At a rally in Ottawa, everyone believed Israel had to be wiped off the map. They were unclear about what should happen to the Jews living there.
I am not a Jew. I have never been to Israel. I have no religious convictions of any kind. I’m an American of mixed European descent from a family that’s lived in New England since it was a British colony. Technically I have no dog in this fight. Why, then, am I having such a visceral reaction of anger and disappointment to the anti-Israel rallies being held outside my door and in cities and college campuses across the country? A better question is: why isn’t everyone?
The people attending these rallies will tell you that they are not pro-Hamas, merely anti-Israel. Their timing and their rhetoric say otherwise. What I witnessed, what the world witnessed, were crowds of people gleefully celebrating the slaughter of 1,400 Jews before their families could even recover their bodies. They did this carrying signs that read “from the river to the sea” and “by any means necessary” and, in some cases, openly chanting “gas the jews”. Surely any reasonable, empathetic person would be appalled at this display. Apparently not. Surely those in the media who are quick to condemn celebrities who misuse pronouns will also condemn those who celebrate terrorism. Apparently not. Surely those college administrators who routinely censure professors for failing to tread ever-so-lightly on the ever-more-fragile sensibilities of their students will not allow an unambiguously racist rally on their campus to go without comment. Apparently not.
Most of the people attending these rallies make some effort to obscure their identity with scarves, hats, sunglasses and surgical masks. They will tell you this is to protect themselves from the retribution of the authorities. That’s what klansmen say about their hoods. If you are lucky enough to live in a society where freedom of speech is a constitutional right you should have the courage of your conviction and make your case openly, even if you are arguing on behalf of those who would deny that freedom to others.
My father, who was a homicide detective for thirty years, once told me that the reason there are two sides to every story is usually because one side is lying. Those who would argue that it is the Israelis who are actually to blame for the recent attacks are either deceived or dissembling. Israel has repeatedly, for nearly eighty years, offered the Palestinians nearly everything they’ve asked in exchange for peace and been repeatedly rebuffed. Hamas does not want peace, they want genocide. They are not obfuscating about this, they proclaim it openly, repeatedly, and in writing. We should believe them. They’ve been offered peace, they’ve been offered independence and self governance, they’ve received billions in international aid and their position remains the same: they will not be appeased by anything short of the annihilation of the Jewish people. You can not negotiate with someone whose only demand is that you not exist.
Israel is, of course, like any nation, not without fault, but the overwhelming share of blame for the suffering of the people of Gaza falls on Hamas. If you attack your neighbors while hiding behind innocent women and children, you are responsible when those women and children are harmed, not the people you attacked. The people of Gaza continue to suffer because Hamas benefits from their suffering. The elected leadership of Gaza has, for years, deflected resources away from infrastructure, education, healthcare and basic human services and into weapons, missiles and tunnels. This is a win-win strategy for Hamas, they get the arsenal needed for their holy war and they get to blame the resulting suffering on Israel. It is barbaric, cynical and, thanks to the collusion of useful idiots in mass-media and academia, a very effective strategy.
In a way the anti-Israel rallies on college campuses should surprise no one. American academia has, in recent years, become a bastion of illiberal rhetoric. Its proponents have wormed their way in through the great loophole of liberal ideology which goes something like this: In order to be a good liberal one must be tolerant of the beliefs and practices of other people - even when those beliefs and practices are violently intolerant. This, in turn, has led to systemic rot in our academic discourse, a kind of moral cowardice which insists that there is no objective right and wrong and all sides of any argument must be equally legitimate by virtue of existing. The reality is that Israel, with all its many flaws, remains a democratic state in which personal and religious freedom are guaranteed by law regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation whereas a state governed by Hamas would resemble what the Taliban has created in Afghanistan. Why must we insist on pretending this doesn’t matter?
The people attending these rallies will tell you that the real issue is the disproportionate use of force by Israel. What would an appropriate Israeli response to what happened on October 7th look like? What does ‘appropriate’ even mean in the face of such unimaginable brutality? The unfortunate reality is that any response which leaves Hamas in control of any part of Gaza will guarantee future terrorist atrocities. A so-called ‘proportional response’ from Israel will only assure they will be attacked again. A proportional response to the confederate attack on Fort Sumter in 1861 would have left nearly four million people to languish in slavery. A proportional response to the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor would have done nothing to stem the tide of aggression from the Japanese and their German allies. Why is Israel, and only Israel, held to a different standard of self defense than every other nation on earth and in history? How can Americans tell the free citizens of a democratic nation that they have no right to defend themselves when threatened by fascists with extermination?
Attempts to apportion blame in this conflict become moot at some point and here’s why: The moment you embrace kidnapping, torture, rape and the murder of civilians, infants, the elderly, women and children as a valid means of expressing your grievance or achieving your goals, you have foregone the right to ask sympathy or support from any civilized person or state.
Fifty years ago Golda Meir famously said “If the Arabs put down their weapons today, there would be no more violence, if the Jews put down their weapons today, there would be no more Israel.” It was true then and it remains true. It’s a statement that no honest person can dispute. And yes, it matters.
I find debate over what ethnic or religious group of people have the original claim to a piece of land as impossible as it is dangerous—the truth is that every inch of this planet has been fought over since the first caveman realized that the grass was greener over the next hill, so determining who bares the original sin is impossible. What matters most now is that the Jews are there, have been for half a century, and they are a beacon of liberal democracy and human rights in a region of the world that almost totally lacks both. The slippery slop of this "my people used to own this, so I have a right to take it back" way of thinking is dangerous—it could just as easily be used to justify horrible atrocities here in the US, or anywhere else for that matter. It must be stopped.
Thank you, Rupa, for simply relaying unvarnished statements from those you interviewed. (That that is somehow unusual in today’s press is itself a sad commentary.) I also appreciated how you leavened their comments with historical fact and context. The entire piece was a refreshing point-counterpoint and this is why I subscribe to the free press.
“Everyone I spoke with said the political entity of Israel had to be wiped off the map, but they were unclear about what should happen to the Jews living there. When I asked Abdullah and his friends, including a woman who only agreed to speak with me off-camera, where the Jews should immigrate to, they were vague.”
“They should go back to their country.”
I can’t even begin to wrap my head around a statement like this. Mind boggling.
A major problem I see emerging on the left is that words are losing their sense of meaning with disturbing rapidity. Words that used to have meaning like "violence" or "phobia", or in this article "genocide" and "ethnic cleansing". Extreme language, and its misuse, is becoming the status quo on the left. What is surprising is that one needs only be the most naive observer to know that Israel is not in the midst of a genocide against Arabs, American police are not in the midst of a genocide against black Americans, or that "the patriarchy" isn't working so well with women graduating from college at twice the rate of men, etc. Even stranger, often the people leveling these accusations are either (a) engaging in precisely the behavior they claim to be denouncing (all the cancellation/bullying from the micro-aggression obsessed left) and/or (b) being leveled at the people that are actually the victims of the charge, not the perpetrators (as far as I can tell, Jews have fended off more real genocides than any other group... so, now they're genocidal I guess?..)
The level of miseducation of these people has, alas, no cure. They deny such basic facts (like the historical and archeology presence of Jews in Judea and Samaria for thousands of years) that there is no set of common principles to build a debate with them upon.
Thus group of protesters are very young and very ignorant. If they have such contempt for the Jewish state then pick up a weapon and go to Gaza. No, they march the streets of free countries with bullhorns claiming they know the truth. They want others to listen to them when they don’t listen at all.
The only source of news that I've found where you actually get educated reading the comments!
“The marchers tended to romanticize the land of Palestine before the arrival of the Zionists in the late 1800s, portraying it as a harmonious blend of Muslims, Christians, and Jews. Zionism, they insisted, was little more than “white supremacy.””
Perhaps this is confusion about Ashkenazi from Eastern Europe coming home after 1900 years in exile. They are light skinned and do pass as white.
How sadly uninformed is this generation.
People need to go back in history and understand that Jewish people lived in the levant before prophet Mohammed was born. The area was ruled by different entities over the years. It was a part of the Ottoman empire until the WW1, then under a British mandate. The myth created and not questioned that Jewish people came from somewhere else and pushed out Palestinians is not accurate.
These worshippers of terrorists seem all to share the common traits of stupidity, gullibility and ugliness. Canada has made a huge error in admitting them. Why do we?
“But then, in 1967, during the Six-Day War, Israel captured Gaza from Egypt in a stunning military victory.”
I don’t know the exact history, but it would appear to me that when Israel returned the Sinai Desert to Egypt, Gaza should have been part of the deal. Perhaps Egypt didn’t want it.
Holy cow! Every word is true. All my thought exposed to the world! Everyday I wonder why all these protester are here? How the leftist lie at every stage and at every universities! Even the leftist has infected the Democratic Party and all branches of government. Let’s not leave out the MSM and social media. I wonder everyday, “has the world gone mad?” How can sane people tolerate this garbage? How could these lies be perpetrated? Maybe because l’m old that I question everything.
Finally someone who tells the truth. Excellent response. Thank you!
I cannot speak to the character of all people at the rally, nor does this presentation. However, WOW the folks that are being represented here are simply ignorant and from what I can see doing nothing but virtue signaling. None of these folks is even speaking with any real conviction. I'd be surprised if these same people, when planning their weekend, don't simply look around for any progressive agenda event and that's where they go. They probably have thin understandings of the history, the nuance, and the context anything. It's not about the particular event, it's just a signal to them.
Thank you for documenting these people and what they say, Rupa. What a dirty job but a necessary job to do.
I can not even imagine what an Israeli or a Jew feels seeing these arguments coming from real people these days… but boy, these voices and these faces will be a lesson
for a lot of people one day. Hopefully.
I strongly support Israel in this conflict, but if you think that Muslims and Christians have equal economic opportunity in modern Israel, then you are utterly delusional. I think that Muslims and Christians exaggerate freely and willingly the impositions of the Israeli state, but they aren't lying about the fact that they have de fact exclusion from the economic prosperity enjoyed in Italy. Much of this is because many of them live behind the wall... which Israel had to put up because they kept getting bombed. Love all the peoples in this land, wishing for peace.