Making Sense of Irrational War
It is difficult to make a thoughtful commentary on the Israeli-Hamas war because, in addition to the fog of war, and also in addition to the rapidly changing events on the battle field, people are reacting to this war irrationally. And not only making sense of irrational war, but also making sense of the equally irrational protests in support of the warmongers and their massacre of innocent men, women and children. Making sense of these horrific events might be impossible. But I will try.
The explosion at the Baptist Hospital in Gaza was a terrible tragedy killing hundreds. The Hamas terrorists immediately blamed Israel. Many people believed the Hamas account because Israel had been attacking Gaza City with artillery and air strikes for days after the Hamas attack on Israel that killed approximately thirteen hundred people, mostly innocent civilians. But the hospital was supposed to be a safe space and thousands had sought refuge in the courtyard. The toll of the explosion was horrific.
But the Israeli Defense Force said it wasn’t them. They assert that the explosion came from a defective rocket that was part of a missile attack coming from Gaza perpetrated by Islamic Jihad, another terrorist group in Gaza. What’s more they have proof. There are several videos of the explosion that confirm the Israelis’ assertion. They also have intercepted audio conversations by the terrorists confirming what the Israelis are saying.
The problem is that nobody in the Middle East believes them. Hezbollah in Lebanon declared a “Day of Unprecedented Rage.” Rioters in Beirut set fire to the American Embassy. Democratic Representative Rashida Tlaib from Michigan tweeted, “Israel just bombed the Baptist Hospital killing five hundred Palestinians (doctors, children, patients) just like that” and has refused to apologize for spreading false (or at least unconfirmed) information. University campuses across the US are awash in protests supporting Hamas. A University of Texas student from Palestine said he had been harassed for expressing “his truth.”
But why are elite Western academics and university students joining in protesting against Israel alongside tribal Arabs and Palestinians across the Middle East? Both groups hate America, in particular, and the West, in general. A survivor of the Hamas rampage in Israel said it succinctly when interviewed on TV. He said (and I paraphrase), they are poor and live in a failed state and Israel is wealthy and successful. In other words, we are poor so we must be oppressed and the Israelis are rich so they must be the oppressors. A very clear expression of Critical Theory if I ever heard one.
Critical Theory, you may recall, was an outgrowth of Marxism. Marx believed that the world was divided between the exploited (the workers) and the exploiters (the capitalists). But Marxist communism (developed to address problems in industrialized Europe) did not translate very well to the less developed world such as the Middle East. Besides, the workers in the West actually prospered very well under capitalism. So European intellectuals created Critical Theory and replaced the exploiters with the oppressors with the exploited thus becoming the oppressed.
The rioters across the Middle East have probably never heard of Critical Theory. They feel their outrage in their gut. They are poor and have little hope of a better future, so it must be because rich Israel stole their land. The Israelis are the oppressors causing their misfortune so they must be made to pay. Besides the Israelis are infidels occupying Muslim land.
There is little that the US can do about it. The rioters will pay little heed to the West’s attempts to curb the violence. They spit on the billions of dollars of foreign aid lavished on the region. The autocrats that control the region embolden them. There is no path to peace with Hamas.
Not long ago, peace seemed to be at hand. The Abraham Accords were making progress. Remember Brett Blair’s interview of Saudi Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman? MBS said normalization of relations with Israel would be, "the biggest historical deal since the end of the Cold War." In a later interview Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said that soon the Palestinian problem was going to become “an” issue in the Middle East, and not “the” issue. Hamas could not accept that. And so thirteen hundred innocent people had to die.
But if rioting Arabs and Palestinians are unthinkingly reacting to their primal instincts, why are the elites of the progressive left and a horde of college students joining in on the protests? What belief system do they hold that can possibly justify the brutal murder of more than a thousand Israelis? The woke ideology of the progressive left is also based on emotion. It rejects Western style rationalism. They view American values and principles as evil.
That’s why they call for a ceasefire that would leave Hamas unpunished and virtually unscathed for their horrendous crimes. That’s why progressives choke and gag at President Biden’s unstinting support of Israel. That’s why the Squad was unanimous in the denouncing Israel as the aggressor and not the victim. That’s why Black Lives Matter affiliates across the country praised “Palestinian freedom fighters” and denounced Israelis as colonizers.
To my mind, this shows the intellectual vacuity of Critical Theory and its offshoot, Critical Race Theory. It is just raw emotions gussied up to look like thinking. And not good emotions, either. Envy. Anger. Hatred. That’s why progressives reject reasoned debate. Their ideas cannot stand up to scrutiny. They must have their “narratives.” Their “truth.” Facts are malleable.
And the students indoctrinated into the progressive mold protest colonialism and Zionist apartheid in Israel. They don’t realize that decolonization implies the elimination of Israel and the genocide of the Jewish people. When marchers carry signs saying, “Free Palestine” they are not saying that they want the elusive two-state solution where a free Palestine exists beside a free Israel. When they say, “From the river to the sea” they mean they support the elimination of Israel from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea and the murder of millions of Jews (again).
The progressive left cannot abide a successful and prosperous capitalist Israel. It doesn’t match their desired outcome. Like the Palestinian protestors, the progressive left has a desired outcome based on their feelings and emotions. They then develop a theory to will give them their desired outcome. Facts become narratives. The search of the facts to find the truth becomes the search of their feelings to find “their” truth. The facts are irrelevant. The truth is irrelevant. Only their emotional catharsis is relevant.
But Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran and their progressive allies in the West won’t be satisfied with the elimination of Israel. Nor with the elimination of Ukraine and Taiwan. Their ultimate goal is the elimination of the United States and Western culture.
For the last seventy-five years the United States has been trying to create a safe and rational world where all peoples can live in peace and prosperity. The forces of irrational war and power have been kept at bay during that time but those ever present forces are on the rise and threaten the world you know and the world you want to live in. You need to figure out where you stand.