OpinionIsrael at War

An open letter to Jonathan Glazer

Your Oscar speech about the Israel-Hamas war was not just simplistic and historically illiterate; it helps Hamas.

From left: James Wilson, Leonard Blavatnik and Jonathan Glazer accept the Oscar for Best International Feature Film “The Zone of Interest” during the live “ABC” telecast of the 96th Oscars at the Dolby Theatre at Ovation Hollywood on March 10, 2024. Credit: Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.
From left: James Wilson, Leonard Blavatnik and Jonathan Glazer accept the Oscar for Best International Feature Film “The Zone of Interest” during the live “ABC” telecast of the 96th Oscars at the Dolby Theatre at Ovation Hollywood on March 10, 2024. Credit: Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.
James Inverne
James Inverne is a cultural commentator and playwright who has written for many leading newspapers and magazines, including TIME, The Wall Street Journal and the Sunday Telegraph.

Dear Jonathan,

It’s fine for people to disagree. It’s fine for British Jews to have different opinions. Even if we differ, I can and do respect that your intentions are good. What is happening in Israel and Gaza is certainly not fine. But it is also not fine for you to have used your Oscar acceptance speech to make statements that betray a profound lack of knowledge or understanding of the situation in Israel and Gaza today, and of the wider Israeli-Arab conflict. What you said turned you, I’m afraid, into one of Hamas’s “useful idiots.”

You came very close to equating the Holocaust with Israeli control of the disputed territories. You railed against “misappropriation of the Holocaust” and then did exactly that yourself.

First, there was no Israeli “occupation” of Gaza on Oct. 7. Not a single Israeli or Jew was present on that territory, which was entirely run by Hamas. Yes, Israel and Egypt search everything that goes in and out, with good reason: Hamas smuggles in weapons and uses them to launch wave after wave of bloody attacks on Israel and Israeli civilians.

Before Israel pulled out of Gaza (nearly 20 years ago, by the way—keep up) both Gaza and the West Bank were captured in defensive wars. Prior to those wars, the Arab states and the Palestinians rejected various two-state solutions or indeed any peace agreement whatsoever. Jordan, which had annexed the West Bank, eventually decided that it didn’t want the territory back.

At Camp David in 2000, then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat almost everything Arafat said he wanted in exchange for peace. Arafat refused and ambled home to light the touchpaper that became the Second Intifada, which included the bombing of countless buses and the killing of over a thousand Israeli civilians.

Nevertheless, Israel pulled out of Gaza—and four settlements in Samaria as well—as a statement of peaceful intent. Israel gave all of that to the Palestinians, gave them an airport and a seaport, and got suicide bombs and rockets and kidnappings and missiles.

Because you know what, Jonathan? There is one case in which a comparison to the Holocaust is indeed appropriate: Hamas. Have you actually read their founding charter? Have you read the multiple statements that call for the killing of Jews? Not just Israelis, by the way, but Jews?

There were those who said, no, treat Hamas like a “normal” government and it will normalize. That’s exactly what Israel’s government—and I am certainly no fan of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—was doing on Oct. 6. For months and years, billions of dollars were transferred each month from Qatar through Israel to Hamas. Thousands of Gaza workers were allowed into Israel each day.

But Hamas did not normalize because a Nazi is a Nazi. Many of those Gaza workers who worked in and knew the residents of the nearby kibbutzim—many of those residents being peace activists—went back home and gave detailed maps and intelligence to their Hamas leaders. Because a collaborator is a collaborator.

Then Hamas did what they always said they would do if given the chance. They unleashed hell itself on the Jews they found and on Israeli Arabs too. It was a little taste of the Holocaust for today’s Israelis (and I do not say that lightly). They chopped body parts off children in front of their parents and vice versa. They drew out the deaths of their victims for as long as possible—stabbing, then shooting, then burning them alive—to be as sadistic as possible (the Nazis also experimented with the limits of sadism). They gang-raped and often mutilated victims as they raped them. They abducted over 200 people.

Jonathan—Hamas and their allies in Iran, Lebanon, Yemen and Syria have not stopped attacking Israel almost every day since Oct. 7. There have also been plenty of attacks in the West Bank, where Iran has been building up deadly militias. Hamas has said it will seek to carry out another Oct. 7 again and again and again. I believe them. So should you.

So this is not, as you called it, “an attack on Gaza.” It is a defensive war against an ongoing threat. And what have our troops found? A cruise missile factory in the middle of Gaza. Hamas gets ever stronger when allowed to survive.

So now what, Jonathan? So now Israelis should remove all safeguards and trust that Gaza will play nice? On what basis?

No, Jonathan, just like we Jews should have believed Hitler when he outlined his murderous vision for the Jews in Mein Kampf, we must believe Hamas’s charter. They have shown us exactly, horrifically, what that charter means. And they will not stop unless they are destroyed.

We must also face the truth: Hamas is not alone. Hezbollah, the Iranian proxy army in Lebanon, is 20 times more powerful than Hamas. It has the same goals and the same plans. In fact, Oct. 7 was originally a Hezbollah plan.

Then there is Iran itself and its other allies because the Palestinians have always been used by larger powers to violently attack Israel. Saddam Hussein, you will remember, used to lavishly bribe Palestinian families to carry out suicide bombings on Israelis. Iran is four times the size of Germany. Israel is the size of New Jersey.

None of this is simple, none of it is easy, none of it is fine. But your simplistic and historically illiterate comparison of “the occupation” to the Holocaust is not only victim-blaming. It helps Hamas—today’s Nazis.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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