#1592 Israel and Palestine are less complicated than you think (Transcript)

Air Date 11/10/2023

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JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: [00:00:00] During today's episode, I'm going to be telling you about a show I think you should check out. It's The Black Guy Who Tips podcast. So take a moment to hear what I have to say about them in the middle of the show, and listen wherever you get your podcasts.

And now, welcome to this episode of the award-winning Best of the Left podcast in which we'll take a look at how violence and oppression are corrosive to both the victim and perpetrator, and why this goes a long way toward explaining many of the dynamics at play in the Holy Land between Israelis and Palestinians. 

Sources today include AJ+, The Mehdi Hasan Show, The Bitchuation Room, Owen Jones, This Is Hell!, Inside the Hive, Factually! with Adam Conover, and Democracy Now!, with an additional members-only clip from Against the Grain.

Why Hamas Attacked Israel - And What's Next For Gaza - AJ+ - Air Date 10-13-23

DENA TAKRURI - HOST, AJ+: Just after dawn on October 7th, 2023, Palestinian fighters belonging to the group Hamas broke out of the besieged Gaza Strip. After blowing through Israel's high tech fence, [00:01:00] they attacked several of the surrounding military bases and overran them, before moving on to Israeli communities near the border.

At least 1, 300 Israelis were killed, and dozens were captured and taken into Gaza to be used in a future prisoner swap. Many of the dead were deemed civilians under international law, and children were also among those killed. Many governments have rallied behind Israel, which has already bombarded Gaza with airstrikes, flattening neighborhoods, and killing at least 1, 900 Palestinians at the time of this recording.

Israel has also cut off water, electricity, fuel, and food to the people there, and declared a total siege. So why did Hamas attack Israel?

A lot of the condemnation of the Hamas attack has called it unprovoked. But is that accurate? Now, the purpose here isn't to condone or justify it. It's to understand why it happened, because if we don't, then it's more likely that we'll see this happening over and over again. 

While things may have been calm and normal for [00:02:00] Israelis until then, for Palestinians, daily life was intolerable pain. In fact, for 16 years, Gaza has been under an Israeli siege so severe that it's often called the world's largest open-air prison. The Secretary General of the United Nations has described Gaza as hell on earth. And way back in 2012, the UN warned that if Israel's policies in Gaza didn't change, this tiny strip of land that's one of the most densely populated places on earth would become unfit for human living by 2020. It's now 2023. And in fact, analysts who had been paying attention were trying to sound the alarm, that things were getting worse, that the status quo was getting more and more untenable, that an explosion was inevitable. 

The siege began when Hamas took over Gaza in 2007, a year after winning the Palestinian Authority elections.

You see, Hamas was founded in Gaza in the late 1980s, 20 years into Israel's occupation of the territory. The group [00:03:00] has a military link, but it's also a political party. Its stated goal is to liberate all of Palestine and the return of Palestinian refugees exiled during Israel's founding in 1948. And it has always said that the only way to achieve that goal is to fight.

For the 2. 3 million Palestinians who live in Gaza, the 16-year siege means that Israel controls basically everything about their lives, and it has created a humanitarian catastrophe for them. The economy is devastated because Israel limits Gaza's trade with the outside world, leaving most of the population unemployed.

The health sector has also been in crisis, with medicines frequently running out, and patients denied Israeli permits to leave for life-saving health care. And electricity only lasts a few hours a day because Israel limits the amount of fuel let into Gaza. At one point, official documents showed that Israel calculated the number of calories allowed into Gaza, just enough to keep people from starving. 

Nearly half of Gaza's population is under 18. That [00:04:00] means most of the people living there have never been able to leave Gaza. They've never stepped foot in Jerusalem or met a fellow Palestinian from the occupied West Bank. And they've survived several major attacks, leaving them with unimaginable trauma.

Tens of thousands of homes and buildings were targeted and destroyed by Israel during these assaults, which left thousands of Palestinians dead. For example, in the summer of 2014 alone, at least 2,100 Palestinians, including at least 500 children, were killed by Israeli bombardment. In that conflict, 72 Israelis were killed, 66 of them soldiers.

Despite some international criticism, Israel has never faced serious calls to end its siege on Gaza. In 2018, tens of thousands of Gazans tried to break the siege by marching nonviolently onto the boundary fence with Israel every Friday for almost two years. They were met with gunfire. For weeks, Israeli soldiers shot at those attempting to get close, resulting in hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries, [00:05:00] including medics and journalists.

Even before Hamas took control of Gaza, Israel had subjected the territory to a closure since the 1990s. This meant that Palestinians could rarely enter or exit Gaza unless they had a rare Israeli permit. This policy is part of a larger Israeli military occupation of Gaza and the West Bank that's now lasted more than half a century. Multiple human rights groups around the world have found that Israel actually runs a system of apartheid, with separate laws for Israelis and Palestinians. Ultimately, this means that Israel is a state that, based on ethnicity, denies citizenship and rights to the millions of people over which it rules, i.e., the Palestinians. 

Under international law, Israel's occupation, which is now in its 56th year, is illegal. And apartheid is a crime against humanity. 

Meanwhile, the occupied West Bank is ruled by Hamas' political rival, the Palestinian Authority, which rejects confrontation with Israel, hoping to end the occupation through US-led peace talks. But since those peace talks began 30 [00:06:00] years ago, Israel has only expanded its illegal settlements on Palestinian land, and the occupation has become more entrenched. Time and time again, Palestinians have seen that negotiations, peaceful marches, and other nonviolent means of protest have not gotten them any closer to achieving freedom and rights.

In the overall situation for Palestinians living under Israel's occupation has steadily gotten worse. The current Netanyahu government, the most right wing and anti-Arab in Israel's history, includes leaders who have openly called for the renewed ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, and the destruction of entire Palestinian towns.

In 2023 alone, they've incited several attacks on Palestinian villages in the West Bank -- attacks that even Israeli observers refer to as "pogroms", referring to the antisemitic rampages suffered by Jews in Eastern Europe. Armed Israeli settlers smashed homes, burned cars, and set fire to fields. When Palestinians try to defend their property, Israeli forces shot at them, both with live [00:07:00] fire and rubber-coated bullets, as well as tear gas.

Israeli politicians and settlers have also repeatedly entered the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, the third-holiest site in Islam, where Israeli forces have attacked Palestinian worshipers. By the way, they've been open about their attempts to destroy the mosque and build a new Jewish temple atop it. And the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli soldiers and settlers in the West Bank hit a 20-year high in 2023.

The scale of the Hamas attack was unprecedented in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. While dis- and misinformation has spread widely in the aftermath about precisely what happened, there's no doubt that Israeli civilians were targeted. 

OMAR BARTOV: It's important to remember that Israel has one of the best equipped militaries in the world, and the backing of many Western governments. That's why it's always been able to inflict far more death on Palestinians than vice versa. 

'The possibility of genocide is staring us in the face' in Gaza: Holocaust studies professor - The Mehdi Hasan Show - Air Date 11-3-23

OMAR BARTOV: I think that the situation we're facing now, as the statement that you read earlier that I co-signed indicates, is one [00:08:00] where the possibility of genocide is staring us in the face. You have cited many statements made by Israeli politicians, by Israeli generals, which indicate an intent, one of the most difficult aspects to prove in genocide, and in fact these leaders have used statements that appear to show an intent to genocide, to commit genocide. My own view is, as far as I can tell, uh, being here and not on the ground there, and depending on reports like most of us, is that what is happening right now in Gaza can quite clearly be seen as war crimes, potentially also crimes against humanity, possibly may become genocide. I don't think that what is happening there right now is genocide, and there are conflicting statements also from [00:09:00] commanders on the ground who are claiming that they are using a great deal of military force, but what they're trying to do is to kill Hamas operatives, and they are trying not to kill civilians, although, as you've said, they have not done so very successfully. But I think it's very important to stress that the danger of genocide is right there, and that, if things progress, as they're going right now, what we are seeing now may become much worse.

There are also very threatening statements that you haven't cited, which have to do with an intent to ethnic cleansing. One statement that became public is from the Ministry of Intelligence, which is not a particularly important ministry right now, but that is talking about removing all the Palestinian population from Gaza to the Sinai Peninsula, to the Egyptian side of the border. That would clearly be an indication of ethnic cleansing. [00:10:00] And one thing we know about genocide is that it often begins with ethnic cleansing. In fact, that's what happened in the Holocaust. So what we are seeing is a very, very dangerous moment. And if no stop is brought right now, things may very quickly deteriorate.

MEHDI HASAN - HOST, THE MEHDI HASAN SHOW: So, Professor, some defenders of Israel point not just to steps taken by the Israeli military to ostensibly reduce civilian casualties, like dropping leaflets, telling Gaza to evacuate, but also to the fact that the Palestinian population in both the West Bank and Gaza has increased over the decades. So how can Israel be behaving in a genocidal way, they say? The British writer Simon Sebag Montefiore, in a very viral essay for The Atlantic last week said, "Demographic shrinkage is one obvious marker of genocide, and yet the Palestinian population has grown", he says, and continues to grow. Is that a fair defense?

OMAR BARTOV: No, I don't think so. No. Um, look, one issue with genocide, and when you referred [00:11:00] to Russia and Ukraine was quite relevant, is in the case of Russia and Ukraine, Russia refuses to accept the possibility of there being an independent Ukrainian state. It doesn't want to kill all Ukrainians, it wants to actually destroy the idea of a Ukrainian nation. And Israel has had some agreements with the PLO, with Palestinian political leadership, but by and large, there is a very strong push in Israel with the Netanyahu, the multiple Netanyahu administrations, to make the Palestinians somehow go away. This is actually not happening only in Gaza, but also on the West Bank, where violence by settlers, protected by the military and often with the help of the military, increasingly exercising violence against the Palestinians there, and there are dangers, and many Palestinians would say so, of a second Nakba, of another expulsion of [00:12:00] Palestinians.

So, in that sense, numbers, you know, people in Gaza, and I actually served in Gaza many years ago as a soldier, in the 1970s, the population was 350,000, and now it's between 2 and 2.5 million people. So the population has grown, conditions have greatly deteriorated, and Gaza has been besieged for 16 years now by the Israeli authorities, and if the intention is to move people out of their territory, then what you can say is that there's an indication of ethnic cleansing. 

MEHDI HASAN - HOST, THE MEHDI HASAN SHOW: Let me ask you this, Professor. What would you say to Israelis, to fellow Jews, who say it's outrageous to accuse us of genocide, given what we've endured in our history, and especially when we're fighting against Hamas, which has expressed genocidal intent towards us? What would you say? 

OMAR BARTOV: So the first thing I would say is that indeed Hamas has expressed genocidal intent, and the massacre that is [00:13:00] carried out was clearly a war crime and a crime against humanity. So I don't think there's any question about that. To me, as someone who has studied and written on the Holocaust for decades now, what is most outrageous is that an Israeli government, the government of the only Jewish state in the world, is pursuing policies that can easily be identified as policies of war crimes, of crimes against humanity, and is making genocidal statements. That is the most outrageous aspect about this government, a government of a state that was created in the wake of the Holocaust, that has said repeatedly, never again. And 'never again' is not only never again against Jews, but never again, never again genocide. 

Shock Doctrine Israel with Naomi Klein - The Bitchuation Room - Air Date 10-31-23

NAOMI KLEIN: I think there's lots of different ways of understanding this extremely reckless, treacherous blanket support that the Israeli state is getting right now, some of [00:14:00] which has to do with this kind of Second World War do-over loop that we're in, where it's like, Okay, well we let it happen last time, we waited way too long, even when we intervened to stop Hitler, you know, we didn't do things like bomb the train tracks on the way to the camps. I mean, so there's this way in which this narrative, and this is a separate question, but I just want to be clear that there's a lot going on right now. And some of it is this idea that Israel cultivates a positioning, like freezing itself in the Holocaust moment and equating blanket support for Israel with this is your chance to stop another Holocaust, never mind that we are the ones committing massive war crimes and pre-announce we plan to commit genocide and then target civilians, collective punishment. This is a [00:15:00] genocide in progress, but while doing it, we are the ones saying, no, we're the ones facing genocide and now here's your chance to get it right this time. That's a lot of it, but that is not all of it. That doesn't explain all of it. It explains some of it, that's a piece of it.

Another is this idea of the lab. That they are the lab for every country that has a similar model of security without justice or peace in this incredibly unequal world, and it is connected with climate, it is connected with our other wars that our governments are waging and funding, and the mass displacement connected to that, and the fact that Israel is not the only country that is just trying to have a bubble of "normalcy" in the midst of mass incarceration of another people. It's just a hyper exaggerated example of that, right?

FRANCESCA FIORENTINI - HOST, THE BITCHUATION ROOM: It's a modern day, I mean, what I love about what you're saying is that [00:16:00] I think a lot of us, like, look at Israel as kind of this vestige of a colonial past, like, that's happening in real time, a modern day colonialism, but you're saying that actually it is mirroring the other ways that Western countries are trying to build higher borders, I mean, taller walls to keep out refugees from countries that we helped, you know, destroy. So it is kind of got one foot in both of these... it's a 75 year old, you know, wound, but then it also is continuing on... 

NAOMI KLEIN: Our own settler-colonial states are trying to protect themselves in these ways. And oftentimes with Israeli-supplied technology. Because this is the pitch of security without peace, security without justice, that the Israeli government has been selling in its so-called start up nation, is like, you too can have the wall, you too can have the, you know, the biometric sensors and the rest of it and this is part of what allows Israel to have security without peace, because this is a booming economy. This is part of what fuels Israel's [00:17:00] economy, is the sale of these technologies and weaponry. 

So, when Hamas penetrates that wall on the scale that it did on October the 7th, that is a security failure not only for Israel. It calls the whole project of security without peace or justice for the entire globe into question. And so I think part of what we're seeing in the ferocity of Israel's response and the seeming insanity of the support for it from Biden et al., is we cannot let this model fail because what does that mean for our own borders? What does that mean, you know, for the saws and the buoys in the Rio Grande? What does it mean for the barges the UK government is now using to deport migrants? You know, what does it mean for Australia's detention camps on islands like Manus? Like it's, this is a global project and Israel's a kind of [00:18:00] an intensified avatar for it. 

And so that's partly how I understand what doesn't seem to make any sense of this blanket support. But yeah, it's also about the fact that it is a settler-colonial.... and this comes to the material in Doppelganger that looks at Israel as, you know, I quote a scholar, um, in the UK, Caroline Rooney, who calls Israel's formation an example of doppelganger politics in that it becomes a doppelganger of the European nationalism that so many Jews were fleeing. And you know, she's not saying it's a doppelganger of the Nazis, but she is saying it's a doppelganger of that sort of hyper-nationalism that fermented the pogroms, for instance. And of course, Israeli society has this, like, doppelganger at the center of it, which is this idea of the new Jew, right? It's a doppelganger of the old Jew, which is like hyper-masculinist, militarist, that holding the gun instead of the book, basically. And it's like, we will [00:19:00] defeat the other through brute force. 

Antisemitism: An Evil, An Enemy Of Peace - Owen Jones - Air Date 10-31-23 

OWEN JONES - HOST, OWEN JONES: Our opposition to what the Israeli state is doing is driven not by hatred; it is driven by a universal humanity, and from that same universal humanity must spring an absolute, visceral opposition to antisemitism.

The reasons for opposing the mass suffering of the Palestinian people, then, and the atrocities committed against the Palestinian people, must come from the same place as our opposition to antisemitism. 

Now, this is important on its own terms. Antisemitism is a great evil, an evil which is responsible for hideous crimes, but it will also be impossible to achieve a lasting peace in Israel, Palestine and beyond, unless antisemitism is truly eradicated, which we'll talk about. 

Now, the reason I decided to do this video now primarily is because of the events in Dagestan, Russia, in which an antisemitism mob went on a rampage searching for Israelis and also set fire to a Jewish center [00:20:00] under construction in a neighboring Russian republic. Here's a clip of what happened. [Video of angry mob]

Now these scenes we'll find in many Jews in whichever country they live, and that's more than understandable. What I want to talk about, as one often agrees, some history is so important to discuss. This isn't a lecture, those of you who are already familiar with all of it or most of it, but it's impossible to frame this argument without going over it.

Now, in Europe, antisemtism has a pedigree going back for around two millenia. And that's crucial to understand because it's ingrained in our culture. That means it's possible to absorb and replicate antisemitic ideas, imagery, tropes, without even realizing it. And the history of antisemitism in Europe cannot be, obviously, divorced from the defamatory myths of Jewish collective guilt for the killing of Jesus Christ. Now, whether or not Christ existed and, for nonbelievers like myself, there's a respectful disagreement with devout Christians about whether he was the son of God -- but nonetheless, he was, according to scripture, [00:21:00] killed by the Roman Empire. He was himself Jewish, and clearly, in any case, the Jewish people, either at the time or since, were not collectively responsible for his crucifixion.

In any case, it was a hatred which led to blood libel. For example, the idea that Jewish people were ritually murdering Christian children. Jews were blamed for the bubonic plague, not least in the 14th century, when a third of the European population perished. The claim was they were poisoning wells, that kind of thing, and that led to the massacre of Jews.

There were repeated expulsions of Jews in the 13th century in England. So the 12th century in England -- or 13th century -- sorry, the 14th century in France, 15th century in Spain and Portugal, and the rise of Protestantism also drove new forms of antisemitism. 

Now it should be noted that in these periods It was far safer to be Jewish in the Middle East, where they were given the status of dhimmi, a term meaning essentially protected people, granting them legal protection alongside Christians. That didn't mean they couldn't suffer persecution, they could and did, they didn't enjoy full rights, but their [00:22:00] plight was generally considerably less severe than in Europe, and many Jews actually fled Europe to the Middle East in the Middle Ages. 

Now Jews and Muslims actually allied together against the Crusaders, for example, in Haifa in 1099, and were massacred by the Crusaders together, in Jerusalem, where Frankish Crusaders burned Jewish worshippers to death in a synagogue.

Now, what's important to know is, in the 19th century, the nature of European antisemitism changed. Before then, it was based on religion. If a Jewish person converted to Christianity, they were treated as a Christian and therefore spared persecution. But with the advent of colonialism, we saw the rise of biological racism. The justification for colonialism came on the grounds that, for example, African people were an inferior race. That's how you could justify stealing their land and treating them in the most abominable way possible. And this biological racism, with its rise, then came to apply to Jewish people who are now racialized. And for this new wave of antisemitism, Jewish [00:23:00] people were always considered Jewish. It didn't matter if they converted to Christianity. Or, they weren't believers at all, or whatever, they were still considered Jewish, and therefore could never be spared persecution. And we saw an increase in this period of pogroms, not least in Eastern Europe, under Russian Tsarist rule, where the Tsarist authorities intentionally stirred up antisemitism. It's the context where the fabricated Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion were distributed, which claimed a Jewish plot for world domination, which circulated in the early 20th century onwards. And you can see, of course, the pogroms in eastern Europe of that period, the echoes of that today in Dagestan.

Now many Jews fled to western Europe in this period. In the 19th century saw the rise of the Jewish population of the UK, for example in the East End, who were then targeted by antisemitism, with the Conservatives' Alien Act of 1905 tapping into rising hostility to Jewish refugees at the time. 

Now, obviously, antisemitism existed in the Middle East, but it is a historical fact that was [00:24:00] fueled to a significant degree by the export of forms of antisemitism originated in Europe, which then got assimilated locally.

And that's why it does remain true that the Palestinians are today, in large part, being forced to pay for the crimes of Europeans.

Far Right Exploiting Gaza War to Spread Antisemitism and Islamophobia / Shane Burley - This Is Hell! - Air Date 11-7-23

CHUCK MERTZ - HOST, THIS IS HELL!: What do we miss in our understanding of the reaction to the war in Gaza so far when we only see the binary of supporters on either side saying what can be defined as hate speech toward the other? What do we miss in our understanding when we only see that as the two sides?

SHANE BURLEY: I think part of it is the way that we frame discussions about Zionism and anti-Zionism, where anti-Zionism is seen as potentially antisemitic by its very nature. And that kind of dispels the reality, which is that there are people who argue in favor of Israel and maintain antisemitic views, and there's people who maintain against Israel and maintain antisemitic views, but the vast majority of [00:25:00] people in the Palestine Solidarity Movement are there because they support freedom and justice in Palestine.

There are other people who come in, not because... they really own those goals, but because they see it as a way of diverting anger towards Jews as a supposedly collective entity. So, when they're talking about Zionist occupied government, they're talking specifically about a Jewish occupied government. When they're talking about Israel, they're seeing it only as a Jewish collectivity. And because they know there's a lot of anger right now, and they know that people are flooding into the streets and they want to take action, they think that this is an opportunity for them to divert people away from the mainline Palestine Solidarity Movement and into their weird corner of it.

CHUCK MERTZ - HOST, THIS IS HELL!: So, uh, being, or seeing Jewish people as a collective entity, do you see that also taking place within, not just on the fringes of the far right, or even those on the far left, but do you see that also taking place in the establishment corporate media? 

SHANE BURLEY: I think that it happens in a weird way on the sort of pro-Israel right a little bit more, where you [00:26:00] find right wing commentators speaking to what they hope is a Jewish audience to create sort of an allegiance between them by showing this kind of explosive support for Israel, while at the same time having other kind of far right politics that typically harm Jews. So it's a way of sort of buying a certain amount of loyalty by saying, Hey, well, look, I support Israel. And isn't that your collective entity? Isn't that the thing you care about the most? And that is something that, for example, Donald Trump said very explicitly when trying to garner Jewish votes, very explicitly in his treatment of, for example, moving the embassy to Jerusalem. All those sorts of things are built on this idea that they want to communicate with a Jewish audience by making this connection between Israel and Jews firm. 

CHUCK MERTZ - HOST, THIS IS HELL!: There have been polls recently that show President Biden's support among Arab-Americans is dropping due to the policy, his policy, his administration's policy on Gaza and Israel. Meanwhile, Fox [00:27:00] News is supposedly benefiting from the war as those supporting Israel have found what has been described as a refuge for pro-Israel as well as anti-Palestinian perspectives. That would suggest White nationalists and Fox News would be at odds over Israel. Is there a divide right now taking place between Fox and White nationalists over the Gaza War?

SHANE BURLEY: Absolutely. And this is actually a split that's not new. It's one that happens between White nationalists and the more establishment side of the far right, the one that's associated more with the GOP and the electoral system. Because that dividing line is about whether or not they "name the Jew". If they think that Jews are at the center of this kind of global cabal, this global problem that they're locating, if they explicitly say it, that's usually the breaking point that they have with the mainstream right. The mainstream right uses Israel as its absolute key to the Middle East, right? They see it as an ethno-nationalist state, in a good way. They want to emulate that. They want to [00:28:00] have a sort of brutal military occupation against largely Muslim folks in the Middle East. And so this is something that they actually push for as a real centerpiece of how they view foreign policy. That is not the same as a lot of White nationalists who instead see Israel as simply another machination of Jews controlling global policy. They believe that Israel is what controls the U.S. and that, you know, funnels money and gets the U.S. into foreign wars, things like that. So that dividing line has been maintained for decades. And in fact, it's one of the ways in which they want to pull from disaffected areas of the far right electoral base. So, they're going to say, Hey, if you're dissatisfied with what's happening, you know, if you have an isolationist idea, or you have a more libertarian perspective, come over here, because we actually support criticizing Israel. We're actually going to break with the establishment. And this has always been the recruiting strategy, because what they want is disaffected people from the far right electoral sphere. They want to pull people who no longer feel represented by Fox [00:29:00] News or Tucker Carlson. 

CHUCK MERTZ - HOST, THIS IS HELL!: So, you've been citing White nationalists now for a couple of decades. Do White nationalists, do they spend a lot of time arguing over who they should hate most? 

SHANE BURLEY: Absolutely. I mean, this is a centerpiece of how they define themselves. And just like you see in any online culture, you have people trying to one up each other, name Jews more explicitly, but what really defines explicit White nationalism, particularly in the U.S., is how central the Jews are. Because you have to remember, White nationalists believe in a global plot against White people. And there's only one way that that really makes sense: if there's a little cabal at the top that's manipulating people. And so the Jews make a perfect totem for this, because the way that they sort of racialize them is excessively smart, conniving, that they have their hands in world affairs, that they manipulate the modern world, and so that is how they piece it together. Without that, their whole idea would fall apart.

Naomi Klein on 'Selective Information' About Israel and Gaza - Inside the Hive - Air Date 11-2-23

NAOMI KLEIN: I think it is one of those moments [00:30:00] where the most powerful forces on Earth, you know, backed by nuclear arsenals, whether we're talking about the U.S. or Israel, seem to be acting on pure emotion, which is not what one wants from leaders with that level of power. And this idea of just sending a message through brute violence, you know, I remember from post-9/11 of just, you know, we are going to teach them a lesson. That's not the way lessons work.

I mean, I think we are still in the world created by the brute violence after 9/11. This idea that you teach the world a lesson by destroying residential areas, hospitals... that breeds more terrorism from what I saw in my reporting in Iraq. And... I guess what I find shocking is that there seemed to be a sense that we learned a lot, like we told ourselves we learned some of the lessons from 9/11 about what violence can and cannot do, and now it just seems like [00:31:00] we are really doubling down.

BRIAN SELTER - HOST, INSIDE THE HIVE: When you say "we", who is the we? 

NAOMI KLEIN: We is the Western world. I mean, you know, I'm speaking to you from Canada. I have dual U.S.-Canadian citizenship. I've lived in the States. I'm Jewish. So here I am a person that could have three citizenships if I wanted to. I am part of the intensely privileged world, as I think you are as well, but we live in an unbelievably unequal world and increasingly, I think, the privileged parts of the world believe that we can maintain really untenable levels of injustice and inequality through walls, prisons, force, you know, this is some of what I get into in the book, including, you know, the book does end in Gaza, strangely enough. So, when I say "we", I'm talking about all these governments and all the Western governments that have said to Israel, "We stand with you". I mean, I don't stand with Israel, I stand with international law. I stand with an international humanitarian legal architecture that grew out of the [00:32:00] Second World War and the atrocities of the Holocaust that says, You can't target civilians. So I condemned the targeting of civilians when it was Hamas doing it. But what I see in Gaza, with the leveling of apartment blocks, the collective punishment, and the discourse of, It's our turn to do Dresden, it's our turn to do Hiroshima, is actively unlearning everything that was learned from the atrocities of the Second World War. 

I think this is a moment where we stand with what we already decided after the Second World War, which is you do not target civilians. You do not collectively punish and you do not attempt to eliminate a people in whole or in part. And when you have documents emerging from Israeli intelligence about moving large parts of the population of Gaza into Egypt, that is decimating a people in part. So, you know, I'm just trying to stay true to these agreements that our predecessors came up with in the aftermath of the Second World [00:33:00] War. I don't know what else to do. 

BRIAN SELTER - HOST, INSIDE THE HIVE: One of the things that's really horrified me and baffled me are these massacre deniers. You know, these folks who are claiming that there wasn't actually a massacre in Israel, that it's made up by the media or by the Israelis. There has been a critique, there's been a claim, at least, that some on the left have been unwilling to condemn the Hamas massacre in Israel. Have you wrestled with that? Have you noticed this? 

NAOMI KLEIN: I have wrestled with it. I wrote a piece in The Guardian that was explicitly about this, not that there was a denial, that's a separate thing, around the denials. 

BRIAN SELTER - HOST, INSIDE THE HIVE: Yeah. The denial is a separate thing. 

NAOMI KLEIN: I think that's quite marginal. 


NAOMI KLEIN: And I think it's important to say that there are people on the left who are in denial about the brutality of the targeting of civilians, the massacres on Israeli kibbutz, like B'Eri, the music festival, and very selective editing of information. It is massacre denialism, [00:34:00] and it serves no one to engage in that. There was, separate from what you're describing as denialism, there were comments that were made, you know, October 9th, 10th, 11th, that were just, somewhat celebratory, right? Or at least not reckoning with like, it's kind of an excitement about the image of the paraglider, right, of this image of freedom. And let me tell you, I mean, I've been to Gaza, I've reported from Gaza, it is absolutely an open air prison. And so I can understand 16 years into a siege when you just see a paraglider and you don't know where that paraglider is going, that that is an image of liberation. Right? 

So, those initial responses of this is a jailbreak, I absolutely get. Once you know where they were going, it has a completely different meaning. And I think we need to acknowledge that. And I think there have been, there's been, there has been acknowledgment. I mean, there have been groups that, tweeted those images and, since taking them down. 

Like I said, I think we need to [00:35:00] stay true to international humanitarian law. I think you can say Palestinians have the right to armed resistance. Up to the point of targeting civilians. That is not a complicated thing to say. That's not a complicated thing to acknowledge. People under occupation do have the right to resist. They don't have the right to target civilians. And if you want to have an ethical left, you can't celebrate violations of international humanitarian law in the morning and invoke them in the afternoon when it's the Israeli military that is violating international law. That's not how international law works. You have to believe in it all the time because really all it has is its moral force. So, it does matter and I think there have been many, many ethical Palestinian voices and voices on the left and this is why I am proud to be on the board of JVP, that have been very consistent in their application of international humanitarian law. 

When I condemn what Hamas did, I condemn it as a war crime. [00:36:00] I am calling that a war crime, because that is what it is. But the way a lot of this has been discussed, and I think quite deliberately, has been as a hate crime against Jews. As a pogrom. As if they were just out hunting for Jews, right? And I understand why it feels that way, because it feels that, like, when I hear an Israeli official or a U. S. official say - what's the line? - that this is the most number of Jews were killed in any day since the Holocaust. 

BRIAN SELTER - HOST, INSIDE THE HIVE: Since the Holocaust, yeah.

NAOMI KLEIN: Right. So, that makes it sound like they were killed because they're Jews. But I'm not sure they were killed because they were Jews. I think they were killed because they were Israelis. But that universalizes it. It takes it out of its geopolitics. It takes it out of a conflict over land and borders, and it says that this is just a hate crime, an antisemitic hate crime. And I think we should interrogate that a little bit. I'm not saying Hamas isn't, you know, I'm not saying that there wasn't hate there, of course, you know, I don't think you can kill people if you don't hate them, but I think it's a very [00:37:00] political choice and it is part of the information war to call it a pogrom, to put it in the context of the Holocaust, as opposed to in the context of a geopolitical, grinding battle over land and borders, and then call it a war crime. 

What’s Happening in Israel and Why with Nathan Thrall - Factually! with Adam Conover - Air Date 11-1-23

NATHAN THRALL: The center-left president of Israel, the former head of the center-left Labor Party, in prepared remarks -- it's not even off the cuff -- he says, "There are no innocents in Gaza." There is no such thing as an innocent civilian in Gaza. It's shocking. The people of Gaza are as surprised by that attack as the Israelis were.

So 2. 3 million people for a center-left politician to prepare the ground for mass slaughter of innocents? The level of rage, the level of shock, you cannot overstate it. On a per capita basis, this is [00:38:00] much bigger than 9/11 for Israelis. The US invaded two countries, changed its domestic laws, it had a profound effect on American society, and that was when it was by a bunch of attackers from Saudi Arabia, more than an ocean and a continent away. And this is right next door. 

ADAM CONOVER - HOST, FACTUALLY!: This is New York attacking New Jersey, this is right next door.

NATHAN THRALL: And the most frightening thing is that, for the first time in my life, I can imagine this descending into a kind of Balkan civil-on-civil conflict, because people are not just blaming innocent Gazans, they're blaming the Palestinian people as a whole. And there are Palestinians who are citizens of Israel, there are Palestinians who are residents of East Jerusalem. There are Palestinians in the West Bank. And we already got a little taste of what that civil-on-civil conflict [00:39:00] can look like in May, 2021 when there was an escalation in Gaza. But I think we're at the beginning of something much worse.

ADAM CONOVER - HOST, FACTUALLY!: The people who run Hamas must have known, as you said earlier, that they would provoke this kind of response. What would their justification be, or what would cause them to take after decades of "Hey, we fire a few rockets, we go back and forth, we're in this sort of stasis, yada, yada." What would the reason be to suddenly go in this huge, again, unconscionable attack?

NATHAN THRALL: Yeah. Precisely that. It's precisely that. This pattern of, we throw rockets at Israel. Israel bombs us, and then Egypt and Israel come and with the United States and propose a ceasefire where Israel promises to slightly ease the choking of Gaza. Gaza's kept at all times with its nose a millimeter above water.[00:40:00] These people are under siege. 

And so this pattern of rockets and bombs and a leveling of Gaza with a ceasefire with promises that are broken within weeks or months to ease the restrictions on Gaza, that wasn't working. Another round wasn't going to change that situation. And this is clearly an attempt to turn the whole table over, with enormous risk to themselves, to the civilian population of Gaza, who are really -- 

ADAM CONOVER - HOST, FACTUALLY!: This is not just risk, almost guaranteed devastation. 

NATHAN THRALL: Guaranteed, yeah. Risk is understating it. Yeah. Guaranteed. 

But the thing about it is that as horrible as that attack was, and as horrible as it is now in its consequences for the civilians in Gaza, if you look at it strategically, from Hamas's perspective, right now they are in a position of -- [00:41:00] even after launching the greatest attack against Israel, and Israel's making comparisons to the 1940s, and they have to do everything to eliminate Hamas, and all the society is behind the collective punishment of 2.3 million people and depriving them of food, water, and electricity -- even with all of that, Hamas has Israel in a corner. Israel does not have any decent option for what to do now. Israel doesn't know how to get those hostages out. It doesn't know how to answer the demand of its public: How is this never gonna happen again? It's not never gonna happen again if it's just another bombing, no matter how severe, of Gaza. There'll still be tunnels there, there'll still be Hamas there, even if you kill a bunch of guys, there'll be new ones, and with every quote unquote round in Gaza, Hamas got stronger and stronger. So that cannot be an answer to the Israeli public, which wants to know, how is this never gonna happen [00:42:00] again?

So then Israel is forced to actually try and execute on its stated aim, which is to quote unquote, eliminate Hamas -- which again, that's impossible, but they can do something short of it, but that is extremely costly. They've got 360,000 reservists called up right now. It's costing their economy a billion and a half shekels a day. They cannot continue for this for months, and it would take months to do what they claim that they want to do in Gaza, and even after doing that, who are they going to get to come in and administer Gaza, help rebuild it? They can't find an international force that would want to take on this task, and would that international force really have a mandate to shoot at Palestinians who are creating new rockets, for example, or doing new attacks against Israel or preparing for them? Hard to believe. 

So Israel really has no decent options. [00:43:00] And so Hamas is in a position of great strength right now, even after doing this attack. They've got 200-plus hostages. As time passes, right now the attitude of Israeli government is "we lost 1400, we can lose another 200 to achieve this higher goal," which shows you how shocked they are. Because that's a total reversal of the entire Israeli ethos. Before this, it was, we are trading 1027 Palestinian prisoners for one Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, in 2011. Now it's "we can lose 200 by bombing Gaza and then going in with ground forces. 

But again, the strategic goal that Israel has, which is to have some other force in place in Gaza, doesn't look very achievable. So at the end of the day, they're looking at having Hamas in place, battered, beaten, whatever, but still having Hamas in place in Gaza. So that's a total failure if you compare it to [00:44:00] their rhetoric, and potentially doing a massive prisoner exchange, potentially releasing every Palestinian prisoner. And if Hamas does that, it'll be the greatest achievement of any Palestinian organization in history. 

ADAM CONOVER - HOST, FACTUALLY!: But at the expense of thousands of Palestinians being killed, untold misery, thousands, obviously, of Israelis being killed -- it seems you've painted a picture where that's a moral victory in some narrow strategic sense, it's a horrible loss for almost everybody in the region in every way.

NATHAN THRALL: And especially for Hamas's own constituency that they're supposed to be taking care of, the people of Gaza. They are paying the highest price. And it's clear that Hamas is willing to have them pay that price. 

Ta-Nehisi Coates Speaks Out Against Israel's "Segregationist Apartheid Regime" After West Bank Visit - Democracy Now! - Air Date 11-2-23

TA-NEHISI COATES: When we went to Hebron, and the reality of the occupation became clear. We were driving out of [00:45:00] East Jerusalem, I was with PalFest, and we were driving out of East Jerusalem into the West Bank. And, you know, you could see the settlements, and they would point out the settlements. And it suddenly dawned on me that I was in a region of the world where some people could vote and some people could not. And that was obviously very, very familiar to me. I got to Hebron, and we got out as a group of writers, and we were given a tour by our Palestinian guide. And we got to a certain street, and he said to us, “I can’t walk down this street. If you want to continue, you have to continue without me.” And that was shocking to me.

And we walked down the street, and we came back, and there was a market area. Hebron is very, very poor. It wasn’t always very poor, but it’s very, very poor. Its market area has been shut down. But there are a few vendors there that [00:46:00] I wanted to support. And I was walking to try to get to the vendor, and I was stopped at a checkpoint. Checkpoints all through the city, checkpoints obviously all through the West Bank. Your mobility is completely inhibited, and the mobility of the Palestinians is totally inhibited.

And I was walking to the checkpoint, and an Israeli guard stepped out, probably about the age of my son. And he said to me, “What’s your religion, bro?” And I said, “Well, you know, I’m not really religious.” And he said, “Come on. Stop messing around. What is your religion?” I said, “I’m not playing. I’m not really religious.” And it became clear to me that unless I professed my religion, and the right religion, I wasn’t going to be allowed to walk forward. So, he said, “Well, OK, so what was your parents’ religion?” I said, “Well, they weren’t that religious, either.” He says, “What were your grandparents’ religion?” And I said, “My grandmother was a Christian.” [00:47:00] And then he allowed me to pass.

And it became very, very clear to me what was going on there. And I have to say it was quite familiar. Again, I was in a territory where your mobility is inhibited, where your voting rights are inhibited, where your right to the water is inhibited, where your right to housing is inhibited. And it’s all inhibited based on ethnicity. And that sounded extremely, extremely familiar to me.

And so, the most shocking thing about my time over there was how uncomplicated it actually is. Now, I’m not saying the details of it are not complicated. History is always complicated. Present events are always complicated. But the way this is reported in the Western media is as though one needs a Ph.D. in Middle Eastern studies to understand the basic morality of holding a people in a situation in which they don’t have basic rights, including the right that we treasure most, the franchise, the right [00:48:00] to vote, and then declaring that state a democracy. It’s actually not that hard to understand. It’s actually quite familiar to those of us with a familiarity to African American history.

NERMEEN SHAIKH - HOST, DEMOCRACY NOW!: Well, Ta-Nehisi Coates, last night you were asked about the significance of Martin Luther King’s words on Vietnam. You said it’s taken you years to, quote, “understand nonviolence as an ethic” and that you understood that ethic in Israel. Could you explain?

TA-NEHISI COATES: Yeah, sure, I mean, and I think the thing to do is just to proceed off of what I said. Martin Luther King dedicated his life to the fight against segregation. His was a segregated society. The Occupied Territories are segregated, de jure segregated. It’s not, you know, hard to understand. There are different signs for where different people can go. There are different license plates forbidding different people from going different places. Now, what the [00:49:00] authorities will tell you is that this is a security measure. But if you go back to the history of Jim Crow in this country, they would tell you the exact same thing. People always have good reasons, besides, you know, “I hate you, and I don’t like you,” to justify their right for imposing an oppressive regime on other people. It’s never quite that simple. And so, that was the first thing.

But the second thing I think that you’re referring to is, you know, I — you know, this is like really personal for me, because I came up in a time and in a place where I did not really understand the ethic of nonviolence. And by “ethic,” I mean the notion that violence itself is corrupting, that it corrupts the soul. And I didn’t quite understand that. If I’m truly honest with you, as much as I saw my relationship with the Palestinian people and as much as it was clear what the relationship was, it was at the same time clear that there was some sort of relationship with the [00:50:00] Israeli people, too. And it wasn’t one that I particularly enjoyed, because I understood the rage that comes when you have a history of oppression. I understood the anger. I understood the sense of humiliation that comes when people subject you to just manifold oppression, to genocide, and people look away from that. I come from the descendants of 250 years of enslavement. I come from a people who sexual violence and rape is marked in our very bones and in our DNA. And I understand how when you feel that the world has turned its back on you, how you can then turn your back on the ethics of the world. But I also understood how corrupting that can be.

I was listening, actually, to my congressman last night, or I guess it was two nights ago, talk on the news. And a journalist asked him, “How many [00:51:00] children, how many people must be killed to justify this operation? Is there an upper limit for the number of people that could be killed, when you would say, 'This is just too much. This just doesn't — this just doesn’t, you know, compute. This does not add up’?” And I will tell you, that congressman couldn’t give a number. And I thought, “That man has been corrupted. That man has lost himself. He’s lost himself in humiliation. He’s lost himself in vengeance. He has lost himself in violence.”

I keep hearing this term repeated over and over again: “the right to self-defense.” What about the right to dignity? What about the right to morality? What about the right to be able to sleep at night? Because what I know is, if I was complicit — and I am complicit — in dropping bombs on children, in dropping bombs on refugee camps, no matter who’s there, it would give me trouble sleeping at night.

Beyond Settler-Colonialism - Against the Grain - Air Date 10-31-23

MAHMOOD MAMDANI: Are Jewish people in Israel settlers or immigrants? [00:52:00] The Jewish population of Mandate Palestine belonged to three groups. Those who had never left, these were the natives. Those who had returned on a pilgrimage, seeking a religious homeland. They were content to be part of the existing polity. This was the First Aliyah, of immigrants. Those who wanted their own exclusive polity, a Jewish nation state in place of the existing polity. They came in the Second and the Third Aliyah. These were the settlers. 

The Zionists striving for a nation state cannot be understood, unless we also grasp the lesson they drew from Germany. Victims of the nation state project in Germany and in Europe, Zionists decided to set up a nation state in Eretz Israel. The Zionist state project has unfolded in two phases. The first reduced the Palestinians from a majority to a minority. This was the Nakba in 1948. The Zionist project has continued to demonize the [00:53:00] minority that remained within the territorial boundaries as a demographic threat, demanding that their numbers be further cut down.

Gaza is testimony that the Nakba continues today. Palestinians inside Israel do not participate in sovereignty. They have rights, even political rights, including the right to vote, but they do not participate in power. This vision has become clearer as the state project has been redefined, from Israel as a Jewish and democratic state to Israel as a Jewish state.

I have already spelt out the significance of the debate on one state versus two state solution. One state would be akin to direct racial domination, whereas a two state solution would create a protectorate and lead to indirect colonialism under Zionist rule. The history of the African slave in America shows that a one state solution is a better framework for building alliances and broadening the frame and depth of the [00:54:00] resistance. But to have a future that resistance needs to look for a third alternative. I propose that we look at the South African transition from apartheid to glimpse the vision of a third alternative. So let's take a second look at South Africa. 

I argue that the anti-apartheid resistance took a creative turn in the 1970s, leading to an epistemological and political breakthrough for the anti-apartheid movement. Before the 1970s, anti-apartheid politics was largely derivative. It reproduced the architecture of apartheid. Each racial group organized separately, as defined by apartheid power. Africans as African National Congress, Indians as Indian Congress of Natal, coloreds as Colored People's Congress, and Whites as Congress of Democrats. By reproducing the architecture of apartheid inside the resistance [ it] gave apartheid a natural flavor. 

[00:55:00] The apartheid mindset was broken only in the 1970s. The key initiative came from the student movement, starting when Black students, led by Biko, left the liberal, White student organization, formed their own separate body, and went on to organize township dwellers, starting with Soweto. Left in the wilderness, radical White students turned to organizing hostile workers on the fringes of townships. Out of this experience was born an epistemological awakening that White and Black are political identities, and that political identity is historical, not natural. "Black", said Bico, "is not a color. If you're oppressed, you are Black". There was nothing inevitable about the impact of Black consciousness on the anti-apartheid struggle. Black consciousness, or BC, could have led to a nation state consciousness, claiming that South Africa is a Black nation, of the Black majority, thus essentializing Black as a trans-historical identity. [00:56:00] This summed up the call of the PSE in later years. Instead, it led to an epistemological awakening, the consciousness of "Black" as a historical political identity. 

Afrikaners made a journey from being junior partners of British colonialism to being part of the anti-apartheid notion. But there was no consensus. The rift inside the Afrikaner community was demonstrated by the publication of a book by Rian Malan, the great-grandson of a Boer state president. The book was called My Traitor's Heart. Malan was a crime reporter for the Joburg Star. His beat covered Black townships. Each chapter of his book focused on a specific type of what was then called "black on black violence". One chapter was devoted to the Hammer Man, a big Black man who wielded a heavy hammer to smash the skull of his equally Black victims, most of whom were poor and would yield small booty. Malan's subtext was not difficult to [00:57:00] decipher. If they can do this to their own, what will they do to us, given half a chance?

The South African moment was born in the 70s and 80s. There was a three fold shift in vision from opposition to apartheid. It looked for an alternative to apartheid. Rather than just turning the world upside down, it dared to think of a different world from a state of the majority, the national majority, the Black majority. It looked to create a state of all the people. From opposition to Whites, it went on to oppose White power. 

Nineteen ninety-four was the birth of a new political community, instead of a rupture into two separate communities - one of victims of apartheid and another of perpetrators - Blacks and Whites, which would have required a partition of South Africa. Let us not forget that in 1994, Afrikaners divided, with a minority asking for a homeland where Afrikaners would have their own state. The political community that did emerge [00:58:00] in 1994 was that of survivors of apartheid, not just victims who had survived, but all survivors, whether victims, perpetrators, beneficiaries, or bystanders. 

The anti-apartheid struggle was not directed from a single center, but from multitude centers. Not only did the struggle include multiple initiatives, they were sometimes contradictory. Take the example of the anti-apartheid boycott, which was directed from outside the country, and the internal political struggle which demanded reform of the political process to allow the excluded majority, non-Whites, the right to participate in the political process. Whereas the anti-apartheid boycott made no distinction between South African state and society, calling for a boycott of both, the internal political struggle proceeded by building alliances with all sectors of White society, so long as they did not openly and actively support the apartheid state.

Apartheid [00:59:00] power was not defeated. Neither did Apartheid win. The situation in the mid-1980s could only be described as a stalemate. Why then did Apartheid power agree to negotiate in 1990? Two considerations made captains of Apartheid rethink their primary reliance on a military strategy. One, the possibility that anti-apartheid mobilization may spread from the townships to Bantustans. But more important was the second possibility that signaled the likelihood of an even more scary outcome. Boers realized that the hitherto pro-Apartheid Boer intelligentsia was gradually beginning to abandon Apartheid as a state project. 

The principal critique of 1994 is that there was no social justice. This critique both states a truism and misses or undervalues the political birth that did happen in 1994. I argue that we [01:00:00] should see the rebirth as the beginning of political decolonization. The turning point was when anti-apartheid forces reformulated their demand from Black majority rule to non-racial rule.

Rather than deny the existence of race as phenotypical difference, they refused to endow racial difference with a political significance. The first step to decolonizing the political was de-racialization. The next step would be de-tribalization. Rather than deny the cultural significance of tribe as an ethnic group, de-tribalization would decouple the link between culture and territory, ethnicity and homeland, citizenship and identity forged under colonialism. To do so would be to reverse the politicization of culture under Apartheid, which had led to the creation of homelands, homeland authority, and customary law. The result would be to create a single citizenship, not multiple citizenships based on separate [01:01:00] identifications, race in the central state and tribe in the homeland.

Nineteen ninety-four created formal political equality in South Africa regardless of race. It has yet to create formal political equality in the former homelands regardless of ethnic identity. My claim is that a successful struggle for social justice will need to cut across the political divide imposed by race and tribe without political equality. The mobilization for social justice will be fragmented into so many races and tribes.

Final comments on an extraordinary case of looking the find the humanity in the inhumane attacks on Israel of October 7th

JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: We've just heard clips today, starting with AJ+ with an analysis of the October 7th attack on Israel. The Mehdi Hasan Show look at the dangers of imminent genocide. The Bitchuation Room spoke with Naomi Klein describing the unjust, unstable idea of security without peace or justice. Owen Jones explained why, to advocate for Palestine, it is important to fight anti-Semitism. [01:02:00] This Is Hell! looked at the strategies of Nazis to use the opposition to Israel's actions as a recruiting tools. Inside the Hive spoke with Naomi Klein about the simplicity of applying international law against war crimes and crimes against humanity consistently. Factually! With Adam Conover dove into some of the unavoidable difficulties Israel faces in achieving their stated goals. And Democracy Now! spoke with Ta-Nehisi Coates about the clarifying simplicity of understanding the mechanisms of injustice that exists for Palestinian people under the control of Israel. That's what everybody heard but members also heard bonus clips from Against the Grain featuring a very interesting analysis of South Africa, comparing it to Israel, but not just as a condemnation of Israel's version of Apartheid, but looking at how the anti-Apartheid movement in South Africa could help show the way in the Israel and Palestine conflict.[01:03:00] 

To hear that and have all of our bonus contents 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, this is our fourth episode on Israel recently, each one approaching from a slightly different angle. So, I do think they're all worth your while. As a refresher, in case you missed any, #1584 is from September and it described the political turmoil in Israel before the attacks by Hamas. #1589 gave much needed context to the attack when it happened. And 1591, the most recent, looked at the role of traditional and social media in how people come to understand this conflict. So check all those out again. It's 1584, 1589, and 1591. 

Now, to wrap up, I just wanted to [01:04:00] read an excerpt of an article that I found fascinating. I'm actually frustrated because I think I saw an article dedicated entirely to this topic that will be discussed, but I didn't read it when I saw it and now I can't find it. So this is a very small excerpt from a very long article that will just have to do. So this article is "In the Cities of Killing" by David Remnick from The New Yorker. And he in this section is speaking with an Israeli named Brodutch whose family had been kidnapped during the October 7th attack. So here's the article. 

"Brodutch made it clear that he wanted to deliver a message that was out of keeping with the dominant emotions of the day. The hunger for vengeance, the outrage at the failure of the Israeli government to protect its citizens. Brodutch allowed that the state had failed. 'This is a colossal disaster that will be investigated in years to come'. But he was painstakingly deliberate in [01:05:00] his comments about his family's kidnappers. His wife and his children were in the hands of Hamas. And Hamas was keenly aware of what was being written and said about the organization abroad, including in Israel. Every time Israel dropped a bomb, he worried that it might kill his family. Quoting him again, 'I have to hope that there is someone watching over them. It was overkill by Hamas. I don't think they thought things would go that far. At least, I want to believe that. Their religion is peaceful. No religion can be successful for long if it is not peaceful'. He was terrified by the prospect of a ground war. 'We are going the wrong way. We've had a sign from God and if we read it as a sign to go to war, that is one thing. We should be sending humanitarian aid to women, children, and the elderly. Hamas believes that women, children and the elderly should not be attacked, but something on their side went very wrong. I don't think they thought this attack would be so easy and they just lost it'".[01:06:00] 

So that was that excerpt and I wanted to highlight it because number one, I find the perspective expressed here to be very plausible. Basically, it's an attempt to find the humanity within the people who committed a brutal war crime, not just in general, but against the person who is speaking. And in my experience, anytime there's an attempt to find the humanity within a person or group of people, you will find it. The existence of truly irredeemable examples of pure evil in human form are vanishingly rare. Otherwise, you just need to scratch beneath the surface to find the story a person is telling themselves that paints them as the good guy. That explains the moral universe in which they are on the side of righteousness. 

And the second reason that I find this interesting [01:07:00] is because of who is expressing it. You know, it sounds like something an academic would say based on their years of research of historical cases, in which groups of people get out of control and given to mob mentality, and maybe a plan to attack becomes an out of control rampage. But for a family member of a kidnap victim to make that point shortly after the attack, even if they are doing it knowing Hamas may be listening to my words, I'm being quoted in the media, they may read this, and I want to do everything I can to curry their favor so that they will protect my family's lives, even if that is what he is doing and that is the reason he is saying those things, still I find it quite extraordinary. 

Now I do wish that I could find a more in-depth piece on this idea. The headline I believe I saw was something along the lines of, like, "How the Attack Went Wrong", or "How it Went Out of Control", [01:08:00] or "How it Did Not Go To Plan", something along those lines. If you know what article I'm thinking of, please send that my way. 

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 us 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 tireless research that went into all of these Israel episodes. I know it took a toll and it's really appreciated. Thanks to our Transcriptionist Trio, Ken, Brian, and LaWendy, for 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, and it would be greatly [01:09:00] appreciated. You'll find that link in the show notes, along with a link to our Discord community, where you can also 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 you twice weekly, thanks entirely to the members and donors to the show, from bestoftheleft.com.

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