This letter is directed at a few loud critics of Israel who present themselves as Jewish and who demand that Israel’s war against Hamas be stopped immediately. I am using an opinion piece published in the Ottawa Citizen by Talya Stein, Sam Hersh, and Miles Howe under the title “As Jews, we call for a ceasefire and a just peace” to represent that stream of opinion. These authors claim to be aligned with Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), If Not Now, and the Canadian Independent Jewish Voices. There are other pieces that I could have used, but this appears representative, and it is obviously written by people who can express themselves well since one of them is a university student and another is a university professor. They also managed to get themselves published in one of Canada’s most important newspapers.
Dear anti-Israel Jews,
Your opinion piece claims to present a pro-peace and truthful view of the conflict, but I will demonstrate here why it is instead a well-crafted and intentionally misleading piece of pro-Hamas propaganda.
When I saw the title, it was clear that something about the piece was not right. What does it mean?
Is it meant to imply that if one is Jewish then one is more likely to support peace? As an atheist Arab, I can tell you that this would be bigoted.
Or is it meant to imply that being Jewish gives the authors more authority on the subject? If so, then as an Arab who grew up in the Middle East, I have even more authority on the subject than you do because by your own admission, you have either only visited Israel or have no ties at all to Israel.
You refer to your Jewishness many times throughout the piece to make sure that the reader doesn’t forget that you claimed to be Jewish, but identifying yourself as Jewish does nothing to demonstrate credibility. It does, however, pull wool over the eyes of members of the public who don’t know much about the issue and who think, “oh, wow, these people are Jewish, so they must care about the Jewish state, so they are probably being honest”. As I will demonstrate here, nothing could be further from the truth.
Attempt to discredit the Israeli government as “far-right”
You skillfully refer to the Israeli government as “Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right Israeli government” in an obvious attempt to discredit Israel’s war against Hamas.
You know, however, that Israel’s war cabinet consists of only three members, none of which are members of a far-right party: the prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the minister of defense Yoav Gallant, and the former minister of defense and former chief of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), Benny Gantz. Gantz, a centrist, was not even part of the cabinet before the war, and he strongly opposed the government’s judicial reforms, but he joined the unity government specifically and only to support Israel’s war against Hamas.
You also know that Yair Lapid, the leader of the main opposition party, who chose to remain in the opposition, and who continues to criticize the government, also strongly supports Israel’s war efforts against Hamas. He said, for instance, “It will take time, it will require the use of a lot of force. If the world doesn’t like it, let it not. It was not the children of the world who were murdered, our children were murdered. [Israel will] uproot Hamas [because] it’s impossible to live next to a terror group.”
But widespread support within Israel for the war against Hamas isn’t just at the political level. Since you claim to know some Israelis then you must know that. I know many Israelis, and even the most pro-peace Israelis among my friends, even the fiercest critics of Netanyahu, are solidly behind Israel’s war against Hamas.
You can also see Israel’s unity on this subject among journalists and opinion writers in Israel. Yossi Klein Halevi, for example, is a harsh critic of the Netanyahu government but also an eloquent supporter of the war against Hamas. He has written several articles since October 7, including one in the left-leaning Canadian publication the Globe and Mail, where he wrote, “Israelis across the political spectrum agree that the regime of Oct. 7 cannot remain on our border. And like Mr. Ben-Gurion, we are willing to pay the price of being alone.”
I am a long-time supporter of left-wing causes such as workers’ rights, women’s rights, and gay rights. I was once a union local president and an organizer in the New Democratic Party. I promoted same-sex marriage even before some of you were born, and well before any political party supported it. Yet, despite my left-wing beliefs, I can understand why Israel needs to destroy Hamas. The fact that you cannot understand or pretend not to understand is not a right-left issue.
Implication of moral equivalence between the two sides
In your piece, you used several phrases meant to suggest equivalence between Israel and Hamas. You wrote:
- “We are struck with deep despair and grief by the images coming out of Israel and Gaza”.
- “The scope of loss felt on either side of the Israel-Gaza border is immeasurable as innocent civilians continue to be bombarded day-in and day-out”.
- “This loss has spread across the Palestinian and Jewish diaspora, leaving many to mourn not only the loss of life, but also the loss of humanity”.
- “In response to the heinous acts of terror committed by Hamas, Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right Israeli government appears to have decided that all Gazans must pay the price”.
- “We condemn the killing of innocent Palestinian and Israeli civilians”.
Nowhere did you provide an unequivocal condemnation of the massacre of 1400 Israelis by Hamas on October 7. You didn’t even use the word “massacre” anywhere. You also made absolutely no mention of the 240 hostages held by the terrorists.
You tried very hard to give the impression that Israel’s violence against Palestinians is at least as reprehensible as Hamas’ violence against Israelis.
You know, however, that unlike Hamas which indiscriminately murdered Israeli civilians, including women, children, and the elderly, Israel goes to great extents to prevent civilian casualties. Israel gave residents of northern Gaza two weeks to flee before starting the ground invasion. Two weeks.
You also know that Hamas builds its military infrastructure in cities, under cities, in schools, hospitals, mosques, playgrounds, and so on. In other words, you know that Hamas uses Palestinian civilians as human shields. You also know that Hamas tries to prevent civilians from leaving towards safer areas.
This information is not exactly secret. You can find it in several credible mainstream English-speaking Israeli publications, including the Times of Israel, the Jerusalem Post, and the left leaning Haaretz. You claim to be knowledgeable about the conflict, yet you choose to ignore all relevant information, and instead you mislead the public.
Accusation of collective punishment
You made the claim that, “[The] Israeli government appears to have decided that all Gazans must pay the price”, implying collective punishment rather than attacks directed at Hamas.
That is of course not true. Israel would not have given residents of the north two weeks to flee if it wanted to punish them. It is true that Israel has cut off electricity, water, and supplies from Gaza, but only temporarily and only to disrupt terrorist operations. Much of it has resumed with the help of Egypt, the US, and various countries and organizations. Israel even allowed Jordan to drop supplies to Gazans from the air.
Israel has made every effort to not hurt civilians despite Hamas trying very hard to ensure that Palestinian civilians are hurt so that it could use that for its propaganda war against Israel.
Again, all this information is freely available, but you choose to make a false accusation, nonetheless. You are complicit in the Hamas propaganda war against Israel.
Accusation of vengeance
You condemned “settler violence” then you wrote “These futile acts of vengeance will not end the recurring violence in Israel and Gaza. Nor will it lead to justice for anyone, while weapons manufacturers see their stocks soar as human beings suffer.” The first of these two sentences could be understood to refer to settler violence, but the second sentence makes it clear that you were referring to Israel’s war against Hamas because obviously the settlers don’t have a significant impact on weapon manufacturers.
Of course, I condemn settler violence against Palestinians, and so have many Israelis, and yes, this could be some sort of ill-advised acts vengeance, but it is not very significant in the larger context of the war, especially that it has been condemned by Netanyahu himself.
Your implication that the whole war against Hamas constitutes vengeance is highly misleading. As explained by many leading Israelis, including opponents of the Israeli government, and as explained by the US Democratic administration, a critic of the Israeli right-wing coalition, the goal of destroying Hamas is essential.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, “those calling for an immediate ceasefire have an obligation to explain how to address the unacceptable result it would likely bring about: Hamas left in place, with more than 200 hostages, with the capacity and stated intent to repeat October 7th – again and again and again”.
Is Blinken seeking vengeance? Is President Joe Biden seeking vengeance? By your rationale, they must. But of course, that isn’t credible to anyone who knows the facts and who knows these two men and their relentless efforts to protect Palestinian civilians. You count on people not knowing the facts.
Claim that Jews are uncritical supporters of Israel
You made the ludicrous claim that, “Most of us [Jews] have been raised in Jewish communities where support for Israel is unequivocal and sacrosanct, regardless of the reprehensible actions of the Israeli government”.
There is nothing in Jewish support for the Israeli government that is unequivocal, not only for Jews outside Israel, but even for Jews inside Israel. You know about the enormous demonstrations that have taken place in Israel for many weeks against the planned judicial overhaul. You also know that many Jews and Jewish organizations outside Israel have been highly critical of the right-wing coalition and have supported the demonstrators. This is only one example among many. Jews are free to criticize the Israeli government, and they do it often.
You are yourselves a living proof that Jews can criticize the Israeli government. In fact, not only do you criticize but you happily spread misinformation about Israel, as I am demonstrating here.
If you know anything about Jews, then you know that Jews are among the least likely people to obey authority for the sake of obeying authority. Millenia of discrimination, pogroms, and the Holocaust have taught Jews to distrust authority, even their own. In fact, even as Israelis are strongly united against Hamas, they continue to criticize the Israeli government.
Of all your accusations, this is the easiest one for you to recognize as false, at least if you know the Jewish community as you claim. Or maybe an Arab like me knows Jews better than you do.
Claim to believe in Jewish values
You included many references to your “Jewish values” and how important they are to you, but it is obvious that you believe none of it.
Unless, of course, Jewish values consist of misleading the public to enable terrorists to continue having the ability to massacre Jews.
But even you must know that this is not a Jewish value. If Jews were this malicious and self-defeating, they would not have survived as a tiny minority for over three millennia.
You claim instead to believe in the “Jewish values of justice, peace, and compassion”, but you clearly do not believe in these values.
If you believed in justice, you would not support a ceasefire that would allow Hamas to survive so that it can attempt more and more massacres in the future, as it said that it would.
If you believed in peace, you would want Hamas destroyed because you know very well that Israel left Gaza in 2005 but there has been no peace with Israel since Hamas took over control of Gaza shortly after that.
If you believed in compassion, you would not avoid using the word “massacre” to describe what Hamas did on October 7, and you certainly would not ignore the 240 hostages that Hamas holds.
Misinformation works but not this time
Even though you know that you spread misinformation, and even though I and others publicly expose you, you will continue to do it anyway. The reason is simple: it works, especially when coming from people who claim to be Jews.
You are not promoting “Jewish values”. You are instead knowingly enabling Hamas. But that is exactly what you aim to do, so you will continue doing it. You are not “Jews of conscience” as you claim to be.
But let’s be crystal clear. You are not a significant threat to Israel. Despite your misinformation, Israel will prevail. Israel will destroy Hamas, and Gaza Palestinians will have a brighter future, despite your objections.
While you have no faith in Jews other than your own terrorist-enabling tiny minority, and while you certainly have no faith in Israel, I do. I also have faith that Arabs, including Palestinians, can live in peace and can strive if terrorists do not stand in their way. I also have faith in the leadership of President Joe Biden and in the solid bi-partisan support behind him.
Israel will win this war, for its own benefit, for the benefit of the Palestinians, and for the benefit of everyone who cares about peace and justice.
A left-wing atheist Arab