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Can the pro-Palestine Left redeem itself? Even progressive ghouls deserve civility

A protester in New York this week(Fatih Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

A protester in New York this week(Fatih Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)


October 13, 2023   6 mins

One of the greatest challenges human beings face is how to tease apart a bad act from a good character — or, conversely, a toxic personality from the good and worthy things he created. How do we separate the long-time childhood friend from his insane Facebook polemics? The good neighbour from his bad politics?

“People are thoughtless all the time,” writes Alexandra Hudson in her new book, The Soul of Civility, while arguing that the best way to depolarise our society is to recognise that good people can have bad ideas. This idea is classically Christian, but also fundamentally American: even after the Civil War, a central tenet of Reconstruction was that those who fought for the Confederacy should be given grace for having chosen the wrong side. But that’s a principle it’s easier to hold to in the wake of victory than in the fog of war — or, as this past week’s events have reminded us, War Discourse.

The response from certain corners of the progressive Left to the stories coming out of Israel has been extraordinary. The silhouette of a paragliding Hamas militant has been adopted by groups ranging from Black Lives Matter to the Democratic Socialists of America — a graphic successor to that Che Guevara block print that used to hang on every dorm room wall. A crowd on the steps of the Sydney Opera House in Australia chanted “gas the Jews”. A cheer went up in Times Square at the news that 700 Israelis had been killed. And among the academic and media classes, a series of statements ran the gamut from half-hearted condemnations of the terrorist attacks to triumphant and bloodthirsty snarling.

“What did y’all think decolonization meant? vibes? papers? essays? losers,” wrote Najma Sharif, a writer for Soho House magazine and Teen Vogue. “Today should be a day of celebration for supporters of democracy and human rights worldwide,” tweeted Rivkah Brown of Novara Media. The language varied, but the sentiment was the same: this is good, actually, and seeing it should fill you with the same cathartic glee as any underdog story. Don’t you see? This isn’t terrorism; it is justice.

Who has time to care about civility when the world is burning down? Three nights ago, I was part of an audience on East 46th Street listening to Hudson explain the relationship between civility and “the norms of the practice of war” — norms which, of course, Hamas has explicitly chosen to subvert in its targeting and killing of civilians. The next day, on the phone, I asked her what civility looks like in an age of extreme polarisation.

“Human nature hasn’t changed,” she said. (Her references include many ancient texts.) “But the ubiquity of our interconnectedness… that is different, that is new, and it presents new challenges to civility. It can coarsen us and desensitise us to the suffering of others when we’re imbibing it all the time.”

The war in Israel, and the one in Ukraine: it’s not hard to see how our distance from these events, combined with the immediacy of so much coverage and conversation about them, lends itself to the most grotesque kind of rubbernecking. It’s war as spectator sport; people haggle over the reports of Hamas beheading babies with the same energy as a group of armchair referees debating an off-side call.

Some people, anyway. The term “luxury beliefs” was coined to describe how privileged progressives like to traffic in this sort of unhinged extremist rhetoric. Partly, it’s a hazard of their utter insulation from ever having to experience the practical impact of the policies they advocate. Violence and chaos have a way of breaking through the barriers that separate the ivory tower-dwellers from the masses they condescend; one imagines the occupants of Versailles looked out their windows at the guillotine being constructed in the public square and, not understanding what lay in store, pronouncing the structure adorable.

But it’s also what happens when you succumb to the Manichean worldview that every conflict, every issue, boils down to a simple question of who is the more oppressed party. Whichever guy has more privilege, more power: this is your villain. In trying to topple him from his unearned position of influence, his victim can do no wrong. Hamas, composed as it is of Muslim people of colour, is merely punching (and raping, and kidnapping) up.

While the attacks on Israel have given rise to a particularly stomach-turning iteration of this rhetoric, we have seen it before. In 2020, as the US protests against police violence spiralled out of control, members of the laptop class could reliably be found posting that Martin Luther King Jr quote about riots being “the voice of the unheard” — always from the safety of their homes, in nice neighbourhoods, in coastal cities, where things were conspicuously not on fire. The people looting, rioting, and wreaking havoc were members of an oppressed class, and hence above reproach.

But the most absurd example of how true-life horrors become grist for the mill of perverse progressive fantasy popped up downstream of the “decolonisation” discourse. Every now and then, someone announces on the internet that they would begrudgingly allow themselves to be murdered if Native Americans decided to violently re-exert ownership over their ancestral lands. The authenticity of such sentiments is obviously belied by the fact that these same people could, if they wanted to, voluntarily renounce their power instead of waiting for some noble savage to take it by force. If you truly believed yourself to be a colonist, illegitimately squatting on someone else’s property, why would you waste time tweeting about it? Wouldn’t you just leave?

But surely it’s hardly worth pointing this out. The offensiveness of such a line of speculation is exceeded only by its impossibility; we could just leave its proponents alone to play in their ghoulish little sandbox, with their terrible little toys. And yet this, too, would be uncivil.

“Civility doesn’t require forgetting, it doesn’t require sweeping grievances under the rug,” says Hudson. “It requires confronting people with their mistakes, misjudgements, misdeeds. To do anything else is to see them as a child, as lesser.”

If civility demands that we hold people to account for the hatred they spew, it also rejects the notion that a person of an “oppressed” identity category should get a free pass to spew hatred. The bar for human decency, surely, does not shift depending on the colour of your skin or the arrangement of your genitals — and to insist on this, on one standard for all people, creates a clear path forward, which may be the best thing about civility as an ethos. It works on the assumption that, as bleak as things are now, there will be an “after” in which we forgive, even if we don’t forget.

A day after her “celebration” post, Rivkah Brown deleted it, and wrote the following: “I responded too quickly and in a moment of heightened emotion. Witnessing Palestinians defy decades of oppression hardened me to the suffering of Israeli civilians, including my friends and family, and I regret that. I’m sorry.”

Of course the human instinct, as demonstrated in the replies to her post, is to not accept the apology. The hazard of finding oneself on the moral high ground is that it becomes difficult not to revel in being up there, and not to kick at least a little dirt down onto the person grovelling below you. “Self-sacrifice is not our natural way of thinking or taking action,” Hudson writes in The Soul of Civility. “The Book of Proverbs from the Hebrew Bible goes so far as to charge us to ‘bind [these teachings] around our neck,’ as we are prone to forget them.”

As I left Hudson’s event on Tuesday night, I found the street closed off. Instead of cars, the pavement was occupied by hundreds of people holding signs and banners and flags: the remnants of what had been a massive rally in support of Israel. I would later learn that some people present were captured on camera wishing for the annihilation of Palestine; no one side, as it turns out, has a monopoly on hatred.

As I weaved through the crowd, Leonard Cohen’s “You Want it Darker” was playing through my headphones, a fitting meditation on war, death, and the cruelty we inflict on each other in the name of a just cause.

They’re lining up the prisoners
And the guards are taking aim
I struggle with some demons
They were middle-class and tame
I didn’t know I had permission
To murder and to maim

The chorus to this song is a Hebrew word, a line from the Torah. It’s what Abraham says, in response to God’s request that he sacrifice his son; it is also what we might say to each other, eventually, when civility or decency or whatever deity you believe in asks us to confront and forgive each other’s failings in this moment, the better to thrive in the moments we have left.

Hineni, hineni. I’m ready, I’m ready.


Kat Rosenfield is an UnHerd columnist and co-host of the Feminine Chaos podcast. Her latest novel is You Must Remember This.

katrosenfield

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Seb Dakin
Seb Dakin
7 months ago

“What did y’all think decolonisation meant? vibes, papers. Losers”
Oops, I think the mask slipped there.
Some of us always suspected it was superficial cant, and an intellectual trojan horse for an assault on judeo-christian cultures and the civilisations they have built, by people who seethe with race-based envy and resentment at what they have achieved.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
7 months ago
Reply to  Seb Dakin

Once you accept their language (‘decolonisation’ etc) you’ve lost. For example: in reality there are no ‘Palestinians’. They’re Jordanians who are prevented from living in Jordan because the Arabs want to use them as a rationale for eradicating Israel, a project which isn’t actually motivated by a desire for ‘justice’ at all. The entire ‘Palestine’ narrative, and the language used, must be challenged.

Dark Horse
Dark Horse
7 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Clearly Hamas don’t give a damn about Palestine because they knew these abominations would trigger retaliation against Gaza. They wanted this to happen so that they can weep crocodile tears and screech murderer when Israel defends herself. The people of Gaza mean nothing to them but convenient scapegoats.

Helen Hughes
Helen Hughes
7 months ago
Reply to  Dark Horse

Which is why, for me, one should at least consider the possibility that the state of Israel actually wanted this to happen, because who actually benefits – there’s an argument for it being both that state and Hamas, and for them being more closely connected than we are supposed to believe. And who knows who or what is actually behind all that and so much else at the moment, when we observe and experience the many ways we are being manipulated into doing things that are not in our own best interests. Again, who benefits?

B Moore
B Moore
7 months ago
Reply to  Helen Hughes

This is spot on. It’s a dirty war that is going on for a long time. There are no heroes here.

michael harris
michael harris
7 months ago
Reply to  Helen Hughes

The most likely result, Helen. will be that nobody benefits and many people suffer. Yours is a strange version of the zero sum game; because many will suffer some must benefit. Untrue!

Helen Hughes
Helen Hughes
7 months ago
Reply to  michael harris

The arms industry might just possibly benefit?

Nona Yubiz
Nona Yubiz
7 months ago
Reply to  Helen Hughes

Not possibly: most definitely.

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
7 months ago
Reply to  Helen Hughes

Answer: No one benefits.
Hamas is made up of angry blockheads without enough imagination to see past their own desire for revenge. They will demonstrate that they held the Palestinians captive, to do with as they pleased. But other than that they probably called up their own damnation and destruction.
This will also be the end of Netanyahu, who is more responsible than anyone for the sorry state of Israel’s intelligence services and military readiness. He’s been in charge, on and off, for many years. In all that time he demonstrated a sharp focus on himself; not on his job. The Israelis, when they’re done with their revenge, will turn on him in their grief.
“…And the will of Zeus was accomplished/ when first there stood in division of conflict…”

Peter B
Peter B
7 months ago

Agree that no one – at least almost no one – benefits.
But not convinced that this is the end of Netanyahu. He’s survived many other setbacks and he’s still there. This sort of event also tends to increase support for hardline views at the expense of moderates. Apparently right-leaning Orthodox Jews are gaining population faster than the rest and the demographics of Israel shifting in Netanyahu/the right’s favour.
It is hard to feel optimistic. The hardliners are in charge – on all sides.
At some point, the Iranian regime will collapse and Iran may become more moderate (as it once was). But that doesn’t seem like something that’s likely to happen soon.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
7 months ago
Reply to  Helen Hughes

Iran.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
7 months ago
Reply to  Helen Hughes

You’re suggestion that Israelis see their own kin as pawns in some sort of blood-soaked political game of chess tells us a lot more about the sort of person that you are than it tells us about them.

Abe Stamm
Abe Stamm
7 months ago
Reply to  Dark Horse

The Palestinians elected the Hamas government under the supervision of the United Nations. The political leaders and soldiers of Hamas come from the homes of Gaza’s Palestinian citizenry. They’re not separate entities.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
7 months ago
Reply to  Dark Horse

Palestinians want this to happen. They want to be martyrs. They celebrate death the way we celebrate life. They are happy to be living above munitions bunkers and send their kids to schools next to rocket launchers. Don’t be fooled into believing they think the way we do.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

I’m not sure that’s true.

Keppel Cassidy
Keppel Cassidy
7 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

I’m sure it’s not.

Nona Yubiz
Nona Yubiz
7 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Well, that’s rather a sweeping statement. How did you develop such expertise about the Palestinian soul?

Last edited 7 months ago by Nona Yubiz
Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 months ago
Reply to  Dark Horse

Exactly and they have done nothing to improve the, abysmal, quality of life of the average Palestinian.

Helen Hughes
Helen Hughes
7 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Perhaps we should ask the people who call themselves Palestinians about that, Hugh?

Shrunken Genepool
Shrunken Genepool
7 months ago
Reply to  Helen Hughes

Just like we should have asked the German people before coming to the defence of Europe in WW2?

Helen Hughes
Helen Hughes
7 months ago

No, not like that at all. I’m asking if it might not be polite to ask the people who call themselves Palestinians what they themselves think about people in the UK deciding what they (the people who call themselves Palestinian) may and may not call themselves. It seems many readers here, from the number of down votes I have received, think that we should have the privilege of deciding that for them, and I am wondering if that’s because we think of them as less human than us? And if so, if that means those who are highlighting the unhealthy side of colonisation might not have a point?
I’m also wondering if, had we been bombarded with TV and online images of the suffering of those who live in Gaza at the hands of the Israeli state for the past however many years, we might be less quick to dismiss them, as a group, as being so morally deficient?
No act of terror or violence should be applauded, whoever commits it. We would be wise to be aware of how easy it is to manipulate our emotions and sense of morality through images on screens, leading us to judge and condemn and make ourselves arbiters of the truth, to the point of becoming bloodthirsty ourselves through our desire for revenge.
Surely many readers here have had a heightened awareness of the power of the media and nudging over the past few years? What is the narrative we are supposed to believe and why?

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 months ago
Reply to  Helen Hughes

I think it’s possible to find out where the truth lies in any situation if you take the time to research it.

Helen Hughes
Helen Hughes
7 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Clare, are you personally prepared to find out, after you’ve done all the research that’s necessary to find out some ultimate truth (or I dunno, maybe we just need to ask Jacinda Arden for it?), that you might have been wrong? Isn’t all search for truth a search to prove oneself right and the other wrong? What if someone else, through equally careful research as you, comes up with another “truth”?

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 months ago
Reply to  Helen Hughes

I don’t feel the need to be “right”, Helen. I’m talking about fact finding not right finding.

Nona Yubiz
Nona Yubiz
7 months ago
Reply to  Helen Hughes

Oh, you’re being much too nuanced for this crowd.

Last edited 7 months ago by Nona Yubiz
Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
7 months ago
Reply to  Helen Hughes

I’m sure Palestinians are a lot less upset about me calling them Jordanians than I am about their atavistic desire to behead me and kill my children because some distant ancestor of mine might have said something unflattering about their ‘prophet’.

Colin Bradley
Colin Bradley
7 months ago
Reply to  Helen Hughes

Of course there is a people called the Palestinians every bit as much as there is a people called the Israelis. Before 1948 there were neither Palestinians nor Israelis, just Jews and Arabs, and save your breath now, I don’t need to hear about the time there was a self governing kingdom called Israel which lasted somewhere between 300 and 500 years depending om how you might describe the various kingdoms which, after Solomon, were constantly at war with one another. It all happened about 3000 to 2500 years ago and then there was a quick renaissance for a hundred or so years which was crushed by the Romans leading to the Diaspora. To call these quarrelsome kingdoms a nation is stretching a point since the idea of the nation state as we understand it today is historically a completely new and quite different kettle of fish. Furthermore what is the evidence that every living Jew of today is by blood a descendent of these tribes only, and where is the evidence that the people who now call themselves Palestinians are in no way descended from the same tribes? There are known periods of proselytism in Jewish history and similarly later on conversions of Jews to Islam. In 1948 the only thing we can say for certain is that there was a community of Jews and a community of Arabs both staking a claim to the land called at the time Palestine, and of these two the Arabs were the more numerous and with a more recent and lengthier unbroken genealogy connecting them with the soil of Palestine. They were the indigenous people and other than a small community of around 25000, mainly from Sfad and Jerusalem the Jews were immigrants. 
A reawakened anciennity from a slumber of 2500 years may be a fine thing but why does it politically in a modern world trump a lineage which had immediate and voluminous connection for considerably many unbroken centuries of real time up until that historical juncture with the disputed land? 
If we leave god and gods out of this we’re forced to admit there is no absolute authority which can decide the matter. The next best thing we have is the UN which voted in 1947 to partition the land. That the Arabs chose to reject the authority of this body and make a war which they lost, does not mean the vote is nullified. The borders were adjusted such that the territory to the West of the ceasfire lines is now internationally recognized as the legitimate borders of Israel. The territory to the East up to the Jordan river is and has now been for 55 years, since the Six Day War, occupied territory. 
Right from the start the Zionists knew that this land they coveted was settled by other people and they knew they would have to drive out or suppress these people if they wanted a Jewish state in Palestine. (see Jabotinsky’s essays and speeches). But initially that was not their aim because the land was an Ottoman province or protectorate, so they petitioned for a Jewish homeland instead. The Arabs initially mistook this ambition to mean that the Jews were willing to join them in seeking to throw off the yoke of the Ottoman empire and replace it with the pan arabic dream of a united Arab states from the Euphrates to the Mediterranean. Jews and Arabs are both Semitic and small Jewish enclaves already had existed peacefully side by side with Arab neighbours in most Arab majority regions. So the Jews were welcomed. 
But with the fall of the Ottoman empire and the signing of the Balfour Declaration with the British it became clear that the Jews were not seeking coexistence within an essentially Arabic federation, but were intending to build a state in its own right of exclusively or at least with a sizeably majority Jewish population, so naturally the Palestinians began to organise resistance to this invasion, as any indigenous people would do. You might call this a people legitimately excersizing their right to defend themselves. That they were unsuccessful and that winners as usual get to write the history doesn’t make the resistance less legitimate.
However all we hear today is the call to support Israel’s right to defend itself. I definitely would support that and at the same time I also support Palestine’s right to defend itself. Even if Palestine doesn’t formally exist. That doesn’t mean I condone in any measure whatsoever the horrific Hamas atrocities. 
But I need an honest answer to the question: Is what is now happening in Gaza, Israel “defending itself”? Or is it more in truth Israel exacting revenge, collectively punishing Palestinians and teaching them a lesson? My mother taught me already as a child that two wrongs do not make a right, and an eye for an eye makes the world blind. It does look to me as if it is the latter interpretation of Israeli operations in Gaza which is valid, just as with successive bombardments of the Gaza strip over the past two or three decades. Israel is not “defending itself” – there is no real military threat to the existence of Israel . Israel is trying to punish and if that punishment is collective – well that has to be par for the course because after all the Palestinians need to learn the lesson that they should not be voting Hamas into power. 
A lasting – the only possible lasting solution – to the problem of terrorism in the name of Palestinian resistance and the threat it poses to Israeli civilians, is a sovereign Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. An occupied territory controlled from the inside by settlers, or a besieged territory denied true sovereignty by the use of external controlling forces as Gaza is, will behave as a besieged and unfree people will behave. Israel is part and parcel of creating the terror it needs to defend itself against. What makes me so uncomfortable is the suspicion that this is a situation which suits a hard liner like Netanyahu down to the ground. He would always prefer an identifiable enemy (which he doesn’t even need to demonize because the enemy obliges by doing so itself), to the possiblity of making and consolidating peace and living in mutual respect with a neighbour on sovereign land which Netanyahu’s ilk covet as desirable for themselves. Because, you know, if you keep making life hell for these people after decades and centuries, well who knows? Perhaps they will finally cave and up sticks and “freely” leave the land for a better life elsewhere. 
But until that happens, if it happens, Israel will not be able to annexe the West Bank, because that would risk demographic catastrophe, and the end of the Israeli state as a Jewish state. So people like Netanyahu need people like Hamas to commit atrocities now and then, so that the beatings of the Palestinians and their ongoing disenfranchisement with a view in the far off future to the ultimate goal of expulsion, can be continued without any really robust critique from the West, which can still be subdued by invoking the guilt of the Holocaust and centuries of anti-semitism. 
The unilateral thought that Israel has the right to defend itself is a valid thought but it needs to be supplemented by the equally valid thought that Palestine also has the right to defend itself. This ability to hold both sides of the coin in mente is not a strength exhibited by our politicians in the West. 
There have, however, been a few gifted and extraordinarily honest Israeli politicians who have understood, explained and sympathized with the Palstinian dilemma. I would recommend reading Uri Avnery, who lived in and fought with Israel in 1948, but became increasingly frustrated and disenchanted with Israeli politics after the six day war for its waste of the opportunity for a lasting peace by invoking the two state solution, and facilitation of a Palestininian state in the West Bank and Gaza. He started the Gush Shalom peace movement and was the first to meet Arafat in a diplomatic context. 
http://uriavnery.com/en/publications.html

Helen Hughes
Helen Hughes
7 months ago
Reply to  Helen Hughes

Lorks! Down votes means we shouldn’t ask the people themselves about what they want to be called? Seriously?

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 months ago
Reply to  Helen Hughes

Seriously? Why are you focusing on something that it’s impossible to find out.

Helen Hughes
Helen Hughes
7 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Clare, can you clarify what you think I am focusing on here? I don’t understand your question.

Nona Yubiz
Nona Yubiz
7 months ago
Reply to  Helen Hughes

Down votes mean people are irritated that you’ve brought up more than they can deal with.

Abe Stamm
Abe Stamm
7 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Actually, there are 2 Million ‘Palestinian’ Jordanians who were never reabsorbed back into the country after fleeing the Israeli controlled West Bank. The first Jordan refugee camp started up in 1948, accelerating after the 1967 war. The Jordanian government has practiced true “apartheid” against those people who fled after 1967 (including 1948 refugees registered with UNRWA)…yet nobody in the mainstream media writes about it. The Israelis gained property after their wars, normally recognized worldwide as the “The Spoils of War”. But, Israel gave Sinai back to Egypt, gave Gaza to the ‘Palestinians’, but for security purposes, they kept the Golan Heights (i.e.Syria) and most of the West Bank (i.e. Jordan). Nobody every asked Poland to return its land to the Austro-Hungarian Empire or Saudi Arabia to the Ottoman Empire. Compare a world map of nations from 1900 to today…it’s almost unrecognizable.
Speaking of UNRWA, it’s a special division of the United Nation which allows ‘Palestinians’ to forever claim refugee status, even if they’re third generation Americans. Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib says she’s ‘Palestinian’ even though she was born in Detroit, with her mother born in Ramallah, Jordan (now considered Palestinian territory by the West), while her grandparents resided within the British controlled mandate of Palestine (which has nothing to do with the people who started calling themselves Palestinians in the 1960’s).

Last edited 7 months ago by Abe Stamm
Richard Craven
Richard Craven
7 months ago
Reply to  Abe Stamm

Ramallah’s actually a nice place. It’s full of nightclubs and is where the local diplomatic corps goes to relax. I spent a very pleasant afternoon there in an open air swimming pool with my daughter a few years ago, when she was doing the year abroad element of her SOAS Arabic degree.

Stephanie Surface
Stephanie Surface
7 months ago
Reply to  Abe Stamm

You are absolutely right: After WWII 2 million Germans were fleeing from some Baltic States, East Prussia and Silesia. Also thousands of Polish people were expelled from Western Ukraine, put in cattle cars, arriving in Silesia, which belongs to Poland now. No descendants from these millions of refugees would consider terrorist methods to get back their former properties, villages and towns. People integrated and moved on with their lives. Why do all these Palestinians still live in refugee camps?

Last edited 7 months ago by Stephanie Surface
Peter B
Peter B
7 months ago

That’s an excellent question. And one that never seems to get asked. It would indeed be interesting to see a map marking which countries maintain permanent refugee camps and the reasons why.

C Gabrysch
C Gabrysch
7 months ago

Are you seriouslty saying that “no one would consider terrorist methods to get back their former properties” when the Mossad is widely recognized for performing illegal extraordinary renditions to hunt down Nazis?

Who do you think made up the Mossad during the 50s-80s?

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
7 months ago
Reply to  C Gabrysch

Many Jews expelled from Arab which enbled them to infiltrate Arab countries.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 months ago

Exactly. It would seem to be because their government hasn’t done anything to change the situation.

C Gabrysch
C Gabrysch
7 months ago
Reply to  Abe Stamm

“The Israelis gained property after their wars, normally recognized worldwide as the “The Spoils of War””
No. They don’t. That’s literally the entire point behind a huge portion of the world thinking this is an ongoing warcrime. I challenge you to find literally any defitinion of the spoils of war where land is legally trasnferred through wars of aggression. Every. Single. Israeli. Settlement. Is. Illegal. And no one except for a small portion of the Israelis disputes this.

Abe Stamm
Abe Stamm
7 months ago
Reply to  C Gabrysch

After the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in 1922, it was LEGALLY sliced up, as the Ottoman Sultan lost everything…creating present-day Hungary, the Balkan region, Greece, and parts of Ukraine; portions of the Middle East now occupied by Iraq, Syria, Israel, and Egypt; North Africa as far west as Algeria; and large parts of the Arabian. 
The spoils of war against the Native Americans, the English, the Spanish and the Confederate army created most of what’s now the United States. I remind my British friends every 4th of July. The United States has been recognized as a LEGAL nation since January 14th, 1784 with the Continental Congress officially declaring the sovereignty of the United States of American by ratifying the Paris Treaty.

P N
P N
7 months ago
Reply to  C Gabrysch

“I challenge you to find literally any defitinion of the spoils of war where land is legally trasnferred through wars of aggression.”

There are dozens of countries whose borders are the result of war. The USA, Russia and China’s borders are largely determined by the spoils of war. South American borders are largely the spoils of war. Large parts of France are not governed by England because of French victories in the Hundred Years War. Germany, Italy, Poland, Austria, Hungary, Turkey, Belgium, Denmark, Romania, Hungary.

In fact, except where the European empires drew lines on a map or oceans and mountains create natural borders, most other countries borders are the spoils of war.

philip kern
philip kern
7 months ago
Reply to  C Gabrysch

Was the 1967 war an Israeli ‘war of aggression’?

Colin Bradley
Colin Bradley
7 months ago
Reply to  philip kern

That’s a very interesting question. I always swallowed the (in the West) almost universally promoted narrative that this was a brilliantly executed defensive war. After many years plumbing the depths of this historical event I’m no longer so certain about that. And what has changed my mind is not the fanatical war cries of Palestinian extremists, but the honesty of some Israeli commentators and politicians.

harry storm
harry storm
4 months ago
Reply to  Colin Bradley

Oh please. The Egyptians blockaded the Straits of Tiran, suffocating Israel’s trade, and then ordered the UN troops sent in in 1956 to be a buffer between Israel and Egypt out of the Sinai. Israel’s pre-emptive strike on Egypt was entirely justified by Egypt’s actions.

Colin Bradley
Colin Bradley
7 months ago
Reply to  Abe Stamm

Winner takes all then and sour grapes for the losers? If one day the tables are turned will you then give the Palestinians the right to remove the Israeli state apparatus and send the Israelis into exile under your might is right doctrine? Ah! Didn’t think so.

B Moore
B Moore
7 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Jordan being where the current state of Israel is? Otherwise your explanation makes no sense. This is not some defence of Palestine, but we need to stick to some sort of objective reality here.

David Owsley
David Owsley
7 months ago
Reply to  B Moore

Yes, Jordan and Israel were both Transjordan

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
7 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Indeed, the PLO actually fought and lost the Black September civil war against the Jordanian army in 1970.

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
7 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Another part of the language that has to be re-evaluated is the Left-Right axis.

It doesn’t apply and intrinsically reinforces the idea of two sides. That dynamic doesn’t exist and its the sort of idea that people who want to act with incivility need to rationalize their behaviour.

Andrew Buckley
Andrew Buckley
7 months ago
Reply to  Seb Dakin

No idea how any of this lot in the States can sing out about decolonisation while living in the country? Surely leading by example and “decolonising” the States should be their first step? White European ancestry (go home!), Latino, back to Spain and Portugal? Muslim, Asian, similar.
One rule for me and one for “the other” seems fitting for their warped ideology.

John Croteau
John Croteau
7 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Buckley

By that logic we can all go back to Africa.

Gayle Rosenthal
Gayle Rosenthal
7 months ago
Reply to  John Croteau

Or maybe anti-logic.

P N
P N
7 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Buckley

The Native American tribes that existed in the Americas during white expansion across the two continents had themselves taken the land by force from other tribes, creating new tribes and empires of various sizes and strengths. The idea that the Native Americans (both North and South) were peaceable peoples before the arrival of the white man is a fantasy. The took the land in no less noble an act did the whites after them.

C Gabrysch
C Gabrysch
7 months ago
Reply to  P N

So, by your rationale, Hamas’s attack on Israeli civilians is perfectly fine then. Violence is just violence, and whenever it happens it just happens, and no justification or reasonable explanation is necessary.
Got it.

P N
P N
7 months ago
Reply to  C Gabrysch

I’m just stating some facts. Do facts need a rationale? Why are you putting words in my mouth? Your comment is not a logical conclusion from mine. Feel free to present different facts if you think I’ve got it wrong.

Stephanie Surface
Stephanie Surface
7 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Buckley

Yes, USA should be given back to the Native Indians and everybody else expelled and returned to their countries of origin.

Michael Cavanaugh
Michael Cavanaugh
7 months ago

Phase II: resurrect the Bering land bridge. Send the all people home to Asia, and return America to the woolly mammoth. Me, I’d have to be carved up, half sent to UK half sent to Germany (oops, a part of Germany that is now Poland) . . .

Stephanie Surface
Stephanie Surface
7 months ago

Haha
 like most of my US family members: Off to Germany and U.K.!

Last edited 7 months ago by Stephanie Surface
Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 months ago

Are you being sarcastic?

Stephanie Surface
Stephanie Surface
7 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Of course. Half my family is American. Guess you can’t do sarcasm/ irony on Twitter or UnHerd

Last edited 7 months ago by Stephanie Surface
Nona Yubiz
Nona Yubiz
7 months ago
Reply to  Seb Dakin

I think you almost completely missed the point, in your eagerness to trumpet what you perceive to be your superior moral position.

Helen Hughes
Helen Hughes
7 months ago
Reply to  Nona Yubiz

Seb might need some help in understanding what the point actually was, from your point of view?

Helen Hughes
Helen Hughes
7 months ago
Reply to  Helen Hughes

Oh, apparently a few readers think that Seb doesn’t need any help, or maybe that Nona’s point was indeed clear. It wasn’t to me.

Penny Adrian
Penny Adrian
7 months ago
Reply to  Nona Yubiz

His position is morally superior.And he is correct. I used to believe the lie that you could oppose Israel without being antisemitic. I no longer believe that lie. There is no way to eliminate Israel without another genocide against the Jewish people. And Hamas has made it clear that a two state solution is impossible. Never Again.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
7 months ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

“There is no way to eliminate Israel without another genocide against the Jewish people.”
Quite so, Penny. If this wasn’t clear before last weekend, it’s abundantly clear now. Gaza will have to be sealed forever after this.

C Gabrysch
C Gabrysch
7 months ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

“Clearly, we’ll have to allow the Israeli people to commit war crimes on the Gazan civilians, or else greater war crimes will be committed.”
There, I fixed it for you.

Michael Cavanaugh
Michael Cavanaugh
7 months ago
Reply to  C Gabrysch

I suppose the foregoing comment (Gabrysch to Craven) is meant to be just snarky; but does it succeed? Israel must hit back. But it cannot feasibly single out for apprehension and punishment the vile individuals who did the beheadings, etc. So how can punishment not take some form of war crime like ethnic cleansing; how can there not be innocents systematically killed and wounded?

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 months ago

It’s a catch 22.

Peter B
Peter B
7 months ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

Surely that is not a lie as you claim.
It’s entirely possible to oppose certain policies of the state of Israel (which has a huge minority Arab population) without taking any view on Jewish people. Indeed it’s quite possible to feel empathy for the Israeli people today without agreeing with everything their government and military has done/is doing/is about to do.
As an example, building Israeli settlements in the West Bank is a policy that many here would likely disagree with or consider not in Israel or the region’s best interests. As is building walls around Palestinian areas in the West Bank.
It’s equally quite reasonable to argue the case that any country faced with the challenges Israel has had since 1948 would have sometimes over-reacted and made mistakes. And cut them a little slack accordingly.

Shrunken Genepool
Shrunken Genepool
7 months ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

100 % well put

Gayle Rosenthal
Gayle Rosenthal
7 months ago
Reply to  Seb Dakin

Rivkah Brown, of “Novara Media”, obviously you are Jewish. You have a lifetime of atonement to make. What a horror you will have to live with – the blessing of genocide of your people. How stupid can you be ? Do you not understand your own Jewish legacy ? YOUR Torah ! YOUR history ! YOUR people ! Am Yisrael Chai, RIvkahi ! May you be cursed for your lifetime for such thoughts and words ! The only hope for you is to rebuke forever the nasty ideology that brought you to such corruption of your soul.

Gayle Rosenthal
Gayle Rosenthal
7 months ago
Reply to  Seb Dakin

Good article about the intellectual numbing of 2 generations by the most vile polemics imaginable. 911 was a wake-up call for me. But I was receptive to being “awakened” rather than “woke”.
The West is again being tutored in what it means to be an adherent of Islam. In Islam there is no war and peace. There is only jihad, and it is pervasive in the daily life of Muslims everywhere. The civilized world may operate by civilized concepts of war and peace but the Muslim world, which is rapidly expanding, will never accept this ideology. They accept only the ideology of jihad. And they will never cease until the entire world is under the thumb of Islam and Allah.
Forget the Geneva Convention. Or be doomed to …. forget national boundaries and democratic forms of government. In Islam, the Imams and Clerics ally with the Hamases, the Hezbollah (Party of God) and the Artesh, the IRGC, Basij Resistance, ISIS, Daesh, the terrorists who have come across the Southern Border of the US, …. all are readying for the rise of the global Caliphate, Shariah Law, and the One World Government , indistinguishable from totalitarian social structure and communist economics. Islam is a political ideology which has been subsuming cultures in Asia for hundreds of years with Arab colonialism. Europe had the good sense to stop it in the 15th Century but today Europe, like much of the US, is intellectually numb.

Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
7 months ago

Most of the “world religions” (notably Biblical Judaism and Vedic Hinduism) originated long before written records and evolved gradually as ethno-religious ways of life. Others (notably Rabbinic Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism and Islam) originated in the full light of history as religious reformations: Rabbinic Judaism and Christianity as reformations of Biblical Judaism, Buddhism as a reformation of Hinduism, and Islam as a reformation of both Judaism and Christianity.
But early Islam was unique in one way. After a very short period of receiving divine revelations, enduring opposition and gathering followers, the new community turned its back on both tribal religion and tribal politics to become a conquering state. In other words, Islam did not begin as a new “church” but as a new nation with its own religion, laws and armies. The very earliest Muslims, including Muhammad and his successors, did not allow for the possibility of becoming a minority community within a state of non-Muslims. To be Muslims at all in the present and foreseeable future meant to be rulers over non-Muslims–albeit merciful rulers, at least in theory, over “peoples of the book” (specifically Jews and Christians). Even though Muhammad and his entourage faced opposition before conquering Mecca, even hostility, neither they nor their descendants faced generation after generation of persecution. Consequently, the Muslims of our time (unlike both Jews and Christians) have neither historical nor theological precedents for living faithfully as minorities.
This is certainly one important factor (among several) in the difficulties that have hindered the integration of Muslim migrants into other societies–but also those that have hindered the acceptance of non-Muslim minorities within their own societies (despite the Quranic toleration of Jews and Christians as protected but subservient minorities). Sometimes–during the “Golden Age” in Islamic Spain, say, and under one or two remarkably tolerant Mughal rulers in India such as Akbar and Dara Shikoh–Muslims lived in relative harmony with non-Muslims (even Hindus). At other times–under later Mughals such as Aurangzeb, say, and especially since the advent of modernity (which provoked a fundamentalist reaction against modernity)–even the possibility of harmony has been elusive.
And consider one additional factor. Muslims never quite succeeded in abolishing tribalism. Islam was the new tribe, to be sure, which supposedly superseded all earlier tribes. But Islam was also a vast and cosmopolitan empire. Other traditions survived in one form or another and left their marks, including ancient tribal customs and loyalties.

Albert McGloan
Albert McGloan
7 months ago
Reply to  Paul Nathanson

All the ‘nicer’ passages in the Quran date to the time when Muhammad and his followers were despised outcasts; learning that was rather saddening. The “Golden Age” in Islamic Spain is largely myth. A similar myth could be woven from the Crusaders permitting Muslims to worship in Churches on Fridays, their profound appreciation of Islamic civilization, etc. Didn’t you know the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem was a melting pot of religious tolerance and cultural exchange which radically transformed the region’s economy for the better?

Gordon Arta
Gordon Arta
7 months ago
Reply to  Paul Nathanson

Mohammed did not ‘receive divine revelations’. The idea that any god worth the title would select an ignorant, illiterate camel driver, in a remote part of a remote region, speaking a language with a limited vocabulary, incapable of expressing concepts, ideas, or knowledge common in other parts of the world, to transmit his ‘final, perfect, and unalterable’ message, is utter nonsense. Then to do so by dribbling it in odds and ends, constantly repeating, changing, and contradicting that message? Risible. No. He lusted after wealth, power, and women, and, in addition to robbing camel trains, tried the old scam of the religious snake oil salesman, peddling garbled versions Jewish, early Christian, and Zoroastrian texts, picked up from desert traders, along with local superstitions and stuff he made up as necessary or convenient. You only need look at what he did with his conquests; kill the men and boys to demonstrate his power, help himself to their wealth and sell their children into slavery, and take the women as sex slaves. Lusts which illustrate Islam’s enduring appeal to certain types of men.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 months ago
Reply to  Gordon Arta

Exactly.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
7 months ago
Reply to  Gordon Arta

Completely agree.

Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
7 months ago
Reply to  Gordon Arta

I wrote from the perspective of my field, comparative religion, not from that of Christian (or any other) theology.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 months ago
Reply to  Paul Nathanson

Thank you that interesting comment. Yes, as you make clear Islam is as it’s called the”nation of Islam”, so watch out folks they’re coming for us!!

Last edited 7 months ago by Clare Knight
Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
7 months ago
Reply to  Paul Nathanson

Well put- by the way on India – two minor quibbles- Dara Shikoh never ruled- he was killed brutally by his fanatical brother Aurangzeb.
Also, even Akbar wasn’t blameless- there were cruel mass killings of Hindu Rajputs who resisted him. 40,000 innocent peasants brutally killed in the siege of Chittorgarh for being Hindu. The Second Battle of Panipat very much fought as a Jihad against Hemu the Hindu ruler of Kabul.
He used Islamism as it suited him, so I wouldn’t use the term “remarkably tolerant” to describe him.

Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
7 months ago

Well, Sayantani, consider the historical context. I did say “relative harmony.” They both tried hard to foster mutual respect among Islam and non-Islamic traditions–a whole lot harder than most Muslim rulers and princes or those of any other religion. Moreover, they were personally attracted to non-Islamic traditions. Dara Shikoh got to the point of inventing a new religion that would combine what he considered the best of several religions. I still say that this ability to see wisdom and beauty beyond traditional boundaries was remarkable for the period–and would be even now. It’s important to say these things, especially now, when it’s so easy for many people to see only evil in Islam.

Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
7 months ago
Reply to  Paul Nathanson

I agree about Dara. He was sui generis.
I still don’t agree about Akbar. He used tolerance as statecraft. Better than any other Muslim ruler( Dara never was Emperor) in India but not blameless.
A lot of the fetishization of Akbar had been done by Marxist Congress historians post 1947.
And I am afraid Islam on the Indian subcontinent was brutal, chauvinistic and regressive largely.
British Colonial rule was far more benign and doesn’t in comparison deserve the opprobrium it gets.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
7 months ago

Compared to Timur the Lame he is tolerant.

Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
7 months ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

He is.
My point is that there has been an overdoing of Akbar as a peaceful secular ruler by Congress historians who were Left inclined
As someone of a Rankean historian mould I wanted to state the facts about Chittorgarh and Panipat anti Hindu massacres by Akbar.
Sunni Islamic rule was by far the more violent Empire in India compared to British rule was my other point.

Last edited 7 months ago by Sayantani Gupta
Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 months ago

Yes, Islam is very, very dangerous and it really frightens me to see women wearing the hijab. I don’t understand how they can be so willing to show that they have submited to the control and dominence of this misogynistic and brutal cult.

Last edited 7 months ago by Clare Knight
Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
7 months ago
Reply to  Seb Dakin

Every so often a politician, journalist, or other public figure screws up and says what they actually mean. It’s just like when Romney admitted not caring about the Americans who don’t pay taxes or Clinton called Trump voters a basket of deplorables.

Nell Clover
Nell Clover
7 months ago

Be ready to forgive those whose “failings” cause them to slay my son, so that I might have a moment of peace before I or someone else’s son is slain by them? That’s a victim’s mindset. It will not stop aggressors.

If the last 2000 years of Jewish history has anything to teach, it is that Abraham was wrong and “God” won’t stop taking your sons. Meekly forgiving others, accepting “God’s will”, leads only to the “sacrifice” of more sons. If you want to save your other sons, you must utterly defeat those who took your first son.

Forgiveness didn’t stop the gas chambers. 3 million Western soldiers, the largest conventional bombing campaign in history, the complete destruction of Germany, its unconditional surrender, 45 years of occupation, and the elimination of a violent quasi-religious ideology did.

Last edited 7 months ago by Nell Clover
Dylan Blackhurst
Dylan Blackhurst
7 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

Well said.

N Satori
N Satori
7 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

Agreed. And the last thing we need at this time is soulful, good-and-bad-on-both-sides ramblings from ‘deep thinking’ journalists. [How long before the BBC wheel out Fergal Keane?].
In any case I doubt it the Left will feel the slightest need to redeem itself. They have always managed to justify, shrug off, and simply forget the 20th century legacy of communist atrocities. Righteousness is in their DNA.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
7 months ago
Reply to  N Satori

The BBC’s stance citing the sacred principle of impartiality ring false.
There reporting on climate change, Covid and the BNP was anything but impartial

N Satori
N Satori
7 months ago

We still claim to value freedom of speech in our society but it is only those on the Left who really get to speak freely.

Nona Yubiz
Nona Yubiz
7 months ago
Reply to  N Satori

Oh that’s right… that’s why these comments keep getting censored. Better read fast, this will all have been erased by the Left within the hour.

N Satori
N Satori
7 months ago
Reply to  Nona Yubiz

I should have been a bit more precise. As I was replying to a comment about the BBC my main concern was with the broadcast media – currently under the increasingly tight control of Ofcom. If Ofcom’s reach extends to internet usage we may indeed see tighter regulation on forums such as this, all in the interests of that catch-all concept: Public Safety.
When looking at such regulatory bodies I think it is important to know the political views and background of those who staff them. Activist entryism has become a major issue.
Not sure why you got so many downvotes – perhaps your sarcastic tone was the problem.

Shrunken Genepool
Shrunken Genepool
7 months ago
Reply to  Nona Yubiz

You really are not very bright. It doesn’t need to be erased. But countless commentators have been kicked off Twitter before musk, YouTube, FB……Yes there are some online outlets and one or two papers. But the entire weight of MSM, universities and the political class is arraigned against us – You didn’t see the suppression of the Biden laptop? BBC calls people who bomb in England terrorists, but not those who target Jews? What planet are you on?
I work at a big university. I literally can’t voice opposition to Hamas, or CRT or express biological realities viz sex and gender without getting sanctioned or fired. All my undergrad courses have been cancelled….not because I have done anything wrong, but because of a petition from students that my TERF views (which I never express in class) make them feel unsafe. I was told to stop writing a blog. I have stopped using Twitter and FB because of thousands of activists from all over the world emailing my university administration. They said I had not done anything wrong, but ‘for my own safety and well being’

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
7 months ago
Reply to  Nona Yubiz

I’m on the left, but my posts don’t disappear. Unherd and it’s readers strike me as on the right. I read Unherd, because it has good essays and commentary. The comments are always interesting—with occasional squabbles.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 months ago
Reply to  N Satori

Not true.

N Satori
N Satori
7 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Someone made a similar criticism of my comment yesterday but both their criticism and my reply to it have disappeared – odd. Anyway, this is what I said:

I should have been a bit more precise. As I was replying to a comment about the BBC my main concern was with the broadcast media – currently under the increasingly tight control of Ofcom.

If Ofcom’s reach extends to internet usage we may indeed see tighter regulation on forums such as this, all in the interests of that catch-all concept: Public Safety.

When looking at such regulatory bodies I think it is important to know the political views and background of those who staff them. Activist entryism has become a major issue.

ï»żNot sure why you got so many downvotes – perhaps your sarcastic tone was the problem.

That last sentence refers to the original critic.

Last edited 7 months ago by N Satori
John Hunt
John Hunt
7 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

You are absolutely right, forgiveness did not stop the gas chambers; as you note, it took 3 million Western soldiers, the largest conventional bombing in campaign history, the complete destruction of Germany (and Japan, don’t let them off the hook), its unconditional surrender, and 45 years of occupation, before they eliminated a violated quasi-religious ideology. But once they did, we did forgive them. We have not forgotten what they did, and we need to keep reminding ourselves that we cannot forget, but we have forgiven them, which has allowed them – and us – to move forward.

Nell Clover
Nell Clover
7 months ago
Reply to  John Hunt

35,000 USA troops are still stationed in Germany and the USA still exercises a de facto veto over unified Germany’s foreign and economic affairs. It doesn’t feel like complete forgiveness.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
7 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

Nor should it.

Albert McGloan
Albert McGloan
7 months ago

Charles, you really ought to be explaining to these people that WWII was not fought to “stop gas chambers” or any of that nonsense.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
7 months ago
Reply to  Albert McGloan

I’m tempted, but ‘discretion is the better part of valour’ as they say.

nigel roberts
nigel roberts
7 months ago

Pedant alert:
ï»żâ€œThe better part of valor is discretion”
This quotation is from Shakespeare’s play “Henry IV, Part 1,” spoken by the character Falstaff.

Penny Adrian
Penny Adrian
7 months ago
Reply to  Albert McGloan

But it did stop the gas chambers. Do you think the Nazis were going to stop the genocide if they won the war?

Albert McGloan
Albert McGloan
7 months ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

WWII was not fought to “stop the gas chambers” and people today even have the temerity to criticise the Allies for not devoting more resources to bombing German camps and their infrastructure.

Nell Clover
Nell Clover
7 months ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

Exactly. Motivation is irrelevant, we can’t build windows into the minds of men, but we can judge results. We all know we didn’t fight to save Jews but to defend our (or rather our rulers’) interests. But self-interest did close the gas chambers, and only the result matters.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
7 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

The support of Sinclair – Liberal , Attlee and Green Wood- labour meant Churchill prevailed over Halifax and Chamberlain. Bevin and Attlee were great supporters of Churchill and provided a counter weight to Halifax who tried to negotiate a peace. Churchill represented a section of Britain which cut across classes which had always distrusted Prussian militarism from the 1870s. r I would sugest the middle and upper classes were far more French because they liked the culture of which Edward VII was good example.
The gas chambers did not start until 1942 and the slaughter of Jews greatly increased after the invasion of the USSR in June 1941. As most of the death camps were in East Germany or further eastwards information was slow coming out and it was so horrific it was difficult to believe.

John Hunt
John Hunt
7 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

Are the 35,000 US troops still there to keep the Germans down or the Russians out of Europe? Are you still worried about Germany invading France?

Nell Clover
Nell Clover
7 months ago
Reply to  John Hunt

The Russians wouldn’t need to invade Germany if Germany had an actual choice. Germany has been very keen for close economic ties with Russia, until the USA flexed its muscles. USA troops are there to remind Germany it is an American client state so, yes, the troops are there to keep the Germans down.

Andrew F
Andrew F
7 months ago
Reply to  John Hunt

Well, if things turn badly Germans will find the scapegoat and start marching.
It is in their nature.

John Croteau
John Croteau
7 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

If Germany wanted Americans soldiers out they would gladly return home. Americans would celebrate returning to a North American continental fortress. Something tells me Germans wouldn’t be speaking German right now if we did. Perhaps the British, too.

Nell Clover
Nell Clover
7 months ago
Reply to  John Croteau

A large part of German politics is anti-NATO. Most Germans don’t want US troops stationed there. Even during the particularly hot part of the cold war in the early 80s there were widespread German protests against the American presence just as the might of the USSR’s huge land army bristled at the borders of West Germany.

Last edited 7 months ago by Nell Clover
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
7 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

Vae Victis!

Andrew F
Andrew F
7 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

But it was always the problem with the left.
Italians voted over 30% for Communist party and French over 20% for the same.
Even in 70s and 80s when crimes of Communism were well known.
Britain is only slightly better.
How many people voted for traitor Corbyn to be PM?

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

Forgiving is not forgetting.

Last edited 7 months ago by Clare Knight
Andrew F
Andrew F
7 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

Good.
Germans never got properly punished for their crimes.
Obviously because od Russian factor.
Otherwise Morgentau plan should had been implemented.

A D Kent
A D Kent
7 months ago
Reply to  John Hunt

I think there were rather more than 3 million Soviet soldiers who did their bit too back then.

Albert McGloan
Albert McGloan
7 months ago
Reply to  A D Kent

Over twenty million dead in the USSR at German hands but Russians don’t have an implacable hatred of the Germans and even hold them in high esteem.

Matt M
Matt M
7 months ago
Reply to  Albert McGloan

They held the Germans in such high regard that they signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, carved up Poland between themselves and gave the N*zis a free hand to conquer western Europe and bomb Britain. The Russians should be blamed for WW2 as well as Jerry. It was only when they got double crossed by Hitler that they fought and then they started wheedling to us to help them by opening up a second front.

A D Kent
A D Kent
7 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

Absolute garbage – the Soviets knew war was coming with Germany. They Were massively mobilizing and reinforcing their lines – see the extensive works of David Glantz on this (US Army historian).

Albert McGloan
Albert McGloan
7 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

One might reasonably believe Russophobia to be an invention of the Kremlin until reading things like this … (and without the USSR there’s no ‘Hitler’ phenomenon, so yes the Soviets deserve more blame).

Nell Clover
Nell Clover
7 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

And after defeating the Nazis the Russians rebuilt the Nazi state in East Germany. Different logo, same socialist surveillance state nightmare.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

I don’t understand why’Unheard’ would edit out the word Nazi.

Andrew F
Andrew F
7 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

Great post.
Problem is most people in the West, including UK, only know Soviet version of ww2 history.
As presented by lefty vermin in British schools.
Otherwise known as teaching profession.

Simon Tavanyar
Simon Tavanyar
7 months ago
Reply to  John Hunt

John, I think you nailed it. One of the principles is that the sins of the fathers (e.g Axis powers in WWII) are not visited upon the sons (modern Japan and Germany) – so long as the sons renounce those sins. In fact the Allies spent millions rebuilding Germany in the post-war period. I remember, because I lived in W. Berlin as a teenager.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 months ago
Reply to  John Hunt

The Nazis weren’t quasi-religious.

Nona Yubiz
Nona Yubiz
7 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

What forgiveness didn’t stop the gas chambers? Germany post-WWI was not forgiven for its transgressions. That’s one of the major factors historians believe led to the rise of the Third Reich in the first place.

Nell Clover
Nell Clover
7 months ago
Reply to  Nona Yubiz

We forget that in 1944 the Allies explained to Germany in no uncertain terms that it was to be reduced to a backwards agrarian economy when it was defeated. This was the Morgenthau Plan and remained the plan until Germany’s new leaders impressed on Eden that they were dealing with Nazism and could deal with communism too. Only in 1947, after a year and a half of de-Nazification by Germany herself was the opportunity seen to make Germany a reliable bulwark against communism. Truman was persuaded and German industry was included in the Marshall Plan. If Germany hadn’t been so quick to discard its Nazism, things would have been different. But Germany had been utterly destroyed, its will broken, the exact opposite of 1918.

If we’re drawing analogies, today it would be the choice for Gaza of de-Islamification or being turned into an empty desert.

Last edited 7 months ago by Nell Clover
Vijay Kant
Vijay Kant
7 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

“If you want to save your other sons, you must utterly defeat those who took your first son.“

This is exactly what Gandhi failed to comprehend when he was preaching non-violence and forgiveness to the world! He wrongly believed that perpetrators of violence will somehow have a change of heart if their repeated violence was met with determined non-violent retaliation! Thankfully, India has finally abandoned that mistaken belief.

Jim Bocho
Jim Bocho
7 months ago
Reply to  Vijay Kant

You do Gandhi a great disservice by portraying him as some naive idealist. He talked of ‘Ahimsa’ only when he was dealing with Britain. As soon as Britain left India he abandoned pacifism.

Last edited 7 months ago by Jim Bocho
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
7 months ago
Reply to  Jim Bocho

Only to be assassinated, rather fortuitously it must be said!

ps.Do you hail from the sub-continent by any chance? It would explain quite a lot!

Penny Adrian
Penny Adrian
7 months ago
Reply to  Jim Bocho

Gandhi was a sex offender. I don’t take advice from sex offenders.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
7 months ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

Why use two words when one will do?
eg : PERVERT.

Andrew F
Andrew F
7 months ago

Jimmy Savill of India?
Don’t we have monument of him somewhere in uk?
Why would uk have monuments to leaders of Indian independence movement?
Weird people English: keep animals at home but send small children to boarding schools.

Dark Horse
Dark Horse
7 months ago
Reply to  Vijay Kant

Sadly true. Like so many idealists Gandhi failed to take into account the very powerful animal instincts that underpin so much of the nastier side of human behaviour.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 months ago
Reply to  Dark Horse

It seems to afflict cult leaders.

Gayle Rosenthal
Gayle Rosenthal
7 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

Forgiveness, which I feel is a Christian teaching, is not the same thing as the Jewish notion of redemption. In my opinion …. (I have not heard this said by any rabbi, but I am a lawyer and Torah is Jewish law.) forgiveness is an offer, which in Judaism, is required to be presented 3 times to a victim. If accepted, redemption is God’s to bestow. If it is not accepted by the victim, the offer of forgiveness may cleanse the conscience of the guilty party in God’s eyes, but it cannot not move to a contract of redemption. There is no grace in the unaccepted offer of forgiveness. In Christianity, forgiveness can be gained through acceptance by God. Grace is an imperfect redemption, but sometimes it’s all we get. When Jews say “Never Again”, this means that we are finished apologizing to the world. On a bad day Jews are scapegoats. On a terrible day we are martyrs.

Simon S
Simon S
7 months ago

This is very interesting but I don’t feel I understand and seem to be missing something. Surely it is the miscreant who requests forgiveness? So, requested not offered? Why would a miscreant reject an offer of forgiveness?

I should add that the act of forgiveness, when the victim can offer it, does not condone the act or acts but recognizes deeper levels of reality and carries enormous healing energy for both parties – that is where Grace steps in.

Last edited 7 months ago by Simon S
David Jennings
David Jennings
7 months ago
Reply to  Simon S

The same reason so many of us reject the offer of forgiveness: it forces us to acknowledge that what we did was wrong.

Simon S
Simon S
7 months ago
Reply to  David Jennings

Thank you! But my forgiveness of someone does not need to be contingent on their recognition they hurt or wronged us. They will discover my forgiveness liberates them – but if they are not ready to discover that, they will not. That is their choice, their path – not mine. Together we achieve greater grace – but I achieve significant grace in extending forgiveness even if the wrongdoer does not care, or even continues to do harm. That I think is the meaning of Jesus’s call to “Turn the other cheek.” Eventually our forgiveness disarms evil and overpowers the miscreant.

To go a little further, as Charles Eisenstein points out today, Forgiveness is the nemesis of Vengeance.

(I still do not see why forgiveness is “offered” to a victim.)

Last edited 7 months ago by Simon S
Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 months ago
Reply to  Simon S

Ah but those who are into the foregiveness thing must be careful that they don’t think they try to forgive before they have gone through all the steps to truly get there. The steps of grief and anger. Skip those and you’re stuck with hate.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 months ago
Reply to  David Jennings

Why do you find it necessary to write”us” speak for yourself.

Helen Hughes
Helen Hughes
7 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

He wrote “so many of us”, and has not claimed to speak for everyone. I also note you wish to tell people you describe as being “into the foregiveness thing” (sic) what they must do, rather than just speaking for yourself, as someone who therefore seems not to be “into the foregiveness thing”. It’s quite hard to write just from the perpendicular pronoun point of view, innit?

Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
7 months ago

I think that you’re conflating forgiveness and redemption. There is a link, but one is not Christian and the other Jewish. Rather, both are Christian and both Jewish.
Forgiveness has a divine origin in both religions, but people must also forgive each other in order to be forgiven by God. This is the whole point of Jewish High Holy Days (beginning a week before Rosh Hashanah with the Sabbath of Repentance).
Redemption could be understood as divine forgiveness–that is, the restoration of a broken covenant with God–but usually in a collective sense. Originally, it meant buying something back to restore a broken relationship. It was a business transaction (and one ritual, redemption of the first born, can be traced back to the temple cult in biblical times). But the meaning in Jewish (and Christian) theology has a deeper significance than any business (or legal) transaction.

P N
P N
7 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

Same thing in Japan. It wasn’t forgiveness or restraint that stopped Japan after Pearl Harbor. It was overwhelming force and 2 H-bombs that created the Japanese we know today.

Russell Sharpe
Russell Sharpe
7 months ago
Reply to  P N

A-bombs, not H-. H-bombs weren’t developed until some years later.

T Bone
T Bone
7 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

With all due respect, I don’t understand the Abraham/Isaac meek submission analogy. It sounds like you’re conflating different biblical passages as two parts of the same whole like Hegel.

In Genesis, Abraham receives a direct message from God. His willingness to sacrifice Isaac in obedience to God, followed by God sparing of Isaac is supposed to show God’s grace. However, the Bible also makes it very clear that because every person is sinful and wretched that nobody is ENTITLED to that grace. The Bible does not claim that others will receive a direct prophecy along with a promise to shield them from earthly harm. The prophecy for all those living can be found in the written word alone and no individual is guaranteed anything.

Then there’s the concept that “The meek shall inherit the earth” which is simply a call to protect the vulnerable not a call fo act like a weakling. Likewise, the idea of turning the other cheek has a specific context. It does not purport to deny the right to self-defense. It is a caution against avenging a personal slight or an attack on one’s personal honor.

Israel has every right to defend itself and its people and nothing in the Bible prevents it from waging war to defend its own people.

Last edited 7 months ago by T Bone
Bret Larson
Bret Larson
7 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

And of course, you need the rational for such a pogrom.

So you ignore the intel you have on an attack and allow a couple thousand martyrs to give the green light for your actions.

Nell Clover
Nell Clover
7 months ago
Reply to  Bret Larson

For there to be a murderous terrorist binge, there need to be people willing to plan and commit a murderous terrorist binge. The law makes only a minor distinction between a person who plots terrorism and a person that commits terrorism. Even if Hamas had failed in their invasion, Israel would still be justified in taking action against the terrorist plotters. False flag or not, Gaza harbours hundreds of thousands of people plotting Jihad and that needs dealing with.

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
7 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

I guess we have to blame politics, both internal and external, that the Israeli government missed protecting their citizens when they have successfully done it for years and were warned.
And, my intention is not to provide cover for the terrorists who run Hamas. We just need to make a distinction between them and the people of the Gaza strip who they are bringing along on their trip to the afterlife.
As too hundreds of thousands I really doubt that. They hardly have 100k’s of adults.

Or are you talking about children?

Last edited 7 months ago by Bret Larson
Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
7 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

You’re not the first person to say that, Nell. Jewish theologians and philosophers have argued for centuries about the God’s apparent absence in history, especially Jewish history–and never with so much urgency as they do now in the shadow of Nazi death camps and Hamas terrorism. 
In After Auschwitz, Richard Rubenstein argued that the ancient Israelites had made a profound mistake by replacing polytheism (amoral and conflicting deities who incarnate natural forces) with monotheism (a transcendent deity who intervenes in nature to alter history). And the former tradition, finding holiness within the natural order of time and space, does have deep and enduring roots within Judaism.  
But it’s a little late, by now, to jettison everything else that Jews have learned over the past 3,000 years. 
In God’s Presence in History, on the other hand, Emil Fackenheim proposed another solution to radical evil in the form of antisemitism. He argued that Jews should add a new commandment, one that originated not at Sinai but in Auschwitz: “Thou shalt not hand Hitler posthumous victories. To despair of the God of Israel is to continue Hitler’s work for him.”  
But many Jews read that as a duty to survive as an end in itself, or even at all costs, which means that ethnicity, with or without religion, is an end in itself. And that turns Judaism upside down. It means that the goal of Torah is to perpetuate Jews. Traditionally, however, the goal of Jews us to perpetuate Torah. Not surprisingly, many Jews have indeed despaired of, or ignored, the “God of Israel.” As a Jew myself, I wonder why anyone would even want to replace theology with demography. What’s the point? Why bother? Hitler saw no difference between the Jewish religion and the Jewish race, it’s true, but why should I take lessons from Hitler? 
You say that “forgiveness didn’t stop the gas chambers.” And that’s true. But what kind of life can we have without the ability to forgive (and be forgiven)? Why would anyone want to live in a world of perpetual rage or even revenge? This doesn’t mean that we should trivialize forgiveness by making it perfunctory or “performative.” Forgiveness is an encounter between two people (individuals involved personally in conflict). It makes sense, both emotionally and morally, only if one person sincerely repents and implicitly or explicitly asks to be forgiven. My point is that forgiveness cannot prevent evil, as you say, but it can foster reconciliation.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

Forgiveness is very overrated.

Dylan Blackhurst
Dylan Blackhurst
7 months ago

I find it amazing how different people and organisations have reacted to this atrocity.

The BBC stance on how it refers to Hamas is bizarre. If the direct attacking of civilians, dragging their semi naked bodies through the streets and finally taking hostages that will then be murdered if any retaliation takes place isn’t terrorism then I don’t know what is!

Words in this instance really do matter.

Good friends who lean left (most of mine do) are quick to claim “but Israel did
.”.

Yes, Israel has done terrible things. But we are now in a world where people can justify killing babies. Babies?!

There is a common thread in these terrorist events. No one wants to say it. But it is there.

Perhaps it’s time for a little less nuance. And a little more black and white thinking.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
7 months ago

If you or I did any of the things you describe, and for any reason, we’d be described on the BBC as ‘criminals’ or ‘murderers’ or ‘rapists’. Even the term ‘terrorists’ lends these people far too much dignity. As for ‘militants’, well …

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
7 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Subhuman is apropos.

Helen Hughes
Helen Hughes
7 months ago

So this is what I’m seeing in all these comment conversations on such articles: people who consider themselves right wing criticising those they see as left wing using the very tactics the latter are accused of using – claiming to know who is more oppressed and standing up for them against those who they perceive as being less oppressed, as this article states. They are doing this through a sense of moral superiority and virtue signalling in EXACTLY the same way that social justice identitarians do. So actually, in expressing such moral outrage about the response of “progressives” or “decolonisers” they are behaving in the self-same ways they so deplore. It is utterly fascinating to watch! Can you see it?

Caty Gonzales
Caty Gonzales
7 months ago
Reply to  Helen Hughes

I think you need to get out of the Marxist-derived ‘oppressed-oppressor’ narrative and join us in the ‘right vs wrong’ narrative where rape, murder, beheading babies, kidnapping torturing people is considered wrong regardless of who did it.

Chipoko
Chipoko
7 months ago
Reply to  Caty Gonzales

Hear! Hear!

B Moore
B Moore
7 months ago
Reply to  Caty Gonzales

I’m with you. What Hamas did is terrorism. What Israel is currently doing is also terrorism. What Putin is doing in Ukraine is terrorism. What else is it?

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 months ago
Reply to  B Moore

Exactly.

Helen Hughes
Helen Hughes
7 months ago
Reply to  Caty Gonzales

No question that that is wrong, but that’s also what social justice identitarians also think – that what they are standing up against are things that are inherently wrong, because some people are abusing their positions of power over others to harm them. Psychologically, right wing commentators are behaving no differently. And Marx also saw the capitalists as wrong and the proletariat as right. Playing the right -wrong game is a path to hell.
I really don’t need to do what you are suggesting, though thanks for the invitation. I need to stay clear of the tribalism that is once again leading humanity into the trap of war and destruction, which in the end only very few people benefit from. Funny how everyone thinks they are on Team Right vs Team Wrong, whichever team they are on. I don’t think it leads us to healthy places.

Fraoch A
Fraoch A
7 months ago
Reply to  Caty Gonzales

“Beheading babies” yet another example of war propaganda. This has been well and truly debunked. As fr the rest of the comments on this and ither articles about Gaza/palestine, racism shines through.
At times aa felt as tho aa was wadin through a sewer.

Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
7 months ago
Reply to  Helen Hughes

We’re all capable of evil. But many of us disagree on what evil is and therefore what good is. Consequently, we must take responsibility for choosing one definition over others. This is a moral imperative. Otherwise, we’re left with moral relativism. That can feel safe for a while, but no society can endure on that basis.

Helen Hughes
Helen Hughes
7 months ago
Reply to  Paul Nathanson

You are representing one school of philosophy, not an absolute truth as you appear to see it. And as far as I am aware it is the German school of Kant, Hegel and Nietzsche, rather than the liberal British one of Locke and Mill, and has led to some of the more dubious political philosophies of our times. But please say more about what enables a society to endure and indeed what kind of society you believe should endure?
As for evil and good, would you see a choice to bomb Gaza as being “good” in this case? Better than not bombing it? Are you sure you have all the information you need to be able to make this choice? Is it imperative to take revenge and do the ends justify the means?

Russell Sharpe
Russell Sharpe
7 months ago
Reply to  Helen Hughes

Kant, Hegel and Nietzsche did not form a ‘school’ in any sense. They disagreed about virtually everything.

Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
7 months ago
Reply to  Helen Hughes

No, Helen, I didn’t specify any particular philosopher, period or tradition. Nor did I specify religion or secularity. My point was only that we need to choose some way of thinking and behaving over others in order to define good and evil at all and thus to either create or sustain a community.
Thanks for your questions. All societies are experiments, and none can endure forever. But some have been more durable, or effective, than others. Though not a philosopher, I suggest that these are the ones that provide most people with enough security, prosperity, meaning and coherence to inspire hope, loyalty and even sacrifice in return. (Good luck, of course, is very helpful.)
Unfortunately, that generic description could apply to any society, even that of Hamas or Nazi Germany. Much depends on the ability of people to think independently of the mob or the state, therefore, and to act freely as moral agents.
Getting back to definitions of good and evil, though, I’m not sure that universality is possible. Those who condone terrorism, let alone those who promote or even enact it, probably believe deeply that they’ve chosen good, not evil. And I doubt that anyone can convince most of them otherwise. Some worldviews are so remote from each other, after all, that no “dialogue” is possible. This is known as, among other things, “polarization.” I don’t know how to get beyond that problem, but I do know that our flawed but rich and beautiful civilization is doomed unless we find a way of doing so quickly.
Anyone who can give a satisfying answer your final questions, about Gaza, would deserve a Nobel Prize. That’s because every choice entails both good and evil consequences. During World War II, the Allies decided to demand unconditional surrender from Nazi Germany and Japan. This meant inflicting destruction and death on a colossal scale in each case. But would either country have surrendered on any other terms? No one can say. At the time, however, it seemed extremely unlikely. Waging war is not an end in itself (except in Nazi ideology), but some people would argue that waging war is the lamentable means (except for pacifists) to the legitimate end of restoring peace as quickly as possible with the aim of reconciliation.
As for me, I resist the idea that ends can justify means, but I must admit that if I were an Israeli (in a life-and-death situation), I might well choose to bomb Gaza. But I doubt that this would solve the problem of terrorism permanently. You can kill every jihadi, to be sure, but that won’t kill their movement, because you can’t kill an idea. Like a seed in the desert, it will come to life and burst into bloom with the first spring shower. Jihad is no longer only a longstanding tradition and therefore constrained by centuries of Islamic law, in short, but also an idea that has now taken on a life of its own. Jihadis are accountable to no one but their own leaders (the leader of Hamas, for instance, or the ayatollah of Iran).
Well, then, it’s time for bed.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 months ago
Reply to  Paul Nathanson

Do you know for a fact that we are all capable of evil?

Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
7 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

No, Clare, that’s impossible to know. But judging from what I know about myself and everyone else in my experience, let alone from what I know about centuries of human observation, I’d say that the likelihood of perfectly good people is very low–so low, in fact, that many religious traditions classify perfectly good “people” as divine beings or incarnate divine beings such as Christ. I’d say that a defining feature of all people is finitude.

Last edited 7 months ago by Paul Nathanson
Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
7 months ago
Reply to  Helen Hughes

Sorry Helen, that’s just relativistic bollix. In lots of ways you are worse than these sadistic killers themselves. At least they’re not pretending to be ‘reasonable’ or ‘objective’ or ‘impartial’.

Caty Gonzales
Caty Gonzales
7 months ago

“Perhaps it’s time for a little less nuance. And a little more black and white thinking.”
Last night one of sons was asking about everything that was going on and I started referencing ISIS and attacks in Europe and America, and of course, he has no memory of these because was too young at the time. I had quick google to check some statistics and dates and was hit by the memory of our responses to these attacks at the time. Be vigilant for reprisal attacks! Muslims are scared right now! Watch out for far-right violence against Mosques etc etc etc We who have been attacked must not respond.
This week, what have we seen? After the pogrom on Saturday, anti-semitic attacks increased in Western countries! And the pro-Hamas brigade have been out on the streets celebrating. These groups aren’t consoling their Jewish neighbors, apologizing, marching saying ‘not in my name’, promising to root out the extremists within their own community or pledging allegiance to Western values. I repeat, they are celebrating.
This morning the papers are full of headlines about the sufferings of the people in Gaza, humanitarian crisis etc, Israel should restrain themselves.
Where are the calls for the Egyptians and Jordanians or Iranians to take in Palestinian refugees?

Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
7 months ago
Reply to  Caty Gonzales

Unlike Egypt (or any other Arab country), Jordan eventually did take in many Palestinians (not without misgivings and massacres). Today, over 2 million Palestinians are fully integrated as Jordanian citizens. In addition, approximately 350,000 still live in refugee camps.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 months ago
Reply to  Caty Gonzales

Exactly.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 months ago

What people justify killing babies? I don’t know any.

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
7 months ago

“I would later learn that some people present were captured on camera wishing for the annihilation of Palestine; no one side, as it turns out, has a monopoly on hatred.”
Articles like this – well-written, bemoaning the state of the conflict, and wishing there were better options – are beginning to feel a bit common and a bit tone deaf. Iran and its terrorist proxies have consistently and insistently proclaimed for decades that they will not stop violent attacks on Israeli citizens until they succeed in eradicating the Israeli state.
What possible hope for a ‘peaceful resolution’ is there in the face of such that? It is hard to see an endgame for this conflict other than such profound civilizational destruction that one side or the other has to give up, basically. Which I suppose means we have to decide which society is better for its inhabitants and its neighbors, and try to make sure it’s the one that survives.

John Hunt
John Hunt
7 months ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

This article is not about “bemoaning the state of the conflict, and wishing there were better options.” It is about the difficulty today of having a collective sense of what is and is not moral and the importance (and difficulty) of forgiving someone’s moral blindness when they finally see what is in front of them.

Nona Yubiz
Nona Yubiz
7 months ago
Reply to  John Hunt

It’s hard to de-escalate. Once people are all riled up, we tend to enjoy being riled up and don’t want to calm down and listen to reason. And when there’s money to be made on heated emotions, well, I don’t think I have to spell it out, do I? War is profitable. No one really wants to end war. We just want to make it sort of manageable again. Bring civility back to war!

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
7 months ago
Reply to  Nona Yubiz

Clickbait is also profitable.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
7 months ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

Yes. It is like fighting a cancer in the human body. You can’t rid yourself of it if the surgeon leaves one cell behind.

Peter D
Peter D
7 months ago

“The bar for human decency, surely, does not shift depending on the colour of your skin or the arrangement of your genitals — and to insist on this, on one standard for all people, creates a clear path forward, which may be the best thing about civility as an ethos.”
I liked this sentence. It is very poignant of the times. The world is tearing each other apart because the truth is that not everyone gets along.

Nona Yubiz
Nona Yubiz
7 months ago
Reply to  Peter D

If everyone got along, we wouldn’t need civility.

Hilary Lowson
Hilary Lowson
7 months ago
Reply to  Nona Yubiz

Within my own family there are huge differences of religion, culture, class, politics & sexual orientation & more. It is civility which allow us to get along. What this article highlights are the dangers of moral & cultural relativism – codes of behaviour which daily are becoming more prevalent, more acceptable & which help none but the powerful as they divide & rule.

Tyler Durden
Tyler Durden
7 months ago

They are dim post-colonial subjects who have a 2nd hand hatred of the Jewish people.
More, they have no excuse in the US and Australia, not involved in colonialism and countries where their communities have been reasonably successful.
And little excuse in the UK either. Sadly, we already know about the troubles of France.

David McKee
David McKee
7 months ago

Are these pro-Hamas viewpoints an aberration in otherwise decent people? Consider their actions on gender-critical women, racial justice, anti-abortion Christians, those who suffered from the activities of the Provisional IRA, those who hold Putin solely responsible for the war in Ukraine, Brexit leavers, ‘No’ supporters in the Voice referendum in Australia, those who oppose climate change extremists…

It makes a coherent picture, doesn’t it? These people tell themselves they are on the right side of history, they are the enlightened ones, the good guys. And this frees them from all civilised constraints. The ends justify the means.

Martin Butler
Martin Butler
7 months ago
Reply to  David McKee

Your list is odd. Is there some common theme? Do ‘these people’ all have a common view on all these issues?

David McKee
David McKee
7 months ago
Reply to  Martin Butler

They are a sample of what I would call ‘right-on’ causes, held by people who have a identitarian outlook on the world, and think that there is such a thing as historical inevitability.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
7 months ago
Reply to  Martin Butler

Pretty much, yes.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
7 months ago
Reply to  David McKee

Unfortunately, throughout history, one didn’t need to be on the right side of history, only the right side of the biggest cannon or sword.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
7 months ago
Reply to  David McKee

Exactly. Well said.

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
7 months ago

Inside every socialist is a person who would happily smash your face in with a rifle butt.

Luke Piggott
Luke Piggott
7 months ago

As long as you’re a capitalist that is

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 months ago

Rubbish.

Penny Adrian
Penny Adrian
7 months ago

As horrified as I am by the grotesque response of the “woke” Left I refuse to dehumanize the Palestinian people themselves. They are even more victimized by Hamas than the Israelis.
But Hamas has dehumanized itself. They do need to be vanquished. I hope Israel does its best to avoid civilian casualties, but Hamas must be destroyed to avoid ongoing horror.

Ray Andrews
Ray Andrews
7 months ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

Thank you. Hamas cuts the throat of any Palestinian who dares to suggest another way forward.

Fraoch A
Fraoch A
7 months ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

“I hope Israel does its best to avoid civilian casualties,”
You wrote this 9 hors ago when the death toll in Gaza had reached 1,750 not countin the 70 mostly women and children tryin tae comply wae the Israeli edict to move to south Gaza on a supposedsafe route.
Over 6000 bombs dropped and whiite phosphorous used + mortar fire.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
7 months ago

“Of course the human instinct, as demonstrated in the replies to her post, is to not accept the apology. The hazard of finding oneself on the moral high ground is that it becomes difficult not to revel in being up there, and not to kick at least a little dirt down onto the person grovelling below you”
Her apology was not accepted because it was not genuine. She is only sorry that she revealed what she really thought and was worried what the consequences might be, as is usually the case

Helen Hughes
Helen Hughes
7 months ago

I think you may have just proved Kat’s point.

Cynthia W.
Cynthia W.
7 months ago

“Can the pro-Palestine Left redeem itself?”
It can if it drastically changes its point of view and becomes something other than “the pro-Palestine Left.” “The anti-murdering middle” would be a start.

Louise Durnford
Louise Durnford
7 months ago

In a word?
No.

Lukasz Gregorczyk
Lukasz Gregorczyk
7 months ago

Thank you. You have the point: decency applies to one and all and it calls for a kind of courage that won’t be found hovering over keyboards or in dishing out cheap and ignorant judgements.

Dark Horse
Dark Horse
7 months ago

Decency is hopefully the final destination of civilisation but we are nowhere near it yet so in the mean time we must be realistic and protect ourselves and those who cannot protect themselves. Turn the other cheek results in genocide.

Karen Fleming
Karen Fleming
7 months ago

This article has a lot of deep thought to peruse and reflect on. I liked it very much. I am not sure of the last paragraph though. It seemed to not fit in with the rest of the article and I am not sure what she meant or where she was going unless to the land of utopia where we readily sacrifice ourselves and our loved ones for the sake of non violence. Is that what she was hinting? At any rate- very good article.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
7 months ago

Suspicion of people from a different tribe is an entirely natural human characteristic and essential for survival. This is moderated by the tradition of hospitality to travelling strangers, ironically very strong in the Arab tradition.
In the modern era, increasing wealth, transport technology and now digital technology has meant the arrival of strangers in our midst is much more frequent and welcoming them increasingly burdensome. Indeed, with social media, they never go away. This, perhaps, explains our apparent lessening ability to rub along with people different from ourselves.
We’re asking too much of each other and of ourselves. Indeed, multiculturalism means the constant and permanent requirement to adapt ourselves to others. I don’t have a solution but I suspect accepting that there is a dominant culture in any location and fitting in with it is part of the answer.

SIMON WOLF
SIMON WOLF
7 months ago

Evangelical Christians believe Armageddon will come after an alliance of the lands of Iran,Russia and Turkey destroy the state of Israel.
Note Hamas want to attack not just Jews but Christians,Gays Females who wear provocative clothes etc.One wonders how many of the ‘Free Palestine Movement’ Western supporters get that.To quote the old line about the Nazis ‘First they came for the Jews and then……..’

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 months ago
Reply to  SIMON WOLF

Exactly. No they don’t get it. They don’t get they would not be welcome in Palestine, to say the least.

Shrunken Genepool
Shrunken Genepool
7 months ago

Civility? As John Gray argues the liberal world of civil conversation is dead. They are playing a zero sum game. Time for conservatives to accept that is the game we are playing. So no – they are beyond redemption

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
7 months ago

One word: no.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
7 months ago

No purpose is served by showing civility to the authoritarian pseudo-progressive homophobic misogynistic paedophilia-pimping antisemitic left. If we give them an inch, they take a mile. We need to treat them with abuse, scorn, derision and, where necessary, robust physicality.

Ray Andrews
Ray Andrews
7 months ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

They have exactly the same attitude towards you. BTW why do you add ‘homophobic’ to your list of pejoratives? That seems backwards. Seems to me they are homo-manic.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
7 months ago
Reply to  Ray Andrews

Because the gender-ideological practice of drugging, sterilising, and mutilating children who exhibit homosexual proclivities amounts to gay genocide.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
7 months ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

Oh dear! It seems like Dickie is having another of his “bad days”!
I’d really like to see him try treating anyone I know with “robust physicality”! That would be highly amusing!

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
7 months ago

Oh dear! It seems like ‘Poo Fash is having another of his “woke days”!
ï»żI’d really like to see him try treating any argument I make with “robust intelligence”! That would be highly amusing!

Douglas McNeish
Douglas McNeish
7 months ago
Reply to  Ray Andrews

Hamas and Palestine “homo-manic.” In what alternative reality do you reside?

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 months ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

How gracious and civil you are, Richard.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
7 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

The woke scum don’t deserve grace or civility.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
7 months ago

This attack against Israeli citizens was orchestrated and greenlit by Iran because Israel was getting too chummy with some of its Arab neighbors. Iran fears the possibility of bilateral agreements between Israel and Saudi Arabia as an extension of the Abraham Accords with the UAE and Bahrain. Iran hopes that a devastating counter attack by Israel against Hamas will sour relations with Arab nations.

Gordon Arta
Gordon Arta
7 months ago

Ideology overwrites reason, intelligence, and conscience. ‘Temporal’ ideologies, those rooted in ‘this world’, can, at least be ameliorated; exposure to reality usually has some effect. Religious ideologies, though, suffer no such limitation. Denying any doubt, and a ‘next world’ justification, they can go on, like Hamas, doing the same thing over and over, killing without mercy, knowingly bringing death and destruction onto their own people, while claiming martyrdom. Those Islamic ‘golden ages’ were in spite of Islam, not because of it; Islamic history is replete with enlightened caliphs and rulers, ushering in golden ages, only to be overthrown, and usually killed, by those who demand Islamic purity. Muslim ‘radicals’ are not the fundamentalists and terrorists; they are the real Muslims. The radicals are those moderate Muslims, who admit some tolerance, flexibility, end even doubt about some of their texts, and some aspects of their prophet’s doings and sayings.

John Croteau
John Croteau
7 months ago

It has been scrubbed from Western history, but Germans had seemingly “valid” reasons to hate Jews after the way they were treated after WWI and the economic depression that followed. None of that justified genocide of the Holocaust.
The Progressive Left has exposed itself as capable of supporting the most heinous crimes in the name of their new ideology. Once exposed and defeated, we should treat them in the same manner as “good” Germans as they were de-Nazified.
It’s only a matter of time. Does their defeat come quickly like Nazi ideology or does it take 70 years like the Soviets’.

Last edited 7 months ago by John Croteau
Ian Lessard
Ian Lessard
7 months ago

Absolutely beautiful article. Thank you Kat Rosenfield.

AC Harper
AC Harper
7 months ago

“…it’s not hard to see how our distance from these events, combined with the immediacy of so much coverage and conversation about them, lends itself to the most grotesque kind of rubbernecking”
I avoid rubbernecking at accidents on the motorway or side of the road. I consider it to be uncivil and impolite and it is far too easy to imagine ‘reasons’ why it may have happened based on my stereotypical views. I do increase my attention of other road users who my be distracted.
So to for political events. There is almost nothing that is simple or straightforward or the result of a single cause. Best not to respond with anger or glee which only compounds the harm. Better to support measured attempts to resolve issues.
Which perhaps is why terrorists do terrible things because they want to get the anger and glee going believing that it will advance their objectives.

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
7 months ago

All very thoughtful. But what we need now are deeds, not words.

Last edited 7 months ago by Malcolm Knott
Ray Andrews
Ray Andrews
7 months ago

“good people can have bad ideas.”
Yes, and bad people can yet do good things. But what really complicates the thing is that nobody is ‘good’ and nobody is ‘bad’ in the absolute sense. Ok … there might be such a thing as absolute self-knowing evil but it is rare — even Himmler genuinely believed he was one of the good guys. Almost everybody imagines themselves to be good, even Donald Trump. Self-approval is not the test.

Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
7 months ago