Gefen Bar-On Santor

Will you eat Hamas word salad?

Source: Photo taken by author using fake theatrical blood.
Source: Photo taken by author using fake theatrical blood.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) 3906 represents academic staff at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.  On October 7, CUPE 3906 issued a jubilant statement:

“Palestine is rising, long live the resistance ‘Everything in this world can be robbed and stolen, except one thing; this one thing is the love that emanates from a human being towards a solid commitment to a conviction or cause.’” – Ghassan Kanafani

— CUPE Local 3906 (@cupe_3906)

October 7, 2023

For CUPE 3603, Israeli life has no value.  Israelis deserve to be the recipients of behaviour that is at the very extreme of sadism. Rape is love, and murder is liberty. And never mind that the Palestinians in Gaza who want to live peacefully with Israel are oppressed by the Hamas and that the Hamas’s convictions include, among other abhorrent ideas, the notion that gay people have no right to live in accordance with their sexual orientation.

Intellectual predators such as these are trying to train us to develop knee-jerk reactions that would incline us to applaud what is evil as if it were good.

And it is our most civilized and decent inclinations upon which they prey.

Over the last couple of days, several people have shared with me that they do not understand the context and the history that would enable them to have an informed opinion about what is happening in Israel and in Gaza.  If I did not grow up in Israel, I would likely be saying the same thing.

You do not need “context” to have an intuitive moral aversion to horror, but the desire to learn is nevertheless a noble one.

Quick context: Zionism emerged in the late nineteenth century as a response to antisemitism.  It was also informed by European romanticism, nationalism and colonialism.  The early Zionists were terribly naïve about the Middle East, and the Jews are an awkward fit into the Middle East.  In the aftermath of the Holocaust, the UN decided to partition the land, previously controlled by the Ottoman empire and then the British mandate, between the Jews and the Palestinians.  The Palestinians were manipulated (partly by people with direct Nazi links) to fight—and their outcomes were determined in a war that they lost.  Some Palestinians became (often prosperous) Israeli Arab citizens, while others became refugees in Gaza, the West Bank and other countries—either after fleeing their homes or through expulsion that took place in the heat of the war.  Throughout the decades, Israel (despite its many flaws and the inherently problematic nature of military occupation) educated its citizens to want peace and to act for peace (which included leaving the Gaza strip in 2005).  At the same time, destructive Palestinian leaders have lined their own pockets with funding that was supposed to serve their people and turned opportunities for prosperity into fantasies of death for the Jews—all to the tune of an international cheerleading chorus screaming “occupation.”

There are surely brilliant intellectual minds who will take objection to this summary.  As hostages are being tortured in Gaza and as victims of terrorism are being buried, we can go on forever debating the nuances of history.  We can also ask people deeply concerned about the occupation why they are not leaving Canada, which is on stolen Indigenous land, and why Indigenous people in Canada do not want to commit pogroms despite the very significant injustice inflicted upon them over the years (for example, why are there still Indigenous communities in Canada without clean drinking water?).

But when it comes to intellectual predators, it is this very desire to understand and to historically contextualize situations in a fair and well-balanced manner that makes us vulnerable to seduction and to addiction.  It is an addiction to what might be the most potent drug in the world—Jew hate.

To the people who have embraced it, Jew hate seems to have euphoric and anti-depressant qualities.  The “benefits” experienced by blaming the Jews, instead of doing the painful work of looking inward or of accepting reality, have made Jew hate “worth preserving.”  It is for this reason that over the centuries, Jew hate metamorphosed into whatever form it could safely survive in.

First came religious antisemitism, accusing the Jews of killing Christ (never mind that Jesus and his followers were Jews).

Then, with the decline of religion, came the pseudo-scientific Nazi “race” theory (take a look at the pictures of the beautiful victims of the October 7 pogrom to see how inaccurate it is to call the Jews a race—not to mention the inherent falsehood of any race theory).

In today’s polite society, it is not yet acceptable to express Jew hate openly.  But to the rescue comes the third stage of Jew hate: my-Jewish-friend-agrees-with-me-that-the-occupation-is-evil Jew hate.  In the current culture of Jew hate, non-Jews and some Jews alike apparently get a high out of asserting distortions about Israel and emboldening destructive Palestinian leaders instead of supporting the desire of most people to live in peace.  The Jews involved are likely either insecure, eager to please, or wishing to think of themselves as good and pure (I would know; unfortunately, I tended toward that kind of Jewish self-hate when I was a teenager and young adult).

The third stage of Jew hate operates through the mechanisms of seduction.  It starts with apparently reasonable ideas: there are two sides to every story; historical context is important.  But there is also the oldest hate (sometimes, in the case of Jewish people, internalized as self-loathing) hibernating within and ready to wake up hungry.

And in the morning your seducer is giving you breakfast in bed—a fresh Hamas word salad dressed in blood.  You started out with good intentions to expand your horizons, and before you know it, a Hamas psychopath is playing quasi-intellectual acrobatics to tell you that they did not kill any civilians on October 7 because no Israeli can be defined as a civilian:,of%20haara%20is%20a%20civilian.

You thought you had an intellectual fellowship.  Instead, your guide to the truth turns out to be feeling utterly superior to you and to the rest of humanity—so much so that they can speak with no regard to factuality or to basic human rights.

Your mind has been ducked—but the d is an f, and beside you in the bloody bed lies the corpse of an Israeli woman who has been raped and murdered.  You can no longer hide behind the modest veil of abstractions about colonialism.  You must look directly at the images of the pogrom, for example those that the Jewish Canadian independent journalist Ezra Levant describes here:

If you had been seduced into the bloody bed because you “wanted to understand the context as objectively as possible”—WAKE UP! On the morning of October 7, 2023, Israel lost control over its border with Gaza.  You, on the other hand, can assert the boundaries that should protect your soul from being infected with Jew hate.

About the Author
Gefen Bar-On Santor teaches English at the University of Ottawa, as well as adult-education literature courses at the Soloway Jewish Community Centre in Ottawa, Canada. She is an enthusiastic believer in life-long learning and in the relevance of fiction to our lives. She also writes at
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