#1589 War in the Holy Land: Context Behind the Atrocities, Crimes Against Humanity, and the Possible Escalation (Transcript)

Air Date 10/17/2023

Full Notes Page

Download PDF

Audio-Synced Transcript



JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: [00:00:00] Welcome to this episode of the award winning Best of the Left podcast in which we shall take a look at the conflict in the holy land between Israel and Hamas to understand the deep context, history, and human psychology at play. Those who attempt to find a moral clarity through simplification of the situation, as many on both the right and left currently are, will only find themselves eventually supporting atrocities by one side or the other and demonstrate themselves to be fools in the process. We are trying to avoid that pitfall. Sources today include Gaslit Nation, Democracy Now!, CounterSpin, Ebro in the Morning, and the Marc Steiner Show, with an additional members only clip from The Majority Report.

Israel and Palestine A Difficult Discussion - Gaslit Nation - Air Date 10-10-23

ANDREA CHALUPA - CO-HOST, GASLIT NATION: So I want to just preface this, just a summary of today's discussion, and Terrell and I are going to go into all the nuance of it. 

The reality is, whatever you think of Israel, whatever you think of Israel, I want to remind people on all sides of this issue, I know we have people [00:01:00] listening who are waiting for Terrell to go into the Palestinian point of view because he's been in the West Bank, he has a lot of Palestinian friends. 

I want to just say to everyone, you cannot understand Israel without understanding generations, going back centuries, of just normalized, normalized antisemitism. If you look at the Dreyfus affair, that was a lynching of a Jewish French officer in France. If you look at financial instability in the 1800s, 1900s, who were blamed for that? The Jews, right? If you look at the… Before there was Twitter, Elon Musk's Twitter, there was the Elders of Zion, the disinformation coming out of Russia back then that the Jews had some big Illuminati that they were controlling us with and they always became the scapegoat. Jewish communities, for their own survival, debated among each other how to protect themselves, how to organize self-defense, how to overcome this. They [00:02:00] tried to keep their heads down, they tried to stay in their ghettos. They would even have conversations, they would debate whether they needed to follow a policy of keeping their head down and not shining too brightly in society, or they would risk drawing attention to themselves and becoming a target and inciting another pogrom, more antisemitism rage. There were discussions over building a Jewish homeland, a Jewish state, somewhere in South America. 

The whole idea that Israel was inevitable… the creation of Israel was actually a very controversial topic among Jewish groups themselves. It seemed completely farfetched, it seemed unrealistic. It seemed like something so out of reach and extreme. It was debated, it was argued. It wasn't ever inevitable. It was something that was finally made possible because the world allowed the Holocaust to happen, because the world turned away Jewish refugees and sent them back to slaughter. And it was really the shock of all those films [00:03:00] and eyewitness testimony and the allied soldiers investigating concentration camps that were being built and operated right out in the open, right? People knew about the Holocaust. Hitler, the Nazis killed significantly more jews during the entire Holocaust before the US even had a chance to enter the war. And so Israel was really born out of that. Israel was created as an act of self-defense and protection. So I want people to keep that in mind. 

And that same antisemitism is prevalent today. So wherever Jews are in the world, there is a heightened sense of danger that they are living with, whether it's in the US or anywhere in Europe, because we have this blatant antisemitism being pushed by Donald Trump who lifts rhetoric straight out of Hitler. He uses the same “impure blood” language of Hitler. So I just wanted to make that clear. 

And unfortunately what's happened in Israel, especially in recent years, is that it's succumbed [00:04:00] to the seduction, to the corruption of the religious extremists; the same band of idiots that we're up against here in the US like Tommy Tuberville, who's holding our Senate, our national security, hostage in the Senate, like the Matt Gaetzes in the GOP chaos, which is holding aid for Ukraine hostage, the Moms for Liberty dark money billionaire-funded groups that are trying to take over school boards across this country so they can indoctrinate children with their far-right Christian extremism. So the same forces that have taken over Israel's government—Netanyahu's government—where he has surrounded himself deliberately with the worst of the worst; just think the Michael Flynns of America. That is who makes up most of Netanyahu's cabinet.

Netanyahu—the Trump of Israel—has been so narcissistic in his hold of power and coming back to power, thanks to a divided opposition, he comes back to power even though he's been indicted [00:05:00] for corruption. And he then continues to surround himself with extremist loyalists like Steven Millers, like ben-Gvir, the Steven Miller of Israel, who is a known terrorist, who as a teenager was harassing former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, trashing his car, stealing the Cadillac emblem off the car, bragging about it and saying, “Next time we're going to get to Rabin.” That was all because Rabin had signed the Oslo Accords, which didn't even promise a two-state solution for Palestine, for Palestinians, okay? It didn't even go far enough, the Oslo Accords, and what happened? A terrorist like Ben-Gvir assassinated Rabin two weeks later. And Ben-Gvir goes on to continue his racism, to continue his terrorism, vowing to kill all the Arabs, vowing to kill all the Palestinians. And their whole mode of operation, what they want to do, is they want to terrorize and kill and push out and [00:06:00] take over the homes of as many Palestinians as they can to force them out and into Arab nations. It's a genocide what they're trying to carry out. 

And Netanyahu elevated this person to his government at the same time where he's trying to desperately dismantle democracy and checks and balance in Israel by taking away the power of Israel’s Supreme Court. And Netanyahu, in doing this, in looking out for his own survival has also allowed this culture of impunity across Israel where the Ben-Gvir types can go in and storm mosques, mock Palestinians openly, and celebrate those who commit violence against Palestinians. You see these Israeli settlers who are going into land that they should not be going into who have these broad smiles on their faces in court because they know they're going to be protected by the political structure in Israel.

And all of this, we have to point out that Netanyahu clearly, I believe, wanted this war. If you look back in 2019, he [00:07:00] was saying to his Likud party that they had to elevate Hamas, they had to fund Hamas. They wanted Hamas to come up and do something dramatic like this. Why? Because then it gives them—Netanyahu's government—the excuse to go to war with Hamas and wipe out Gaza and continue their genocide. And by being a wartime prime minister, that creates a situation where everyone's forced to rally around the flag, rally around the leader. If they can't get rid of him, they will deal with the corruption later. They'll have to table that for later, but right now they have to unite. And the person they're uniting around is a corrupt criminal. 

And so it's a fucked situation in Israel. And our sympathies, our loyalty are to the civilians on both sides of this issue who are caught in horrific literal crossfire in this. And I want to make that very clear. 

What Hamas did was evil. Unfortunately, Israelis have a corrupt kleptocrat in power [00:08:00] who weakened the government, producing the worst intelligence disaster in Israel's history leading to the slaughter of countless innocents, all so he could stay in power and all so he could give his rabid extremist supporters the war they wanted so they can carry out their genocide. What you'll see next, they'll likely use their wartime powers to dismantle democracy in Israel and stay in power.

Israeli Human Rights Leader Orly Noy on Israel’s War on Palestinians After Hamas Attack - Democracy Now! - Air Date 10-9-23

AMY GOODMAN: Israel has ordered a complete siege of Gaza, two days after as many as a thousand Hamas fighters carried out an unprecedented attack Saturday morning, when Hamas fired thousands of rockets into Israel as militants broke through Israeli security barricades. Over the past three days, at least 1,300 people have died, including over 800 inside Israel, almost 500 in Gaza. One Israeli military spokesperson described Saturday as, quote, “by far the worst day in Israeli history,” unquote.[00:09:00] 

The surprise attack came almost 50 years to the day of the 1973 Yom Kippur War. The Hamas attacked killed at least 44 Israeli soldiers, including several commanders. Over 250 people were killed at an Israeli music festival attended by mostly young people. Hamas militants also took about 100 hostages. Entire Israeli communities were forced to evacuate.

Meanwhile, Israeli airstrikes have killed over 500 Palestinians in Gaza since Saturday, but the death toll is expected to soar, as Israel threatens to launch a ground war. Israel has called up 300,000 reservists, is sending heavy armor toward the Gaza border. This comes as the United States is sending more ammunition to Israel and warships to the region. Earlier today, Israeli airstrikes killed dozens of residents in the Jabaliya refugee camp.

Israel’s Defense [00:10:00] Minister Yoav Gallant has announced a total blockade on Gaza, including a ban on food, water, electricity and fuel. Israel has imposed a siege on Gaza for the past 16 years, largely cutting off the area from the rest of the world. Gaza has been widely described as an open-air prison.

Hamas named its military operation “Al-Aqsa Storm” in response to the desecration of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Hamas also cited the blockade of Gaza and increasing settler violence in the occupied West Bank. The attack also came as Israel was moving to normalize relations with Saudi Arabia

In a moment, we’ll go to Israel and Gaza for response, but we begin with the voices of two parents — one in Israel, one in Gaza — whose lives have been devastated by this weekend’s violence. This is Yoni Asher, a 37-year-old father whose wife and two children have been taken hostage by Hamas.

YONI ASHER: [00:11:00] Yesterday, while my wife, Doron, and two daughters, little girls, Raz and Aviv, 5-year-old and 2 years old, went visit my mother-in-law in Nir Oz — it’s a kibbutz near Gaza. And during the morning, I contacted my wife, and she told me on the phone that there are terrorists inside the house. Later on, I saw a video, the same video that was in the social media, in which I surely identified my wife, my two daughters and my mother-in-law on some kind of a cart, and terrorists of Hamas all around them. … I want to ask of Hamas: Don’t hurt them. Don’t hurt little children. Don’t hurt women. [00:12:00] If you want me instead, I’m willing to come.

AMY GOODMAN: And this is a mother in Gaza, Sabreen Abu Daqqa, who survived after being trapped in rubble after an Israeli rocket hit her home. The attack killed three of her children.

SABREEN ABU DAQQA: [translated] I was at home, and suddenly we heard a sound, and everything fell over our heads. My children were next to me. One of them was next to my legs, and the others were next to me. My brother, Saber, was a bit further. Nothing happened to him. I was hiding between the sofa and the door, so there was no pressure on me, only on my leg. But I didn’t hear any sound coming from my children. I called them, but I didn’t hear a sound coming from them. Suddenly, I heard my brother Saber calling. The first moment I heard his voice, I shouted, and I said, “I’m here!” And when they recognized me, they started calming me down, and then they started removing the [00:13:00] rubble from above me.

It took them three hours to remove the rubble above me, but my children died — Khaled died, Qais died, Mariam died. Assef went missing. When they pulled me out of the rubble, I saw everything damaged. The houses are damaged. That’s the only thing I saw. And then I went to the hospital. I found that everybody was injured, and we have many injured and dead people.

Phyllis Bennis on Gaza - CounterSpin - Air Date 10-13-23

JANINE JACKSON - HOST, COUNTERSPIN: As we record on October 11th, headlines tell of horror and misery across Gaza as Israel rains airstrikes on hospitals, mosques, and refugee camps, declares a complete siege, blocking access to electricity, food, and fuel, and musters for a possible ground offensive. An Israeli Defense Force spokesman is being quoted warning that scenes coming out of Gaza in coming days will be "difficult to understand and [00:14:00] cope with".

If the past is guide, scenes from Gaza will be especially difficult to understand if those presenting them avoid context, political, historical, human, in favor of storybook simplification and bloodthirsty cheerleading. Followed by pronouncement by elites of rhetorical banalities, endorsing injustice and indignity for millions.

With occasional exceptions, U. S. corporate media's distortions of Palestine-Israel make it harder to do what so many want, to see a way forward without violence, with justice. Phyllis Bennis is director of the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies and author of a number of books, including Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: A Primer, now in its seventh updated edition.

She joins us by phone from Washington, DC. Welcome back to CounterSpin, [00:15:00] Phyllis Bennis. 

PHYLLIS BENNIS: Great to be with you, Janine.

JANINE JACKSON - HOST, COUNTERSPIN: I'm hearing it said that while the specific nature of Hamas's October 7th attacks was surprising to some, it's not entirely true or useful to call the attacks unexpected in the way that we understand that word. What do people mean by that? 

PHYLLIS BENNIS: I think the reference is to the understanding that resistance, including resistance to violence, never just happens out of thin air. It happens in response to something, it happens in the context of something. And if we're serious about preventing acts of violence in the future, understanding the acts of violence that have already occurred, we have to be prepared to do the hard work of looking at context, looking at root causes, something that, at moments of crisis, which for [00:16:00] Israelis this is clearly a moment of unexpected crisis, uh, but for people in this country as well, it's crucial that we take those hard steps to figure out what gives rise to this? Because otherwise we're simply mouthing platitudes of condemnation. Condemnation of violent attacks on civilians is completely appropriate. Some of the acts of some of the Hamas militants were in complete violation of international law and should be condemned. 

And it's also true that they didn't just happen. They happened in the context of 75 years of oppression of Palestinians, decades of an apartheid system, and crucially, in Gaza, where Hamas was born in 1987 with, we should note, significant Israeli assistance at the time, that the lives of people in Gaza, the 2.2 [00:17:00] million people who live in that enclosed, open air prison, if you will, one of the most crowded places on the face of the earth, have lived under a state of siege that was imposed by Israel in 2007.

Ironically, when we heard this horrific call from the Minister of Defense from Israel yesterday, who said, We are going to impose such an incredibly tight siege, there will be nothing that gets in. No food, no fuel, no water, no electricity. This was a call to essentially commit genocide, knowing that with the sealing off of the last remnants of the siege that has already been in place, they are predicting That the impact of their policy will be mass starvation, mass thirst, mass death from injuries that the [00:18:00] hospitals will be unable to treat because the hospitals won't have fuel for their generators, which they rely on because there's already insufficient electricity available in Gaza.

In an article I'm just writing, I quote a Gaza woman, 72 years old, who said, You know, years ago, we had electricity 24 hours a day and took that for granted. Now that seems like a dream. And this was last June, before this new siege. So, what they're talking about with this new siege is almost like a quantitative escalation of what is already in place.

I found out today, and I was, I've got to say, as familiar as I am with the human rights violations in Gaza, this one shocked me. As of May of this year, 20% of all children in Gaza are stunted by the age of two. I had no idea that was the case, and yet it is. And that's before this level of punishment.[00:19:00] 

So all of those things have to be taken into account to understand, not to justify, not to ever justify the killings of civilians, the killings of children and old people. Unacceptable. Should be condemned. And we have to understand from where that comes, why these things happen. Otherwise, we have no basis to figure out a strategy to stop the violence on all sides.

Israeli Journalist Gideon Levy Israel Should Lift Siege & Call Off Plan for Ground Invasion of Gaza - Democracy Now - Air Date 10-11-23 

JUAN GONZALEZ: According to press reports, as many as 1,500 Palestinian fighters of Hamas were killed inside of Israel, so the enormous number of militants who were able to get into Israel. Could you talk about the decision of the government to relocate large portions of Israel’s army from the Gaza border to protect far-right settlers on the West Bank?

GIDEON LEVY: Sure. That’s one of the big [00:20:00] failures on Saturday, not the only one, because the first failure is obviously the surprise, the strategic surprise. We are so proud about the most sophisticated intelligence in the world, with all kind of those elite units, with all the devices. They know everything. They understand everything. And then, an operation, which was prepared for one year by hundreds of militants, they didn’t hear about it. So that’s the first failure.

The second failure is obviously that the southern front with Gaza was totally abandoned, because we were busy with all the festivals of support of those crazy settlers, guarding them, but not only guarding them, collaborating with them with their pogroms among Palestinians. We have clear evidence that the army saw the pogroms and did nothing. And when the army is busy for years now, not only recently, only with [00:21:00] running and chasing after Palestinian children who throw a stone, and after all kind of suspected Palestinians, when the army is overoccupied in standing in illegal checkpoints and penetrating to Palestinian homes in the middle of the night to arrest somebody without any legal basis, then this is the result. You get instead of a professional, motivated, experienced army, you get a bunch of no ones who don’t know what to do in such a situation, because after the first shock, they were still — it took still hours and hours until the army showed up. And that’s unbelievable.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And this issue of Netanyahu preparing for an invasion of Gaza, could you talk about the immense [00:22:00] undertaking that this involves, having to go literally house by house or building by building in Gaza to find any of the hostages being held? The enormity of this project?

GIDEON LEVY: First of all, to go from building to building is impossible already, because there are many buildings still down. And I’m not sure how many buildings were left, for example, in the neighborhood of Rimal. To find the hostages alive, really, it’s nice for all kind of Hollywood films. I don’t see it happening, for sure not with this army with its capabilities, as we were witnessing it only on Saturday.

The invasion into Gaza has some other goals — namely, to put an end to the rule of Hamas. And this is another impossible mission, because you can [00:23:00] kill the current top people of Hamas, you cannot kill the ideology of Hamas, and they will always be replaced.

Ground operation now is supported almost by all Israelis, because Israelis understand that we have to do something after this embarrassment, after this catastrophe. But in the same time, I must tell you, I can assure you that if Israel will go now for a ground operation, it will take a few weeks or maybe a few months. It will take so much blood of both Palestinians and Israelis, mainly Palestinians obviously. And by the end of this operation, you will invite me again to Democracy Now!, and you will see that we are standing exactly in the place that we stood one week ago, because as long as Israel continues to believe that Gaza — the problem of Gaza will be [00:24:00] solved by the sword, solved by brutal force, by emotions of revenge — justified emotions — then we will get exactly to the same place. This vicious circle will not be solved by power, not be solved by tanks, and not will be — nor will it be solved by troops, only by political agreement and, above all and first of all, lifting this criminal siege, for God’s sake, after 17 years. This siege, what it was about, to guarantee the security of Israel. So, what happened out of the siege except of the suffer of — unbelievable inhuman suffer of 2 million people? What did it contribute to the security of Israel, this siege? You see the outcome.

AMY GOODMAN: We just have less than a minute, Gideon. I wanted to ask you the difference of the cry, the call of the [00:25:00] families of the hostages, of older people, of young people, of children, the family members, one after another, talking about being, for example, a peace activist, and saying, “Please use restraint,” and the contrast between that and President Biden as he addressed the nation yesterday, deciding consciously, and in the readout of his conversation with Netanyahu a few minutes before he spoke, saying they did not call for restraint. Your response? How important is the president of United States’ position here? We have less than a minute.

GIDEON LEVY: In less than a minute, I can tell you, Amy, that last night when I was watching President Biden, I really envied you Americans that you have such a leader. I never thought so before last night. But last night, Biden was a real leader, someone that you can trust, because he [00:26:00] was extremely sincere, and someone that you can rely on. If Netanyahu would have taken the same speech, he wouldn’t be Netanyahu. Netanyahu is busy with politics. And here comes this Biden and tells Israel what Israel wanted to hear. I would love him also to say some things about the Palestinian suffering, the Palestinian agony. He ignored it totally, and this is very regretful. But by the end of the day, this is what Israel needs now: some kind of leadership. And it totally lacks it. Nobody is around, really, to understand that we have to go for a new way. Nobody is there.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez On The Israel-Hamas Conflict & USA's Role - Ebro in the Morning - Air Date 10-12-23

PETER ROSENBERG - CO-HOST, EBRO IN THE MORNING: And AOC, I'm curious to ask you this, so one of the things that you've been dealing with since you got into office is people believing that the new progressive is anti-Israel, is antisemitic. And on social media -- I'm gonna be real with you, and I'm sure you've seen the same [00:27:00] thing, whether it's fake, whether it's bots, whether it's actual real thing -- you do see a lot of it, like it's almost a caricature of the progressives, that Saturday happened, and while Jewish people like myself are heartbroken, and my Israeli wife is scared for her family, it's like the so-called "progressives" online are immediately bashing Israel to a degree that was so... uncool, and just unempathetic, unkind. Do you feel the need to show people that that is not really the nature of a progressive, like at least an Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez? 

REP ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: We can -- yes, I mean, we can do both, right? To me, what is central about progressivism, to me what is central, too, about democratic socialism, anti-capitalism, you name it, solidarity, is the central valuing of human dignity and human life on a universal and unconditional basis.

I [00:28:00] think two things can be true at the same time and. This is part of one of the traumas that are triggered, is that anybody, for decades -- you know this, I know this -- anybody who even would even say the word "Palestine," so often that the charge of antisemitism would be politically weaponized in cynical ways.

That history is real and true, while also the fact that antisemitism is real, and it is dangerous, and must be checked; authentic antisemitism must be checked wherever we see it, that is also true at the same time. And we can navigate those complexities. 

There are absolutely things that are absolutely true about the occupation, about Netanyahu's policies, about the decisions of the Israeli government. 

But at the end of the day, we are human beings and tragedy requires space for grief for everybody. [00:29:00] Grief for Palestinians, grief for Israelis. And it is dehumanization that is the stepping stone to ethnic cleansing, to genocide, which we have seen from the Holocaust to Gaza. And that, I think, is the thing that is so important for us to focus on. 

PETER ROSENBERG - CO-HOST, EBRO IN THE MORNING: If you were to have a conversation with President Biden in the coming days and weeks, what would you be urging him to do? What should the role of the United States be right now? 

REP ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: I would say this: I would say that the United States, our responsibility is to the stability and the security of the region. That means being able to support -- support, yes, Israel in its defensive capacities, in its ability, in that context -- but it also means that the United States has a responsibility to ensure [00:30:00] accountability to human rights, to prevent the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, and to ensure that horrors do not happen in the names of victims who do not want their tragedy used to justify further violence and injustice. 

Israel and Palestine A Difficult Discussion Part 2 - Gaslit Nation - Air Date 10-10-23

TERRELL STARR: And even before this weekend, I've had calls of someone's cousin being killed by the Israeli Defense Forces. 12-year-old children. And the tears and the anguish that I see people expressing now in the world collectively, coming together to say that, “Never again, the Israeli September 11th,” I've had these conversations throughout the year. 

And what really hurts me is that, number one, it hurts me because I didn't see the world react with these people—and it is painful to even say it because you don't want to think, okay, [00:31:00] care about my issue versus mine and getting into these silos, and that's not what we're doing with this conversation. This collective pain that everyone is participating in, I just wish that the world would see the pain of the people that I talked to. I've had a number of conversations with people who call me and say, “Well, my family in Gaza, they're just getting ready to die.” And those are the people, like you said, the civilians. They're being lost, in particular the Palestinian civilians. 

And what further frustrates me about the conversation or hurts me is that people don't understand the passion with which I talk about Palestine because I've never conflated Hamas with Palestine. And when people say Palestinians support Hamas and they try to point to these very misconstrued polling data, I can tell you that, number one, there hasn't [00:32:00] been an election in 17 years. And the PLO and the other political groups that are in Palestine have been willing to have a conversation that leads to a peaceful two-state coexistence or some variation of that. But Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected that. And over the years he's become more xenophobic for the sake of maintaining his power. And I think that what's missing in these conversations is that we really don't understand how Western hegemony has dominated how we view ourselves and which camps that we're in. 

And at the end of the day, you have the one-percenters of political global leadership that are creating these conflicts through their screwed up policies, and they're getting the civilians—us, we're the ones that are suffering from this. 

And what I really [00:33:00] challenge all of us to do is to understand, Why are these structures the way that they are? And that sometimes means that we have to challenge the various systems that we feel benefit us or benefit our side. When people talk about Palestinians, for example, I can think back to the days when Mike Brown was killed. Some of the first people in the world who reached out were the Palestinians who were giving Black activists advice on how to deal with tear gas from police. So when I speak about Palestine, people don't understand that these are relationships that have been built over time. And we didn't get that—and I'm going to be very careful when I articulate this—I will simply say that it was these people who came up and showed Black people love and support.

And none of those people were associated with Hamas, which is nothing more than an organized gang.[00:34:00] Let's be quite frank: The Israelis were more than okay with facilitating because it just caused chaos, right? And people just assume that Hamas represents all the people and that nothing could be further from the truth. 

And when I was in Palestine, I was in Ramallah, I met the PLO leadership. I've met these groups who are not Palestine. And these are the groups of people that the Benjamin Netanyahu administration doesn’t want to work with. And we can have all of our criticisms about them because I do; a number of people who care about this region do. But I think that the frustration comes from the fact that the onus is being put on the Palestinians to be these perfect people, to speak out for every atrocity when they see that Israelis too often are not held to that same standard, and it just hurts.

I try to [00:35:00] use my platforms for us to have very difficult conversations. And I know that I'm human too and sometimes because I'm in pain, things are not articulated as smoothly as they can be. But the genesis and the spirit of what I feel is that I really hope moving forward that we take this time to understand when we say “never again,” it just can't be this simplistic anti-terror conversation that got us into September 11th; this knee-jerk reaction by George W. Bush to invade Iraq. And what happens is that you have Brown people who suffer from miscalculations, global security decisions. And the Palestinians feel that the civilians will be like cannon fodder for another bad choice to overreact as opposed to going after Hamas. My friends in Palestine feel like the [00:36:00] US administration, the European Union, is just going to give them the green light to massacre them.

I'm speaking on a human level because we can be cerebral about all of this. And there's a point -- and you've done a great job of really summarizing things in a way where we can have discussion and discourse. However, I think what really is going to help us make a shift is that we all need to challenge US foreign policy and Western hegemony that creates the value that it is okay to send billions of dollars in aid to Israel—not that they don't need to protect themselves, because they do—we're sending them this money while they're maintaining an apartheid state against the Palestinian people who are constantly stereotyped, who are constantly misunderstood. And we're not doing a good job of holding our own governments accountable. 

Between Israel and Palestine, Things are going to get a lot worse - The Marc Steiner Show - Air Date 10-12-23

MARC STEINER - HOST, THE MARC STEINER SHOW: The occupation is now 55 years old. People in Gaza live in an [00:37:00] open prison, and the attacks that took place when Hamas crossed the border, tearing down the border fence, catching Israel off guard, and slaughtering Israelis at a concert and in Israeli towns has created a paradigm shift. 1, 200 people have been killed in Israel, 300 taken captive by Hamas.

Now, Israel's attacks, their air attacks on Gaza have killed at least 1, 100 people, wounding at least 326 children, and close to 6, 000 other people wounded. We know we now have not only the occupation, but an openly far right government in Israel. And our conversation today is with Yumna Patel, who is the Palestine News Director for Mondoweiss.

Here's our conversation today with Yumna Patel. I'm really curious what you, how you would describe, it's almost an absurd question, but how you would describe the tenor of the moment. I mean, you are in the West Bank, you're in the occupied territories in West Bank in Bethlehem and most of the [00:38:00] violence is taking place in the Gaza Strip, in the parts of Israel near Gaza, right?

 So, the reverberations of fear, anxiety of the turmoil must be spilling over. I mean, talk a bit about what your sense of things are.

MONDOWEISS YUMNA PATEL: Yeah, absolutely. Things are extremely tense, you could say, on the ground here. Obviously, you know, the reality in the West Bank looks very different to how it looks in Gaza right now, but just to give a little bit of context of what's happening in the West Bank, the Israeli military announced a full closure of the West Bank, I believe it was on Sunday, a two week closure.

So right now, everyone in the West Bank is kind of locked into their locality, depending on what city or town or village they're in, because Israel has shut down all of the checkpoints, and closed off the entrances and exits to a lot of the villages. There is, you know, sort of mass panic. People didn't really know how long these closures were going to be for, so people are [00:39:00] rushing to buy food and get fuel in their cars.

At the same time, there have been increased confrontations and protests and demonstrations across the West Bank. I think the latest death toll that we have in the West Bank since Saturday is 26. So, 26 people have been killed at least, including at least four children, in the West Bank, mostly during confrontations and the Israeli suppression of protests.

So yeah, I mean, and at the same time, so there's a lot of soldier violence. I was talking to a friend yesterday. He lives in a village outside of Bethlehem that's been totally closed off. He managed to get to Bethlehem on a motorcycle that he drove through the mountains trying to navigate around these, you know, closures and checkpoints just so he could get to Bethlehem to get some things, you know, for his wife and his baby.

But he was saying that Someone had tried to leave the village through the front entrance that had been [00:40:00] closed off by Israeli forces and that person was shot by the Israeli military. And so things are definitely tense and also picking up. People obviously are outraged and frustrated by the Israeli airstrikes in Gaza and constantly being inundated with these images of entire neighborhoods and buildings just being leveled to the ground, so it's definitely not quiet in the West Bank or Jerusalem, not on the front of confronting Israeli soldiers or also Israeli settlers.

We just got a report in, I think around an hour ago, that a group of armed Israeli settlers attacked a village, the village of Qusra outside of Nablus, and three Palestinians were killed allegedly by Israeli settler gunfire. And so, there's this, not even anticipation, Palestinians also know that Israeli settler attacks and these revenge attacks are already happening, but they're definitely going to be increased.

So I mean, [00:41:00] people are wary, especially people in the villages and in rural areas that are in close proximity to settlements and on these front lines.

MARC STEINER - HOST, THE MARC STEINER SHOW: I imagine I can just feel the tension even though I'm not there, but I wanna, a couple of things you said, let me start with the settlers. So the settler attacks that are taking place, that took place, that you know about, they are, you're thinking, because the settlers are trying to settle the score about what happened at the music festival where all those people were killed and kidnapped? What do you think is behind that? Because it's nothing new. Settlers are doing this all the time. 

MONDOWEISS YUMNA PATEL: Yeah, exactly. So, I mean, I think there's definitely an element of settling the score, not necessarily related to, like, one specific event over the past couple days, but, you know, what happened has had huge impacts on how Israel, Israeli society, Israeli government, et cetera. And of course, when stuff like this happens, that only sort of fuels the flames of ideological violence in [00:42:00] Israel, and like you said, we know that settler violence against Palestinians have been ongoing, but especially they've been increasing over the past two years. And you and I have discussed this on your show before, the increase in settler attacks, particularly in the West Bank, and these pogroms, basically, that settlers go on, these rampages in Palestinian towns, trying to set entire towns on fire. And so there's definitely an element of, you know, revenge and, you know, settling the score, you could say. But also, this is just a continuation or an extension of what we've already been seeing over the past two years with this severe increase in settler violence that is being egged on by the right wing fascists that are in the Israeli government. And just yesterday, Itamar Ben-Gvir, the National Security Minister and the head of the Jewish Power Party, who we know is himself a far right ideological settler, announced that he was purchasing 10, 000 rifles to distribute to Jewish citizens [00:43:00] in the occupied West Bank and in towns in Israel in "mixed Jewish Arab cities".

And so this is also part of Ben Gvir's, you know, long held plans to establish an Israeli National Guard, which rights groups have warned is essentially like the establishment of his own private militia, where basically you're, he's essentially deputizing Israeli settlers and armed Israeli civilians and deploying them in Palestinian towns, villages, and primarily Palestinian areas inside Israel as well.

And so that, coupled with the fact that we already have violent settlers, just means that things are going to get a lot, lot worse. And I don't think the attack on Qusra today is going to be the last attack that we see of its kind in the next few days and weeks. 

Gaza Is Running Out of Life Human Rights Watch Sounds Alarm on Israel's Collective Punishment - Democracy Now! - Air Date 10-16-23

AMY GOODMAN: Omar Shakir, in a long Twitter thread you posted on Saturday, you warned Israeli authorities are signaling [00:44:00] their intent to commit mass atrocities. You cite a number of Israeli officials making statements suggesting precisely that. Can you document what you’re saying and what they’ve been saying?

OMAR SHAKIR: Absolutely. I mean, we have seen rhetoric from the Israeli government that signals that they hold the entire 2.2 million people of Gaza responsible for the heinous attacks that took place on October 7th. You have the president of Israel, Isaac Herzog, who has said very clearly that the entire nation of Gaza is responsible. He notes that the people there could have risen up to topple the Hamas government. You have statements from Israel’s energy minister, who was responsible for cutting the water, the fuel, the electricity, who has similarly talked about, you know, cutting off the last drop of water and the last battery until they’re defeated. Again, he’s referring — it’s a statement that refers both to Hamas authorities but also to evacuating the [00:45:00] entire population. You have statements, of course, from Israel’s defense minister, that’s gotten much attention, about fighting “human animals,” declaring an entire siege on Gaza. You have Israel’s U.N. ambassador that was on CNN a couple of days ago and spoke about how, you know, “Let’s remember that Hamas — you know, that the population of Gaza elected Hamas.” Of course, he neglects to mention that nearly half of Gaza’s population are children who weren’t even alive to vote at the last time there were elections.

All these statements should worry the international community, because they’re not happening in a vacuum. They’re happening as the Israeli government reduces entire neighborhoods and blocks to rubble, as hundreds of children and civilians have been killed in relentless bombardments, 6,000 bombs dropped in a 25-by-7-mile area, I mean, an open-air prison. So these statements aren’t happening in a vacuum. They’re happening amid the most intense bombardment of Gaza we’ve maybe ever seen, in a situation where more than a [00:46:00] million people, according to reports, have been displaced from their homes. So, the international community must act to stop this. There is a moment that we can try and stop this, and we must do so before it’s too late.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to play for our audience Israeli President Isaac Herzog claiming no one is innocent in the Gaza Strip, including civilians.

PRESIDENT ISAAC HERZOG: We are working, operating militarily, according to rules of international law, period, unequivocally. It’s an entire nation out there that is responsible. It’s not true, this rhetoric about civilians were not aware, not involved. It’s absolutely not true. They could have risen up. They could have fought against that evil regime which took over Gaza in a coup d’état. But we are at war. We are at war. We are at war with the other. We are defending our homes. We are protecting our homes. [00:47:00] That’s the truth. And then, when a nation protects its home, it fights. And we will fight until we break their backbone.

AMY GOODMAN: “We will fight until we break their backbone.” I want to turn to your post on Saturday, where you wrote, “History teaches us that, when there are clear calls to commit large-scale atrocities by a party capable of doing so & actions taken consistent with those words, they need to be taken seriously & stopped. That’s where we are today in Israel & Palestine. A descent into darkness.” Omar Shakir, if you can take it from there?

OMAR SHAKIR: Yeah, I mean, Present Herzog talked about breaking their back. They have broken the back of the people of Gaza in a way that’s simply unprecedented. The statement that the Israeli government is complying with international law is pure fiction. I mean, we know they’ve cut [00:48:00] vital necessities, as we’ve discussed, to the entire civilian population. They have sealed the crossings. We know that they have bombed in a way that, again, has reduced — as has been proudly boasted by the Israeli Air Force on Twitter, of reducing entire neighborhoods and blocks to rubble.

You know, we really need to take note of these statements, because the Israeli government — and again, what’s striking here is that it’s not meeting the sort of pushback that one would expect in a situation like this. I mean, it took days for Europe and the United States even to reiterate basic platitudes about the need to comply with international humanitarian law. You’re not seeing sufficient effort taken to warn of the risks to Gaza’s population. It is a situation that, as we speak, is deteriorating, and not enough is being done to stop it.

How Western Leaders & Media Are Justifying Israel’s “Genocidal Campaign” Against Palestinians - Democracy Now! - Air Date 10-13-23

AMY GOODMAN - HOST, DEMOCRACY NOW!: I want to ask you about the White House just saying that Gaza City’s evacuation is a “tall order.” The Israeli army’s call for more than a million people to evacuate North [00:49:00] Gaza, a “tall order,” the White House has said, adding the U.S. understands Israel is trying to give civilians “fair warning.” Your response, Noura Erakat?

NOURA ERAKAT: That is so cynical. That is so cynical and can only be corroborated by an irresponsible media that has failed to show decimation of Palestinian communities, the attack on shelters, the attack on refugee camps. What warnings? To what end? Palestinians have been under siege for 16 years. There are no humanitarian corridors. The one corridor with Egypt was bombed by Israel. The minister of Israeli defense literally said that there will be no — there will be no exit, that there will be a siege, that electricity will be cut off, that water will be cut off, that Palestinians are “human animals.”

There has been a priming that all of these mass atrocities will be accepted [00:50:00] by a population who will watch it with lament but think to themselves, “But what else was Israel supposed to do?” We are all being primed to accept mass atrocities. This historically is the playbook of how genocides happen. What we are seeing is a genocidal campaign.

You cannot forcibly transfer 1.1 million Palestinians in a 225-square-mile enclosed area. There is nowhere for them to go. The largest hospital, Palestinian hospital, that is literally on life support — no pun intended — to stay functioning, is in the north. Where will these Palestinians be treated?

What we are seeing is an ongoing shrinking of Palestinian land, is an ongoing campaign to take that land without the people. They want to shrink and concentrate the Palestinians now below Wadi Gaza in what is an untenable situation. As much as we think that this is about war [00:51:00] and conflict and perpetual animosities, this is about land and water.

And there is only one viable future. We either all live together, or we all die together. And despite all of our appeals for us to survive and live together, the international community, mainly the Western governments, led by the United States — the European capitals, who have already cut off aid to Israel; France, which has banned Palestinian protests; Germany, which has banned Palestinian protests — are intent on a military option where there is no outcome. Military solution will not produce an outcome of a viable future for anybody. 

AMY GOODMAN - HOST, DEMOCRACY NOW!: You know, I already played this, but I’m going to play a much shorter clip of the former Israeli prime minister, because of how significant he is, Naftali Bennett, who’s now serving in the army in Gaza, exploding at the Sky News anchor Kamali Melbourne when asked about what’s happening with Palestinian civilians.

KAMALI MELBOURNE: What about [00:52:00] those Palestinians in hospital who are on life support and babies in incubators, whose life support and incubator will have to be turned off because the Israelis have cut the power to Gaza? 

NAFTALI BENNETT: Are you seriously keep on asking me about Palestinian civilians? What’s — what’s wrong with you?

AMY GOODMAN - HOST, DEMOCRACY NOW!: “Are you seriously asking me about what’s happening to Palestinian civilians?” the former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said. You’re a human rights attorney, Noura Erakat. Your response?

NOURA ERAKAT: My response doesn’t have to be based on any expertise in human rights. This is about morality. This is about decency. The fact that Naftali Bennett can get upset about Palestinian civilians and the death of babies in incubators should be indicative to us that Palestinians do not have the same right to survive, that we are not exacting an equality and a [00:53:00] respect and a decency for all civilian life.

We have set up this situation, Amy. We have set up this situation where Palestinians are expected to die. And what we are seeing in this moment is now an expectation that they can die in mass numbers, that they can die being in hospitals where they are cut off by [sic] electricity by the Middle East’s only nuclear power, the 11th most powerful military in the world. It’s the 12th largest military exporter, and the United States and the European community is sending them arms. They do not need arms. This is not a security situation. This is not a failure of security. This is a crisis of political will. This is a — rather than normalize apartheid by inviting Israeli President Isaac Herzog to the Congress, Congress should have mobilized for an immediate imposition of sanctions in order to create a future where all people live, where [00:54:00] all of us live, not just some of us.

US Media's Pro-Israel Propaganda Interrupted By Palestinian Mustafa Barghouti's CNN Interview - The Majority Report - Air Date 10-9-23

FAREED ZAKARIA: Political leader, Ismail Hania has blamed the violence squarely on Israel's occupation of Palestinian land. For another Palestinian viewpoint, I wanted to bring in Dr. Mustafa Barghouti. He's a former information minister for the Palestinian government, which is in control of parts of the West Bank, but does not control Gaza.

 Welcome, Minister. I, again, want to just make sure that viewers understand that the Palestinian Authority has been an opponent of Hamas, so you are not in any way affiliated with Hamas. You represent the Palestinian Authority, which has control over parts of the West Bank. All that said, what is your reaction to what you have seen so far?

MUSTAFA BARGHOUTI: Well, first of all, I am not part of the Palestinian Authority. As a matter of fact, I represent a democratic Palestinian movement called Palestinian National Initiative, which is non-Fatah and non-Hamas. And we're, of course, I am not [00:55:00] affiliated with Hamas. But I think this situation that has evolved is a direct result of the continuation of the longest occupation in modern history. 

Israeli occupation of Palestinian land since 1967. This is 56 years of occupation that has transformed into a system of apartheid, a much worse apartheid than what prevailed in South Africa. Yes, maybe Hamas did not recognize Israel, but the PLO did, and the Palestinian Authority did. What did they get? Nothing. Since 2014, the Israeli governments would not even meet with Palestinians. And what you see today is a reaction to several things. First of all, settlers' terrorist attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank that has evicted already 20 communities in an act of ethnic cleansing. 248 Palestinians who were killed by the Israeli army and settlers in the West Bank, including 40 children attacks on the holy [00:56:00] sites, the Muslim and Christian holy sites by Israeli extremists.

As well as the declaration of Netanyahu that he will liquidate the Palestinian rights and the Palestinian cause by normalization with Arab countries. And he dared even to go to the United Nations and carried in the United Nations a map of Israel, which included the whole of the West Bank, all of Gaza, all of Jerusalem, as well as the Golan Heights. He declared the annexation of the occupied territories.

So, of course, Palestinians turned to resistance, because they see that this is the only way for them to get their rights. The question here is not about dehumanizing Palestinians, as is happening, and calling them terrorists. It's about asking the question, why the United States supports Ukraine in fighting what they call occupation, while here they are supporting the occupier, who [00:57:00] continues to occupy us.

EMMA VIGELAND - CO-HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT: Yes, um, and there's like a moment of Fareed Zakaria not really fully comprehending it, and then they move on to another question. And I think he makes a claim at one point that the targets of Hamas at this point were military targets, which is not true. Like, we played on the show earlier that they ended up killing many young people in Israel at that music festival. So, like, you know, I'm not... I don't know enough about this particular man to make a claim on, I guess, everything he's ever said or done, right? But that point there is completely 100 percent true. It is impossible to square the circle of our stated reasons behind our support for the people of Ukraine, which I think is just, versus our reasoning for supporting [00:58:00] Israel, because in those instances, the parties that are the colonizing parties, the parties that are not respecting the borders, the sovereignty of nations that are oppressing a certain people that has less power, um, those parties are Russia, and that party is Israel in that instance.

 What he says, too, about Netanyahu being deliberately provocative and going to the United Nations with that map that included the Palestinian territories as a part of Israel, that was a deliberately provocative move by Netanyahu a few weeks or months back. I'm forgetting the timeline. And as we discussed with Orly Noy, Netanyahu's boxing out of Palestinians in any talks and going to Arab partners and trying to normalize things like with Saudi Arabia, past allies of Palestinians who had at least kind of stood in solidarity with their plight, the fact that that had been happening meant that they were feeling completely cut [00:59:00] off from any hope of their suffering being alleviated, as well as Netanyahu's green lighting of the settlements and the pogroms that continue without any kind of pushback.

The Israeli Supreme Court, their entire judicial apparatus, says, No, don't worry. It doesn't matter if you have ancestral rights to this home. You don't have documentation. So Israel has a right to take it for "military exercises" or whatever excuse that they give. 

There's been no hope. There's been no hope. And so, that is the context of this attack in Israel, and Hamas's tactics are, you know, the death is horrific. It's horrible. It's condemnable. It's not hard to condemn the killing of civilians in that way. What is the greater story here is that the violence is within the context of the occupation, and that there's one party here that has all the power, that has disproportionate money, technology, [01:00:00] influence on the international stage, that has the capacity right now to end the violence and begin to talk and reconciliation and efforts to really make Palestinian voices heard as opposed to being occupied in an open air prison where the average age is under 20 years old, or median, I should say, because there is only there's very limited electricity, 90 percent of the water, people in Gaza do not have access to clean water, there's very little food, let alone the barrage of attacks in these highly concentrated areas in Gaza where people have no place to hide.

 Like, that is the context that we're talking about here, and one party has the ability to stop that, and that is Israel, and so that is where obviously the blame lies, and that is what the Haaretz editorial board says, that Netanyahu is to blame.

Calling congress about the latest war - Andrew

VOICEMAILER ANDREW: Hi, Jay! Thanks for all the work that you do. I've been listening to your show for a long time. My name is Andrew. 

I'm calling you [01:01:00] today on day seven of the latest war between Israel and Hamas. On this day, Israel has ordered one million Gazans to move south for their own safety while they remain under siege, blockaded, with nowhere to go. And so, really bad times, and I know you're feeling it, but I'm just wondering, do you call your congressman? Because I got this email today from Justice Democrats, and it's urging me to call my congressmen to call upon them to advocate for a ceasefire, an immediate ceasefire in Israel and Gaza.

And my gut reaction to that was just, no, I'm not going to bother. I really don't think there is any will on my congressman's part to call for a ceasefire. [01:02:00] I mean, the only congresspeople that are calling for it right now are already being just pummeled in the media and from many sides. 

So I'm just wondering, do you call your congressmen on stuff like this? That just seems so -- it's such a far shot, that the US Congress is going to tell Israel anything other than "do what you have to do and we have your back." 

Anyway, I just wanted to see what you think about that, and, I'm going back and forth on it. So, thank you for all that you do, and I really appreciate your show. Have a good day.

Final comments with even more notes of nuance from the conflict

JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: We've just heard clips today, starting with Gaslit Nation, laying out some much needed context for the conflict in the holy land. Democracy Now! started off the reporting about the Hamas attack with personal stories from both sides. CounterSpin spoke with Phyllis Bennis about what important context the media needs to share. Democracy Now! [01:03:00] discussed the intelligence and military failure as well as the failure of the blockade of Gaza by Israel in preventing the Hamas attack. Ebro in the Morning spoke with AOC who gave her perspective on the progressive approach to valuing human dignity and opposing dehumanization everywhere on both sides of this conflict. Gaslit Nation spoke with Terrell Starr about the need to see the complexities in order to avoid taking terrible missteps the way the US did after 9/11. Marc Steiner Show looked at the recent phases of the cycles of violence in the occupied West Bank. Democracy Now! looked at the perspective that everyone living in the Gaza Strip is collectively responsible for the attack. And Democracy Now! also discussed how dehumanizing rhetoric primes people to accept atrocities. 

That's what everybody heard, but members also heard a bonus clip from The Majority Report looking at a comparison between the war in the Holy Land and the war between Russia and Ukraine. To hear that and [01:04:00] have all of our bonus content delivered seamlessly to the new members-only podcast feed that you'll receive, sign up to support the show at bestoftheleft.com/support, or shoot me an email requesting a financial hardship membership, because we don't let a lack of funds stand in the way of hearing more information. 

Now to wrap up, a few additional notes on the conflict that we didn't have time to squeeze into the show itself. The news of the day basically is that the Gaza healthcare system is in a state of collapse due to the siege implemented by Israel, preventing electricity and fuel from entering the area. There's this headline from The Independent, says "Civilians Are Drinking Seawater As Supplies Run Out", and it mentions that the World Health Organization says there are less than 24 hours worth of supplies in many areas. So it's indicating that there are, you know, in some places there could be starvation, lack of water, and death happening imminently. 

In response to [01:05:00] Andrew, who we heard call in with the question about whether it's worth calling Congress, I would just point towards the "shut-up strategy", as I call it. I think it's a completely morally bankrupt strategy, but it's been a long running one in this conflict and the argument goes that if you have anything you want to say speaking out against Israel, or you want to add nuance to the situation, you should shut up, or you're anti-Semitic. That is basically how the argument goes. And since that is a terrible argument, I would say that being vocal in any capacity is worth the effort. I think that the 9/11 parallel that Israel has invoked actually helps demonstrate this. What they're basically arguing is that as victims of a 9/11-type event, they should be allowed and, frankly, expected to act out of a desire [01:06:00] for extreme vengeance, fueled by grief, fear, and anger. 

This is exactly what the US did after 9/11 and those wars we started are now roundly condemned as having been terrible ideas. Now, like, in a different context, not a conflict between countries or even political groups, but just bringing it down to individuals who commit violence against one another, you know, there's violence committed and then there's a trial, right? Someone is being accused and the victim of a crime is not allowed in our system to also help determine the punishment, nor should they. Being in a heightened state of grief and anger as a personal victim is no time to make a rational decision about an appropriate response to something like violence. But in war, such as after an attack like the one from Hamas, it is precisely the victims, [01:07:00] while in a heightened state of grief, anger, and fear, who then get to decide how their country, in this case Israel, responds. This is precisely why we need other voices to speak up right now, to help guide the response away from vengeance to something that has even the slightest chance of being more productive in the longterm. 

As for the US and our support of Israel, we may be trying to have it both ways. That's how it seems to me. And keep in mind that diplomatic language is always going to be at play in a case like this. And you're always having to sort of read between the lines. But we started out, you know, right from the beginning by saying that we fully support Israel and its right to defend itself. That's totally standard, to be expected. But as plans for the invasion of Gaza began to emerge, the rhetoric from the US continued to maintain support while also discouraging them from doing anything profoundly stupid [01:08:00] that might get themselves into an even worse situation that they will be stuck in for years to come. This strategy sort of summed up by this reference to quotes from Biden in an article says "US President Joe Biden said Israel 'has to' go after Hamas - has to in quotes - but it would be 'a big mistake for Gaza to be occupied by its forces'". 

So, you know, I think for our current situation, that is almost as good as we're gonna get. But speaking of it being a big mistake, I am happy to go into more detail. There's a pretty good piece from The Atlantic titled "Israel Is Walking Into a Trap". And in essence, it argues that Hamas, contrary to what rhetoric from Israeli leadership might have you believe... Hamas is made up of humans, not animals. And as humans, they have the capacity to predict reactions to this attack that they planned [01:09:00] for a very long time. Undoubtedly, they would have expected Israel to invade Gaza in an all out assault and wanted to drag them into a prolonged ground war that would be terrible, deadly and expensive for the country. This is exactly the strategy laid out by the planners of 9/11: use terrorism to draw the US into an unwinnable war that would drain its resources. This is because a small disempowered faction cannot hope to do as much damage to a larger power as that larger power can inflict on itself, given the right circumstances. It is the intended outcome of the use of terrorism to create those circumstances so that the greater power acts to their own detriment. And so the argument goes, Hey, Israel, don't fall for it. Obviously you're only going to do [01:10:00] what they hope you do. 

Now, one last note on the complicated relationship between the Palestinian people and Hamas. This is one of the stickiest bits of nuance that creates great opportunities for propaganda based on real events, things people really say feelings, people really have. But it gets used as propaganda to sort of inflate the reality. Let me explain what I mean. The accusation goes that Hamas leads Gaza. And if people didn't like them, then they should be overthrown somehow. I mean, they don't hold elections so they can't be voted out, but you know, the people should rise up and overthrow Hamas. And also that when Hamas attacks Israelis, not just in the most recent attack, but you know, in other instances, civilians can be seen celebrating. And that's absolutely true. And all of this acts as so-called evidence that all or nearly all of the [01:11:00] civilians in Gaza are either responsible for, or are at least in favor of the actions of Hamas. Up to and including the murder of civilians. 

Now to me, it's really not that hard to imagine a Palestinian person holding a complicated set of thoughts about Hamas and their actions. It doesn't seem contradictory to me for someone living in Gaza to potentially think that both Hamas, maybe for their violence or for other reasons, and Israel, for their blockade of Gaza and, you know, the general policies that create oppression for Palestinian people, are terrible. They might think both of these groups are terrible. But for this individual to sort of default to the old, Well, 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend' sort of position, or maybe they think, Well, you know, I don't like how they're conducting the fight, but at least Hamas is fighting for me. So it can be complicated. And I think that any honest person could admit to understanding [01:12:00] those very normal human emotions. You know, they're not absolutely basic human emotions. They're a little bit more complicated, a little bit more nuanced. But I think honest people can recognize, Yeah, I can see myself feeling that way. And demonstrating that point is a quote from a Palestinian man in a USA Today article. It says, "'Killing anybody is wrong', said a Palestinian man chatting with friends Saturday in downtown Ramallah. 'But imagine you live somewhere and I come and lock you in your house. I control everything that comes in and out of your house. Occasionally I come and beat you up. Eventually you're going to resist and start fighting back with whatever you have', he said. 'With the Hamas attacks, that's what's happening'". 

So, as I've said from the beginning, Adding as much context and nuance to this discussion is the only way to hope [01:13:00] to understand it. And that goes for both sides. We included important context and understanding about the Israeli and broader Jewish diaspora perspective, right?, at the top of the show, just as AOC included the important point about the very real danger of antisemitism. That's all important to understand as well, though that is the context that is most readily presented by media and governments alike when there's a rush to defend Israel. 

But as the positions and policies of Israel's far-right government become more and more indefensible, things are beginning to change. There is a growing understanding that Israel's actions are not purely in self-defense, but are actively creating innocent victims, not to mention creating a context ripe for blowback. I absolutely expected the response to the Hamas attack in the media and from individuals on social media and wherever else to be absolutely awful. And there certainly [01:14:00] has been plenty of that. But the voices that speak out for and, even, you know, because they have, to insist on the existence of innocence on both sides. Those voices are louder and have been given more space in mainstream publications and on television than we could have possibly expected even 5 or 10 years ago. The demands that critics of Israel's government simply shut up, lest they be labeled antisemitic, is beginning to fall flat. And I find that to be hopeful at least. 

That is going to be it for today as always keep the comments coming in. I would love to hear your thoughts or questions about this or anything else you can leave a voicemail or send us a text to 202-999-3991 or simply email me to [email protected]. Thanks to everyone for listening. Thanks to Deon Clark and Erin Clayton for their research work for the show and participation in our bonus episodes. Thanks to our Transcriptionist Trio, Ken Brian, [01:15:00] LaWendy, their volunteer work helping put our transcripts together. Thanks to Amanda Hoffman for all of her work on our social media outlets, activism segments, graphic designing, web mastering, and bonus show co-hosting. And thanks to those who already support the show by becoming a member or purchasing gift memberships at bestoftheleft.com/support. You can join them by signing up today. It would be greatly appreciated. You'll find that link in the show notes, along with a link to join our Discord community. Where you can continue the discussion. 

So, coming to you from far outside the conventional wisdom of Washington, DC, my name is Jay, and this has been the Best of the Left podcast coming to twice weekly, thanks entirely to the members and donors to the show from bestoftheleft.com.

Showing 1 reaction

  • Jay Tomlinson
    published this page in Transcripts 2023-10-17 19:31:56 -0400
Sign up for activism updates