained there. There would have been multiple deadly incidents of civilians caught in the crossfire. Alongside deaths and injuries caused by collateral damage from explosives, misfires, and mistaken identity, from both sides. There is no question that as war refugees they are suffering. But the alternative is far more horrendous. In the context of intense battles fought in densely populated urban areas, Israel’s measures give them the most elementary thing required by international and humanitarian law in times of war and chaos. The ability to stay alive. And that is a good thing. Using their unavoidable suffering to make an accusation of a genocide is a classical spin. A spin based on half-truth. The true part is that they are suffering. The omitted part is that they had avoided countless horrific deaths. Keeping people alive is the opposite of genocide. Calling it a genocide is therefore false. This is also blood libel, since this is a very serious false accusation.

Those that oppose Israel’s evacuation order, (and do so without suggesting their own alternatives, even when pressed to by journalists,) give Israel 2 options. Do nothing and give Hamas a chance to kill more Israeli civilians. Or engage Hamas while it is hiding among 1.5 million Palestinians. As demonstrated earlier this will result in a much greater number of dead and injured Palestinian civilians. The first option is a well-recognized antisemitic fantasy; more dead Jews. The second one asks Israel to cause the very brutalities it accuses Israel of doing. As a false accusation this is also a fantasy. It is a demonic stereotype of a Jew on a killing spree. Those critics condemn Israel for senseless killing but come up with critique that if listen to and acted upon, would produce far more deaths and suffering among the Palestinian civilians. This means that as far as they are concerned, Israel is not living up to that fantasy, of killing more Palestinian civilians. These critics are not stupid. They know Israel won’t act on their advice. This is a desire they are expressing. The desire to see more dead Jews and more dead Palestinians. Their fantasy image of the dead Palestinians is not a product of the realities on the ground. For the bigots this stereotype is a part of their world view. And when reality does not much their convictions, they fall into a cognitive dissonance. When white supremacists find themselves in this situation, by meeting successful black persons, they act according to their standard operating procedure. Violence, and the more the better. For the antisemitically motivated critics of Israel, engaging in violence is not an option. Their standard operating procedure is to argue for their convictions. They use it unethically by using half-truths, misrepresentations of international law, and distorted description of events. And sometimes outright lies. This is also how they try to resolve their cognitive dissonance. Giving a seemingly legitimate critic that if acted upon the results will be far worse than the situation that is been criticized. Seeing this behavior in the current situation. When the death toll among Palestinians is the highest it ever been per conflict, demonstrate how deep that hate goes. No matter how many Palestinians we have killed in-order to defend ourselves, these “critics” need us to kill more. If you don’t believe me, and think that this is a farfetched interpretation, here are 3 more clearer examples of it.

The first one come from UN Special Rapporteur on the Occupied Palestinian territories, Francesca P. Albanese. She was a guest of the National Press Club of Australia on the 14 of November 2023. Her speech and the answers she gave to questions from the host and the audience had plenty of antisemitic components. Top among them were, omitting the facts there were Israeli victims of Palestinian terrorism prior to October the 7th. She did acknowledge the horrors of that day but gave it “context.” The now usual line “history did not start on October 7th”. Which is true, it did not. But it also included a lot of Israeli victims of Palestinian terrorism. A selective memory like this is a known characteristic of racist practices. When the victims are Jews, it is antisemitic.

The other top example came when the host pointed out that the only way to know if Israel committed war crimes is to examine every bombing. As he pointed out, it can only be done after the war is over. She avoided the question by not giving a straight answer. Demonstrating that Israel’s “critics” such as herself don’t need evidence or investigation to find it guilty of the worse crimes possible. There is plenty of that in Jewish history.

Like all of Israel’s critics she opposed Israel’s actions in the Gaza Strip. When asked for alternative, she suggested “using the means of law & order.” She did not specify How. But given the fact that during October the 7th Hamas was able to take over the police station of the city of Sderot, it is amazing she was able to say that with straight face. A police force cannot arrest a fully armed military or paramilitary force. Only a better armed force can do that i.e. an army. She literally demanded the IDF to engage Hamas while it is hiding in the densely populated areas.  And she is not the first to demand the IDF to inflict more harm on Palestinian civilians.

An earlier example is provided by Joe Stork. He is the deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa division in Human Rights Watch. He has a problematic history with Israel, as pointed out by Ben Dror Yemini. He is also one of the people behind HRW report of October 2002, denouncing suicide bombing as a war crime. It is one of 2 reports that came after a long protest over the lack of such reports from the entire human rights community of that era. In this short video he explains why Israel attacking an electric plant that provides electricity for 43% of the population of Gaza is a human rights violation. In the opening he acknowledges that electricity has dual use, military and civilian, and therefore it is a legitimate target. A recognition we won’t find today. So why in this case it is a crime? Simple, according to him Israel had an alternative. Since it provided electricity to the remaining 57% it could just pull down the switch and stop providing that electricity. Somehow denying electricity from 57% of the population is more human than denying it from 43%. It gets worse. He said it could take a year to restore that plant into a working condition, true or false, Israel can shut down the electricity it provided as long as it wanted. He pointed out correctly that because of the attack the 57% had to share the electricity they received from Israel with the 43%, creating a situation where everybody gets electricity for only 8 hours a day. If this was the other way around, it would be 6 hours of electricity each day. And somehow that is the more human option.

Seen this video when it was newer made me realize that something this twisted exist in the culture of Israel’s critics. Since than I have found it mostly on social media, but it is far more commonplace. And a few years ago, it was center stage.

I hope, many still remember the debate in the US congress about funding the replenishing of Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system. This system needed replenishing after it thwarted over 1,000 rockets and missiles aimed at Israeli population centers in May 2021. A faction within the American Democratic Party known as the squad opposed this under the guise of criticizing the Israeli government. This unique air defense system saved the lives of Israelis without killing a single Palestinian. Whatever criticism one may have of an Israeli government and its policies, if the intentions of the critic are sincere, this weapon system should be their lowest priority. If critics think that because of it, Israel allowed itself too much of a free reign over Gaza, a claim I dispute, they should target its air offensive capabilities. Not the air-defense capabilities. Without it, Israel’s air force will have to hasten its response to such missiles’ attacks. This will increase the likelihood of harm to the civilian population in the Gaza Strip. If it wouldn’t, more Israelis will be hurt. As I said before, both possibilities are antisemitic fantasies. And there is something very sadistic in forcing someone to choose between the lives of its civilians, and the lives of enemy civilians.


Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Jews, race, color, and the limits of a justifiable outrage.

 Reflections following the, now forgotten, Briahna Joy Grey’s tweeter storm over the alleged whiteness of Jews.

Briahna Joy Grey, a left-wing activist and a former aide to Bernie Sanders, asked in one of her regular podcasts, if Jews are white. She didn’t just ask it. It was the title of her February 25th podcast “The Debrief.” This may seem a simple matter to a non-Jew, but it is anything but. While Judaism as a way of life and a system of values has no interest in people’s skin color, Jews have complex relationships with the subject. Therefore, there is a lot of genuine discussion to be held here. However, asking if Jews are white is probably the worst way to open any discussion on the matter.

Briahna Joy Grey

When it comes to the physical, physiological, facts on the ground, melanin; Jews are shades. A range of different shades of skin color from black to white, mostly shades of brown. But at the social level things are complicated. Complicated by the different experiences Jews and other minorities, had in Europe and North America. While in both continents there were lengthy periods of intolerance and violence towards many of these minorities; there were still differences. Differences that are known, but not so easily understood.

Jews are one of many marginalized European and Middle Eastern communities that made it in the USA. An America that for the greater part of its existence, being white was one of the highest social statuses. Succeeding in such America was not a given. It was a tough struggle against intrench prejudices. Prejudices that originated in the world they left behind. A world that punished them, violently and brutally, whenever they tried to improv their situation. And even when they didn’t.

The America they came to was doing the same thing. Not to them. To African Americans, and to Native Americans. (As well as visiting this mistreatment on Hispanics and East Asians populations). On one hand the Jewish experience in North America did not include the systematic abuse perpetuated on African Americans and Native Americans. On the other hand, the ideas that justified this mistreatment were similar to those that justified the systematic abuse Jews have suffered from in Europe. And in this new home Jews were viewed in ways that were not far removed from those European perceptions. Those were, and are, the same European misperceptions. These are ideas that got them [us] killed in countless pogroms and persecutions. American Jews never lost sight of the fact that no matter how successful they are, those ideas are alive and well all around them. And occasionally produce murderous violence against them. This is why those differences are insignificant for Jews. Yes, murderous violence is not as recurring as on the “Pale of the Settlements.” At the same time, it is not that far behind.

However, for African Americans those differences are very significant. They saw the Jews take the white only sits on the bus, drink from the white only fountain, and enter the white only stores. And most importantly, Jews could vote, while African Americans were prevented from that. And of course, as mention previously, Jews in the USA did not have to worry from lynch mob as much as African Americans had to. From an African American pov Jews were on the white side of life, enjoying a degree of safety unavailable to most, if not all, African Americans. Europe, a continent on the other side of the ocean, was irrelevant. This does not dispute the fact the Jews were discriminated against in USA. Not to mention the confidence by which antisemite agitators such as Henry Ford, Charles Coughlin, and others, could spread their hatred. The difference is that the oppression of black people and Native Americans was official policy in both state and federal levels. That allowed private initiatives among white Americans to create lynch mobs, and other forms of murderous violence. This also inspired discrimination against Jews. But it was mostly a private initiative. In stores that decided not to allow Jews to enter, private clubs, etc.

These differences are why African Americans experienced Jews as white. The threat to their lives was, and is imminent. Any pause that could be given would be considered luxury. And in many ways, it is. This is why Briahna Joy Grey, found it so amazing that Americans don’t consider Barbara Streisand white. For her it was amazing. But for mainstream America, an openly Jewish person is not white; even without the traditional dress. Knowing that makes her amazement understandable. And to be clear, I don’t think all African Americans see the Jews that way. I’m sure many understand the complexities of the Jewish situation. At the same time, I’m sure Briahna Joy Grey views are not uncommon either. But they all share the same experiences, current and historic. And because of that the outrage, justifiable without a doubt, has to take a step back. And not just because of that.

What both sides need to know, and internalize is that the similarities between the oppression of Jews in Europe and Afro-Americans in the USA, does not always have a mutual healing effect. On the contrary, in many cases it hurts and enrages. And it even frightens. And that is probably the worst thing of all. Briahna Joy Grey’s podcast, and the tweeter storm that followed, is a good example. Because when Jewish identity is discussed by non-Jews troubles begin. And the rise in hate crimes against Jews demonstrates that; as it always did. Challenging the identity of Jews is done in two known ways. The first is challenging their loyalties to the countries they live in. Are they true Russians, Germans, Pols, Egyptians, Iraqis, Iranians, Americans, etc. or something else? With National Socialism challenging their very place in the human race. Each case was a precursor of atrocities. And in many instances, the engine of those atrocities. Asking if jews are white, intentionally, or unintentionally, challenges the current and historic roll Jews have in the cause of civil rights. Intentionally, or unintentionally, it challenges their loyalty to that caus. A cause their lives were and are dependent on. Therefore, the outrage Briahna Joy Grey received wasn’t just unavoidable. It was also an expression of survival instincts kicking in.

And just as the harsh Jewish experience created survival instinct among Jews. So did the African American experience. An outrage like this, justified or not, can kick start their survival instincts just the same. And what good would that do? Creating a shouting match between two communities that have no interest in oppressing each other? Both are deeply wounded. Those wounds need healing. Rage, no matter how justified, does not heal.  

Briahna Joy Grey may not have intended to challenge Jewish identity, but she internalized and used the language and tools of oppression. And we, as Jews, must never rule out the possibility that we have done the same. I’ll be surprised if we hadn’t.

The second constant feature of hatred of Jews was labeling them with whatever is considered the worse possible evil of the period. This is what Batya Ungur-Sargon tried to explain to her in the preceding discussion in her other podcast “Bad-Faith”. In Medieval Europe Jews were falsely accused of being Christ killers that drunk the blood of Christian children for Passover. In Nazi era Germany, we were labeled a sub-human race bent on conquering the world. (Who in their right minds would want the headache of managing the entire world?). In Soviet Russia, Zionists, a euphemism for Jews, were capitalists, the most corrupt element of any society according to Marxist ideology. In the western world, rightwing antisemites see the Jews as Bolsheviks. Today we are considered nonwhites by white supremacists, and whites by far left (supposedly) anti racists that see whiteness as the evilest thing there is. So, when she later asked if Jews are white, people got mad. But we can do the same kind of mistake. And like it or not, we have internalized some of the ideas of white supremacy. As most of the world did.

This is a living historical legacy that does not get its due attention. Today the ideas of white supremacy are recognized as evil, stupid, and oppressive. They were like that all the time. But so much was invested in spreading them, in arguing for them, and in living by them that they were internalized by people world over. It took centuries for the ideas of tolerance and mutual acceptance, to gain the resources needed for spreading all over the world. This made it possible for them to challenge, and expose, the corrupt, immoral and evil nature of white supremacy. There is still a lot of work to be done on this in order to undo that evil. And it cannot be done adequately while ignoring that antisemitism was spread and internalized in the very same manner. And the same goes for the fight against antisemitism. This is why we, as Jews, must cleans ourselves from this poison. We must do so for our own best interest. And not just as a result of a concern for our own image. The two struggles are still connected like conjoined tweens. Just, not identical conjoined tweens. And that is another reason to take a step back. And we have internalized some of those ideas. Just as many African Americans internalized the ideas of Antisemitism and Jew hatred.

Internalizing ideas of white supremacy does not mean that Jews want to be white. This insensitive equation/ slash accusation, is a part of the package of misperceptions when the issue of Jews, race, and color, is raised. Jews don’t want to be persecuted and discriminated against. That means been accepted by the general society. And for many decades this meant, unofficially, be seen as white. Today it means having non-Jews stop defining Jewish identity. But the result of the previous condition was that Jews have internalized, to a degree, ideas and perceptions that came from white supremacy. As did a lot of other societies that lived under the shadow of the globally dominated white Christian European culture. There were other contributing factors. The desire of individuals to imitate elements from any successful culture. And the lack of any counter ideology, active among those ethnicities and religions that could challenge the evil of white supremacy. Such ideologies rose to prominence, only in the last 100 years. Jews in this regard are no different than many others. For non-Jews to focus only Jews, that is not just hypocrisy; it is antisemitism. It creates the false impression that Jews had a more significant contribution for slavery and racism in North America than others. And that is a demonizing blood libel that exonerates the main perpetrators. That said, again, we did internalize the tools of oppression of African Americans, and black people in general. In cleansing ourselves from this evil, we take a major step in defining our identity, our fate. This is another way of keeping non-Jews from defining our Jewish identity. And that is another reason for the rage to take a step back. Jews, like many others, had lived for centuries under the shadow of the white, European Christian culture. A global culture that believed and practiced the ideas of white supremacy and antisemitism. Today that shadow is substantially diminished. It gives us, Jews, the opportunity to let our own true self to shine. In order to that we need to find it. Rage is not exactly useful for that purpose.  

Another reason to take a step back is humbleness and humility. Yes, the question of whether Jews are white shouldn’t have been asked. But it comes from an insensitivity we are equally able to practice. And most likely do. And despite the wounding effects of the differences between the two repressive experiences; the struggle against the ideologies that motivates them is the same struggle, because these are the same ideologies.  We all need to understand that a part of the internalization of tolerance is giving the benefit of doubt to those that outrage us. Unless negative stereotypes were deliberately, and constantly, defended and advocated, the rage had to subside quickly. As I hope it did; though that may never be known, since the events in the Ukraine have taken center stage, and pushed everything else to the sidelines.

We, as Jews, must understand that when it comes to conversations about race, we can make the same misjudgment. Frankly, I’ll be surprised if we don’t. The benefit of doubt gives everybody the room to discuss both racism and antisemitism. And that discussion is necessary, especially if it wounds. As it clearly does.

Finally, any outrage is self-consuming. And when it is justified, we are less aware of it. And even the most justifiable outrage does not justify a shutting off of opportunities for constructive communication. No matter how narrow they are.


As I was writing this piece, this forgotten episode made a comeback. Following the twitter storm, Briahna Joy Grey gave an interview on that experience to Coleman Hughes. I didn’t get to see it, because I was working on this. And because I’m a bit of a technophobe. But the add to that interview includes an incomprehensible quote, probably from her.

Related links:

Bad faithon youtube 

The Debriefpodcast.


Saturday, March 5, 2022

Israel, USA, Russia and the crisis in the Ukraine.

Israel’s position in the crisis Putin had created in the Ukraine maybe complex, but not too complicated to understand. For the democratic countries this conflict has to end with the Ukraine free from Russian occupation, and Putin remaining in power.

Why is it so important to stand for the Ukraine?

Simple, if one democracy falls, sooner or later, all democracies fall. And of course, morally it is the right thing to do.

Why should Putin remain in power?

Simple, nukes.

To come out victorious from this crisis he does not need to conquer all of Ukraine. He wants to. Especially now, because his pride had been injured severely, due to his current setbacks. But in advance he made a contingency; securing the “independence” of the eastern provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk. With these gains he can pretend to have wone. But if his regime is threatened, a likely outcome of the military stalemate and the growing international isolation, then he might take everyone he can with him. Is he that crazy? He is crazy. Crazy enough to bomb thousands of civilians in Chechnya, Syria, and the Ukraine. Crazy enough to kill political opponents. Even when they flee to western countries. This is why the entire world has no desire to find out how much.

And that is precisely why Israel, and the rest of US allies in the Middle East, have to walk on a thin rope. Because if Putin survives, and he has to survive, whether we like it or not. Any country that opposed him, will receive Russia’s wrath. NATO has the ability to deter him. The economic giants of East Asia are not located in strategically vulnerable positions. And are too economically powerful. Russia will need them for the recovery. Israel has Russia and Iran as its northern neighbors. And the first one has on its agenda the elimination of Israel. If Russia aids the Iranian efforts in any way, things could be very bad for Israel, and its civilians.

Ignoring this is hypocritical. The prime responsibility of any Israeli government is the safety and wellbeing of its citizens. And time and time again Israel encounters criticism that forgets that. Some of it comes from surprising corners. Yes, Israel should have done more for the Ukrainian refugees, much more. But that is a separated matter; related, but separated. The point here is that president Biden gave no assurances against Russian aggression. Not to Israel, and not to the other ME allies. This is bad leadership on his part.

This hypocrisy has another level to it. It asks Israel to trust US leadership in the crisis. This is when Israel has enormous difficulties trying to trust the American leadership over the crisis of Iran’s nuclear program. The emerging deal seems worse than the one before, according to the Israeli PM, Naftali Bennet. It is a strange situation, where the stronger party acts as if it is the weaker one in the US Iran relationships. And the US policy in the Ukrainian crisis looks as a continuation of this appeasement. President Biden declared in advance that there won’t be US or NATO troops in the Ukraine, on the ground. To be clear, there are damn good reasons not to actually do that. More than one dynamic can lead to nuclear exchange. But a case can be made in favor of the will to go to the brink, and against giving it all up in advance. The will to go to the brink is why the US came on top from the Berlin crisis of 1949, and the Cuban missiles crisis of 1962. The refusal to even consider it led to the return of tyranny in Syria. A crisis, the US, and the free world lost. Lost to Russia and Iran.

What can Putin do in response to such an American move, if it had taken place?

Very little. He could have sent some of his troops to Cuba and Venezuela. These forces won’t be a match to the US forces in the region. They will put more strain his budget. And won’t be killing Ukrainians.

Biden’s actual policy towards Putin’s aggression, suggests that should a crisis erupts between Israel and Russia over the former’s support for the US and the Ukraine, Israel will be on its own. And that makes the hypocrisy of the critic even worse.

Zelensky has every right to expect support from everyone that believe in life, freedom, and sovereignty. And in everyday that passes Putin gives more and more reasons for decent people to deliver on that. But right now, the Biden policy had literally, shifted the burden of defending the free world, from the USA, to everyday people in the Ukraine. People that now have to choose between life and liberty. And that is already a defeat for liberty. Putin’s war may turn out to be the worse pyrrhic victory in history, but the free world has already lost. In Syria that policy brought ISIS to center stage. In the vast expanses of Russia and the Ukraine, Islamists of various kinds, ultra-nationalists, neo-Nazis, and neo-Bolsheviks, can find safe heavens. A multiple of Afghanistans. Shifting the blame for this from president Biden will require greater acrobatics of hypocrisy. One that won’t necessarily blame Israel. But by then it wouldn’t matter. Israel is one iota in the big mess Biden allowed Putin to create.      

Thursday, September 16, 2021

My list of the top 11 obstacles for peace in the Middle East.

 From top to bottom, in descending order of severity.

1)     Different narratives that are sometimes conflicting.

2)     Lack of hope among the general public on both sides.

3)     Lack of trust on both sides.

4)     Continued Palestinian rejectionism of the negotiation process.

5)     An international, (and Israeli) peace movement that is more of a cult of Israel bashing, rather than any actual peace advocacy, or peace making.

6)     An array of “neutral” ngo’s that are in-fact an extreme expression of the former.

7)     Anti-Israel biases within the global media that makes it clear to everyday Israelis why peace should not be trusted. Also, an expression of 5.

8)     The UN.

9)     A hopelessly divided Palestinian leadership.

10)  Chronically unstable Israeli governments. This is due to Israel’s current system of government.

11)  The settlements.


What defines severity here is the ability to change/remove these obstacles.

Settlements had been removed before; and therefore, can be removed again. The question is what Israel gets in return.

Israel’s political system can change. It requires public support. The need to change it, is mainly due to internal reasons; unstable coalitions, and extortion power to smaller political parties. Changing it requires public support. When it comes to the peace process these weaknesses can be bypassed. But not always successfully.  

The Palestinian leadership can unite. If the leadership will it. Since their motivation for maintaining the division is that of personal gains that is less likely. And if they do unite, will that be behind an extremist message, a practical one, or a moderate one?

The UN will change if global politics change. Right now, it is another battlefield.

I don’t know what can change 5,6, and 7. But if they can, they can help alleviate, 3, 2, and 1. In that order. They will help the process; the process will do most of the work. The process will create trust in the process itself. This will serve at first as substitute to the lack of mutual trust. As the trust in the process increases, it will lead to some degree of mutual trust. As this is increased, hope will be rekindled. As hope, and trust increases, they will energize the dialogue. Opening the way for a dialogue of narratives, the hardest part of the process. Where it can all fall apart again.

For the process to restart, the Palestinian leadership must attend the process, change 4. The longer they procrastinating the less we have a motive to resume it from our side.

Monday, May 17, 2021

An honest conversation about dishonesty.

 So, Trevor Noah asks an honest question about the Israeli Palestinian conflict. Good for him. Honesty cannot ever be overrated. Now it’s time to have an honest conversation about his honest question. A question that wasn’t honest, and wasn’t a question.

His visual essay was not meant for me, Obviously. My allegiances are with Israel. It was meant for the general neutral public. Those of them that stand on the sideline. Wanting to help; but are unable to do so because it looks so protracted and too complex to resolve. He pointed out just how pointless it is, because we can indeed choose every point in time we like, and each time a different side will look guilty. Every standing on the sidelines neutral will a have lot of empathy for him over that. A “he is exactly where I am” kind of feeling; a strong one. But if this is how he sees it, then why did he choose a date for the beginning of the conflict in the first place? 73 years, he says. That is the how long Israel exists as a state. For those that do not know.

It is a strange pick. First, because he later spoke emphatically against doing that very thing, picking dates. Second, because most people place the beginning of the conflict at the end of WW1. It could be a case of ignorance on his part. After all, one of his technique to generate empathy was to state at the very beginning that he will probably miss a few important details. But he also adds another, supposedly, historic fact. “The British took the land from the Palestinians,” he says. So, he does know it begun in WW1. So why choose a later date, when you know it’s the wrong one? And why phrase it the same way the Palestinian narrative describes the Balfour declaration? 

Avoiding mentioning specific dates that are also controversial, helps focus on the main point someone wants to deliver. And Trevor’s main point? “Let’s look at who is dead and who is alive.” Alright. Let’s look at who is dead, and how they died. At the time of his piece, around 28 Palestinians were killed. Among them, 10 children. And around 150 wounded. With 2 deaths on the Israeli side. His numbers. Horrifying and sad, all the more a reason to look into that. So, let’s go back to these early Palestinian deaths. Were they all killed by Israeli fire? Or was it, in some cases, by Hamas’ missiles that fall short, and into Palestinian civilian areas? And those that were killed by Israeli fire. Were they human shields for Hamas’ weaponry and missiles? Were they warned by Israel to clear away before the attack? Were they all killed or hurt by Israeli fire? Or was it secondary explosions, or simple traffic accidents as many people fled? And what about accessible shelters to the general population? where there any nearby?

Like it or not, that is what looking at who is dead and who is alive means. It may not necessarily remove the main blame from Israel. But without mentioning it Hamas becomes blameless for those. Ignoring that possibility isn’t an accidental omission. It is an obvious expression of one sidedness. But Trevor is indeed not looking at that. He is looking away from that. And into technology. “Set aside motives and intentions and look at technology alone,” he says. He actually said that, set aside motives and intentions. How are people supposed to resolve a conflict if they don’t understand it? And how are they supposed to understand it if they are not looking at motives and intentions? If Trevor does not want to resolve the conflict, why bring it into focus in the first place?

Instead of motives and intentions he focuses on technology and the general strength of Hamas vs the bigger general strength of Israel. It’s the bigger picture, where individual suffering does not exist. To be clear it is an important subject that should be discussed. It is related to the other issues. But, like all of them, it is also separated. So, let’s go alone with it anyways. Trevor’s argument, Israel is so strong it doesn’t need to response. Iron Dom is so perfect it can take down anything in the sky. 2 people were already dead, more will die on the Israeli side later; so, it obviously has limits. And no that isn’t a surprise. Everybody knows that. This is why Hamas and Hizbullah have been stockpiling missiles. So, they can overwhelm this defense system. President Obama pointed to that fact in his Jerusalem speech. You do know who that is Trevor? You did interview him once, didn’t you?

He explains his argument with analogs. First, as a conflict among siblings. Him as Israel, his little brothers as Hamas.  Really? Sibling rivalry has its nastiness. However, when one of them is hurt, let’s say with a sickness, the other will feel the same fear and anxiety as the rest of the family. No matter how hard he/she will try to conceal it. Nasty sibling rivalry among states is a hockey match between Canada and the USA. And Trevor, has any of your siblings ever came at you with a knife? If that happened, and I hope it didn’t, I’m sure your mother would have reacted very differently.

He is defensive about this analog; fully aware it could be interpreted as infantilizing the Palestinians. But that does not infantilize them. It’s just a bad analog. Denying them any agency does that. He moves to another analog; police disarming a man with a knife. And I am so glad he did that because that is not an analog. The situation between Israel and Gaza is an extreme version of this supposed analog. With one major difference. It is not a cop vs a man with a knife walking in the street. It’s a cop vs a man with a knife that is right now stabbing someone else. So, what should the policeman do, Trevor? Go and grab him, risking injury that would prevent the officer from helping? Grab his own knife, and repeat the same risks? Use his gun but only shoot at the assailer’s leg? It would keep him safe but won’t necessarily stop the stabbing. Or shoot to kill? And to be frank, that bullet could also hurt the person he is trying to save. Complicated, isn’t it? A gun though, has one advantage. It is fast. While we are contemplating all these alternatives, the victim is been stabbed over and over again. He/she is bleeding more and more, accumulating injuries that are more difficult to fix. Assuming we can get him/her to a hospital on time. And this is the hypocrisy of Trevor’s fair fight argument. This argument, typical to the anti-Israel narrative, not only wants us to choose between fairness and the safety of our civilian population. It demands us to choose this fairness over the safety of our civilians. How fair is that to them?

But of course, he is not demanding anything. He is just asking an honest question. An extremely bent honest question. But let’s go alone with it anyways. His last question, what is the responsibility of the strongest party? Great question. Let’s explore that. What is that responsibility according to international law? What are the operational-challenges Israel faces in order to fulfill those requirements? How do the actions of the IDF meet or fail to meet those requirements; while taking into account the military situation on the battlefield? Like it or not that is what you analyze when you examine responsibility.

Complicated, isn’t it? But we cannot answer that question. It’s the end of the segment. The thing is, we don’t have to answer that question. Trevor had already suggested the answer to us by emphasizing every negative thing about Israel. It’s not a fair fight, Israel is the stronger party, force isn’t necessary because of Iron Dome is perfect. More casualties on the Palestinian side. Showing Israeli police storming the al Aqsa mosque, but not the violence they were responding to, a dramatic news bulletin that begins with Israel’s reaction. Whatever makes Israel look bad, correctly or incorrectly is front and center. Whatever makes the Palestinian side looks bad is largely dismissed or ignored.

In Trevor Noa’s 8.53 minutes piece about honesty in discussing the Israeli Palestinian conflict, dishonesty is the dominating subtext. He delivers an amazing performance convincing he is one of the anguishing neutrals. But everything in it is in support of one side, the Palestinian side. He slides inside the Palestinian narrative about the Belfour declaration, in a way only someone familiar with it can. He emphasizes only things that make Israel look bad; be it actual matters, or angles on complex situations. The entire direction of his video is against Israel. It is not the conclusion of it, because nothing has been analyzed, so no conclusion can be made. And it does end with an open question.

To be clear, he has every right to be on the Palestinian side. To support it, to believe in its narrative, and to publicize it. But to pretend to be neutral while doing so?

And it doesn’t end there. He argues against looking into past, (while inserting his view of the past), because it is too complex. As if the other aspects of the conflict are not complex. however, every direction he takes has its complexities. Looking at who is dead, fairness, the responsibility of the stronger party, land, economy, religion, governments, etc. All have their own complexities. Discussing anyone of them isn’t much different than discussing the past. And any person that can understand them can understand the past. But Trevor isn’t discussing any of them. He is moving from one theme to the next as if they are one and the same. And using them to paint Israel in a darker light.

One of the complexities of the conflict is that they are all connected. Including the past. The past is one of the main reasons why it is ongoing. The past is where we can find what the Palestinian side did when it was the stronger party. It started with classical pogroms, and moved to armed death squads, targeting and massacring civilian populations. And kept on doing it until these very days. Only this time relaying more on artillery.  And yes, I know, I just put forward a key part of the Israeli narrative. It is a war of narratives. That is what every decent person that did try to go beyond the complexities will tell you.

Trevor’s questions were nothing but a literary tool. Which he used brilliantly. It is too bad they were waisted on this unequivocal dishonesty.