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Abby, it seems to me we should be able to hold the idea that civilians are the beneficiaries of, and often complicit in, terrible injustice, and also that their lives are precious and they should not be harmed. You mentioned white US settlers in the 19th century but what about today. If Israeli Jewish civilians don't have the right to life because they're living on stolen land, then why do Americans?

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I appreciate all that you are saying here. It's an interesting idea I'm trying to get my head around. Of course I don't want anyone including Israeli Jews including zionists to be harmed, but it is hard to consider their pain when I think about the past 75+ years of Palestinian pain and erasure and the world's refusal to see/hear any of that. And yet, it is a strategy you are proposing to ask Hamas to take the higher road (once again) since Israel has gone so low most people, even zionists can't look away. And yet I don't think it will make any difference to the state of Israel and their mission which is clear as day and needs no excuse in their eyes. They are proud of what they do. I have never seen hubris on the level of the state of Israel. This escalation was set to happen even without Hamas's actions which are small in comparison. So it's about optics, what the world sees as it is finally watching. And then maybe if Hamas were to act this way, the world would know for sure who the monsters are and where the "pure evil" lies. Thank you for your brave idea.

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that's a good idea. i'll try

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I understand the impulse behind this idea. As an Arab-American, I always understood that the call for a ceasefire has a clear practical consideration - allowing for the release of captives. It’s hard to imagine how captives could be released on a large scale, if the bombs are still dropping. If I was a public figure I would join such a call. Right now, the most immediate consideration before our community is fighting the racism and dehumanization that makes this massacre in Gaza possible, and threatens our lives here in America

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Peter, when I first subscribed, I briefly reached out to note our long-ago Yale connection. I'd tracked the broad ups and downs of your career since college, and I was optimistic that ALL your prior experience might have engendered a rare blend of insight and humility to help you thread the difficult needle of arguing for Palestinian rights without denying the strains of anti-Semitism in the pro-Palestine left. You wrote back asking what anti-Semitism I was referring to. So I let it drop but adjusted my expectations.

Your plea today is well-articulated. I hope you find receptive listeners among the advocates and activists who follow you. Meanwhile, the pro-Palestine movement's broad reaction to Oct.7 illustrates precisely the anti-Semitism I was referring to.

The comments here paint such a powerful picture. On one side, predictably triumphant claims that 10/7 validates some commenters' anti-Palestinian biases. Nothing surprising there. But on the other side, the comments that lead with an obligatory "of course no one deserves to be murdered" before offering a fascinating array of rationalizations for the belief that Israeli civilians somehow earned kidnappings, rapes and murders.

I see you asking readers to acknowledge that rationalized dehumanization of Israelis suggests all of us living in states with tainted histories - or really anyone living a normal, human, morally compromised existence - deserve whatever suffering someone else might dole out in vengeance. And I see your readers refusing to make the leap. It's a very human refusal. But when you combine it with 2000 years of viral anti-semitic tropes, metaphors and stories, of course there is anti-Semitism woven into the pro-Palestine left. There always has been, it has always been significant (not marginal), and it has always been completely visible to anyone willing to see it. That anti-Semitism has never justified its mirror-image in bigoted anti-Palestinian rhetoric or politics. But today I think we're seeing the fruit of the left's long, gaslighting history of denying there was ANY significant anti-Semitic sentiment in the pro-Palestinian, anti-Zionist movement.

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You bare your neck again. My heart truly aches for you Peter. You know with near certainty that Hamas would kill you and your family had you been visiting a wrong kibbutz at the wrong moment. You know that Hamas is clear that it wants to kill Jews, like you and like me and like our families. You know the final shock of a similarly naive Daniel Pearl. And yet you want to believe that somehow Hamas does not hate you and me unto death. Yes I agree with you, if they release the hostages many lives will be saved. I pray they do. But you know in your heart of hearts they won't. As do we all. You cannot interpret away, fantasy away, hope away the charter of Hamas. Take them at their word. Respect them for who they really say they are. Trust Hamas is the Hamas they are telling the world they are. They are. When you bare your neck you bare the neck of every Jew in the world. Your intentional ignorance is simply bad faith, and only more death will come from it.

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It's too late, Peter. It's much too late.

Thanks to decades of work by you and the pro-Palestinian movement, Israelis have been completely dehumanized. They're Nazis, occupiers, settler colonialists, Jewish supremacists, land thieves, apartheid racists, committers of genocide and all the rest. They're not human in the eyes of the pro-Palestinian movement. They're demons. Abby here in this very thread says exactly that.

The time to call for "affirming the humanity" of Israeli Jews would be before Hamas and company butchered 1400+ of them, to the elated cheers of their supporters worldwide. Now, it's too late.

Oh, and if you think Hamas gives the slightest care to the opinions of Western leftists, you're fooling yourself. You're next on their hit list after Israeli Jews.

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this is so naive. sometimes, I am amazed that ostensibly well-educated people actually don't read history. Hamas will listen to the American left? really?

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I really admire the work you do and this resonates with me. Thank you.

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I can't say it better than New Yorker magazine's Johnathan Chait who recently wrote about the progressive left's inability to criticize Hamas. There is growing illiberalism in the far left just as there is on the far right. Failure to criticize those who profess to be the leaders or representatives of an oppressed group have become beyond reproach. Condemnation of Hamas's despicable acts against civilians does not or should not mean Palestinian rights are not important or that they should not be supported, but bad acts should be called out whenever they occur. https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2023/10/hamas-jews-illiberal-left-progressive-israel-terrorism.html

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Releasing the hostages is a beautiful idea and while I don't know that I'm right, without it, I fail to see how Israel cannot invade Gaza. The next step, explicitly recognizing Israel's right to exist seems like the only way to start talks. If a material portion of Gaza's population is willing to engage in things like killing women and children, there is no hope for Gazans.

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I find your naïveté beyond words especially coming from an otherwise very intelligent and sensitive individual. Your worldview is so tinted in rose colors to make John Locke blush in the centuries old grave. If human nature were anything so benign as you would like it or believe it to be, we would hardly need any governments at all.

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It takes a real anti semitic ignoramus to call a Jew a storm trooper…rot in hell you imbecile…oh wait that’s an insult to imbeciles 😡

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Oct 25, 2023·edited Oct 26, 2023

My grandfather was the first person approached by Henry Bernstein of the UJA in 1947 to donate money to bring Jewish victims of the Holocaust to Palestine. He donated $50,000, which was one quarter of his net worth and many times more than his annual gift of $3000. In his autobiography, he wrote that he wanted to become a millionaire, so he could give more money to Israel. And he did. He and my father gave millions to Israeli institutions over the next five decades. But they would be turning in their graves if they could see how the right wing Israeli government treats the Palestinians. The oppressed has become the oppressor. The David has become the Goliath.

For the last 20 years since I’ve educated myself on the modern history of Israel and Palestine, I have stood with the Palestinians every time Israel responds disproportionately to Hamas lobbing ineffectual rockets into Israel, where they can be intercepted by the Iron Dome and where Israelis can seek safety in underground bunkers. I have always viewed these actions as resistance to occupation and the siege.

When I first heard about the attacks on October 7, my reaction was that this is no different from the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto who resisted violently. But then I realized that no, the civilians that were killed were innocent women, children, babies and the elderly, not combatants like the Nazis killed in the ghetto uprising. And I vociferously condemned Hamas as violent terrorists, even though I know that their political wing has done good things for the people in Gaza.

For the last two weeks, I have been learning more and more about how Netanyahu supported and even funded Hamas, through Qatar, how he pushed the election in 2006 to divide the Palestinians and to prevent them getting a state. After hearing he ignored the warning from Egypt, the training exercises out in the open and sent 80% of the security forces from Gaza to the West Bank, I even entertained thoughts that maybe Netanyahu wanted this to happen, so he could flatten Gaza once and for all, so he could finish the ethnic cleansing. Even now, we read articles that they are planning to resettle the Gazans in Egypt and take back Gaza for Israel.

But I also know that Hamas clearly knew that Israel was going to respond like this, that many thousands of their people would be killed and injured. And I truly believe that they did this on purpose to prevent the Abraham accords, unite Arab response against Israel and cause a wider Middle East War. And by not implementing a ceasefire, Netanyahu and his US funders are playing right along with this.

Your plea is based on premises that are not true. One, I don’t think Hamas cares a whit about what American progressives think. They care about their own power and perhaps secondarily about Palestinian liberation. Two, I don’t base my actions on what progressive anti-Zionist Jews think of me. Of course, what Hamas did was horrible. I have said so. But having read two articles now in the NYT and the LA Times about how progressive Jews feel betrayed by the left, I don’t think we can condemn Hamas vociferously enough for them. Like conservative Zionists, they see any defense of Palestine, like simple discussions of root causes, as a betrayal. I got into a back and forth email with someone from a statewide Jewish Justice organization urging him to get the organization to make a statement calling for a ceasefire. And it devolved into him repeating typical AIPAC talking points about Hamas barbarism, Hamas war crimes, Hamas rejecting a two-state solution, and questioning whether Israel should let bygones be bygones, as if killing thousands of civilians, half of them under 18, would not create a new generation of Hamas, even if Israel killed every current member.

I see what you are saying about a joint statement. But you acknowledged the political realities of some organizations being able to do that. I am not in the leadership of Jewish Voice for Peace, and I didn’t like their failure to condemn what Hamas did in their initial statement. But I believe that the phrase Never Again applies to all Holocausts not just ones where Jews are killed. So I align with If Not Now who keeps their demands very simple. I think a ceasefire is the only thing we should be asking for. Personally, I would go further. I would ask that the US not fund Israel until they stop slaughtering civilians. But Israel and the US will do neither of these things, because the leaders of both countries benefit from war.

As for the hostages, we learned from the 83 year old hostage who shook hands with her captor and explained it by saying they were treated well and all their needs were met, the civilians taken by Hamas are being treated far better than the Palestinian civilians being bombed by Israel right now.

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Oh god Peter you are such a fool.

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“ Professor” you are acting like a WOKE stoog and a morally bankrupt crony of the Palestinian Authority. You opining that only the left cares for Palestinians is wrong and illustrates your ignorance and partisan biases. By the way who are you to tell the Palestinians what to think and how to express their political opinions and goals? Typical leftist condescension and pandering-NO YOU DONT HAVE TO THINK OR PROTECT THEM GOR THEMSELVES!! It’s you who needs the help…your neurosis and lack of balance is repugnant.

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