Don't Let Them Get Away With It.
The 'Pro-Palestine' movement is nothing of the kind. How to deal with it: Expose, condemn, quarantine, purge.
I was recoiling in despair from the unfathomable agonies of the Palestinians of Gaza when I filed my column to the National Post and the Ottawa Citizen early Wednesday morning: A dim hope amid the unfathomable horror of the Israel-Hamas war.
No credible observer in the humanitarian agencies, the news media or the Israeli Defence Forces was disputing the enormity of the bloodshed. Even though it’s controlled by the terrorist Hamas organization, the Gaza Health Ministry was probably not far off the mark in its tally by the time I filed: 8,796 dead people, with 3,648 children among them.
All this, despite the genuine efforts the IDF to avoid civilian casualties as it brings down a long overdue doomsday on Hamas with the objective of reducing its vast terrorist infrastructure in Gaza to cinder and ash.
I express an opinion in that column. It was an angry opinion, which I’ll come to and justify below. But that’s not what this newsletter is for.
I’ve been using this newsletter as a kind of archive of resources to help subscribers get their heads around what’s really happening out there in the “beat” that I cover, as I set out in the Real Story’s mission statement. And rather than just “opinion” I generally prefer my work for the Post and the Citizen to consist of analyses and background explainers and so on. I happen to be deep into a special assignment of that sort for the Post just now.
One thing I don’t do in covering the current catastrophe is what too many opinion-makers around the Anglosphere are doing: advising and instructing Israelis and the IDF in matters of military strategy and proper geopolitical triangulation. I will go only this far.
My great hope has always been that Israelis would not become inured to Palestinian suffering, that Israelis would not become brutalized by the savagery of their enemies, that the goodness and mercy of Psalm 23:6 would persist as Israel’s light unto the nations.
I’ll leave all that to the novelist and essayist Michael Oren, Israel’s former ambassador to the United States and a former deputy minister and MK from the centrist Kulanu Party:
Despite the candy and the fireworks, despite the body cams, we will act as though Hamas and the Palestinian public are not one in the same. We will do this out of respect for the United States and our other allies. We will do this to honor the many Muslims, among them our fellow Israelis, who condemned the slaughter of October 7 and stood up to Hamas. We will do this to recall the Palestinian woman who, in the courageous Whispered in Gaza series, said, “If I saw a hostage or knew where they were…I’d take them and hide them. I’d bring them back home.” But most of all, we will do this not because of what Hamas does but because of who we are. We are the citizens and soldiers of the Jewish and democratic State of Israel.
Oren’s essay is here.
As for myself, I’m not in an especially forgiving mood
I don’t counsel that those of us not under constant bombardment in either Israel or Gaza should be meek and gentle in the face of the unpardonable vulgarities we have witnessed from Vancouver to Istanbul since the Simchat Torah pogrom.
I make plain in my column this week that we have, how to put it, a problem. The most successful mobilizations in the Western world since October 7 have been grotesque celebrations of the massacres.
The lumpen sloganeering at pro-Hamas rallies, the hounding of Jews in the streets and on campus, the ubiquitous high-society pretexts of “decolonialism” by any barbarism necessary — none of this has anything to do with the security and well-being of the Palestinian people. But that’s the “pro-Palestinian” movement for you. There’s nothing pro-Palestinian about it.
That’s the point people need to get into their heads. There’s nothing “pro-Palestine” about any of this, despite the woefully unhelpful headline accounts of these rallies and protests. There’s nothing “pro-Palestine” about ripping from lampposts those posters of the hostages Hamas has kidnapped. There’s nothing “pro-Palestine” about painting ‘Jews Die’ on the side of Ryan Merovitz’s family home in Orillia, Ontario.
There’s nothing “pro-Palestine” about painting dozens of mice in the colours of the Palestinian flag and then dumping the rodents from buckets at three McDonald’s restaurants, muttering “Free Palestine” and “Fuck Israel, boycott Israel” as you scurry away. And it is not, as it was reported by Politico, a funny story about a “prank.”
All this so-called activism, this shoddy journalism, this relentless enforcement of a fanatical “narrative” that casts Israel (and Canada, for that matter) as an illegitimate, racist, colonialist, apartheid settler state, has been allowed to establish itself as a cover story for unspeakable cruelty, grotesque historical revisionism, obscenity, conspiracy theory and a raw, stinking antisemitism.
For years, the “anti-Zionism” of such broad popular appeal has been allowed to suck all the oxygen out of every room where a genuinely pro-Palestine and pro-peace movement could have flourished in the Nato countries. It foreclosed any possibility of effective and useful Euro-American solidarity with the brave young revolutionaries of the Arab Spring. It crippled efforts to build a NATO intervention to prevent the genocide in Darfur. And that’s just for starters.
By the time of the Simchat Torah pogrom, it had long embedded itself as a necessary marker of “progressive” status in all the comfortable districts of liberal-democratic world. It is not just a hideous disfigurement of the “Left.” It’s not just an antifa-blackshirt recreational activity for stupid rich white kids to enliven their stupid, meaningless lives. It is a prerequisite for comfort and advancement in innumerable public institutions, non-profit organizations, university faculties and labour unions.
That reality is being widely noticed now, which is the one glimmer of hope that might emerge from the catastrophe enveloping Gaza at the moment, apart from the prospect of Hamas being smashed and irreparably ruined.
It’s a very faint hope, I confess.
The nihilism and the damage done
It takes an enormous amount of courage for anyone of a left-wing disposition to stand out from the crowd and just say ‘no.’ It takes a painful degree of cognitive dissonance to struggle with the shock of it, the realization that, my God, we have been wrong, all this time.
For a great many people that penny simply will not drop. They dig in, as psychologists have observed among cultists confronted with evidence that their sasquatches or witches or pedophile rings are not real, and as my pal Tristin Hopper illustrates so usefully here: Canadian academia doubles down on pro-terror sentiments.
I can appreciate that a lot of decent people who don’t pay much attention to these tectonic global convulsions will react positively to the calls for a ceasefire. But the entire “anti-Zionist” constituency does pay attention, or claims to, and they know what a ceasefire means. There’s no gee-whiz alibi available, either, to the 33 ceasefire-demanding MPs, including 23 Trudeau Liberals, among them the dodgy former cabinet minister Omar Alghabra and six parliamentary secretaries.
Sorry, no. Either they can’t see what’s staring them in the face, or they choose not to, maybe because when they look in the mirror they see a macabre rictus grinning back at them.
Hamas never honours ceasefires. If they go quiet it’s only because they’re armouring themselves, preparing for the next atrocity. Here’s Hamas political bureau member Ghazi Hamad: “We will repeat the October 7 massacre time and again, a million times if we need to, until we end the occupation.” The journalist asks: The occupation of Gaza? Hamad responds: “No, all of Israel. . . Everything we do is justified."
So the trick is to close your eyes and cup your ears, because there comes a point when manic devotion to “narrative” becomes so unhinged from reality, so impervious to the evidence of the real world, that it mutates into a fanaticism that can quickly degenerate into something more closely resembling a dangerous mental illness.
But do not abandon hope, all ye who enter past this paywall. . .
Since October 7 The Real Story’s contents have been almost entirely free, but my paying subscribers deserve their money’s worth, so. . .