Civilian deaths in Gaza lie at Hamas’s door

By William MacKenzie,

“Far too many Palestinians have been killed, far too many have suffered these past weeks,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in New Delhi.

Do you think Hamas cares?

When Hamas terrorists launched an unprecedented and sadistic surprise attack on Israel on Oct. 7, brutally butchering and massacring more than 1,200 people, injuring at least 6,900, taking more than 240 people hostage (There is still been no formal master list of hostages held, because Hamas hasn’t provided one), and launching thousands of missiles at Israel from the Gaza Strip, did they expect to overrun the country and eliminate Israelis from the river to the sea?

Not in the least.

Their aim was to cause chaos and invite massive retaliation, hoping the retaliation could be twisted to undermine Israel’s right to exist and justify Hamas’s cause.

Israel initially gained wide support in the face of Hamas’s savagery.

President Biden condemned the atrocities committed by Hamas fighters, including the “slaughter” of men, women and entire families, as well as “stomach-churning reports of babies being killed.”

“The United States unequivocally condemns this appalling assault against Israel by Hamas terrorists from Gaza,” Biden said in a statement. “Israel has a right to defend itself and its people.”

U.N. human rights chief Volker Turk said he was “shocked and appalled” by the attack. Ursula von der Leyen, head of the European Union’s executive commission, called the attack “terrorism in its most despicable form.” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said, “Israel’s right to self-defense cannot be questioned.”

But as Israel has retaliated militarily in Gaza in an effort to punish Hamas, and more civilians have been caught in the crossfire, some because Hamas has demanded they stay in place, the public debate has shifted. The portrayal of Israel as the aggressor has emerged, just as Hamas surely hoped it would.

Now the media is laser focused on the civilian casualties occurring with Israel’s response, all but eclipsing the Oct. 7 barbarities of Hamas. In achieving that shift, Hamas is turning itself into the victim.

Nowhere is that victim status more embraced now that at many American institutions of so-called higher learning. At Harvard, The Palestine Solidarity Committee issued a joint statement with more than 30 other student groups that held Israel “entirely responsible for all unfolding violence.” ” The apartheid regime is the only one to blame,” it continued.

” When antisemitism moves from the shameful fringe into the public square, it is not about Jews, It is never about Jews,” observed Bari Weiss, editor of The Free Press, in a recent speech to the Federalist Society. “It is about everyone else. It is about the surrounding society or the culture or the country. It is an early warning system—a sign that the society itself is breaking down. That it is dying. It is a symptom of a much deeper crisis—one that explains how, in the span of a little over 20 years since Sept 11, educated people now respond to an act of savagery not with a defense of civilization, but with a defense of barbarism.”

Sarah Katz, an author with a background in Middle East Studies and counterterrorism, argues that statements such as the one from Harvard’s Palestine Solidarity Committee reflect the conflict of ideologies that has arisen between alleged racist perpetrators and racialized victims.

“When applied to Israel and Palestine, Israel as the “powerful Western oppressor” and Palestine as the “brave non-white victim” have captured the hearts and minds of many esteemed institutions,” Katz wrote recently in the Jewish Journal. “This oppressor/victim binary tends to dismiss any reference to the culpability of any Palestinian entity in events preceding Israeli retaliation.”

As Ben Kawaller put it in a Free Press post, “What’s really righteous is to promulgate a fundamental loathing of anyone belonging to the “oppressor” class.”

It is essential to know all this when confronting the tragedy that is now Gaza. This is not to ignore or downplay the civilian deaths in Gaza, but Hamas does not get to position itself as the honorable resistance movement in Gaza because of them.