David H. Levitt

Hamas’s War: It’s Not About Rights – It’s About Hate

Nine hundred people killed by Hamas terrorists. Not by “freedom fighters” because their goal isn’t freedom, and never has been – the Hamas Charter makes that unmistakably clear. Of that 900, over 260 unarmed civilians deliberately targeted and murdered at a music festival – no military strategic value – just murder for murder’s sake. Killing and kidnapping civilians from their homes.

A pro-Palestinian demonstrator gestures toward Israelis during a protest in New York City, October 8, 2023. (Luke Tress/Times of Israel)

And Palestinians supporters celebrating this murder. Have you seen the above image from Times of Israel of a pro-Palestinian rally on October 8, 2023 in New York City?

The TOI article points out that the demonstrators were joyfully shouting “700” (known deaths at that time) – and other vile gestures from the crowd (such as the throat-slitting gesture depicted above) that were pure, unvarnished, unapologetic, gleeful antisemitism; indeed, “antisemitism” is too soft a word. It is unadulterated hatred and blood-lust. This is what they mean when they chant “From the River to the Sea.” These people are not protesting for equal rights, for social justice, peaceful coexistence (or peaceful anything at all) or anything else that the progressive left claims to stand for – they just want to kill Jews – in America too.

That desire is taught to them every day, in their UNRWA-run schools, on social media, in everything they read. Grammar school children are taught this hate – see this clip of a May 2023 first-grade graduation and note the weapons and the sounds of machine gun fire. Or this one from 2018, complete with hostage taking like that occurring in the last few days. These clips are neither isolated nor secret – they are played proudly on Palestinian television.

Nor is this blood-lust new. As I wrote more than five years ago, the goal of Gazan leadership has always been violence against Jewish civilians. Hamas leadership admitted then that it was deliberately deceiving the public about “peaceful protests,” and that the goal of breaching the security fence was to target Israeli civilians to “tear their hearts out.” These are not hidden, secret statements – they are publicly trumpeted by Hamas leadership.

As it did in past wars, particularly the initial disaster 50 years ago of the 1973 Yom Kippur attack, Israel will eventually rally, take the fight to Gaza, deal with Hamas’s military capabilities, and restore order. Hamas’s attacks will not lead to any better living conditions for Gazans or any other Palestinians; if anything, those conditions will be made worse, both in the short term (shutting off of electricity, food, water being imported into Gaza) and in the longer term.

And predictably, world commentary will both deliberately and ignorantly assert that Israel’s response was somehow “disproportionate” – and we’ll see the usual return to anti-Zionist, anti-Israel rhetoric and one-sided resolutions in the United Nations and other institutions. Israel will engage in internal review and recrimination for intelligence failures, leaders in the military and intelligence communities will lose their jobs, and the civil unrest arising from the current coalition’s attempt to remake Israel’s judiciary (and more) will return.

But in the end, whether stability is restored, whether the current coalition falls, and regardless of world reaction or what the government of Israel looks like, nothing will change until certain fundamental factors are changed. It will not matter whether Israel offers further concessions for peace to the Palestinians – unlikely as that is in the foreseeable future – because until the Palestinians are ready, at last, to say “yes” to such a proposal, it doesn’t matter how any Israeli governing coalition is formed or what is offered. Any proposal is doomed to fail as long as the Palestinian leadership deliberately sabotages it from the outset, as discussed here.

Instead, what must change is an end to the teaching of hate – to the loss of yet another generation of Palestinians to that hate and rejectionism. And, as Daniel Gordis points out today:

Do not ever again, ever, distinguish between Gazans and Hamas. This was bloodthirstiness not of the leaders, who of course stayed home and hidden, but of the masses. Of the teenagers, and the men in their twenties, and their thirties, and their forties, who came to kill. And to torch. And to maim. And to sing—yes, literally to sing, as survivors are reporting—as they were doing the butchering.

Hate is the problem – and it is hate that must be eradicated. Hopefully this can be done without a need for the Palestinian equivalent of 40 more years in the desert until the current generations are gone, but if and when it is ever to be attained, it must begin now.

Thanks to the Abraham Accords, at least some of Israel’s Arab neighbors are beginning to recognize this. Saudi Arabia has begun to remove antisemitic content from its school curriculum; never mind that it should never have been there in the first place, but given that Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of the original strictest form of Islam, this is potentially real progress.

The international community too has belatedly and recently began to understand that teaching hate prolongs the conflict. For example, in May 2023 the EU Parliament for the first time passed a resolution that directly linked the content of PA textbooks with funds for Palestinian terrorism, and in particular attacks by young people, and demanded removal of such content. Another good start – but only a start.

This must be the work of our times: removal and eventual eradication of hate, in deed and in speech. Hate speech is not and ought not be protected, whether under the First Amendment or  otherwise, but it continues to proliferate, often abetted by algorithms of social media entities. Those who espouse it – like those New York demonstrators – must be rejected and publicly ostracized.

The issue, of course, is more global than the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, impacting so many communities. But as a test case – and as the case that requires the most immediate efforts given the so, so dire consequences of the continuing teaching of hate to children – that is a superior place to start.

The United States and the rest of the world must demand, unequivocally, the end of teaching hate – and act on those demands. If hate remains in school texts and curriculum, defunding should be required. If a publisher prints hate texts, the publication must be stopped by court order, and shipping of such material must be barred.

I write this as a First Amendment hawk, not as an advocate for banning books. But some speech is simply not protected, and the consequences of losing yet another generation to hate and violence is too dire. This week again demonstrates what happens when kids are taught to hate, and then grow up to have the ability to act on that hate.

About the Author
David H. Levitt practices intellectual property and commercial litigation law in Chicago, and is a pro-Israel activist.
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