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The West has a deviancy problem Our moral confusion is proving suicidal

(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)


March 21, 2024   5 mins

When and why did American life become so coarse, amoral and ungovernable? In his classic 1993 essay, “Defining Deviancy Down”, the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan offered a semantic explanation. He concluded that, as the amount of deviant behaviour increased beyond the levels the community can “afford to recognise”, we have been redefining deviancy so as to exempt conduct we used to stigmatise, while also quietly raising the “normal” level in categories where behaviour is now abnormal by any earlier standard. The reasons behind this, he said, were altruism, opportunism and denial — but the result was the same: an acceptance of mental pathology, broken families and crime as a fact of life.

In that same summer, Charles Krauthammer responded to Senator Moynihan with a speech at the American Enterprise Institute. He acknowledged Senator Moynihan’s point but said it was only one side of the story. Deviancy was defined down for one category of society: the lower classes and black communities. For the middle classes, who are overwhelmingly white and Christian, the opposite was true. Deviancy was in fact defined up, stigmatising and criminalising behaviour that was previously regarded as normal. In other words, there was a double standard at work.

But Krauthammer went further: he reckoned that this double standard makes us feel good. A society must feel that it is policing its norms by combatting deviancy. And once we have given up fighting it in one section of society, we move to concentrate on another.

This sociological pathology is now pervasive, contributing to the “soft bigotry of low expectations” that forms part of modern identity politics. And, as foreign policy becomes increasingly entangled with the culture war, this pathology has now extended to a new terrain. The result is that the application of progressive moral double-standards is now seen at the level of geopolitics, most specifically over the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. We have produced a discourse in which deviancy is defined up for Jews and Israel, and down for Arabs and Muslims.

Immediately, for instance, it was forgotten that the greatest display of deviancy in this conflict came from Hamas. More than anything, October 7 illustrated in a single day how swift the descent from civilisation to barbarism can be. On that day, the heinous acts themselves were manifested in the massacre of innocent, unarmed and totally unprepared civilians. These were young people at a music festival, many of them peaceniks. Family members were shot, stabbed and mutilated in front of one another. Women were raped, homes were burned, and the perpetrators revelled in their acts. Their GoPro cameras were set to record, for they knew large audiences at home awaited that footage.

Celebrations ensued, not only by Palestinians but also by many Arabs, Muslims, and fellow travellers on Western university campuses. Top university administrators displayed a shocking level of moral confusion in response. The three Women of the Ivies could not even take courage before Congress simply to say: “This is not who we are. We condemn this.”

The ensuing demonisation of Israel for waging what is historically a standard siege, and the relentless calls for a ceasefire, have followed. And these calls have been so effective that now Israel’s great allies in the UK and the US are twisting Israel’s arm to concede. But even without the appeasement of a complete ceasefire, we know full well that it is only a matter of time before Hamas and her helpers reorganise and repeat the atrocities of October 7. We know it because this has been Hamas’s pattern. Attack, provoke a retaliation, complain of disproportionality. Then acquire the world’s sympathy, and negotiate ceasefire, aid, and the time to plan the next attack.

“It is only a matter of time before Hamas and her helpers reorganise and repeat the atrocities of October 7.”

This is only possible due to several common false assumptions about the conduct of this conflict, all of which define deviancy up for Israel and down for Hamas. Chief among these is that Islamic terror is only a monstrous creation of the Israeli Frankenstein. We are frequently told that if Israel continues to pursue her mission to destroy Hamas, then Israel will create the next generation of Islamists and terrorists, not just in the Middle East but across the globe. As a result, Israel should agree to a ceasefire and hold to it even if, as would certainly be the case, the other side does not. But this assumption is plainly false. The overwhelming evidence of the last 75 years is that Islamist extremism is unaffected by what Israel does or fails to do. The extremists are created in the classrooms, sitting rooms, and neighbourhoods of Muslim and Arabs countries, in madrasas and mosques — many of which are half a world away from Israel.

Nevertheless, we are still enjoined to blame Israel for Islamism, with the crimes of the former often personified by its prime minister. A standard refrain has developed that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s actions and failures were the cause of Hamas’s savage attacks. But whatever the truth behind the portrait of Netanyahu as the belligerent, uncompromising, democracy-undermining monster, the trope shifts attention away from the core issue, which is the belligerent uncompromising Palestinian intransigence backed by the Islamic Republic of Iran. Since 1947, the Arabs have remained fixed in their determination to eliminate the state of Israel, in part by preventing peace from ever coming about. Were the failed peace attempts in 1973, 1993, 1995, 1998, 2000 and 2008 all the fault of Netanyahu? Was no Arab agency involved? Take the Oslo Accords and their follow-on at Camp David in 2000. When Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin offered “a separate Palestinian entity short of a state”, and an agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, PLO leader Yasser Arafat left the negotiating table.

In a similar vein, we are often told that the classic human dynamic of war and peace does not apply to this conflict. The standard dynamic is that the winner takes all so that a lasting peace can occur. But this logic has never been applied to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Up until 1967, a conflict was waged called the Arab-Israeli war. And Israel won that war, defeating the Arab countries in 1967, and then again six years later. Only at that point was its name changed to the Israel-Palestinian conflict and the territories Israel had acquired in defending itself against aggression were declared to be “occupied” and therefore illegitimate. In war, if there is no winner, and no truce holds, then peace can never prevail.

Amid this moral confusion, though, there are rays of hope. Within a few hours of the October 7 massacre, the Moroccan regime condemned the violence against civilians. The UAE called the event “barbaric and heinous” and demanded that Hamas immediately release the hostages. This is not nothing and it shows that one source of the rot — Gulf funds for indoctrination of Palestinian children — may one day dry up. The United States should help this along by applying the same standards of conduct to Muslims and Jews, the same standards of statecraft to Arab nations, Iran, and Israel. Regimes like the UAE’s need to be helped and rewarded. Conversely, when Arab states promote the death cult of political Islam, they must be condemned and shunned.

Everything eventually ends, but not all things must end in failure. In the West we have a choice to uphold our moral vantage point, or let it crumble away. But in doing so we should recognise that every lowering of standards to appease extremist Arabs and Muslims is racism dressed up as compassion and disdain masquerading as kindness. It is moral confusion and it is dangerous — suicidally so.

***

Adapted from Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s 2024 Russell Kirk Lecture delivered at the Heritage Foundation, Washington, D.C., and co-sponsored by Alliance Defending Freedom, on March 12, 2024.


Ayaan Hirsi Ali is an UnHerd columnist. She is also the Founder of the AHA Foundation, and host of The Ayaan Hirsi Ali Podcast. Her Substack is called Restoration.

Ayaan

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Arthur King
Arthur King
4 months ago

After Oct 7, anyone who does not side with Israel is evil.

Lennon Ó Náraigh
Lennon Ó Náraigh
4 months ago
Reply to  Arthur King

After the man-made famine in Gaza, any non-party to this conflict who picks one side or the other seriously needs their head examined.

John Riordan
John Riordan
4 months ago

That’s crap. It is obvious which side is right, and anyone who thinks it isn’t Israel is either stupid or bigoted.

Lennon Ó Náraigh
Lennon Ó Náraigh
4 months ago
Reply to  John Riordan

That’s also crap. Anyone who thinks there is a right side here – after the mass rape, the mass starvation, the bombings, the rockets – is also either stupid or bigoted.

John Riordan
John Riordan
4 months ago

You are simply wrong. No matter what you say here, it is nevertheless possible, and in fact easy, to decide on whose side a morally aware and intelligent person should be.

That’s not you evidently, but it’s a free country and you are welcome to do the ideological equivalent of sitting in your own sh*t if you so wish.

Lennon Ó Náraigh
Lennon Ó Náraigh
4 months ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Well, if things keep up, the only thing left for the people in Gaza to eat will be their own sh*t, and if you are OK with that as a morally aware and intelligent person, good luck to you.

John Riordan
John Riordan
4 months ago

You see? Sitting in your own sh*t will eventually stop you thinking straight.

Lancashire Lad
Lancashire Lad
4 months ago

Those in Gaza have brought this on themselves by supporting a regime (Hamas) whose intention is to destroy Israel. If they stopped doing so, they could live in peace.
Any moral argument beyond that is redundant; or at best, immoral.

Katja Sipple
Katja Sipple
4 months ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

Yes. Although as the article mentions Gulf money has been used to brainwash the young, and to turn them into martyrs who will blow themselves up to murder Jews. There are some truly disgusting videos on YouTube where Palestinian children boast how they want to kill Jews, and cannot wait to give up their lives to destroy Israel. I am not going to provide links, but anybody can search and find this content. Gazans voted for Hamas, the majority continues to support Hamas, and many still refuse to believe that the 7 October terrorist attack and massacres took place. I have run out of empathy for these people. You make your bed, you must lie in it.
Golda Meir once wrote this memorable paragraph: “When peace comes we will perhaps in time be able to forgive the Arabs for killing our sons, but it will be harder for us to forgive them for having forced us to kill their sons. Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us.”

Daniel Lee
Daniel Lee
4 months ago

It’s incumbent upon functioning adults to recognize that there are degrees of rightness and wrongness, and the moral requirement is to support the side in any conflict which has more right in its column. Israel has sought peace for decades while first the Arabs generally and then the Palestinians specifically rejected every opportunity in favor of continuing its war on the Jews. If you believe Hamas was justified in its intentional unprovoked barbarism aimed with horrific individual focus at peaceful Israeli men, women and children, then be honest enough to say so. Spare us this mock moral equivalency designed to condemn anything Israel does and support anything Hamas does.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
3 months ago

Who initiated this particular conflict in the most brutal imaginable way? After spending years if not decades building up armaments, military tunnels etc. using billions of dollars of aid for the purpose. Hamas did. Israel is acting as every other state would act in defending itself and attempting destroying a would be existential threat (not to commit “genocide” which it could have done decades ago had it wished to).

The “pro Palestinian” (supposedly) side essentially deny that intentionality forms any part of a morality. Of course it does. There would be no dead citizens Israeli or Palestinian were it not for the 7th of October attack.

Ryan K
Ryan K
2 months ago

as I head from a wise sage young women in keffiyah at Columbia U this AM “this is a false narrative”

Katja Sipple
Katja Sipple
4 months ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Agreed. My head and my moral compass are perfectly fine and don’t require examination from some quack. I know precisely which side I am on: I stand with Israel.

Doug Israel
Doug Israel
3 months ago
Reply to  Katja Sipple

In the American Democratic Party exactly two people have said this, Senator John Fetterman and Rep. Richie Torres. The rest are on the other side because to not say what you say here is to be on the other side. The side of evil and depravity.

Arnnei Speiser
Arnnei Speiser
4 months ago

Man made famine ? You might be right. Those Arabs calling themselves “Palestinians” have CHOSEN to portrait a self inflicted famine.
They could have elected NOT to attack the peaceful Jewish settlements on the 7th October, on their Holi Day.
They could have decided NOT to massacre, rape, behead, mutilate, burn… babies, kids, women, old and young people.
They could have decided NOT to grab and abduct live people and dead bodies.
They could have STOPED the animals who did the above. They could have RETURNED the abductees and arrest the animals. But, no…they did not. Instead, they cheered the cowards who rallied the mutilated bodies of the raped kids in the streets of Gaza.
Gaza, is the same as the biblical story of Sodom and Gomorrah. There is not one innocent among them.
Not ONE Arab in Gaza stood up to say: Stop what you are doing. This is inhuman. Not ONE of them tried to help the tortured abductees.
They should suffer the wrath of God. They should NEVER forget what they have done!!

H W
H W
3 months ago
Reply to  Arnnei Speiser

How would we know what any person in Gaza said or did not say ?

Deb Grant
Deb Grant
4 months ago

Has anyone demanded a ceasefire from Putin?

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
3 months ago
Reply to  Deb Grant

Excellent point!

Jules Anjim
Jules Anjim
4 months ago
Reply to  Arthur King

Such a sententious assertion is not worthy of so much praise (if we can take upvotes to represent that). Anyone who took the side of those murderous fanatics against Israelis on Oct 7 is severely wanting on multiple fronts; anyone who feels conflicted about what is happening to civilians on the ground in Gaza since that event is necessarily wrestling with some complex moral issues. If what you actually intended to convey was that anyone who does not support the fight against Hamas is allowing evil to flourish, that is perhaps more a defensible proposition. If you are inferring evil in those who don’t accept that the end justifies the means, then you are on somewhat shaky ground.

Sean G
Sean G
4 months ago
Reply to  Jules Anjim

That’s to put it very lightly — too lightly. According to reports I’ve read at The Intercept and The Guardian, the IDF has intentionally destroyed medical equipment, and that’s in addition provoking famine and killing and maiming tens of thousands of innocent people. So to say one is evil for not automatically siding with Israel is not merely standing on ‘skaky ground,’ it’s just plain bonkers.

Mark 0
Mark 0
4 months ago
Reply to  Sean G

Not suggesting the guardian make things up BUT we do know where they and their readership’s sympathies lie (yes of course for balance I concede the telegraph and the times are the opposite). However it has been shown that even the BBC have been taking fur granted death toll figures from partisan pro Palestinian (or even Pro Hamas in some cases) sources… So where has this information about the IDF come from? They are governed by Israeli and international law (because they work for a democratic state and not, for example, a theocratic dictatorship)

Sean G
Sean G
4 months ago
Reply to  Mark 0

Yes, of course we should always check our sources. I happen to trust The Intercept, while acknowledging they have a viewpoint. Anyway, whether committed by soldiers of a ‘democratic state’ or not, an atrocity is an atrocity. If I’m getting bombed I frankly don’t care who’s doing it — I just want it to stop. As for international law, it’s meaningless if a country refuses to cooperate with the ICC, or isn’t a signatory to begin with (USA, Russia, etc.).

Deb Grant
Deb Grant
4 months ago
Reply to  Sean G

If you’re getting bombed, you just want it to stop. Yes, Israel wants it to stop. That’s why they have a defence force. What mindset believes that hiding terrorists and their weapons in a hospital isn’t deviant and won’t end in tears for innocent people?

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
4 months ago
Reply to  Sean G

Israel is getting bombed on a daily basis thanks to Hamas mates Hezebollah but this is not reported in the UK
There are thousands of Israelis displaced internally but we never hear a word about them. There have been repeated terror attacks in Israel by Arabs but this is also never reported. Do you think you are the only person who wants this war to stop?

Doug Israel
Doug Israel
3 months ago
Reply to  Mark 0

I would suggest that the Guardian makes things up. Or cites sources that it knows make things up. It’s actually laughable. It’s like citing Der Sturmer as accurate during the Holocaust.

Addie Shog
Addie Shog
3 months ago
Reply to  Mark 0

The Guardian is a rag, full of lies about Israel.
I spent a very pleasant evening on the tel Aviv beach and there were all kinds of people there havng a good time. Two days later I read an article in the guardian about that exact same beach called, “Israel’s apartheid beach”. Total fabrication.

Timothy Baker
Timothy Baker
4 months ago
Reply to  Sean G

If it is in the Guardian it must be right. IF any other country had invaded a neighbour, slaughtering civilians, including the elderly and infants, raping women and girls and then kidnapping more civilians, the Guardian would be leading the outcry. But because those civilians were Jewish the Guardian is unconcerned.
Hamas knew that by kidnapping Israelis they would provoke the IDF into invading Gaza, but rather than put on uniform and fight they hide behind civilians and use hospital as bases, against all the rules of war.
The best result for the ordinary people of Gaza would be the total defeat of Hamas and to be allowed to rebuild a peaceful prosperous country without Hamas subjugating them and forcing them back into thr Middle Ages.

Mark 0
Mark 0
4 months ago
Reply to  Timothy Baker

Kinda my point yes… I’m sure if you hide like militaristic cowards in civilian hospitals, then some equipment is going to get destroyed when the real soldiers you poked show up to make you stop. But this isn’t the line the guardian takes…

Eleanor Barlow
Eleanor Barlow
4 months ago
Reply to  Sean G

You shouldn’t believe what you read in the Guardian about Gaza. The vast majority of its writers support the Palestinians, and believe everything that Hamas puts out. The claim that 30,000 Gazans have been killed doesn’t identify how many of these were Hamas terrorists – they make it sound like they are all women and children. The Guardian challenges nothing, nor does it hold Hamas to account for refusing to provide shelter from bombing raids. The people who don’t side with Israel may not be evil – but even at best they are gullible idiots, refusing to recognise how they are helping Hamas to spread its propaganda and lies.
When it comes to setting lower standards of behaviour for Arabs and Muslims, the Guardian has form. It regards Muslims in particular as an oppressed minority and therefore entitled to a free pass whatever atrocities Islamists choose to visit on those they regard as infidels. It also has no hesitation in the wholesale deletion of any comments below the line which its moderators think are too supportive of Israel.

Andrew F
Andrew F
4 months ago
Reply to  Eleanor Barlow

Great post, but small correction.
You should NOT believe whatever Guniard posts.
OK, maybe sport results (even then check for transgender bias).

Andrew F
Andrew F
4 months ago
Reply to  Sean G

They are not innocent, they voted Hamas in and celebrated raping and killing of Jewish women and children.
There are no different to Germans who voted for and supported Nazi regime.
USA and Britain bombed German cities and quite rightly so.
Only antisemites require different standards from Israel.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrew F

I suppose you could say that they are innocent in that they are not responsible for the education they receive. Hamas ARE without doubt responsible for that education and use it to relentlessly indoctrinate the population with anti-semitism.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
3 months ago
Reply to  Sean G

I find it intrinsically unlikely that the IDF has deliberately destroyed food dumps or medical supplies.

What people say it and write down isn’t everything, but it is a notice of their intent. The IDF has policies to protect civilians; Hamas has radical anti-semitic policies openly stated.

Cantab Man
Cantab Man
4 months ago
Reply to  Jules Anjim

Estimate of German civilian casualties during WWII: 1,500,000 to 3,000,000.
Estimate of American civilian casualties during WWII: 12,100.
Estimate of British civilian casualties during WWII: 67,200.
Ask any military general of the day (or today) and they’d say (a) war is messy, (b) war is never ‘proportional’ for civilians, and (c) the winner always takes all in war and then decides the fate of the losers who wait upon their knees. 
As Allied Forces took Germany at the end of WWII, civilian casualties were to be minimized, yes, but not to the detriment of achieving the military aims that were necessary to win the war. Hitler and his Nazi thugs could not be allowed to win – then or at any point in the future. They had to be utterly destroyed.
No one ever said, “German civilians are being disproportionately hurt and killed in Germany relative to their British and US civilian counterparts. So let’s all put away our guns, go home and give Hitler permission to reinforce his stronghold somewhere in Germany with his remaining Nazi forces.”
Yet within frenzied minds of Hamas apologists, this is considered a reasonable path for how Israel should treat the duly-elected Government of the Gaza Strip (that is, Hamas) today.
The Government of the Gaza Strip unilaterally attacked a neighboring independent State during peacetime and committed mass extinction events while also engaging in Crimes against Humanity.  By so doing, they proved to the world that they are an existential threat to Israel and Israel is responding in kind – a similar wartime response would be expected from any other State had they been attacked in a similar manner.
We can all mourn civilians deaths while, at the same time, recognize that the Government of the Gaza Strip is fully responsible for all of those deaths. And that Israel must win for its own survival.

Andrew F
Andrew F
4 months ago
Reply to  Cantab Man

One of the best posts on Unherd.
Ever.
You have one downvote.
Can that person explain why he disagrees with that post?

Jules Anjim
Jules Anjim
4 months ago
Reply to  Cantab Man

Which is entirely more nuanced than a facile proclamation that anyone who doesn’t side with Israel is evil

Gayle Rosenthal
Gayle Rosenthal
3 months ago
Reply to  Cantab Man

Why isn’t this post at the top ? It has more upvotes than the first post.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
3 months ago
Reply to  Cantab Man

Brilliantly and clearly put!

Deb Grant
Deb Grant
4 months ago
Reply to  Jules Anjim

The end never justifies that sort of deviant means. Ever. It allows evil to flourish

Put simply – fundamental Islamic jihad has screwed up the world since 9/11/2001. It has halted real progress in improving the lives of people in countries where geography makes life harder.

Obadiah B Long
Obadiah B Long
3 months ago
Reply to  Deb Grant

Actually, since the destruction of Carthage in 698 CE. Continuously.

H W
H W
3 months ago
Reply to  Arthur King

Norman Finkelstein is a Jewish expert on the tragic history of Arab-Jewish conflict and the son of Holocaust victims. Check out his analysis.

Addie Shog
Addie Shog
3 months ago
Reply to  H W

He’s a bitter and twisted man.

Stephen Abrahams
Stephen Abrahams
3 months ago
Reply to  Arthur King

Sadly, the entirety of everything that has occurred since the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, is being ignored by everyone who has decided to line up on one side or the other. That something is the basis upon which Israel came into being.
So, the first issue is how and why the state of Israel was created and the basis of that decision. How many of those who have commented on the latest bout of lunacy have delved into the murky history of the creation of the Israeli state?
Only those who are determined to disbelieve documented history can claim that the Holocaust never took place. That it did and was preceded for centuries by lesser forms of societal persecution, was the basis of the global guilt which was utilised by those behind the Balfour Declaration which led to the opportunist utilisation of land taken from the Ottoman Empire during WW1 and the reneging of promises given to the Arab nations for their assistance in the defeat of the Ottomans.
That, in essence, is one of the reasons behind the refusal of the Arab nations to accept a ‘gifting’ of land by those whose acquisition of it was as illegitimate as the creation of Israel by a world which had become desperate to assuage its guilt for past crimes against the Jewish people.
That it has led to a religious determination to refuse to accept the legitimacy of the creation of Israel. A determination founded on a religious belief on the absolute supremacy of the Islamic faith which supports barbarism equal to that instigated by the crusades in the Middle Ages.
And the point of this comment is to underline the complex history behind the creation of Israel and to question the justification for its creation at that time and in that place, together with the sheer lunacy of the religious beliefs which are utilised to bolster the ever increasing madness.
The complex history includes the geopolitical importance of Israel as a nation capable of acting as a facilitator for the Western national oil industries which has been particularly important for the USA, following the agreement that the US$ should become the global reserve currency, with the resulting requirement for the trading in oil to be conducted using US dollars. That largely explains why Israel and the USA have retained such a close political relationship.

T Bone
T Bone
4 months ago

Ayaan is a generational thinker. You could stack her life experience, courage, bravery and intellect against anybody.

Lennon Ó Náraigh
Lennon Ó Náraigh
4 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

She has unwittingly demonstrated the folly of mass uncontrolled immigration in this piece. Such immigration involves the importation of values which undermine western civilization. Using mass starvation as a “standard siege tactic” might be OK in the Horn of Africa where Ayaan Hirsi Ali comes from but it has not been acceptable in the West for a long time.

Lancashire Lad
Lancashire Lad
4 months ago

That’s an utterly despicable and bankrupt argument. Anyone equating AHA with the conditions of her origins (and precisely why she sought to escape them) should be not only ashamed of themselves, but seek help.

Katja Sipple
Katja Sipple
4 months ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

You are right that it is a despicable comparison, but his statement contains a kernel of truth–albeit probably not in the way he intended! The mass import of non-western peoples and values has indeed caused great friction and tension. This will only get worse as our societies have not only lost the will to enforce assimilation and integration, but also the belief that our values and our way of life are something to protect and to fight for. In a society where anything goes, all will go all too soon. We are well on the way, and the divisive role of the Left who is always looking for victims whom they can guide in the most paternalistic and top-down fashion (again this runs counter to their equality arguments which are a big load of rubbish), and whom they can use to topple the status quo shan’t and can’t be underestimated.
Several years ago, there was a flurry of dystopian novels that flooded the book market, and I remember thinking to myself that this might be one sign of things to come: the dissolution of society, of social cohesion, the rise of depression, anxiety, chaos, anarchy, and ultimately war.

Lancashire Lad
Lancashire Lad
4 months ago
Reply to  Katja Sipple

Yes, that’s a fair comment with which i’d largely agree.

T Bone
T Bone
4 months ago
Reply to  Katja Sipple

That’s because people don’t know how simple it is to pick apart a Marxist narrative. All they do is Conflate Some with All and All with Some. It’s a Motte/Bailey bait and switch meant to confuse or in Marx’s words “Mystify.”

The Mystification is that they argue for Group Rights by using the Western preference to treat people as individuals as both a shield and a sword. They don’t actually plan on treating people like individuals but they know you do. So there’s a double standard built into the way they argue. You’re never on an even playing field against a Marxist. They grant themselves Equitable Arguing Rights.

Andrew F
Andrew F
4 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

Yes, it is true.
But arguing with Marxist, or Neo-Marxists vermin is loosing proposition.
Franco and Pinochet show us the way.
Only good Marxist (or Neo-Marxist) is dead one.
You can’t reason with vermin you need Rentokill.

Studio Largo
Studio Largo
4 months ago
Reply to  Andrew F

I agree with you, attempting to argue with these dogmatic imbeciles is self-defeating. As is holding up murderous despots like Franco and Pinochet as the antidote to their ideology. I lived in Spain during the last 5 years of El Caudillo’s reign and take it from me, actual fascism in practice ain’t pretty.

Andrew F
Andrew F
4 months ago
Reply to  Katja Sipple

Yes, this is existential threat to the West.
UK was 99% white in 1945.
It is 82% white now.
You don’t have to be statistical genius to see that in 50 years, at current rate of immigration and birth rate of all the low IQ savages UK imports at ever increasing numbers, white people will be minority.
Anyone who believes that would create better society is mad.
Welcome to Pakistan or African (any country is shite) country.
The sooner whites fight back the better.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrew F

Sorry, but this is not the kind of language I came here for to hear. There are enough other media out there where your input will be appreciated.

Katja Sipple
Katja Sipple
4 months ago

The Left has been advocating for uncontrolled mass immigration from the Third World for decades with the goal of undermining western civilisation. You reap what you sow. Israel was attacked on multiple occasions, Israel won, and now the Arabs don’t like the results of what they started. Perhaps they should have thought things through before they attacked a sovereign state. You will be surprised what other things the West is going to see and experience in the coming decades — thanks in no small part to misguided leftist ideology.

Dave Weeden
Dave Weeden
4 months ago

Can you tell us what tactics the West now considers acceptable during a siege? And who gets to decide what is acceptable in the West, and what isn’t? A lot of people (myself included) found the invasion of Iraq unacceptable, but that didn’t stop a coalition of Western states from carrying it out. I suspect (but don’t have the figures to prove) that a small majority of voters in the West find all means of warfare unacceptable except in self-defence (and for a minority, not even then).
Being a poor student of African history, I’m not aware of any sieges on the Horn of Africa. The last siege in Europe (not counting the war in Ukraine) was in Sarajevo. But then again, maybe the Balkans don’t count as part of the West.

Michael Wright
Michael Wright
3 months ago

Utter Rubbish – setting aside the contemptible and blatantly racist slur against AHA – one of the bravest and most clear-sighted women in the World – there is the fact that what you tendentiously and misleadingly label “mass starvation” – i.e blockade of an enemy state in wartime – is and has been an accepted norm of warfare throughout history, including the modern period. The Western Allies instituted a total blockade against Germany in both World Wars. This brought much hardship to the populations of both the neutral and occupied countries and to the German Civilian population, not all of whom, it is obvious, could be regarded as complicit in Nazi Crimes, But it was clear to everyone other than Nazi apologists that the blame for that suffering lay with those who had planned and initiated a war of aggression, with genocidal intent, namely the Nazi Regime.
In the case of the blockade and subsequent storming of the Gaza, the responsibility of Hamas for ALL the suffering and death since 7th October is imho even more clear-cut and self-evident than in the case of the Nazis in 1939. Indeed the Nazis come out of the comparison better on almost every possible heading – that is not to mitigate or seek to reduce in any way the unspeakable crimes of the Nazis but simply to underline the sheer depth of depravity of Hamas and their supporters. The Nazis, though it was clear from the outset they would be cruel and brutal conquerors, concealed the full scope and horror of their genocidal project and carried it out to a great extent in secret. They did not announce it openly and exultantly to the whole world. Nor did they arrive at the point at which they felt emboldened to put the Final Solution into full effect until some two and a half years into the War, To the extent they felt the need to prepare the ground for some time before doing that, and that when it did take place, it was done in secret and never as the openly avowed policy of the State – that the deportations to the Death Camps took place under the threadbare pretence that the victims were merely being taken for “Re-Settlement” in the East : to the extent they thought it necessary to maintain such fictions – it seems to have been because they thought that, even among the most pro-Hitler section of the German Civilian Population there had not been that radical dismantling of all residual moral instinct that would bring them to the point that they would openly approve the mass murder of the Jewish Population of Europe and the other categories of innocent victims.
Now compare the actions of Hamas and the reaction to them on the part of their supporters in the Gaza The atrocities of 7th October – the mass beheading of babies the raping of women’s corpses, the burning of people alive in their homes were lovingly and meticulously documented and recorded on body cameras by those who carried them out. The images of these sickening crimes were broadcast to the population of Gaza who appear in almost every case not merely to have approved but to have exulted and gloried in them . Recall that these actions were carried out not against members of the Israeli Army or the militant settlers on the West Bank but against unarmed civilians, the great majority of them strong supporters of the Peace Movement. The helpless terrified kidnap victims, many of them elderly or young children were beaten spat on and otherwise abused by the exultant mob in Gaza as they were dragged through the streets to the Hamas dungeons and torture chambers. The people who carried out these acts openly glory in them and the Hamas leadership has repeatedly announced its intention of repeating them again. Their avowed intention is simply to kill Jews.
Except when serving up lies for the consumption of gullible fools and the cretinized woke, those who have ruled in Gaza for a generation before 7th October do NOT bother to draw any distinction between Zionists and Jews. If you doubt this simply go to any of the YouTube sites on which you can watch the output of Gaza Children’s TV. The whole output – the whole day – is devoted to teaching children as young as 4 that their one aim and purpose in life should be to kill Jews. This is no exaggeration – just watch the output of Gaza Childrens TV which Hamas do not bother to conceal or deny.
I therefore rest my case – in the sheer evil of their intent and of their actions – actions they themselves have documented and in which they exult – Hamas are indistinguishable from the most depraved Nazis – such as Mengele or Barbie or the Dirlewanger Brigade of the SS. While in terms of their delirious support for those actions and effective complicity in them, the majority of the population of Gaza – on the evidence we have seen so far – are far more blameworthy and far less deserving of any mitigation of their guilt than all but a minority of the most fanatical Nazis among the German Population under the Third Reich.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
4 months ago

Yet no one cares what is happening in Sudan, with upwards of 18 million people at risk of starvation.

John Riordan
John Riordan
4 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Islamism makes a pig’s ear of any place it touches. I’ve been a regular donor to Yemen for the last few years, which is another example where the Islamists don’t give a flying f**k what happens to the Muslims to have to live in with the consequences of Islamist politics. And, of course, the useful idiots in the West who support Islamism out of stupidity and ignorance, also don’t give a flying f**k about starving Yemenis either.

Gayle Rosenthal
Gayle Rosenthal
3 months ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Let’s call “Islamism” what it is …. Islam. Just plain and simple … Islam. It is not a religion. The sanctification of violence against Jews and kafirs, the jizya taxation of non-Muslims for being kafirs, the dhimi status of non-Muslims in Islam, and countless other “scriptures” in Islam nullifies its status as a religion. Governments around the world should define it as not a religion but instead a political ideology of domination and therefore illegal and unwelcome.

Eleanor Barlow
Eleanor Barlow
4 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Sudan isn’t fashionable, nor is it producing a constant stream of propaganda like Hamas.

Gayle Rosenthal
Gayle Rosenthal
3 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

And no one cared when Muslim Azerbaijan ethnically cleansed Christians from Nagorno Karabakh last year.

Matt Sylvestre
Matt Sylvestre
4 months ago

have produced a discourse in which deviancy is defined up for Jews and Israel, and down for Arabs and Muslims.- And there it is! I never had thought of things in this way but having heard it I can see it plainly
 Woke is just pathetic


Dennis Roberts
Dennis Roberts
4 months ago
Reply to  Matt Sylvestre

She may have a point in other debates but in the context of the current situation in Gaza –

“We have produced a discourse in which deviancy is defined up for Jews and Israel, and down for Arabs and Muslims.”

is a false equivalence. It is Israel, not Jews, conducting the war. Israel is a first world state and has a democratically elected government. Hamas is a terrorist organisation in charge of half an impoverished semi-state. Personally I would hope that we do hold democratically elected govts like that of Israel to a higher standard than Hamas, otherwise we are all in big trouble.

Mark 0
Mark 0
4 months ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

You’ve argued the same weasel-y argument the left always wheels out, that Isreal is not all Jewish, that “it’s the gov of Israel we are criticising, not Jews”. Why then has antisemitism risen across the world by shocking amounts?

Consider for a moment that France was led by a theocratic dictatorship that hated all English people, and stated that eradication of all English was a part of their mission. Consider also that they’d spent the last 20 years lobbing rockets over the channel and Dover and other towns on the coast, killing innocent British people at regular intervals. And that in October they paraglided in a load of bloodthirsty zealots who murdered 1200 people (including beheading babies), raped hundreds of women and took 200 hostages. Pretty sure most of the world would cheer on the British Army, the RAF and the Royal Navy as they mounted missions to find those responsible, kill or arrest them and stop it happening ever again. There would be no talk about ‘holding Britain to a higher standard’.

Why then is isreal different? I’ll tell you why: it’s because consciously or unconsciously there are a lot of people with antisemitic thoughts, and even if they claim to not hate Jews, they willingly go on marches every weekend organised by very antisemitic people.

Studio Largo
Studio Largo
4 months ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

So according to your higher standard, what would you have Israel do under the current circumstances? Yet another ceasefire with Hamas would just make a reprise of 10/7 inevitable.

Dennis Roberts
Dennis Roberts
4 months ago
Reply to  Studio Largo

It’s a difficult situation for Israel. Hamas using Gaza’s population as human shields makes them difficult, if not impossible, to deal with in this way without mass slaughter of civilians.

Perhaps Israel should have properly defended it’s border effectively and paid attention to its personnel (now mostly slaughtered) watching the border, who reported unusual activity apparently quite routinely in the months prior to the attack?

So now I’ve answered your question as best I can, perhaps you can answer mine – why do you think the standard of behaviour expected from a democratically elected Govt of a 1st world country should be no higher than that of a terrorist organisation (because that is all that I said in my earlier comment)?

Studio Largo
Studio Largo
4 months ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

Obviously a democratically elected government should be held to a higher standard than a cult of murderous psychopaths. Whatever Israel’s failures were security-wise, 10/7 left them with no other option but to eliminate Hamas completely. No one, including yourself, has come up with a viable option to this. As has been noted elsewhere, the Allies killed some 3 million German civilians during WWII. Should they have instead negotiated with Hitler? And does this mean they were no better than the Nazi regime?

Studio Largo
Studio Largo
4 months ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

Obviously, a democratically elected government should be held to a higher standard than a cult of murderous psychopaths. Whatever Israel’s security failures were, 10/7 left them with no other option but to eliminate Hamas completely. Nobody, including yourself, has come up with a viable alternative to this. As has been noted elsewhere, the Allies killed some 3 million German civilians during WWII. Does this mean that they were no better than the Nazis?

Addie Shog
Addie Shog
3 months ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

Of course Israel should have defended itself properly. October 7th was a colossal military, intelligence and political failure but it happened and how is Israel supposed to deal with it, especially now the abhorrent nature of its enemies has been so clearly revealed. Many Israelis believed that Hamas could be accommodated in some way but that fantasy has been well and truly demolished.

Katja Sipple
Katja Sipple
4 months ago
Reply to  Matt Sylvestre

The Left as a movement is incredibly paternalistic, and in the constant search for new victims whom the ideologues can guide to the righteous path, they are also very heavy-handed and hierarchical.They are the masters of othering. The next natural step is engaging in discrimination or racism of low expectations. The ulterior motive of the Left is to overthrow the status quo as it exists today in the West. The ulterior motive of Islam is also to overthrow the West, but not with the goal of creating a Leftist Utopia. Quite the contrary: lefties will be the first ones to quite literally lose their heads.
The working classes are not interested in woke ideology, and don’t identify with the modern Left, but the Left needs allies, and they pick them amongst those whom they classify as victims. For the Left, Jews in general and Israelis in particular are lumped together as white colonisers; it’s complete nonsense as Israel is a very ethnically diverse society and Jews come in all skin colours, but it serves the Left as a stereotype. Muslims have become the oppressed, the victims, which is interesting, because historically, and still today if we’re honest, Islam was all about conquering and colonising. Primary example: the Ottoman Empire. In the simple mindset of the Left: victims (Arabs, Muslims, etc.) = good; Jews (white, capitalists, oppressors) = bad.

Sayantani G
Sayantani G
4 months ago
Reply to  Katja Sipple

Well put. And this same trope of the Left- Islamist entente plays out in various other parts of the world including mine.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago
Reply to  Sayantani G

Self-soothing echoes that need to be constantly repeated to sound convincing: “The Left is the root of all evil…The Left is the root of all evil…”.
For one thing, The Left likes to generalise, otherise, and condemn. They ALL do it, hence their proven wickedness. QED.
*I nearlyï»ż forgot this point: THEY are all hypocrites.

Sayantani G
Sayantani G
4 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

I think you often wade into philosophical paradigms of a sweeping kind without appreciating context. Maybe you could be more appreciative of situations where the Left and Islamists have acted in close collusion. My context is especially in the historical background of the Partition of India which I am researching; and whose long shadow is cast till today in the subcontinent.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago
Reply to  Sayantani G

I do appreciate that, perhaps more than you can detect or acknowledge.
What I don’t like are crude generalities and broadbrush condemnation. Putting more negativity and meanness into the world in the name of truth or virtue or whatnot.
It seems worse to me when the person, like you, is intelligent, sincere, and fundamentally serious.
I hope your book does not become, on balance, a polemical screed. I fear it is and will end being that–despite your knowledge and ability. If that happens, you won’t be able to reach many who don’t already agree with you.
Or perhaps you are often just here to vent and hear from likeminded haters and survivors of the excesses of the Left. If so, fine. I hate the excesses and self-certain certitudes of the Left and Right.
But while I’m here, I’ll try not to let this website settle all the way into a safe space for those want to combat Left-wing bigotry and intolerance with some Right-wing, distorted mirror image of bigotry and intolerance.
Have a good evening.

Sayantani G
Sayantani G
4 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Your apprehensions about my writing – so definitive in their certainty also reflect your own preconceived notions.
I am indeed a disciple of Leopold Von Ranke and of reporting ” facts as they are”. In the context of identity politics whether in 1940s India, or perhaps other parts of the globe today, such facts often show politics to be making strange bedfellows.
Indeed I agree with you about bigotry and intolerance being a general problematic, and the polarising of sharp opinions whether of ” Left” or ” Right” to be an entirely unnecessary and reductionist direction.
However if we are to look at causation for such a phenomenon the identitarian Left perhaps stands more in the dock.
As a historian some of my favourite authors are of the Old Left- Michael Howard, Georges Lefebvre, Marc Bloch. There was a time when I hugely admired the writing of ICS officers like Michael Carrit who were secret Communists but nonetheless were idealistic individuals. I have a Substack piece on him which you can read if you wish.
( Borderline infatuation!)
So you are maybe a tad unkind to jump to conclusions about what I am writing- do await it- you maybe surprised.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago
Reply to  Sayantani G

I hope so. The extremes of the sociopolitical spectrum bend back toward one another. Perhaps we can agree that tyranny, bigotry, and intolerance are bad, wherever they land on some artificial left-to-right graph. I don’t have a preferred tyranny, a favorite extremism. Not yet anyway. I regard myself as “centre-left-centre”, but with certain traditional or culturally-conservative leanings.
I didn’t make an assumption really. I made an informed guess and issued an indirect warning, no doubt an unwelcome one. I’ll be happy to be surprised, even if it makes me look worse than I do in your eyes right now. I would not bother to challenge you in this way if I did not respect and have considerable admiration for you.
I regret that I have sometimes been rude or harsh toward you in a way that you have never been. I can’t seem to avoid that uglier side of myself 100% of the time. Your contempt is typically more refined and genteel than mine.
You seem like the sort of person who is–with notable exceptions I’m sure–here to teach but rarely to learn, nor engage in meaningful dialogue most of the time. Perhaps I’m wrong, or wrong enough, on that one too–but that’s Leftists for ya 😉

Sayantani G
Sayantani G
4 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

On the contrary I speak less here as I absorb more of what is said, and as I hardly travel to the West nowadays, I don’t think I can speak factually on the themes of the articles.
I do find some amount of lack of familiarity with events as they are in my part of the world. As also it’s history.
So if you find me intervening more on those topics it is because again my Rankean roots give me the factual backup to report on the ” events as they are”. I trust they value-add as most Westerners are possibly not getting a realistic picture.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago
Reply to  Sayantani G

Fair enough. As long as the Facts Themselves don’t have a pre-determined, ideologically-inflected outcome.
And that your tone doesn’t become too impatient or hectoring. (Just a preference, not trying to order you around–as if that would work!)
Very hard to see the lenses we are looking through, whether in a historiographical or more general sense.
Cheers.
*You’re quite right that I make too many assumptions, some of them quite ill-founded. I’ve made efforts to cut down on that but it’s a work in progress.
**And I most certainly think you make a valuable contribution to this website. I’d like to hear more about what you do like or approve of, at some point. I’ll leave you be for the time being. Please have the last word if you’d like.

Lennon Ó Náraigh
Lennon Ó Náraigh
4 months ago

If starving a population into submission is a “standard siege” – as it is, by historical norms, then the author must also accept, by the same historical norms, that the mass rape of the enemy population is also standard.

Jon Morrow
Jon Morrow
4 months ago

Except 400 tonnes of food was delivered yesterday.

Lennon Ó Náraigh
Lennon Ó Náraigh
4 months ago
Reply to  Jon Morrow

That’s 0.2 kg per inhabitant.

R.I. Loquitur
R.I. Loquitur
4 months ago

How much has been sent by the 400 million Arabs surrounding Israel? Why should Israel provide food to its enemies? An intelligent leadership would have prepared food stores knowing that a siege was possible. That is an intelligent leadership that cared about its populace, both characteristics, intelligence and caring, clearly lacking in Hamas. In a land of 75 IQs, 90 IQs are geniuses.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
3 months ago
Reply to  R.I. Loquitur

Hamas is not that stupid. Regarding intelligence: ideology and/or religious belief can defeat intelligence. But here the point is that Hamas just don’t care for their own people but rather use them as pawns, not unlike the Israelis they killed or abducted. Suffering is welcome as part of their propaganda scheme. With the help of credulous followers of their perverted death cult they keep installing the ideal of martyrdom in the minds of their youth.
Hamas˚ political leaders live safely and comfortably in their residences abroad, financed from money siphoned off international aid, the rest of which is used to build weapons instead of infrastructure. It is time to stop all financial aid to Gaza!

Addie Shog
Addie Shog
3 months ago

not really. From pictures it seems that Rafah has plenty of food. The aid is for the rest of the Gaza strip.

Mark 0
Mark 0
4 months ago

Perhaps Hamas could have a go at using the $Bns in aid they get towards building a self sustaining economy where they can grow or buy their own food, generate their own power, create jobs and welfare state etc? oh but yes, they prefer to spend it on weapons, digging tunnels and hiding amongst their starving citizens and it’s all Isreal’s fault

Charles Farrar
Charles Farrar
4 months ago

If you take October the 7th as the start of the problem sure you have a totally senseless act but the dispossession of the Palestinians has been going on for a hundred years or more ,for the avoidance of doubt I’m not sure how the situation can be resolved.I suspect an international coalition might be an answer but that will introduce its own problems.

John Riordan
John Riordan
4 months ago
Reply to  Charles Farrar

Your argument is an exercise in cherry-picking the dates: if you go back further it becomes clear that there is no such thing as an ancient right by Palestinians to regard the land of either Israel or modern-day Palestine as their own.

The other problem is that your argument assumes that the peaceful occupation of Palestine is somehow possible if only Israel would cease its militancy. But we know what happens when Israel does that: Israel gets attacked. So it is quite wrong to use the word “dispossession” in this context, as if Palestinians are a peaceful tribe wanting only to have their own state bordering Israel. They are dispossessed because they won’t stop waging war on Israel, and it is fatuous to imply that this is somehow not a consideration.

Sylvia Volk
Sylvia Volk
4 months ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Agreed, John. It’s also easy in all this tumult and shouting to forget none of the Islamic nations will open their gates to the Gazans.
Who blames Egypt for not opening the Raffah crossing and admitting them? Nobody, not in their hearts. (Well, maybe that is AHA’s ‘defining down’ argument in action. Again.)
Charles, I suppose one way the situation might be resolved is if the million-plus Gazans in Raffah stampeded the border crossing into Egypt and simply broke through. If they tried, they would succeed. If that border falls, would the remaining Gazans follow them into Egypt? To escape the war zone? I would, if I were them. But I’m not one of them and can’t comprehend them.

John Abeles
John Abeles
4 months ago
Reply to  Charles Farrar

Israel evacuated all Israelis from Haza in 2005 – how is that dispossession ? Israel ceded Sinai back to Egypt as part of the peace treaty between them- how is that dispossesion? Israel was attacked at its birth in 1948 by several Arab and as a result gained territory – how is that dispossesion? Israel has many times offered a Palestinian state only to be refused – how is that dispossession?

Cripes!

John Riordan
John Riordan
4 months ago

“But in doing so we should recognise that every lowering of standards to appease extremist Arabs and Muslims is racism dressed up as compassion and disdain masquerading as kindness.”

This should be on a plaque in every government building.

Eleanor Barlow
Eleanor Barlow
4 months ago
Reply to  John Riordan

It should also be included in the conditions of service of every public sector worker from top to bottom. And in doing so, replace ‘should’ with ‘must’.

Margie Murphy
Margie Murphy
4 months ago

I haven’t read this article yet. But Ayan Hirsi Ali alone is worth the price of admission. Looking forward to reading it later when I have time to digest.

Jim McDonnell
Jim McDonnell
4 months ago

Not everyone urging some degree of restraint in Gaza is unsympathetic to the Israeli cause. I, for example, firmly believe that Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and whatever other organized groups took part in the October 7 atrocities are criminal organizations that need to be, insofar as practicable, destroyed and prevented from having anything to do with the future of governance of Gaza. But for their own sake the Israelis have to be careful about how they pursue their objective. The more suffering among noncombatants they cause the more difficult it becomes for their allies to support them. Right or wrong, that’s just a fact of life. And at the moment, consternation about the pending attack on Rafah is perfectly justified because of the number of noncombatants who’ve fled other parts of the territory and are packed into Rafah like sardines. It might be the most densely populated place on the planet. The IDF will have to go into Rafah and do its thing and finish the war, yes, but PLEASE not before the noncombatants have been moved out to a truly safe area.

Tyler Durden
Tyler Durden
4 months ago

The Left thought they were being heroic in supporting so-called Palestinian liberation in the 1970s (but even then their Middle Eastern pals were slaughtering the innocent).
Now they are so morally redundant, the pair of them, that last October’s actions put human civilisation back centuries, ironically in some part through the use of video recording technology.

Paul
Paul
4 months ago
Reply to  Tyler Durden

Do you mean “repugnant”?

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago

“The overwhelming evidence of the last 75 years is that Islamist extremism is unaffected by what Israel does or fails to do. The extremists are created in the classrooms, sitting rooms, and neighbourhoods of Muslim and Arabs countries, in madrasas and mosques — many of which are half a world away from Israel”
A somewhat persuasive claim, especially when delivered in Ms. Ali’s forceful style. But I would like to hear more specific input from Muslims and Jews in Israel and elsewhere, from former and current extremists, and those who have interviewed them, etc.. Or at least see some more detailed and nuanced reasoning to support the claim. I’d be happy to follow relevant links from those who can provide them, even if you think I am on the side of evil itself for asking what I am asking.
To spotlight the current moment: I think the idea that the way in which Israel prosecutes this war will have no effect on future Islamist extremism–or potential lessening thereof–is tragically mistaken.
Is rejection of antisemitism exactly synonymous with support for any possible thing Netanyahu and Israel’s army do in Gaza–on whatever scale, for however long?
This comment board went low pretty fast. Please don’t automatically denounce my comments.

Vesselina Zaitzeva
Vesselina Zaitzeva
4 months ago

One of the many appaling examples that corroborate the points so precisely and eloquently made by Ayaan Hirsi Ali is the behaviour of all the (otherwise) rabid feminists.
There was deafening silence from their quarters about the atrocities perpetrated against Israeli women on October 7th.
At the same time, these feminists are extremely vociferous and very quick to condemn “misogyny”, “patriarchy” and “toxic masculinity” – existing mostly in their heads. They are also very active on such “prominent” issues like fighting for free tampons, because, according to their narrative, women paying some loose change for sanitary materials are victims of said “patriarchy”, “misogyny”, etc.
This is how they pick their battles.
Despicable behaviour!

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
4 months ago

They are leftists first and foremost. Whatever is in line with the current thinking of the cause is what they will support, even if it flies in the face of what they supported yesterday.

Vesselina Zaitzeva
Vesselina Zaitzeva
4 months ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Agreed. I would add another detail: leftists are constantly busy inventing new categories of false victims (first and foremost, presenting themselves as victims), while at the same time being completely heartless to the plight of the real ones.

Nancy Kmaxim
Nancy Kmaxim
4 months ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

If feminists could agree to actually support other women much could improve in the world. Unfortunately the case seems to be that only some women are worth bothering with.

Eleanor Barlow
Eleanor Barlow
4 months ago

Those feminists you refer to are socialists first and foremost – that means that their first loyalty is towards the savages, whose atrocities are glossed over because they are an ‘oppressed minority’ and therefore entitled to run amok even if it means harming women..

Vesselina Zaitzeva
Vesselina Zaitzeva
4 months ago
Reply to  Eleanor Barlow

Yes, exactly! That’s the leftist ideology: to cherrypick those who can be proclaimed ‘victims’ and to create artificial victimhood, at the expense of people undergoing real suffering and instead of solving real problems.

Danny Kaye
Danny Kaye
4 months ago

The “disposession” of the Palestinians of Gaza ended in 2005 when Israel uprooted its Jewish settlements and left, hoping it would be for good. Alas, left to their own devices, the Palestinians elected HAMAS, which used the billions Gaza received in foreign aid to turn it into a fortress from which to harass Israeli civilians with rocket fire. That is the start of the current problem. Israel blockaded Gaza to prevent the influx of arms – not very successfully, unfortunately – while at the same time treating thousands of Gazans in its hospitals and enabling tens of thousands to work and make a living in Israel. These workers provided maps and information to the HAMAS nuchba terrorists that attacked the kibbutsim on October 7. Israelis who volunteered to drive Gaza patients to the hospitals were among those butchered and captured on October 7. An Israeli enterpreneur, Eyal Waldman, who employed Palestinians tech workers in Gaza and the West bank and donated a wing to a Gaza hospital, lost his daughter, murdered at the Nova music festival on October 7.
It now becomes clear, hearing the laments of displaced Gazans about all they have lost, that life in Gaza was not so bad before October 7, that it wasn’t an “open air prison” after all. Will the devastation that are suffering now convince them to give up their dream of destroying Israel and to take a more constructive approach to their future? Not if the West’s moral confusion, so nicely exposed by AHA, prevents Israel from removing HAMAS from power in the whole of Gaza.

Mark 0
Mark 0
4 months ago
Reply to  Danny Kaye

Thanks, these are such sad stories and agree 100% with your assessment of Hamas. But this is counter to the ‘truth’ in polite society – imagine wheeling out your facts above at an Islington dinner party…it could get very fractious . Just bizarre.

Hans Daoghn
Hans Daoghn
4 months ago
Reply to  Mark 0

I suggest stop being so “polite”. I am going on the attack against my friend’s politeness. It will shock them. They need to be shocked more than I need them as friends.
Stand up for what is right.

Moshe Simon
Moshe Simon
4 months ago
Reply to  Danny Kaye

The latest poll conducted by independent Palestinian pollster Shikaki shows over 70% support for Hamas in both the Gaza Strip and Judea, Samaria and East Jerusalem, and over 90% denial that atrocities were perpetrated by Hamas on October 7th. These are the people whom President Biden has declared are totally innocent and have nothing to do with Hamas, and to whom he wants to provide a state from which they will repeat massacres like that of October 7th, as Hamas has promised.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago
Reply to  Moshe Simon

How much support for H*tler do you think you could have registered in a poll of Germans conducted in Dresden, during the bombing of Dresden?
Who would speak out under the circumstances? I’d like to know how often other members of their household, and their neighbors, are out of earshot in these polls you’ve cited.
Those are revolting numbers no doubt. Yet those who have some level of blameworthy sympathy for a violent cause are not precisely the same as its active perpetrators. But even taking them at face value means 30%, over a hundred thousand Gazans, are against Hamas.
The question posed is black and white and Gazans, and Israelis, are living in a fraught reality.
Many more Jewish Israelis are likely to say they support every war move that Netanyahu makes than actually do. The implied alternative is “I support the enemy, during a war”.
None of this is meant to imply that the level of support in not alarming and sickening under any circumstances.
*I will look have looked into the source you named. Appalling numbers no matter how you interpret them.
The whole page provides varied and detailed polling:
https://pcpsr.org/en/node/969

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
3 months ago
Reply to  Moshe Simon

Biden is not exactly a thoughtful, intelligent or moral man. Why would anyone take his thoughts and words seriously ?

Mark 0
Mark 0
4 months ago

Like many, whilst wholly sympathetic with Israel’s position, its international mistreatment, the sadness at such barbaric attacks in October etc, I was pretty ignorant of the history. So looking this up, it turns out that:

a) initially the UN agreed to both a Jewish and Islamic state in the palistinian area, given the large population of both there
b) but almost immediately after isreal had been formed, 5 or 6 of it’s neighbours mounted an attack on the new state, a war that isreal won (as per the article above) and rightly kept hard fought for land after
c) because of this sudden turn of events, the original proposal for two states fell by the wayside (which seems a large own goal if you ask me)

On this alone the claims that isreal are evil occupiers of land not theirs seems pretty antisemitic, they were fighting for their very existence (lest not forget just a few years before many isreali Jews were being killed in gas chambers). This is aside from the modern problems of Hamas, endless terrorist attacks on isreal etc

It just baffles me that people can be so partisan, and how many useful idiots there are around. Yes as of today it’s a complex issue but the way isreal is painted internationally has zero compassion for any of their plights and struggles or indeed point of view

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
4 months ago
Reply to  Mark 0

Regarding point c – there was never a desire for two states among both parties. Only the Jews were interested in that. The Muslims simply want the Jews dead or gone, and will settle for the latter since the former is a tough task.

Mark 0
Mark 0
4 months ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Thanks for response… With this in mind then it just seems so pointless. Hamas will never be able to kill all Isrealis and Israelis are never going to all leave, so Hamas obviously intends to spend forever killing and being killed (or getting their citizens killed) for no reason at all except for hatred of another ethnicity/religion.

The most bonkers thing is that it’s not even a consistent hatred as not all Isrealis are Jewish! Insanity.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
4 months ago

When and why did American life become so coarse, amoral and ungovernable?
As to when, it began gradually, then continued suddenly to where crime goes unanswered and anyone daring to point it out is more likely to be arrested than the perpetrator. See: the guy who subdued a violent subway patron, and the homeowner who complained about squatters.
The why is part of a bigger picture and the devolution of what is considered normal. Be it attacks on democratic norms such as free speech or things like the family and letting children grow up without adults ready to carve them up or the fixation on racializing everything, the point is to sow chaos, discord, and disunity. And it’s working.

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
4 months ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

As to when… there are many factors. But in recent history, and if you’re looking for an immediate cause: it happened when people began lying about facts to make themselves feel better… specifically, facts about the history of the world, the history of race relations, and why things are the way they are.
If you believe light-skinned peoples’ moral failings are the cause of dark-skinned peoples’ achievement gap (in the US, in the UK, in the Middle East, anywhere), then you will tell so many factual and historical lies, to yourself and others, that you end up undermining the very principles of courtesy, rationality, equality, etc. that underlay your initial desire to improve things for everyone.
‘Racism’ has become – much like ‘utility’ in economics or ‘fitness’ in evolution – a concept so flexible, so ambiguous, that when deployed to explain everything… it ends up explaining nothing.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

So you’d acknowledge that historical bigotry and oppression are part of the explanation for some current differences according to race, in The Americas in particular?

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
4 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

<shrug>
Sure, why not? One would have to know what was at stake in saying bigotry and oppression are ‘part of the explanation’ to know whether to endorse it or not. Is the assertion an expression of historical curiosity or (more likely) intended to justify changes in legal and social policy, social attitudes, etc.?
To be clear, I certainly acknowledge the existence – once much worse than it is now, but still present to some extent – of racism, classically understood (i.e., let’s say, unfairly imputing to individuals negative characteristics broadly associated with racial groups). Racism is bad, folks.
But it’s not the result of some distinctive moral failure among white people. While obviously cycles of causation are complex, racism is the result of the racial achievement gap, not the cause of it. And pretending the achievement gap doesn’t exist, won’t make it go away.
What will make it go away? Quite simply, the way to end racism is to eliminate the achievement gap. And the way to end the achievement gap is (among many other things) to get folks to stay married, to stay in school, to avoid petty criminal activity, etc. I don’t think any of this is a secret… it just steps on progressive pieties about ‘all families are equal’, or false notions of ‘racial authenticity’, or the like. There are some ways to live that are better for people than others, and by and large, they are the ways successful societies have encouraged for centuries – and hence violate progressives’ cherished beliefs about the malleability of human character, the inherent goodness of mankind, the perfectability of human societies, etc.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

Fine. Just checking back in on your current views after our heated exchange about a year ago.
“once much worse than it is now, but still present to some extent“.
Yes. I’d even add that the bigotry or disadvantage can go in any direction. But I still think that white males are the most privileged as a group, on average, in most walks of life–a key exception being present-day academia, which I just escaped from. And I’ve been a white guy for over 50 years.
It’s true that you can’t save people from themselves for long, at the individual or group level. I still think some less finger-wagging, but hand up, hand-outstretched-in-brotherhood approaches are needed, whether in Appalachia or Baltimore. I’m not talking about repeated, unconditional handouts or weepy empathy here. We have enough of that already; hard-heartedness too.
To whomever would call himself a Christian: Do the will of Christ as you understand him in your heart.

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
4 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Wow, you’ve got some memory. Apologies I don’t recall our prior heated exchange. Pleased this one seems perfectly friendly!

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

Indeed. The previous one started out that way too, in my uncertain memory. I think I was more of the instigator. Have a good weekend.

R.I. Loquitur
R.I. Loquitur
4 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

“I still think that white males are the most privileged as a group, on average, in most walks of life–a key exception being present-day academia, which I just escaped from.”

Ah, so theres white privilege for everyone except you? How typically liberal.

John Tyler
John Tyler
4 months ago

This is written wonderfully and argued cogently.

“ In war, if there is no winner, and no truce holds, then peace can never prevail.” This is so true it should never have to be said! An unholy alliance of extreme Left and Islam knows it but pretends it doesn’t, while we’ll-meaning people mistake sentiment for love and genuinely, naively think peace can only happen when everyone happily forgives their enemies and unilaterally gives up violence.

Point of Information
Point of Information
4 months ago

AHA is using rather a broad brush here. Iranians are not Arabs, and Arab countries take a rather wide variety of views on Israel (Egypt, Saudi Arabia) as well as having quite a range of levels of democracy or otherwise.

Not wanting to be a pedant about nomenclature, but “political Islam” also lumps many different groups together. Any ideology can develop violent extremists (transactivists get quite a rap on UnHerd, in other media “far-right” is used to describe both Georgia Meloni and Anders Breivik as though they are equivalent). While I understand why AHA doesn’t limit her criticism to just Wahhabism – other flavours of Islamic extremism are available – moderates exist within most of the different forms of political Islam, and, as with every other ideology, they should be encouraged. In Palestine there are those who argue for a two state solution – “peaceniks” exist on both sides.

David George
David George
4 months ago

“political Islam” also lumps many different groups together”.
That’s true enough but there is a commonality, if not a direct association, among Hamas, Isis, Boko Haram etc. Their ideological roots are with The Muslim Brotherhood and their aim for a Caliphate dictated by the Koran and it’s interpretation. Notions of democracy, freedom and fairness not wanted.
AHA recently sat down for a chat about Islamism (and related issues); the part on Islamism (political, fundamentalist and militarist Islam) is very interesting, especially given her experience with the MB when she was young. She draws a clear distinction between Wahabism and the Muslim Brotherhood offshoots.
https://youtu.be/QnctRKUQtwg

Andrew F
Andrew F
4 months ago

Great article.
Although, when author describes deviance scale in the first part of the article it was not obvious to me what she meant (it is my fault, to me it only becomes clear later).
But her main point that only antisemitism can explain clear double standards displayed by all the woke leftists of bbc, other MSM and usual supporters of islamowascist like Corbyn and Galloway and their followers stands.
Why don’t they protest against suppression of Tibetan, Uighurs or Kurdish independence movements?
Closer to home; what about Basque or Catalonians or Corsicans?
Why this preoccupation with useless, terrorist so called “Palestinians”?

Ex Nihilo
Ex Nihilo
4 months ago

The perfidy of the Muslim world is obvious to me in observing how millions of Syrians found refuge in Europe from the Assad war. And yet, with all the vast resources of the Gulf States, which of them has stepped up to open its borders to similarly rescue the Gazans? Why not? Thousands of non-muslim guest workers are recruited by these countries from around the world. Why do they not open their arms to their fellow Muslim Gazan brethren instead? Is it because they value the opportunity to spin the suffering of the Gazans to the advantage of their anti-Western agenda more than they care about the fate of the Gazans? Is it because they perceive the Gazans to be trouble-makers that they fear would destabilize their countries? Is it because there actually exists in the western cultural tradition a peculiar generosity contrary to the settler-colonial myth and saliently non-existent in the Muslim world?

Merrill Preska-Steinberg
Merrill Preska-Steinberg
4 months ago

I feel like as humans we have trouble reconciling the idea that somebody can be a victim but can also be entirely in the wrong. I think maybe it’s because people want to think that they are special and good and that if they were born into those circumstances they wouldn’t have turned out that way. Also, my vague understanding of war is that the reason war is bad is because you can’t control it. You will kill innocent people, and too much unwillingness to kill innocent people will likely result in losing the war. Which is what made the Oct 7 attacks particularly evil, because war was inevitable. So Hamas was essentially sacrificing tons of Palestinian civilians for their cause.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
4 months ago

This may be an appropriate moment to recommend Jonathan Glover’s recent book ‘Israelis and Palestinians: from the cycle of violence to the conversation of mankind’.

Douglas Proudfoot
Douglas Proudfoot
4 months ago

Ceasefires with Hamas in the past led directly to the Hamas October 7 attacks, where Hamas fought hand to hand with babies in daycare and gang raped young girls before murdering them. Since we’ve already done the experiment, and know that ceasfires with Hamas don’t work, we need to try something else. How about killing all of the terrorists Israel can find in Gaza, no matter how many human shields Hamas surrounds themselves with? Perhaps a lot of damage in Gaza, with a lot of destroyed tunnels, will demonstrate to Palestinians that killing Jews is expensive. Since all Gaza already hates Jews, what does Israel have to lose?

We all know Biden might lose Michigan, and Sunak may need Muslim votes in the UK, but why should Isael care about Muslim voters in the US and UK more than protecting its own citizens?

Deb Grant
Deb Grant
4 months ago

Everyone should read this article before they opine about Israel v Palestinians. It offers clarity and balance. Even more so because it’s written by a black Muslim woman.

There’s a separate, equally, if not more important topic, summarised by the phrase: “the soft bigotry of low expectations,” which characterises the moral dilemma dragging western societies downward.

Gayle Rosenthal
Gayle Rosenthal
3 months ago

The events of October 7 remind us that the Zionist project had a mission to protect Jews, and rescue Jews from persecution. Jews were refugees. Zionism did not have a colonialist purpose. Zionism, which began in the 1800’s with a migration of Jews to Ottoman Palestine in 1881, was a response to the pogroms in Russia and the generalized persecution of Jews in Russia. Land was purchased in Ottoman Palestine from Arab landowners and royalty. Immigration of the Jews to Ottoman and British Mandate Palestine was legal – Jews had no place else to go. No other countries would admit them. After the establishment of Israel, another 900,000 Jews were expelled from Arab lands – more refugees – and where was the only place that would have them ? Israel.(Reference lectures by Haviv Rettig Gur)
We Jews identify as a strong nation now, but 75 and 150 years ago our survival was in doubt. Even WE tend to forget how damaged and pathetic our remnants were in 1944. And the fact of our damaged condition and our pathetic weakness during the war of Independence is a lasting humiliation to the Arabs who tried to destroy Israel and who failed. And failed again in 1967 and in 1973 and in all other wars waged against us. The Arab shame and humiliation is made much worse by Islam itself. Islam’s politically hegemonic commandments cannot be satisfied by losing to the lowly Jews which their Quran calls “pigs and monkeys”. Islam has some reckoning to do.
There are many reasons that Israel is not a settler colonialist project but the reality of the status of Jews as refugees returning to an ancient homeland is the first and foremost reason it is a legitimate nation state. Want to talk about Palestinian nationhood ? Why didn’t Jordan grant it to the “West Bank” between 1948 and 1967 ? Because Islam and Arabs don’t think in terms of nations or states. They think in terms of Empires and Kingdoms.
Furthermore, as ragtag refugees from well over 20 different European, Asian, Arabic and Slavic countries, there is no Imperial nation from which to colonize. Gazan and West Bank Arabs need to learn the facts of history and deal with their own self-inflicted humiliation which is the sole source of their misery. The Jews did not take land from them and they are not oppressors. If they want to live in a Muslim land they should go back to Arabia. Nekuda !

Alan Hawkes
Alan Hawkes
3 months ago

It is 80 years this October that allied troops crossed into Germany. The intent was to fight into the capital and remove the cancer that was Hitler’s regime. The newsreels of the time showed German towns and cities as devastated as Gaza is now. Where were the marchers in London demanding a ceasefire?