“There is nothing new under the sun,” according to the Jewish Torah, the Christian Old Testament, and certainly there is nothing I can think of to say about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that hasn’t been said and said again. But I have been sifting through the noise and trying to extract a few points worth reiterating over the last month. Yes, it’s only been a month since the October 7 massacre and, as so many feared from the outset, the gravity of what happened has already lost its pull in many parts of the world.
A common refrain in the wake of October 7 was to call it, “Israel’s 9-11.” President Biden made this comparison, but added that proportionally to the sized of their population, this was like four 9-11s. A fair point, but one that was quickly coopted by morally challenged figures on the left, like New York Times Journalist Ezra Klein, who felt it necessary to point out that the bombings of Gaza were like four hundred 9-11s. I don’t know what he said after that on his podcast, because I couldn’t stand to listen to any more of it. Saying that the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) bombing of Hamas targets in Gaza, deliberately hidden among civilians, is at all like 9-11 is like saying that the Allied bombing of Nazi Germany was like the Holocaust. But such is thinking of many public figures and their admirers today.
Perhaps the best commentary I have heard about October 7 and the tragic situation the Israelis and Palestinians find themselves in, was one of the first I listened to. Sam Harris, a neuroscientist, philosopher, and critic of dogmatic religious beliefs, particularly much of Islam, made a salient point that can’t be repeated enough.
- Regardless of the wrongdoing and mistakes of the past, which both parties in this conflict can point to, there is one side today which has people dancing in the streets in support of the most brutal, degrading, and personal violence you can imagine. You have one side who tortures civilians in front of their family members before executing them and advertises their crimes with videos to share on social media. You have one side who targets the other side’s civilians and uses their own civilians as human shields.
There was an explanation of belief systems that Osama bin Laden used to give, which far too many Westerners seem to have forgotten or ignored. “We love death. The U.S. loves life. That is the difference between us two.” Such reasoning has also appeared on the Hamas’ Al-Aqsa TV channel. “The Al-Qassam Brigades love death more than you love life.” As the writer Maya Angelou famously advised, “When someone shows you who they are believe them the first time.” But this seems to be impossible for those who reflexively scream about, “colonialism,” and “occupation.” Who will tell you they care about, “all civilians,” in an effort to not explicitly address what Hamas did.
Just listened to an even better breakdown of this horrific situation from Sam Harris. Well worth checking out!