O C F I T B L O G Legal I’ve Won an Argument about Israel I Wish I Hadn’t

I’ve Won an Argument about Israel I Wish I Hadn’t

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Over my 20+ years of blogging at Volokh, commenters have often questioned why I focused my attention on what I saw as unfair attacks on Israel, rather than on Israeli policies I disagreed with that might be obstacles to a future peace deal. My response was consistent: debates over specific Israeli policies were a sideshow. Israel’s harshest critics simply wanted Israel to cease to exist, and given that this goal could likely be achieved only via genocide, I chose to focus my attention on that. My commenters were also pretty consistent, arguing that I was being paranoid, that the vast majority of critics, even the harshest ones, wanted a two-state solution, not to eliminate Israel.

We have had something of a test of this debate since 10/7. Hamas is a terrorist theocracy with explicitly genocidal goals. It carried out a taste of those goals on 10/7, and its leaders promised to repeat those atrocities again and again until the “Zionists” were driven from Israel.

So whatever one thinks of Israeli policy, or Israel’s eventual response to 10/7, one would think, based on my interlocutors’ position, that critics of Israeli policy would nevertheless agree on one thing: Hamas must be deposed, one way or another. There is no plausible two-state solution with Hamas in power; the harsh critics are almost all self-styled progressives, and there is nothing progressive about Hamas’s policies toward freedom of religion, LGBTQ rights, women, militarism, antisemitism, and so on, nor its constant theft of humanitarian. Hamas’s rule in Gaza is essentially every Progressive’s worst nightmare.

Yet, ever since at least 10/10, when it became clear that Israel’s reaction to Hamas’s atrocities was not going to be to capitulate, the harsh critics have been all but unanimous in calling for Israel to essentially surrender (“immediate ceasefire”) with Hamas still in power, and have almost to a person not called on Hamas to surrender and abdicate. (And self-styled human rights organizations have felt free to make up human rights law, including contradicting their own past public positions in other conflicts.)

I have to admit that I underestimated the mendacity of these people. As much as I knew that hated Israel much more than they were concerned with the well-being of Palestinians, I didn’t imagine that they would be willing to run interference for, if not outright support, Hamas, certainly not after Hamas put its brutality and genocidal intentions on display for all the world to see. I would have expected something more like “immediate ceasefire, but the world has to work on replacing Hamas with something else.”

Of course, there are those who take the latter position, or the Biden position, which is to support Israel but be critical of specific wartime policies and the lack of a long-term plan. But the remarkable thing is that I have yet to see even this position among the harder left: “I wish Hamas would surrender and release the hostages, because that would be good for all sides, but since I don’t think it’s possible to get Hamas to surrender, I think Israel needs to desist for humanitarian reasons.”

Indeed, if you ask prominent folks on X, people who are complaining the loudest about civilian suffering in Gaza, “would you prefer the war go on, or that Hamas release the hostages and surrender,” basically no one is willing to say publicly that he or she would prefer Hamas to surrender. Israel losing is more important than ending civilian suffering in Gaza, than any sort of peaceful resolution of the conflict (which obviously requires an end to Hamas rule), than innocent hostages being released, or anything else. If you are a progressive and you find yourself carrying water for a truly reactionary, genocidal organization like Hamas, maybe it’s time to do some soul-searching.

The post I've Won an Argument about Israel I Wish I Hadn't appeared first on Reason.com.

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