Discerning the dog whistles of Hamas’ Chicago supporters
Eight hundred years ago Maimonides’ “Guide for the Perplexed” illuminated the compatibility of Judaism with the new sciences. His insights broke through the darkness, shedding a clarifying light for the perplexed.
Today, Hamas supporters distort language. The intent is to leave you perplexed.
Their messages are dog whistles, deftly exploiting words and images. To the unsuspecting, the seductive messaging depicts a wicked Israel and a benign Hamas.
Trusting that most Americans can’t decipher their dog whistle frequencies, Hamas’ supporters are recruiting allies. Their Orwellian language deceives both the unwitting and the willingly complicit into embracing their Jew-hatred agenda.
To help crack the Hamas code, here’s an updated, illustrative version of “Guide for the Perplexed”:
1) Ceasefire. But only when I want it.
Who doesn’t love a ceasefire? For Hamas supporters, it depends on who is doing the most firing. They celebrated the terror group’s horrific attack on October 7, itself a violation – the eighth!! – of an existing ceasefire. Yet as soon as Israel started defending itself, they immediately cried “ceasefire.” Hypocritically, these same selective ceasefire supporters don’t call on Hezbollah in Lebanon, Iran’s proxies in Syria and Yemen, and of course Hamas itself in Gaza, to cease their fire.
2) Glorifying violence
Hamas supporters have long criticized Israel as a militarized country, one that perversely worships its military might. Yet it is Hamas supporters who glorify terrorism in general, and the multiple outrages of October 7 in particular. The flyers above were disseminated shortly after the October 7 attack, weeks before the Israeli ground invasion started. They are not messages of ceasefire, reconciliation, or peace. They glorify violence and frame rape, murder, and hostage-taking as being vindicated by the “right to resist.”
3) Glorifying violence 2.0
Not only are Hamas terror attacks celebrated, but particular modes of attack are glorified. Almost a quarter of the 1,200 murdered on October 7 were young people slaughtered at a music festival. Their killers arrived via paragliders. The cutesy paraglider depicted above was displayed at a Chicago rally shortly afterwards. Beyond celebrating the paraglider terrorists, only Arabic readers are let in on the dog-whistle, non-cutesy message: “With spirit and blood we will redeem you Palestine.”
4) Code words, selective free speech, and intimidation
Hamas supporters have the same free speech rights as everyone else. Yet, from college campuses to their rallies, they often abuse that right by wielding words of intimidation, Jew hatred, and violence. At the same time, they don’t hesitate to impede others holding different opinions from exercising their free speech rights. That was on full, chaotic display during the Chicago City Council’s October 13 debate over a resolution condemning Hamas’ attack on civilians. Palestinian supporters heckled and interrupted those they disagreed with…prompting, for the first time since the infamous “council wars” of the early 1980s, that the chamber be cleared of all guests.
The flyer above urging attendance at that council session employed the verb “flood.” To glorify terrorism and to intimidate their opponents, the flyer echoed what Hamas called its October 7 attack: “Operation Al-Aqsa Flood.” The choice of “flood” is Exhibit A of a dog whistle…most people would barely take notice. But for those who salute what Hamas did on October 7, the sinister purpose of choosing “flood” is clear. Its meaning is also clear – and chilling – to those mourning the thousands that Hamas murdered, raped, tortured, and kidnapped.
Hamas supporters claim international human rights law is on their side. They depict every Israeli defensive action as a war crime while asserting Hamas’ attacks enjoy immunity under the supposed internationally recognized right of “resistance.”
Professing such commitment to international human rights is an insincere ploy. Hamas supporters remain silent about hostage-taking, refusing International Red Cross visitations of those hostages, using Palestinian civilians as human shields, and stealing humanitarian aid for military purposes and personal gain. Their weaponizing phrases like apartheid, genocide, internal human rights law, and war crimes, attract sympathy while distracting scrutiny of Hamas’ crimes. That’s a dog whistle doubling as gaslighting.
6) Population Growth Amidst “Genocide”
Genocide is a terrible thing. Its horrific meaning should not be undermined by political grandstanding. The definition of genocide is “attacks with the specific intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a group [of people].” In each of its defensive wars, 1948, 1967, 1973, Lebanon in 1982 and 2006, and now eight battles with Hamas, Israel faced charges of committing “genocide.” How Israel actually prosecutes its fighting is the exact opposite of how a genocidal army would act: giving civilians advanced notice of where and when attacks will occur, and the providing of humanitarian aid.
Moreover, if the purpose of Israel’s alleged genocide is to destroy the Palestinian people, how does one explain the dramatic increase in Gaza’s population in the last 75 years, from a high estimate of 80,000 in 1948 to over 2 million today? And that growth happened while hundreds of thousands of Gazans left the area over the past 75 years. While every innocent life lost is a tragedy, Gaza’s population will, despite the violence of the past two months, be higher at the end of 2023 than it was at the beginning of the year.
Genocide is terrible. It has not and is not happening in Gaza.
7) The infamous slogan
The granddaddy of Hamas’ and their allies’ perplexing dog whistles is their signature rallying cry, “From the river to sea, Palestine will be free.”
The utility of this phrase is that it can mean different things to different people. For the most unsuspecting, or naïve, it means only that everyone living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea should be free. For Hamas and its supporters, it means something more sinister: the elimination of the State of Israel and the subjugation and/or removal of all its citizens – Jews and those Arabs deemed to be traitors.
The phrase became an iconic slogan when it was embedded in the PLO’s 1964 charter calling for Israel’s destruction. Note that timing: it is before Israel took control of the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights, demonstrating that for Hamas and its supporters, the “occupation” is not just those territories, but all of Israel.
Winston Churchill’s description of Russia – “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma” – surely applies to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For even the conflict’s closest observers, it can be perplexing.
But don’t be deceived or seduced: Hamas’ dog whistles are designed to sow that perplexity, to darken, not illuminate reality. Once decoded, their nefarious communication strategy is not at all perplexing.