Tuesday 31 October 2023

Failing The “Leftist” Litmus Test.

Palestinian Lives Matter: What is it then that permits those who self-identify as leftists to survey the horrors of 7 October 2023 and see only a glorious act of Palestinian resistance? How is it possible for those who cheered on Jacinda Ardern’s “politics of kindness” to absorb all the details of the rape, the torture, the killing – and not respond with fury and disgust?

LIKE THE WAR in Ukraine, the war in Gaza is serving as a remarkable litmus test for the Left. It is testing its moral compass, its understanding of international law, its grasp of geopolitical realities and, not least, its awareness of what the PR mavens call “the optics”. A substantial portion, even, perhaps, a majority, of the Left is failing all of these tests – badly. That this should be the case points to what would appear to be a dangerous cognitive weakness in contemporary progressivism – and to a West under siege.

The moral and geopolitical confusion over the Russo-Ukrainian War is more readily understood than Israel’s war against Hamas. For the so-called “Tankies”, abandoning the cherished image of the Russian people, Nazism’s destroyers, as the world’s saviours, was an emotional wrench. Rejecting the argument that the Russian Federation’s illegal invasion of Ukraine was a justifiable response to US and Nato provocation proved equally difficult. None of these considerations excused the Tankies’ defence of Russian aggression, but one could at least see where it was coming from.

That is certainly not the case with respect to the devastating pogrom unleashed upon the Jewish inhabitants of Southern Israel by the Jihadist terrorist organisation, Hamas. To encounter its historical equal, it is necessary to travel back in time to the genocidal pogroms set in motion by the antisemitic citizens of the Baltic states in anticipation of the Nazi einsatzgruppen’s arrival in 1941. Here, too, one encounters the same indiscriminate and unsparing cruelty, the same savage delight in rape, torture and murder, that characterised the Hamas pogrom of 7 October 2023.

As was the case in 1941, it is quite impossible to look upon the atrocities of 7/10/23 as anything other than a deliberate turning away from all civilised conduct. Unless, that is, one has already been convinced that against the Jews/Israelis any and all crimes are permitted – and justified.

That this was the belief of the Nazis is well-documented. That a burning desire to rid the world of the “Zionist Entity” is equally evident in every act of Arab aggression towards the State of Israel since 1948. The important distinction being that, while Egypt, Syria and Jordan only wanted to drive the Jews into the sea, the Jihadists of Hamas are religiously committed to making sure that every last one of them drowns.

What is it then that permits those who self-identify as leftists to survey the horrors of 7 October 2023 and see only a glorious act of Palestinian resistance? How is it possible for those who cheered on Jacinda Ardern’s “politics of kindness” to absorb all the details of the rape, the torture, the killing – and not respond with fury and disgust?

One possible answer is that they have seen the images of Palestinians shot and killed for daring to oppose the Israeli occupation of Palestine. They have watched, aghast, as Israeli aircraft, Israeli artillery, have pounded the houses and apartment buildings of Gaza to rubble. Seen, also, the tiny victims of such bombardment, and heard the anguished cries of their mothers. “Lex Talionis!”, they cry. “An eye for an eye!”

But the moral vacuity of this position was as obvious to a Galilean rabbi back in 30AD, as it was to the Gujarat lawyer who declared in 1920AD that “An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind”. A leftist who turns her face in fury and disgust from the IDF’s brutality on the West Bank, cannot, either logically or ethically, refrain from doing the same in the face of Hamas’ murderous fanaticism.

That Pro-Palestinian leftists cannot see the deeply cynical purpose behind Hamas’ attack is similarly baffling. Notwithstanding the facts of international law concerning the responsibility of all those exercising state (or state-like) authority to protect their citizens from harm, Hamas committed its atrocities in the certain knowledge that Israel – fulfilling its own legal duty to protect its citizens – would feel compelled to destroy those responsible for organising and committing them. That this would entail air and artillery strikes on Gaza was obvious to the whole world. But, Hamas did not shrink from Israeli retaliation, it welcomed it.

Why? Because it knew that if the IDF was coming after them, then it would also be coming after the apartment buildings, the office blocks, the schools and the hospitals from which it launches its rockets, and under which it locates its storehouses, fuel dumps, arsenals, factories and command centres. Does Hamas know that this is a blatant breach of the Geneva Conventions – a war crime? Of course it does. Doesn’t it care that its own people will be “collateral damage” when the Israeli missiles strike their targets? Not at all. A steadily rising civilian death-toll isn’t a bug in Hamas’ strategy, it’s a feature.

There was a time when, to be regarded as a serious leftist, one was obligated to inform oneself as well as possible about world affairs – especially the geopolitics of great power rivalry and its consequences. No longer. One can be a fervent supporter of the Palestinian cause without ever pausing to wonder from whom groups like Hamas and Hezbollah get their military supplies, their military training.

Today’s leftists do not know, or do not care, that it is the hand of the Islamic Republic of Iran that is moving these terrorist pieces on the Middle-East chessboard. The same Islamic Republic that murders women and girls for refusing to wear the hijab. The same Islamic Republic that is committed to the utter destruction of Israel – and is rapidly acquiring the nuclear capacity to do exactly that. Today’s leftists simply do not realise that, if this was the Lord of the Rings, they’d be on the side of Sauron – they’d be cheering on the orcs.

Don’t they care about the optics of all this? When Jewish students in New York have to barricade themselves in their university library, against pro-Palestinian leftists, and all the antisemitic, misogynistic, homophobic and transphobic “allies” standing right there beside them, pounding on the door, trying to get in. Does it not occur to them that people looking at the video clip of that incident posted on X might be reminded of something? When a supposed “leftist” stands up in Auckland’s Aotea Square and urges the multitude waving their Palestinian flags to “Globalise the Intifada!” – i.e. Let’s have pogroms everywhere! – and is cheered to the echo. What does he suppose New Zealand’s Jewish community sees?

Not leftism, but fascism. And so does every other leftist who still understands the meaning of the word.

This essay was originally posted on the Democracy Project website on Tuesday, 31 October 2023.


Anonymous said...

Thank you Chris, well said. Among the shameful actions of the "leftists" was beseiging the Auckland War Memorial Museum, in response to it beging lit up in the white and blue colours of Israel, to express sympathy for the victims of October 7. The Museum "leadership" capitulated to the mob, turning off the lights, and issuing a grovelling apology.

The most appalling part of this is that the Museum is, among it's other roles, a Holocaust memorial. I revisited that, to refresh my memory of it, after the cowardly and completely inappropriate apology. The Jewish community trusted the Museum to tell their stories. Holocaust survivors who took refuge in New Zealand after the war, have their photos and stories on display. I'm not Jewish, but if I was, I'd feel the Museum is no longer a suitable place for this display.

I also visited the Kosher Deli (excellent bagels) in central Auckland. Buying some food there seemed, at the one and same time, both totally inadequate, a way too small act of solidarity, and something I couldn't not do.

When I got there, the door of the deli was locked. A notice asked customers to knock on the door, or phone the number given. On leaving, the staff locked the door again behind me. I may have missed it, but I haven't seen, or heard any reports of, any halal businesses feeling they have to be as careful.

The Barron said...

What you are not offering Chris, is any type of sustainable solution.

I think you make a reasonable point as to what has become a very messy dichotomization of views. You also correctly identify the indefensible nature of the actions of 07 October 2023. We should not confuse indefensible with a refusal to analyze. We should not allow our horror to result in blood lust. We should never lose track of the need for lasting solutions. We should not hold all citizens responsible for the actions of a few. We should respect that the life of an Israeli child and that the life of a Palestinian child are of equal value and that universal human rights dictate how we should measure our response.

We must accept that not all Palestinians agree with Hamas, and that those in Gaza do not have agency to change. If we can make this distinction, then the one thing New Zealand may do is look to the evidence and if it suggests (as it almost definitely does) that the political wing of Hamas had knowledge and complicity in the attack, then we must declare the political wing, as with the military wing, terrorists. If we do so, and I think we must, it is then incumbent upon NZ and the global bodies to which we belong, to ensure a legitimate and democratic voice is found for the Gazan Palestinians. This cannot be done under a fog of war crimes.

We must accept that not all Israelis agree with their government. There are those that wish for a long term solution from which all people of Israel / Palestine may live safely and with dignity. We should not forget that those that are nationally Israeli include Israeli Palestinians, secular Jewish people and those practicing Judaism that wish to co-exist. We should also accept that no matter the political affiliation, the citizens slaughtered on the 7th cannot be held responsible for their government.

The Israeli military action cannot be justified simply because of our disgust as to Hamas. It is proper for the left, or any humanitarians, to ask the questions as to the nature of the Israeli response and the extent of civilian causalities. We should not turn our backs to accepted limitations of military action as it impacts a civilian population. It is reasonable for any military analysis to want to know the end game and get out conditions. The mothers of the Israeli conscripts have the right to know if this is loss of life on both sides for either ill-defined or unrealistic goals. Retribution should not be the death tens of thousands of young Israelis to avenge 1400. It should not be two thousand Gazan citizens killed a week strengthening Hamas.

The left and humanitarians have a duty to comment. But, if it is not based upon universal human rights or is a partisan valuing of life and without solutions, it has become part of the problem.

Loz said...

Respectfully Chris, the claim of Jewish students being barricaded in the Cooper Union library is misleading if not untruthful.

What is relevant but not mentioned was that the NY Cooper Union library is on the ground floor of the 'Foundation Building' which is also the location of the President's Office, The President's Office was successfully occupied by students previously as part of a free education protest. Protestors demands were directed at the President and Administration - as could be clearly seen by reading the wording of the large banner filmed from within the library. The first line of the banner was "We, the Cooper Union, Demand that President Laura Sparks..." etc.

The video (posted on X) was shot by student Taylor Roslyn Lent from within the library. She claimed that protestors had been "chanting for the murder of Jews". No other source for this claim can be found. It turned out that the NYPD was present throughout the protest and had to hold a press conference to refute the claims made.

The NYPD stated "no threats were made against students supporting Israel or Palestinians". Doors were not barricaded and that "university staff chose to lock a library door as a precaution" for the protest approaching the building. The 50 or so students (of no specific ethnic background) who were studying inside & were simply locked in. This aligns with the statements made by the protest organisers and the separate statements made by the University.

I won’t go as far as saying that Mrs Lent was lying. She is from a deeply religious background and a former student of an Israeli school that promotes itself as “strongly Zionist environment”. I have no doubt she personally identifies with Israel and interprets criticism of Israel as being antisemitism and an attack on her identity. That protest was clearly not antisemitic, but she perceived support for saving the lives of Palestinians as such. Conflating personal identity with the State and interpreting non-violent protest as terrorism is a big problem.

It's interesting to see how the NYPD testimony contrasts with the version published by the NY Post. That seems to make clear that legal action against the University for even allowing protests in support of the Palestinian human rights is intended. The government of France imposed blanket bans on all protests supporting Palestinians as Germany also banned Palestinian flags and protests too.

When state power is indifferent to halting slaughter but instead wishes to ban protest is another litmus test for fascism!

David Stone said...

i have spent most of my spare time since Oct 7 on the internet following the commentators on the war on Gaza started bythe horrific attack by Hamas on civilians esp at the concert. I tend to take an interest in those numerous speakers who are more horrified by the Israeli response . Predictable as it undoubtably was. No one I have heard or read has done anything but deplore the Oct 7 attack though many do explain the context of the background of the people involved as if that was ultimately the explanation of why these events occurred. Perhaps Chris you could offer some references to statements made that express that sentiment because I have not seen any.
Have you noticed references by the Israeli PM and other ministers to the passage in the old testament that exhort the Jewish people to kill every member of the opposing race/ Sparing no woman , no child , no suckling infant ,no no cattle no ass. ? It seems impossible to avoid the conclusion that the intention of the Israeli state is to exterminate every Palestinian in Gaza , and they are working away on the West Bank at the same time on a much smaller scale; at least for now.
if you have missed this clearly stated intent then the muslim people of the middle east have not. Their leaders are looking drawn and haggard as they recognise the implications of what their people are going to force them to do. As they contemplate action their faith requires that will lead to an inevertable showdown with the USA that no one will survive.

Madame Blavatsky said...

"Today’s leftists do not know, or do not care, that it is the hand of the Islamic Republic of Iran that is moving these terrorist pieces on the Middle-East chessboard. The same Islamic Republic that murders women and girls for refusing to wear the hijab. The same Islamic Republic that is committed to the utter destruction of Israel – and is rapidly acquiring the nuclear capacity to do exactly that. Today’s leftists simply do not realise that, if this was the Lord of the Rings, they’d be on the side of Sauron – they’d be cheering on the orcs."

One day it's (nuclear armed) Israel pushing for the US to wipe Iran off the map for Israel's "safety", while the next day you get some (non-nuclear-armed) Iranian (allegedly, probably as reported by the Times of Israel or Fox News) calling for Israel to be wiped off the map as well – clearly one man's brutal map-wiping is another man's moral imperative.

I normally wouldn't respond to one quote with another, but in this case, what the heck:

“If you're not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.”
― Malcolm X

Anonymous said...

Just like to remind all the Pearl Clutching, oppression parsingbleeding hearts - If Hamas stops terrorism, peace will reign. If Israel stops fighting, Israel will no longer exist.

Jason Barrier said...

Thanks CT. Loved the "cheering the orcs" analogy - spot on. My "leftist" rugby-playing father was proud to push through the fence at Rugby Park and make a stand in the middle of the field against the racism of the thuggish South African regime - all under the leadership of one John Minto, and all because Dad always stood up for the underdog. To have the same Mr Minto now equivocate on the murderous thugs of the Hamas regime and try to whip "leftists" up into a frenzy of anti-semitic racism defies belief. Those who know history will know the deep roots of Israel's right to exist was determined after exactly this type of blind anti-Jewish hysteria over many centuries. At what point did "leftists" give up on a country's right to exist and defend its borders without invasions and incursions, interspersed only by decades of rocket attacks. Now sadly they fly their thoughtless flags apparently in support of the Palestinians but actually in support of rocketeers.

Trev1 said...

Timely, morally clear, and right on target. Your best column yet.

Graham Wright said...

Israel boasts one of the most technologically advanced defence systems and intelligence services on the planet. It is said that the fence erected on the border around Gaza is so intensely monitored 24 hours, seven days a week, that alarms are triggered even by small animals. The border is also guarded constantly by the Israeli Defence Force, the IDF.

So where was Israeli intelligence, the monitors and the IDF on 7 October when the Iranian backed terrorist group Hamas demolished the fence in a dozen places using explosives. It was reported that members of the IDF were absent on leave on the occasion of a Jewish holiday. Israeli overconfidence, or a preplanned black operation, using Hamas as fall guys to provide Israel with justification for another campaign against Gaza.

Gaza, on the coast, is about 25 miles long and 10 miles wide and has a population of about 3 million Palestinian Arabs. It is said to be the most densely populated place on earth. The original inhabitants were Arabs forced off their land by the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. Consequently, they and successive generations, harbour a justifiable grudge against Israel.

David George said...

Thanks Chris.
Perhaps, in some quarters, the willingness to excuse the utterly reprehensible behaviour/pure evil from Islamic terrorists, in this case, is simply down to Jew Hatred. It's often disguised but I think there is a lot more of that than people realise.

What to make of the attitude of the Left more generally though? The Green party? John Minto? They don't seem particularly bothered by Islamic atrocities committed elsewhere either. The bombers, butchers and rapists terrorising Western cities and citizens. Perhaps they really just hate the West.

new view said...

I agree with Chris. What I see with this slow moving tragedy in Gaza is that many from either side of the political spectrum see what they want to see. The majority of those who are muslims and come from the surrounding Muslim countries are going to take the Palestinian viewpoint and those who are Jewish or support Israel will support them regardless. I believe most NZrs agree that Israel has the right to exist. There will be those who don’t agree. With this current war we find the death of so many unacceptable but if only a few get killed murdered raped or take hostage that’s accepted as not so bad. Double standards. IMO the left generally see themselves as for the ordinary people and humanity. This means they come down on the side of Palestine simply because of the civilian casualties alone.That seems to put the right into a category somewhere between not supporting the people of Palestine and supporting the evil empire of the USA who supplies Israel. The reality is the left and right are the same. Politically, they support Israels right to exist. That does not mean they agree with Israels land grabs or the manner they conduct their military advantage. IMO this war has been orchestrated from Iran and supporting countries. Gaza has been hi jacked by Hamas and many in Gaza are complicit in their support for Hamas. The tragedy is that from what I have read over half those living in Gaza don’t want Hamas, and these people I feel the most for. Israel find themselves in an impossible situation. Whether you blame them or not is immaterial. Hamas are terrorists, they have infiltrated and run Gaza, and will continue to use its citizens as canon fodder unless they are removed from the area. To me there will either be all out war with Iran and surrounding countries. You can imagine the death toll there. Or you let Israel clean the place out and then have the UN or similar permanently in Gaza monitoring what goes on there. Negotiating a cease fire will just let Hamas re group and prepare for their next attack.

David George said...

Perhaps the Left's embrace of moral relativism enables them to so readily dismiss the brutal murders (and worse) by the Hamas terrorists. What else to make of the whataboutism, the excuses and even the hate directed at the victims? Complete moral failure or merely an example of what we see manifested in their attitudes to crime and punishment here? Crime, to them, is merely the consequence of some prior deprivation. There's an almost complete dismissal of the principle that we have real agency, that we are each ultimately responsible for our actions. Could the idiot supporters of Hamas be convinced that a gang member murdering the wife and children of their rival is "understandable", "justified". It's not much of a leap is it.

BTW, and on a more positive note, some great speeches and discussions at the ARC conference on in London at the moment. To whet the appetite: Konstantin Kisin's powerful, humorous address last night.13 minutes https://youtu.be/_1MICwdQtfU

Anonymous said...

Sorry, who are you again? Why should Trotter provide a solution? The focus of the essay is useful idiots aiding Hamas, not solving Israel/Palestine.

Geoff said...

You are getting better with age !
What a pity your 'colleagues' Bradbury & Minto are, in comparison, ....cerebral dwarfs .
This essay should be compulsory reading....except it's 'unfashionable'...however....imo, you can be assured you hold the 'higher ground'!

David George said...

Dane Giraud has a compelling piece out today: Socialism is dead and the Jews are battling its corpse. https://plainsight.nz/socialism-is-dead-and-the-jews-are-battling-its-corpse/

Essentially a challenge to Kiwi academic Josephine Varghese's essay in support of Hamas. Here's his conclusion:

"Why would a self-declared Marxist stoop so low to distract from the crimes of Hamas – a Hard-Right fascist terror army? A self-confessed death cult? Shouldn’t her worldview be anathema to anyone on the Left? Shouldn’t she be the very first person to challenge murderous theocratic fascism?

An autopsy on Varghese’s piece is as much an autopsy on socialism itself – which for all practical purposes is dead as a viable political movement. What remains is a post-truth Zombie animated by the parasite of regressive bourgeois identitarianism that is now shambling mindlessly toward the reactionary’s eternal target."

“Never believe that anti-Semites are completely unaware of the absurdity of their replies. They know that their remarks are frivolous, open to challenge. But they are amusing themselves, for it is their adversary who is obliged to use words responsibly, since he believes in words. The anti-Semites have the right to play. They even like to play with discourse for, by giving ridiculous reasons, they discredit the seriousness of their interlocutors. They delight in acting in bad faith, since they seek not to persuade by sound argument but to intimidate and disconcert. If you press them too closely, they will abruptly fall silent, loftily indicating by some phrase that the time for argument is past.”

― Jean-Paul Sartre

larry said...

The harrowing reports of Gaza children's immense suffering from burns and fractured or severed limbs should be of deep concern to us all.

In the name of humanity, a pause in hostilities is essential to treat and ease their pain and suffering.

There can be no taking of sides as both Hamas and the IDF are guilty of war crimes.

Man's inhumanity to man is the sad reality of all war and the Gaza atrocities are no exceptions.

Guerilla Surgeon said...


He's right. It's almost as if he visited here.

Guerilla Surgeon said...


Much better analysis here I'm afraid.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"You are getting better with age !"

I beg to differ. Writing columns that conservatives agree with and can patronise him over is not IMO "getting better".

Someone with any pretensions to journalism should do better fact checking for a start. It's already been said that the students were not barricaded in the library, and were not afraid for their lives, but merely somewhat uncomfortable.


That's not the 1st time in the last few months that the column has been at odds with the facts.
I make no comment on the relative cerebrum merits without comparative IQ tests. 😇

The almost conservative obsession with "wokeness" to describe people you don't agree with is also disturbing. And the penchant for cui bono conspiracy theory type arguments worries me as well.

I can see why you think so though.

David George said...

Thanks Loz, I had already seen that clip of the barricaded Jewish students and, while there does seem to be some variation in the accounts, the banging on the door and threatening language was undeniably real. Unfortunately this is not an isolated incident, nor are they, realistically, a reaction to Israel's response - the "gas the Jews" chanting started the day after the Hamas atrocities.

There's no denying that Jewish people are under real threat in the Western counties and Russia etc. UK police report a 1300% increase in anti Jewish hate crime and a recent flight from Israel to Russia was "greeted" by hundreds of fanatics - a "lynch mob" is how it's been described. Jewish owned businesses are keeping their doors shut and synagogues are under police guard.

Anonymous said...

Same anon as 31 October at 17:17, with a couple of other points.

First, media minimization of October 7. Chris Bishop has apparently done something wrong by comparing October 7 to the Holocaust, to the point of his leader urging less "strong" language. Bishop's words, as quoted in the Herald (November 2), were "Hamas terrorists butchered women and children were in a rampage of violence and hate (sic).Such barbarity has not been seen since the Holocaust". Could Mr Luxon please explain why he thinks this is "strong"? It just seems accurate to me. It doesn't even repeat the allegation, one that seems entirely plausible to me, that Hamas drugged the attackers with synthetic methamphetamine just before the attack. If true, Chris Bishop could add "drug fuelled" to his description.

Secondly, to our "friends" on the "left". I'm outside your frame of reference, but it seems to me, from out here, that you value those who are "indigenous" above all others. Indeed, who is most "indigenous" is part of what is so strongly disputed here. May I make the case those most deserving of the title, those living closest to Nature, are the Bedouin? These are the traditional nomadic herders, moving camels and goats to where they can find grazing. Many are no longer able to follow their traditional lifestyle, and are now among the poorest, and most discriminated against, communities right across the region. Those living in southern Israel have had a long struggle for recognition by the Israeli government.

Getting that recognition might be why some of them were massacred, alongside their Jewish neighbours and employers, on October 7. Being indigenous, Arabic speaking, and of the Islamic faith, were not enough for any mercy from Hamas. Hamas does not have any mercy for anyone. Their aim is to kill all the Jews, but then carry on to kill all the Christians, and all the other Muslims who do not share their narrow and ruthlessly murderous interpretation of Islam.

Chris Trotter said...

To: Guerilla Surgeon.

As another commentator has noted above, the "Jews in the Library" story is disputed - alongside virtually every aspect of the current conflict in Southern Israel and Gaza. But, the fears of Jewish-Americans, as antisemitism on American campuses explodes, are not in dispute, and that fear is what lies at the heart of this story.

Now, let us turn to you, GS, and your proprietary conduct in relation to the truth. The assumption embedded in your commentary is that the Palestinians are more sinned against than sinning - a political commonplace - but you go further, identifying the sinners as the Jews.

Sadly, this situates you politically among the hate-fuelled crowds filling the public squares of the world's cities. Like them, you cultivate a studied indifference to the ideology and strategy of Hamas, which, at its core, is driven by an unquenchable hatred of the Jews and their state. The suffering of Hamas's Palestinian "brothers" and "sisters", whose agonies it brazenly solicits as a matter of policy, identifies this terrorist organisation as both dangerously fanatical and profoundly cynical. Your silence in the face of such depraved political praxis, GS, identifies you as someone who, if forced to pick a side in this fight, would pick theirs.

That being the case, there is but one conclusion to be drawn: that you can look upon evil in its purest form and not be sufficiently moved to reject entirely those responsible for its unleashing.

Rage at you, and pity for you, struggle for ascendancy in my heart.

The Barron said...

I am increasingly concerned as to the tone in this blog.

To group an ethnic or national people as sinners or sinned is language suggesting Old Testament retribution in collect responsibility and collective punishment. We have international law to keep us above this. We have a concept of human rights and values that place us above this.

It is not only possible, but essential, to be able to condemn Hamas while maintaining the historical, current and future rights of the Gazan Palestinians. It is possible to analysis the foundation of modern Israel and the current actions of the Israeli Government without wishing for a solution wish ensures a peaceful home-land for the Jewish people.

I mentioned on my first post that I have not heard solutions in this blog, but dichotomization of people into deserving and undeserving. The right to life for some children, but not others. 1400 victims, 8000 victims - we categorize into justified or unjustified. This has become demeaning of the value of human life.

We must go beyond blood lust as a reaction, and look to whether ground action by the Israeli forces has any specific goals and what the limitations are. How many lives of civilian Palestinians are to be weighed against each Hamas death? How many conscripts are forced to death or maiming for Netanyahu to think he has avenged the 1400 civilians?

Most important is the question as to whether the action is going to achieve a long-term peace solution or create more generational conflict? Will this eliminate Hamas, or strengthen the extremes?

Many NZ commentators seem to have personally invested themselves in this conflict. They have become increasingly partisan as they are criticized. This is a complex overseas conflict, any resolution can only come from the people of Israel and those of the Palestinian people having the ability to have representative dialogue. This can be assisted by International good will and vision. Blessed are the Peacemakers did not refer to the LGM-118 missile (yep, I recognize the hypocrisy of me quoting the beatitudes, but desperate times...)

Loz said...

@David George - have a look at the NY Cooper Union film clip again and you will see there are no barricades at all, and the only chant was "Free, Free, Palestine"... hardly hate speech.

Right around the world there are enormous protests demanding a stop to the bombing from an anti-war movement that refuses to accept the legitimacy of genocide. Meanwhile, the Israel Defence Forces have massacred hundreds of unarmed refugees with indifference, by sending multiple missiles into the Jabalia refugee camp on the pretext that a single Hamas commander was hiding somewhere amongst them. After the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, the village of Lidice was raised as retribution on the grounds that terrorists escaped into its midst. 173 men were executed on the grounds of hunting two mem. The death toll in the Jabalia refugee camp is now much higher while justified in hunting but one man. If Lidice was an unspeakable massacre then also is Jabalia and it deserves condemnation.

100,000 marched on the streets of London demanding a ceasefire, making it the largest demonstration since the attempts to stop the Iraq war. The headline London Met report of a 1300% increase in hate crime needs to be considered with some context. The press release stated: "Between 1 October and 18 October, we saw 218 antisemitic offences compared to 15 in the same period last year. Similarly, we saw an increase in Islamophobic offences from 42, to 101. In a population of 9 million (15% Muslim), having 200 counts of loosely defined "hate speech" after the endless images from the bombing began demonstrates how tolerant and multicultural London really is.

Let me end positively though by highlighting New York and the 400 Jewish activists arrested in the “Not in Our Name” sit-in in recent days. Not caught in this escalating spiral of hate and vengeance but defiantly demanding the bombings stop. Significant numbers of the Jewish Community are actively involved in demanding an end to the killing and they should be seen as the heroes they are.

David George said...

What to make of someone that tells you what you should think on the basis of their assumption of your identity? Isn't fanatical tribalism the root of, but never the excuse for, what we have seen?

Why did so few children survive the terrorists?

“Because if they saw a child they were hunting it down. You have to understand, they were targeting the innocent and the fragile, the most vulnerable.”

The small number of children who managed to survive the pogrom either hid in an attic (poignant echoes of Anne Frank), were shielded by the bodies of their dead parents or were taken hostage. (The youngest of the 242 hostages is a 10-month-old boy called Kfir who was seized with his four-year-old brother Ariel.)

“In some of the cases,” she continues, “we know the terrorists tied the children up and burned them together.”

WHAT? No. But how does she know they were alive when they burned them?

“We know because of the smoke inhalation in the children’s throats and lungs.”

“Since those demonstrations started, I keep getting WhatsApp messages from friends in Israel,” she says, “They ask me, ‘Do you feel safe there? Do Jews feel safe?’ They feel like London is less safe during this war than Israel. They see the same jihadi ideology on the streets of London as in Gaza and they wonder what is going on.”

The first march, as the ambassador is at pains to point out, took place when Israeli soldiers were still retrieving bodies and pathologists were struggling to identify the violated corpses of young people from the Nova music festival.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"Rage at you, and pity for you, struggle for ascendancy in my heart."

Please don't patronise me Chris. I try not to patronise you like the conservatives here do when you criticise the left. And everyone here has a proprietary attitude towards the "truth". (Otherwise David would have changed his mind about his quack medicine proponents.) As I said before, no one here changes their mind when presented with evidence. Although most of the evidence from the conservative side is rubbish to be honest.

"Your silence in the face of such depraved political praxis, GS, identifies you as someone who, if forced to pick a side in this fight, would pick theirs."

Jesus Christ, I know that being considered anti-Semitic is an occupational hazard of supporting Palestinians, but I didn't expect it from you.

I think if you go back and look at my comments Chris I have several times condemned Hamas in your columns. Both as terrorists and as religious fanatics.

Having said that, if you had studied the Middle Eastern problem, and argued with Zionists as much as I have for a period of more than twenty years or more, you would realise that Israel, particularly the Netanyahu government but other conservative governments as well, have scuppered the chance of a just settlement for Palestinians.
If you can see a Palestinian state on what remains of unoccupied land, perhaps you'd like to point it out to me? Even Trump's sharpie couldn't figure that out.


The whole disaster of the Middle East situation is covered from the Israeli point of view at least 90% of the time, particularly in the US. The Guardian has reasonably balanced coverage, but Israeli hasbara predominates pretty much everywhere else.

I feel you are clinging to your version of the "Jews in the library" scenario in spite of being provided with evidence to the contrary, both from the police report and from film. And I notice that you have not included examples of Islamophobia, up to and including the killing of a six-year-old in the US, which might have provided some more balance. You haven't mentioned the Muslim students who have been threatened with expulsion, or the threats to Islamic schools.
Your description of "hate fuelled" crowds is indicative that you are prepared to ignore the demonstrations that aren't filled with hate, including those by Jews.

I really think everyone needs to cool down, including you. We can't expect it from those involved, but the rest of the world should try not to fuel the anger. Perhaps you could read the links that I provided, where people have taken a measured approach to this whole sad affair.

David George said...

Loz: "100,000 marched on the streets of London demanding a ceasefire"

I wonder how many among those are aware that there was a ceasefire in place before October 7, before Hamas started raining thousands of rockets into Israel (and taking out a great many Gazans as well in the process) and invaded with unimaginable barbarity and cruelty. It's clear they have zero intention of honouring any ceasefire.

Ghazi Hamad, Hamas spokesman, on Lebanese TV on October 24: https://www.memri.org/reports/hamas-official-ghazi-hamad-we-will-repeat-october-7-attack-time-and-again-until-israel

“Israel is a country that has no place on our land. We must remove that country. . . . We are not afraid to say this with full force. . . . We must teach Israel a lesson and we will do it again and again. The Al-Aqsa flood is just the first time, and there will be a second, a third, a fourth. . . . We are called a nation of martyrs and we are proud to sacrifice martyrs.” The television interviewer asks: “Does that mean the annihilation of Israel?” Response from Hamas chief: “Yes of course. The existence of Israel is illogical.”

Kit Slater said...

Islam’s doctrines of violence, deception, conquest, supremacism and essentialism with respect to the non-Islamic world are vital to understanding it. One important factor is the following:

Occultation, and its link to Iran’s genocidal incitement against Israel.

The Barron said...

I am as critical of what you term "useful idiots" if they write concerning Hamas or Israel without having an understanding that cheering one side or another in a death spiral. I have suggested elsewhere that NZ should extend our recognition of Hamas military wing as a terrorist organization to the political wing. I have said that this imposes on the international community to create conditions in which the Gazan people reject extremists.

Ultimately, there must be an ability for people to live alongside each other, which Israel a Jewish homeland and the rights of the Palestinians are enshrined.

I do get sick and tired of those that see the situation as beyond repair, when every nation that has had war with neighbors or internally have eventually resolved disputes.

So yes, I believe it incumbent on those commentating to investigate visions for the coexistence, otherwise we are shaking our fists and allowing perpetual death of civilians with no purpose. Chris and those he is critical of have fought for human rights and the values of life. Usually as allies. Chris is very capable of leading discussion as to how two peoples may coexist, and I suspect he will do so some day and cut through the fog of war.

David George said...

Perhaps, to "cool down" we need to try and understand the underlying motivations that have led us to where we are. Here's brilliant paper that I'm sure you, Chris, will find interesting.

Individual and the State versus the Subsidiary Hierarchy of Heaven
Jonathan Pageau and Jordan Peterson

The question of identity haunts us, underlying our political excesses and extremes. As individuals, in the absence of a firm identity, we become adrift. We are in need of something capable of uniting our inner selves, and our interests and endeavours with others, so that we can cooperate and compete peacefully, productively, reciprocally, and sustainably.

The modern world has increasingly understood identity as a duality between an idiosyncratic individual, and an ever-totalising collective. These two tendencies have grown simultaneously, on the one hand the worship of particularity—the exception, difference—and on the other, a growing bureaucratic state and global systems with an authoritarian bent, necessary to protect increasingly fragmented individuals from each other.

The result has been the slow but persistent erosion of intermediary identities: the family, communities, religious affiliations, clubs, and the nation—as the individual sees these intermediary identities as constraining his or her freedom. The growing collective sees these intermediary participations as impure visions of itself, competing with its own totalising identity. We are left with hopeless and lonely individuals facing an increasingly controlling and invasive state.

There is another vision of identity, reflected in many of the traditional societies of our world and its natural patterns. It is what we could call subsidiary identity. Subsidiary identity is understanding that as individuals, we are already a bringing into one of all the different thoughts, feelings, and psychological micro-personalities within us. It is our very capacity to join the multiple into one which becomes a mirror of how we are parts of higher, broader identities, within our family units, our communities, our cities, and our religious communion.


Kit Slater said...

The corruption, chicanery, infighting, and brutality of Arab/Muslim agencies in Palestine is indisputable. The only thing which unites these entities is their hatred of Israel and the Jews.

The Middle East Foundation published a 5,000-word essay in 2011 covering events in the 20th century, How Anti-Semitism Prevents Peace.

The BBC World Service’s The Inquiry of 17 September this year covered events from the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993 between Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, focussing on the Palestinian Authority in What’s next for Palestinian leadership? Its conclusion is dispiriting for anyone thinking Palestinians could form a unified front challenging Israel.

Fijian said...

What fails the litmus test is that Western countries fail to reprimand and punish Israel for practicing Apartheid over the Arab occupants of the West Bank and East Jerusalem . There is no Hamas in the West Bank. Why are they subject to daily humiliation and indignities? Why is their land being stolen daily? That is surely not done in good faith, which all negotiations require. They even have a compliant Palestinian Authority that allows this to happen and polices their population on behalf of the occupiers. What option other than armed struggle is an option? Israel only negotiates when faced with violence. The Yom Kippur War showed us that.

David George said...

Fijian: "What option other than armed struggle is an option?"

And what of the innocents "in the West" bombed or mowed down at pop concerts, in the subway, at a Christmas market or otherwise brutally butchered? Enemies of Islam's fight for justice? Or manifest evil? Hamas are not the least bit interested in any other option, they're a death cult. Have a listen to the interview with Hamas spokesman Ghazi Hamad I posted above.

Chris Trotter from another essay:

"Islam’s almost infinite capacity for aggrieved victimhood has melded with a Western left dangerously obsessed with perfecting its own cult of the victim to produce the mass demonstrations of antisemitic extremism that have so disfigured the world’s capitals. Here, seething beneath uncountable Palestinian flags, is a stochastic terrorism obscenely pregnant with the next Brenton Tarrant."

"We cannot know exactly which member of the crowd will fling the Molotov cocktail, but if matters do not improve, we can be absolutely certain that someone will." https://thebfd.co.nz/2023/11/06/it-is-going-to-happen/

Well it has happened, fire bombs and Jewish hate in Auckland:

"A Jewish community centre in Auckland has been vandalised, with graffiti sprayed on the fence and apparent fires attempted.

The fence, which is at the back of Beth Shalom, the Auckland Congregation for Progressive Judaism, in Epsom was sprayed with the words Gaza, save the children, ceasefire and ‘fuk’ on Tuesday night.

Behind the fence is a building that until earlier this year was the home of Jewish youth group Habonim Dror Aotearoa New Zealand.

Stuff understands the site was targeted because on Google it is listed as the Consulate of Israel, which it no longer is."

David George said...

Thus violence, even the cruelest, even against the most innocent is thereby justified, Fijian?

“So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to do.” Benjamin Franklin.

Ian said...

There are multiple litmus tests in play here.

What is the litmus test of the Left on terrorism?

Terrorism is: "the use of violence or threats of violence against civilians to achieve a political end."

Terrorism is not: "the actions of a group defined by the US government as a terrorist organisation"

As Chris pointed out in an earlier post ("Reaping the Whirlwind") in WW II the airforces of the world's 2 largest capitalist democracies unleashed terror on the cities of Germany and Japan on a scale never seen before or since. The Nazis used terrorism on a much larger scale, killing 17 million in the holocaust alone. But before the left can get too smug, the Nazis are outdone by the governments of the USSR (especially when Stalin was in charge) and the government of the People's Republic of China (dwarfing the USSR).

Terrorism by NGOs, like Hamas, is tiny by comparison to state terrorism (for obvious reasons) and we see this playing out at the moment when comparing the 7 October death toll by Hamas to the death toll caused by Israeli terrorism since then. And this is not just a 2023 thing. Any year you care to pick in the last 75 years IDF terrorism is on a larger scale than Palestinian terrorism.

Anyone who wants to be regarded as a serious Leftist is obligated to inform oneself as well as possible about the dubious arguments apologists make. A serious Leftist should be deeply suspicious of anyone making an argument that tries to absolve one group of terrorism while highlighting another group. They should also be deeply suspicious of anyone making an argument that a certain class of violence (or threats of violence) against civilians for a political end is somehow not terrorism. Such an argument might be phrased along the lines that our honoured ancestors (or someone we admire) did it (or approved of it) therefore it can't be terrorism. This is a subjective argument based on the idea that groups of people are preassigned into "good" groups and "bad" groups, and therefore if the "good guys" did something then that thing can't be terrorism. If the "bad guys" did it or support people who did it, then it must be terrorism.

Terrorism is tool used by both governments and non-government groups. It is used by democratic governments and non-democratic ones. It is used by capitalists and communists. By atheists and religious people. It is used for "good" political causes and "bad" ones. It is often used by groups that don't have the military means to achieve the result they want to achieve. It can be used to blackmail politicians to concede something. It can be used to try and break a population's will to resist, to dominate a population, to punish a population, to force a population to do something they wouldn't otherwise do and in extreme cases to eliminate a population.

A good student of politics can separate their judgement about a political cause from their judgement about the methods used in pursuit of that cause. For instance, it is possible to approve of the war to defeat Nazi Germany without approving of all the methods used to do it. However, one must be prepared to come up with viable alternatives. Of course, there are political causes that are tightly bound with the method of implementation. The genocide in Rwanda, for instance, could not have been achieved without killing civilians. Was it possible to create a democratic Jewish state in Palestine without terrorising most of the Palestinians into leaving Israel? "No" is the answer that many Zionists and Palestinians would agree on.

An objective view of terrorism and the honesty to call it out regardless of whether it is done by friends or enemies is a litmus test of objectivity that should be applicable regardless of whether a person aligns with the Left or Right.

Ian said...

What is the litmus test of the Left on truth, logic, morality, political alignments and history?

How many women has the Islamic Republic of Iran murdered for the crime of not wearing the hijab? How many people has the Jewish State of Israel murdered for the crime of being born in the Gaza Strip? Which is the greater evil from the point of view of a moral Leftist?

Israel has to destroy Hamas. A good Leftist should ask: Why does Israel need to destroy Hamas? Is it actually possible? And more important than these, what will Israel do once it has destroyed Hamas? Will that Israeli action solve the problem that Israel created 75 years ago? Or will it lead to an angrier Hamas 2.0 in the near future? In the later case more than 11,000 Palestinian civilians were killed by the IDF for no good reason.

The notion that Iran would certainly use nuclear weapons to destroy Israel also needs to be carefully examined by a Leftist committed to logic and separating truth from propoganda. Who talks about this the most? And why? Why is this "rapid acquisition" taking such a long time? Does Iran really want nuclear weapons as much as we are being led to believe? Is it possible to destroy Israel with nuclear weapons? What would such destruction achieve? What is the logic behind using nuclear weapons against Israel which has a much larger nuclear arsenal of its own? And why does Iran hate Israel so much? The infamous President Ahmadinejad said Iran would make peace with Israel once Israel made peace with the Palestinians (the same policy as the Arab League), so why do some people talk about this antithesis between Iran and Israel as if it is unrelated to Palestinian/Zionist conflict or as if it is driving that conflict? Are they trying to distract you from the underlying conflict?

A serious Leftist would also critically examine statements made by and about Hamas. How does this Hamas charter statement "Under the wing of Islam, it is possible for the followers of the three religions - Islam, Christianity and Judaism - to coexist in peace and quiet with each other. Peace and quiet would not be possible except under the wing of Islam. Past and present history are the best witness to that" fit with the popular view of Hamas wanting to kill all Israeli Jews?

A serious Leftist needs to take into the likely consequences of actions in both directions. Not only looking at the likely reaction of Israel to Hamas actions but also the likely reaction of Hamas to Israeli actions. But a serious Leftist shouldn't confuse "likely consequences" with "moral responsibility". Because Israel reacts in a predictable way doesn't shift moral responsibility for Israeli actions to Hamas. Similarly because Hamas reacts in a predicable way doesn't shift moral responsibility for Hamas actions to Israel. Hamas is responsible for its killings and Israel is responsible for its killings. But understanding reactions in both directions can help in understanding why each side behaves the way it does.

A serious Leftist should be aware that Israel has controlled the Gaza Strip since 1967. While it withdrew its ground troops and settlers in 2005, allowing Palestinians some local autonomy, it maintained control over the things that matter: fresh water, food, fuel, exports, imports, and borders. Israel maintains control over whether the population of the Gaza Strip lives or dies, and also over the issuing of ID cards to the population, taxing imports to the Gaza Strip etc. Hamas doesn't claim sovereignty over the Gaza Strip.

If a country's police chief says he wants to expel opponents to the war to the Gaza Strip and the government wants to pass laws to lock up and confiscate broadcasting equipment of those opposing the attack on the Gaza Strip, a serious Leftist should consider that this antithesis to dissent feels like a democracy moving in the direction that has a characteristic of facism.

Loz said...

To provide context, Gaza is the equivalent size of central Auckland from Avondale in the West, Mt Wellington and St Helliers in the East. In that space is the entire urban population of Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Hamilton reside. Israel cut off all fuel, electricity, food and water for the people in that area more than a month ago. More explosive firepower has been dropped on Gaza's civilians than in Hiroshima. Most of northern Gaza has been turned to dust and the IDF now says that Hamas is actually in the Southern Gaza so it too is being obliterated.

As an act of vengeance food, water and electricity has also been cut for all Palestinian prisoners, many of whom have been held without trial.

The indiscriminate killing of Palestinians is primarily taking the lives of the most vulnerable. To date, 100 civilians are being killed for every combatant, but that number will greatly escalate as starvation, dehydration and disease runs through the population of refugees. 1.5 million are now without shelter as winter approaches and Israel is restricting aid to a maximum of two trucks carrying bottled water a day.

Dr. Mads Gilbert provides a chilling breakdown of how all healthcare has been systematically targeted in both Gaza and the West Bank. The Indonesian hospital ceased operation after 12 hours of shelling today.

There are few ideologies that excuse this grotesque and brutal slaughter of innocent humans. It is a litmus test for the most despicable in our midst.

It's now clear that Hamas is the pretext for genocide - which may be why Israel encouraged its development in the first place. The scale of which meets the definition of an active holocaust.

Brandon Hutchison said...

Wow! Only just read this.
Rather than go through the screeds of misinformation, bias, and inflammatory language, I'll just say that you really don't know much about this conflict Chris, which is very surprising for a person like you.

Brandon Hutchison

Kit Slater said...

There is something in discourse that I call the ‘aah! moment', where aah stands for argumentum ad hominem, and moment is used in the psychological and narrative sense of a pivot or turning point. The discourse changes from subjective to fallacious. This is what Mr Hutchison had brought to the debate.

If Mr Hutchison has any expertise in the areas covered by this essay, he should enlighten us with an example and perhaps rescue his reputation.