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OpinionIsrael at War

Lessons of the Oct. 7 massacre

In much of the world, antisemitism trumps everything else.

Israeli forces conducting ground operations in the Gaza Strip, Nov. 7, 2023. Credit: IDF.
Israeli forces conducting ground operations in the Gaza Strip, Nov. 7, 2023. Credit: IDF.
Mark Gold

Hamas’s savage Oct. 7 massacre taught us some important lessons.

Lesson one: In much of the world, antisemitism trumps everything else. Hatred of Jews is much stronger than most people have been willing to admit. However, it has now become apparent to many more people than before that anti-Zionism is antisemitism and that it is vastly more threatening, prevalent and powerful on the left and among Democrats.

As far back as 2004, Daniel Pipes foresaw the end of “American Jewry’s Golden Era.” At the time, I saw the level of hate as similar to that which preceded World War II. When I explained this to my rabbi, all he could say was that he “didn’t see it.”

Antisemitism is worst by far where the left is predominant, such as in academia, the media and entertainment.

There is good news and bad news regarding the problem in academia: The good news is that universities are very unlike America in general. For example, while the United States is roughly 60% white, university student populations are 15-20% white. Much of the remaining 80-85% is comprised of groups hostile to Jews. The majority of Americans, in other words, hold very different beliefs and values than the university elite.

The bad news is that antisemitic students are often given preference. In particular, thanks to the 1965 Immigration Act spearheaded by then-Sen. Ted Kennedy, large numbers of immigrants hostile to America and Jews have been allowed to enter the U.S.

The appropriate action is clear: Except in exceptional circumstances in which it is clear that the university in question is not hostile to Jews and Israel, don’t contribute to any universities. Defund them.

It is also important to remember that “phobia” is fear, which cannot be illegal or legislated away. In fact, fear can be very prudential. Given the rampant antisemitism among many Muslims, “Islamophobia” is a case in point.

Lesson two: Believe the threats of bad actors. This advice has never been widely accepted. People have preferred to placate or appease the bad actors, which has resulted in repeated atrocities by Hamas over the years. Clearly, “kicking the can down the road” is short-term thinking and fatally counterproductive.

Of course, the genocidal goals and objectives of the Palestinian Authority are no different from those of Hamas, although its tactics have differed somewhat. Neither has any interest in a “two-state solution” or any sort of peace short of killing all Jews. Iran is exactly the same.

For many Middle Easterners, moreover, economic prosperity has no appeal in comparison to killing Jews. In fact, Arab terrorism against Jews has historically increased in tandem with Arab prosperity. This also means that the claim that “settlements” are an “obstacle to peace” is a complete lie.

Moreover, we should also believe the hostile statements of purported “friends,” whether they be Arabs, Europeans or others. These countries are happy to suck in technology and tourism from Israel, but when the chips are down, they show their true colors, whether by their statements, actions or U.N. votes. For example, don’t be taken in again by pleas for “normalization” from Islamist Turkey.

Lesson three: Prisoner exchanges by a society that generally does not use capital punishment are a fatal mistake—for the innocent rather than the guilty. Per the Jewish proverb, if you are kind to the cruel, you will be cruel to the kind.

Lesson four: For the most part, Gaza equals Hamas. Too many misinformed or malevolent people falsely claim that there is a strong distinction between Hamas and the general population of Gaza. This has been conclusively disproven.

For example, Israel allowed tens of thousands of Gazans into Israel to work. But per Yigal Carmon of MEMRI, “Those workers were Hamas people. No one came in to work without a permit from Hamas. Hamas took part of their salary. These workers, we know now, were spies.”

Moreover, has everyone forgotten the Gaza border riots? The rioters were certainly not all Hamas members.

Yossi Kuperwasser has said, “We hear repeatedly … that Hamas does not represent the Palestinian people. I beg to differ. There’s a big part of the Palestinian people that consider Hamas their representative, not only in Gaza but even in Judea and Samaria. Hamas represents a very important part of the Palestinian people. Many Gazan civilians followed Hamas operatives into Israel to loot and murder.”

Lesson five: Israel’s “disengagement” from Gaza was a phony disengagement. Israel remained very engaged by supplying, among other things, power, water, supplies and medical care to the terrorist-ruled enclave, even extending its largesse to the families of Hamas leaders. Was virtue-signaling the motivation? And why, given that Gaza also borders Egypt, should Israel be solely responsible for Gaza’s welfare?

Lesson six: Language matters. Inaccurate terminology, such as “refugee camps,” aids the enemy narrative. The vast majority of the refugees are long dead and these “camps” are not camps in any sense. They are neighborhoods.

Lesson seven: The ubiquitous claim that Israel uses “disproportionate” force has always been false and farcical on its face. Hamas and Gazans celebrated their perceived “victories” over Israel in all previous iterations of the conflict; so, by definition, any disproportionate force used by Israel was inadequate. It was too little, not too much. The only excessive thing was Israel’s restraint.

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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