I spoke with DW, the German news outlet, about the "grim chain of consequences" known as the War on Terror, and how Israel's devastation of Gaza follows the template. PLUS: Amalek in Gaza
Edited by Sam Thielman
OVER THE WEEKEND, as Israel began its invasion of Gaza, Chris Caurla of Germany's international broadcaster DW (...is it no longer called Deutsche Welle?) published an in-depth interview with me about what the War on Terror is and how Israel is writing a sequel. I'm grateful to him for the opportunity to delve deeper into the different aspects of the comparison than my Nation column last week permitted. This is nearly 20 minutes of discussion, much longer than is typical for a piece of deadline journalism, so I hope it sheds some light on why following the 9/11 template is so dangerous.
The DW video is here:
Thanks again to Chris for the conversation.
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AS I WRITE THIS, the Israel Defense Forces have pushed into Gaza City. Al-Jazeera reports that the IDF cut off the main north-south road, although, for whatever it's worth, they quote a Hamas spokesman saying the IDF operation was an incursion that didn't advance beyond the city's outskirts. I learned long ago that it is folly to attempt a tactical analysis of a battlefield thousands of miles away. We'll see what the map shows as time goes on. Haaretz reports that the IDF's objective in reaching the city is "to cut off Hamas forces in the northern Gaza Strip and the city of Gaza itself from the rest of the strip."
The reported death toll in Gaza has surpassed 8,000 people in just over three weeks. On Sunday, the nongovernmental organization Save The Children said that the 3,257 children killed by Israel's reprisals for October 7—a number surely higher now—is "more than the number killed in armed conflict globally—across more than 20 countries—over the course of a whole year, for the last three years." I can think of no greater argument for an immediate ceasefire and the recommitment to negotiating a return of the Israelis whom Hamas took hostage.
But another is that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu invoked the Amalekites in announcing the first wave of the invasion. For those unfamiliar with this story from Exodus, the Amalekites attacked the Israelites as our ancestors, weary from thirst, wandered in the desert after deliverance from Egypt. I am anything but a Torah scholar, so I'll try to stay in my lane, but the point of the invocation is to justify an indiscriminate annihilation of Gaza. That is a chilling rhetorical step down the road to what credible Holocaust scholars already see as a genocidal campaign.
The Amalekites are the template for the implacable foe of the Jewish people, the wicked who assaulted the Israelites when they were at their weakest. Yet Israel is indisputably the stronger power here. I will never be able to forget a video I saw, as Gaza was under its communications blackout on Saturday, of a minaret communicating not the call to prayer but a collective cry of fear and abandonment: There is no one left but you, O God, they are using their strength against us, but we believe in your power over them.
Who is acting as the Amalekites in this situation?
THERE WAS AN ATTEMPTED POGROM IN DAGESTAN ON SUNDAY. I have no other words for this riot at the airport in Makhachkala, a Russian city on the Caspian Sea. The rioters were looking for Israeli passengers—that is, Jewish people, innocent people simply trying to travel, people who have no culpability for the massacres in Gaza—to lynch. The Guardian reports that police "stood by" as the mob rushed into restricted areas of the airport demanding officials tell them where the Jews were. That hits about all the historical notes I can think of in terms of the Jewish experience in the Greater Russian Empire.
Pogromists need no excuse, but this war is clearly endangering the lives of Jews in the name of saving us. The madness needs to stop.
I HAVE A DEADLINE FOR A COLUMN RELATED TO ALL THIS, so I'll end this edition with some reading recommendations and short disconnected thoughts. (Paid subscribers will receive my forthcoming column in their inbox, so please upgrade to a paid subscription if you haven’t already.)
An anonymous Biden administration official told the Washington Post that the administration leaned on Israel to restore communications in Gaza. Once again, it is proven that the U.S. has substantial influence over Israel in the course of conducting this war. And once used, the administration implicates itself in all the ways it is not acting to stop the war—on top of all the ways the administration greenlit it and supports it materially.
There is no motive at this time, but a Muslim pediatrician in Conroe, Tex., Talat Jehan Khan, was stabbed to death on Saturday in the common area of her apartment complex. The anxieties of American Muslims are palpable. Khan's murder, so soon after that of 6-year old Wadea al-Fayoume—and again, a motive is premature—will surely send them spiking once again.
Around the world this weekend, there were massive protests against Israel's assault on Gaza. Sami al-Arian, whom FOREVER WARS recently interviewed, wonders if we're witnessing "the final blow to the American-led global order." I don't think I agree, as there is a material reality undergirding that order, and I don't think anger over Gaza unravels it. The supremacy of the dollar remains intact for now. But read Sami's piece.
Jack Mirkinson writes on Bernie Sanders' shameful reluctance to call for a ceasefire: "This is one of those moments that defines a politician’s legacy. It is that important. And Bernie Sanders is failing."
Reporters Without Borders finds that Israel "explicitly targeted" the vehicle of slain Reuters journalist Issam Abdallah on October 13 as he covered the northern border clash with Hezbollah: "It is unlikely that the journalists were mistaken for combatants, especially as they were not hiding: in order to have a clear field of vision, they had been in the open for more than an hour, on the top of a hill. They were wearing helmets and bullet-proof waistcoats marked 'press.' Their car was also identified as "press" thanks to a marking on the roof, according to witnesses."