Friday, December 29, 2023

Magdi Jacobs on the Hamas sexual violence on October 7, 2023

Magdi Jacobs on Twitter, on the massive NYTimes report ("'Screams Without Words': How Hamas Weaponized Sexual Violence on Oct. 7") on the rape of women by Hamas on October 7, December 29, 2023 (link to her thread:

The @nytimes just published the most comprehensive report on the sexual violence of 10/7 that I have seen. It confirms what many have already suspected: that sexual violence against Israeli civilians did not only occur, but was used as a method of war.

Before I continue: This conversation is not about Israeli's military strategy/goals. Or its history. This is a conversation about an event that will have historical ramifications. It is not a conversation about justification, past or present. It is only a conversation about truth.

 Hand-to-hand combat against civilians is a rare kind of "first strike" in warfare. 

Something that has gotten terribly elided--if we care about history or truth--has been the overall nature of the attack by Hamas on 10/7. It was an attack where the primary victims were civilians. Hand-to-hand combat against civilians is a rare kind of "first strike" in warfare.

The swift violence of such an event. . . it is not something seen frequently outside the context of genocide  

This attack also happened very quickly, something people don't seem to have noticed. In the space of a few hours, over a thousand people were butchered. The swift violence of such an event. . .it is not something seen frequently outside the context of genocide.

It is important to sit with all of this--the true nature of 10/7--b/c so much truth has being lost, here. 10/7 was one of the most brutal--and swiftest--attacks on civilians in our modern history. Now, within this context, we must consider the sexual violence that was committed.

The primary question since 10/7 has not been whether or not sexual violence occurred, but whether sexual violence was used as a method of war. The preponderance of evidence has long weighed in favor of the latter. The Times' article makes it even clearer.

Every indicator is that the violence was systematic  

When determining whether sexual violence has been used as a method of war, investigators will look at the scale & scope: was the violence limited to one area & one group of men or was it much broader in its scope? The answer is: every indicator is that the violence was systematic.

The Times interviewed witnesses and reviewed visual evidence--photo and video--from at least 7 sites on 10/7. This entails that Hamas militants, in the space of a few hours, are alleged to have committed several *separate* acts of sexual violence across multiple sites.

This single fact would be of great interest to the International Criminal Court or to other bodies interested in war crimes. Several militants committing assaults across several different sites in a short time entails some level of planning/permission to engage in sexual violence.

To believe otherwise would entail asserting that, within the space of 6-12 hours, different men came to music festival, to a military base, & then to different kibbutzim & other sites & decided, independently of one another, to commit these crimes against women.

Trigger warning: I am trying to not be graphic, but here I do have to give some detail: Both genital mutilation & gang rape are alleged to have occurred at different sites. Different weapons were used for the mutilation. There are also accounts of broken bones across sites.

I'm not a war crimes investigator or expert in international humanitarian law. But, broadly speaking, this is how people answer the Q: "was sexual violence used as a method of war?" Was there planning? Was it systematic? Are only the soldiers culpable or are others culpable too?

I have many thoughts on this story and our reaction to it, but I am taking a break now. I encourage everyone to be faithful to the truth first & foremost. No justice has ever come from denying the truth.


The last paragraphs of the New York Times article are on the children of Gal Abdush, who was raped and murdered by Hamas terrorists, and her husband Nagi, also murdered by Hamas.

The couple had been together since they were teenagers. To the family, it seems only yesterday that Mr. Abdush was heading off to work to fix water heaters, a bag of tools slung over his shoulder, and Ms. Abdush was cooking up mashed potatoes and schnitzel for their two sons, Eliav, 10, and Refael, 7.

The boys are now orphans. They were sleeping over at an aunt’s the night their parents were killed. Ms. Abdush’s mother and father have applied for permanent custody, and everyone is chipping in to help.

Night after night, Ms. Abdush’s mother, Eti Bracha, lies in bed with the boys until they drift off. A few weeks ago, she said she tried to quietly leave their bedroom when the younger boy stopped her.

“Grandma,” he said, “I want to ask you a question.”

“Honey,” she said, “you can ask anything.”

“Grandma, how did mom die?”

Thursday, December 28, 2023

Pro-Palestinian group "Within Our Lifetime" supported the Hamas attack from the beginning on October 7, 2023


On October 7, 2023, the very day of the Hamas attack on Israel, the pro-Palestinian group "Within our Lifetime" posted this statement on their Instagram page, and it's still there: "By any means necessary. With no exceptions and no fine print." From the very beginning they supported murder, rape, torture, and kidnapping of Israeli and foreign civilians. I hadn't realized how vile this group was. 

And they're planning another rally for tomorrow in New York City, with a slogan that echoes the name that Hamas gave to their terrorist attack - "Flood New York for Palestine." One of the cosponsors is "Jews Against White Supremacy" - in this case a more accurate name might be "Jews against Jewish existence."

They are calling to "end all attacks on our people." Well, if their heroes, Hamas, had not attacked Israel on October 7, Israeli soldiers would have remained on the Israeli side of the border, and there would be no Israeli planes bombing Gaza. (This is not an endorsement of the Israeli tactics in Gaza, which have now killed over 21,000 people, most of them civilians just as innocent as the people murdered by Hamas).

On October 7, this is what "Jews Against White Supremacy" posted on Instagram:

According to them, the Hamas terrorist attack was "decolonisation in action."

The Hamas attack was "Land Back" and decolonisation in action. 

No, it was rape, murder, torture, and kidnapping in action. 

And then, three days later, on October 10, they post that "There are absolutely devastating scenes in Gaza right now as Israel is annihilating the Palestinian people." And they supported, and continued to support, the Hamas attack on Israel, they urged "by any means necessary" from their safe places in the US, Canada, and other western countries - knowing that they would not suffer from the utterly devastating Israeli attacks on Gaza. When will it occur to them that the unconscionable course of action they supported and still support would do nothing but lead to death and destruction? This is "performative activism" at its worst.

Friday, December 15, 2023

Trying to find hope - Psalm 121

Psalm 121 in Hebrew

English translation

Psalm 121

A Song of Ascents.

1 I lift up my eyes to the hills—
        from where will my help come?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
        who made heaven and earth.

3 He will not let your foot be moved;
        he who keeps you will not slumber.
4 He who keeps Israel
        will neither slumber nor sleep.

5 The Lord is your keeper;
        the Lord is your shade at your right hand.
6 The sun shall not strike you by day
        nor the moon by night.

7 The Lord will keep you from all evil;
        he will keep your life.
8 The Lord will keep
        your going out and your coming in
            from this time on and forevermore.

Thursday, December 14, 2023

"Go back to Europe, they said."



Antisemitism in Oakland, California


Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Shoshkhe Engelmayer - "How do you explain 'hostages' to a child of four?"

The Israeli artist Shoshke Engelmayer has been producing at least one image a day about the war, usually about the hostages. She made this one yesterday and posted it to her Facebook page.


Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Rutgers University suspends SJP chapter

Rutgers University has just suspended its chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine. 

From the JTA article:

A dean’s letter to the group stated that it had violated several university policies, including those forbidding “disruptive or disorderly conduct,” failure to comply with university directives, improper behavior by campus guests, and “inappropriate use of space.” It referenced student complaints that members of SJP had disrupted “classes, a program, meals, and students studying.”

The letter also noted “allegations of vandalism” at the business school that corresponded with the group’s programming; a recent Instagram post from the group stated that SJP was “occupying the business school.” Neither the letter nor a university spokesperson elaborated further on the particulars of the incidents that led to the group’s suspension, but a Nov. 30 open letter from local Jewish federation CEO Dov Ben-Shimon said that Rutgers SJP and other student groups “have called Hamas’ massacre of Jews in Israel ‘justified'” and added, “Their actions against Jewish students on campus have moved far beyond microaggressions.”...
Michelle Jefferson, associate dean of students and director of student conduct at Rutgers’ New Brunswick campus, wrote in her letter to SJP that “there is a reasonable basis to conclude that the continued activities by the student organization pose a substantial and immediate threat to the safety and well-being of others, or the suspension of organizational activities is needed to maintain preservation of the University.”

On October 12, the Rutgers SJP chapter issued a statement decrying the participation of the President of Rutgers in a vigil organized by Hillel to mourn the Israelis and citizens of other countries murdered by the Hamas terrorists, using these words: "His statement endorses Rutgers Hillel’s vigil mourning Israeli settler deaths." This is, of course, a lie and a smear. Those killed by Hamas were Israelis and citizens of other countries living within the borders of sovereign Israel, not in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, or the Golan Heights. SJP makes clear with this statement that they consider all of Israel to be "occupied" and therefore illegitimate. 

I'm glad that Rutgers suspended SJP, and hope that this becomes a permanent ban.

"While we abhor any targeting of civilians...."

On October 26, 2023, the "faculty of the Cornell Coalition for Justice in Palestine" published a letter in the Cornell Daily Sun. The letter began, "The faculty of the Cornell Coalition for Justice in Palestine stand for Palestinian human rights, sovereignty, liberation and the right to resist." What does the "right to resist" consist of?

The third paragraph reads: "While we abhor any targeting of civilians, our collective represents a diversity of views about the tactics of the Palestinian struggle. Yet we unite in unwavering opposition to apartheid and to the ongoing occupation, displacement, degradation, collective punishment and slaughter of Palestinians."

"While we abhor any targeting of civilians...." This is apparently as far as they can go to indicate any displeasure at the murder of over 1,200 people on October 7 by the Hamas terrorists. They don't mention the taking of hostages, much less murder or rape. 

What are the "diversity of views about the tactics of the Palestinian struggle"? No details are given, but I suspect that the diversity includes those who don't care about deliberate attacks on Israeli civilians, or perhaps even applaud it. (Remember Russell Rickford's words a week after October 7 at an anti-Israel rally in Ithaca). 

The letter has no signatories - none of the faculty concerned revealed their names. 

Friday, December 08, 2023

November 18: Hadash demonstrates in Tel Aviv for a ceasefire

Hadash, the leftist Arab-Jewish party in Israel, held a protest calling for a ceasefire on November 18. The demonstration was very small, according to the Times of Israel:
Dozens of people gather in Tel Aviv for an anti-war protest calling for a ceasefire and diplomatic solution to the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.
The protest, organized by the mostly Arab Hadash party, was allowed by police after several similar gatherings were refused permits over the past few weeks.
Protesters carry signs in Hebrew, Arabic and English calling for an end to the war, with slogans reading “In Gaza and Sderot, children want to live”; “An eye for an eye and everyone is blind”; “No to occupation and siege, yes to peace” and others.  
No Palestinian flags can be seen in photos online of the event.

Here's a photo of some people in the demonstration:

People demonstrate against the Israel-Hamas war in Tel Aviv, November 18, 2023.
(Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
Hundreds gather in Tel Aviv to protest for immediate ceasefire

The Ha'aretz article on the protest says that several hundred attended.
Hundreds gather in Tel Aviv to protest for immediate ceasefire 
Hundreds gathered in Tel Aviv's Charles Clore Park in central Israel for a Jewish-Arab demonstration led by Israel's Hadash party. The protest calls for the immediate ceasefire and an end to the war. Protesters say they support an "all-for-all" hostage deal where all Israeli hostages are brought back in exchange for "Palestinian political prisoners unlawfully held in Israel."
Hadash MK Aida Touma Suleiman spoke at the protest, saying: "They will not silence us. We won't let the human voice against the war be unheard, so here we say: we are against the war. From the first day, we said that we oppose the atrocities and crimes committed against civilians, and when civilians in Gaza die from bombings - we will condemn these crimes as well. You will not prevail because there is also a voice in Gaza, and there are also citizens and children in Gaza."

Dana Mills, former Peace Now director, declared, "Enough of the war, enough of the murder and massacre in Gaza. We will not be silent or calm until all the prisoners return home safely.'" 

Friday, November 17, 2023

Ithaca Commons: antisemitic slogans on posters of Israeli hostages and anti-Israel rally in late November

Apparently, according to the Cornell Daily Sun, all of the posters of Israeli hostages were taken down from the Commons a few days ago. (Although I had noticed a few were still left up on light poles outside of the Commons). Before they were taken down, antisemitic graffiti was drawn on some of them, including "Free Palestine," "Still free" and "Israel is Hitler." 

An anti-Israel rally is planned for tomorrow afternoon on the Commons, sponsored by a variety of organizations including the "Ithaca Communist Party" (Who knew? There's also a nifty little graphic from them on the poster, sporting an updated hammer and sickle). The poster for the rally accuses Israel of intentionally killing Palestinian children. No notice, of course, of the Hamas massacre of civilians on October 7, or of the Israeli hostages still held by Hamas. Other sponsors include Cornell SJP, Tompkins County SURJ, Ithaca Jewish Voice for Peace, Ithaca DSA, and the Party for Socialism and Liberation - in short, the far left in Ithaca. 

National SJP lauded the Hamas invasion of Israel on October 7.

(The PSL supported the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014, supported Bashar Assad in Syria, denies that the Syrian regime used chemical weapons against its own citizens, and thinks that the North Korean regime has been unfairly targeted - see the Wikipedia article about it:

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

National Students for Justice Palestine approved of the Hamas massacre of civilians and calls it "resistance"

I just saw the statement that National Students for Justice in Palestine issued as part of their "tool-kit" right after the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7, 2023. They entirely approved of the Hamas terrorist attack on civilians that left over 1200 dead and hundreds taken hostage. I'd been looking for this statement in order to prove that SJP supports Hamas and wants Israel to be destroyed. Anyone who supports SJP should know that this is their position.

Here's the statement:

National Students for Justice in Palestine is calling for a national day of resistance on college campuses across occupied Turtle Island and internationally this Thursday, October 12th, 2023. On the 50th anniversary of the 1973 war, the resistance in Gaza launched a surprise operation against the Zionist enemy which disrupted the very foundation of Zionist settler society. On the morning of October 8th (sic, the attack was on October 7), the Palestinian resistance stormed the illegitimate border fence, gaining control of the Gaza checkpoint at Erez, and re-entering 1948 Palestine.

Referred to as Operation Towfan Al-Aqsa (Al-Aqsa Flood), the resistance has taken occupation soldiers hostage, fired thousands of rockets, taken over Israeli military vehicles, and gained control over illegal Israeli settlements. In the West Bank, the Palestinian resistance has called for collective action by the Palestinian masses amidst attempts by the Zionist entity to lock-up the West Bank. The Palestinian resistance has called for mass protests in every Palestinian city, and Palestinian workers have called for a general strike. In

Gaza, Israel has launched an onslaught of airstrikes. As of Sunday, Oct 8th at 12pm ET, Israel has murdered 320 Palestinians and left over 2200 others injured. Despite this, our people choose resistance over negotiated cages on our homeland. Fearlessly, our people struggle for complete liberation and return.

Today, we witness a historic win for the Palestinian resistance: across land, air, and sea, our people have broken down the artificial barriers of the Zionist entity, taking with it the facade of an impenetrable settler colony and reminding each of us that total return and liberation to Palestine is near. As the Palestinian student movement, we have an unshakable responsibility to join the call for mass mobilization.

National liberation is near— glory to our resistance, to our martyrs, and to our steadfast people.

In addition to this statement, and some information about organizing, the toolkit also included templates for two posters - one showing a captured Israeli tank with people holding a Palestinian flag standing on it, and one showing an outline of a hang glider, like the hang gliders that Hamas used on October 7 to attack Israeli civilians. 

Saturday, November 11, 2023

Amazing story of four Bedouin men from Rahat who rescued dozens and evacuated their cousin in Be’eri


Four Bedouin drove from Rahat to evacuate their cousin in Be’eri; they rescued dozens
Amazing seven-minute video from coexistence group Have You Seen the Horizon Lately tells the chilling story of how a kibbutznik cyclist was saved from Hamas by a cafeteria worker’s family

Four Bedouin men from Rahat saved dozens of Israeli lives on October 7 while deployed by their uncle to evacuate his son Hisham from Kibbutz Be’eri.

As described by Ismail Alqrinawi in an intense 7-minute video produced by the coexistence organization Have You Seen the Horizon Lately, his uncle pointed at his nephews at about 6:45 that Saturday morning and said, “You four, you’re going to bring back my boy.” They immediately got in a jeep and began what normally was a half-hour trip — but this one was amid the Hamas onslaught that killed 1,400 people, mostly civilians, throughout the area and decimated the kibbutz’s population.

On their way to Be’eri they entered the area in which the Supernova rave was under attack, near Kibbutz Re’im, and found people running from the party in immediate danger.

“Our conscience wouldn’t allow us to leave them there, under fire. Before we went to evacuate our cousin, we helped many other people who were at the party… we evacuated at least 30-40 people who were at the party,” Alqrinawi said. Some 260 partygoers were slaughtered by Hamas terrorists; dozens were taken hostage.

With each carload of frantic partygoers that they ferried to a safe location, the four men said they hugged them, asked if they were okay, gave them water to calm them down, and washed their faces. One of the cousins made sure that they called their parents.

Then they’d go back to rescue more people.

Recalling the horrors and crying himself, Alqrinawi says he is hit with flashbacks of the piles of corpses at the party and in the nearby fields.

After hours of saving dozens from the party, the four men decided to enter the heaving gunfire near Be’eri and attempt to evacuate their cousin, who was hiding in bushes with a local resident near the kibbutz where he worked in the cafeteria.

The resident, Aya Meydan, had set out early for her regular Saturday morning bike ride. A triathlete, Meydan was set to meet up with her biking partner Lior Weizman, who was biking in from Sderot. Hearing the massive rocket barrage overhead, she checked in with her husband, Omri, who was at home in the kibbutz with their three children. Omri asked her to return home. He wasn’t clear on the details, but it was dangerous to be outside.

Friday, November 10, 2023

Posters of Kidnapped Israeli Hostages appear on the Ithaca Commons


Today I was driving past the Ithaca Commons and saw some of the posters of kidnapped Israelis put up on light poles and other surfaces, so I stopped to take pictures of some of them. You can see that these posters were pasted over an earlier set that had been torn down by people who don't appreciate being confronted by the actions of Hamas terrorists on October 7, 2023.

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Cornell student Patrick Dai charged for making threats online to the Cornell Jewish community

Update: Cornell student charged in threats against school’s Jewish community

by Matt Butler and Judy Lucas October 31, 2023Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks Monday morning at Cornell, with Cornell President Martha Pollack by her side. Credit: Michael Groll / Office of Governor Hochul

Update (8:26 p.m.): Federal prosecutors have announced charges against a Cornell University student for the violent threats posted online directed at the university’s Jewish community.

Patrick Dai, a 21-year-old junior at Cornell, was arrested Tuesday on a charge of posting threats to kill or injure another using interstate communications, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Southwick in a press release. Dai is originally from Pittsford, New York.

The release states that Dai is suspected of issuing all of the threats, which were posted under various anonymous usernames on Sunday. Dai will appear in federal court Nov. 1 in Syracuse.

Dai will face up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000 and a term of supervised release of up to three years, according to Southwick.

Southwick does not disclose whether Dai’s threats appeared to be serious or not.

Ithaca Police and federal agents were observed raiding a building on Eddy Street in Collegetown Tuesday afternoon. IPD Acting Chief Ted Schwartz said questions had to be directed to the FBI Albany office. The Ithaca Voice is awaiting more information from the FBI on the results of the raid.
Original Story:

ITHACA, N.Y.—Cornell University officials and Gov. Kathy Hochul confirmed the arrest of a person of interest who allegedly posted violent threats against the school’s Jewish student population via an online forum Sunday.

No details about the individual have been released, including whether the person is affiliated with Cornell or not, or where they were found. According to a tweet from the governor, the person was taken into custody Tuesday morning.

Hochul, who visited the university Monday morning in the wake of the threats, posted a tweet around 1 p.m. Tuesday announcing a person of interest was taken into custody by the New York State Police for questioning.

Whether or not the person is in federal custody is unclear, despite Gov. Hochul’s statement crediting the NYS Police for their work. Police have yet to confirm any arrest in the case. Local law enforcement officials were also unaware of any arrests made in the case.

However, Cornell University Vice President of University Relations Joel Malina also confirmed the arrest in a statement to The Ithaca Voice.

“We can confirm that a subject has been identified as a suspect in the antisemitic threats made against our Jewish students on Sunday and is currently in custody,” Malina said. “We thank the FBI and other law enforcement agencies for their coordination. We will update the public as we have further details to release.”

The arrest comes two days after the threats were posted on the GreekRank forum page for Cornell, which is not affiliated with the school. Posted anonymously from several different accounts, the posts included various graphic threats targeting Jewish students on campus and threatened to “shoot up” 104West!, the kosher and multicultural dining hall on campus next to the Center for Jewish Living.

There are about 3,500 Jewish students enrolled at Cornell, equaling about one-fifth of the total student population at the school, according to Cornell’s Hillel chapter.

This is a developing story. More details will be added once they are confirmed.

Thursday, October 26, 2023

Ripping down posters depicting the people taken hostage by Hamas 

The names of those killed by Hamas

The names of those killed in Hamas massacres and the Israel-Hamas War 

Over 1,300 Israelis, civilians and soldiers were killed in their homes, communities and in confronting Hamas terrorists. Here are the officially confirmed names of Israel's dead in the atrocities of October 7 and the subsequent Israel-Hamas war. This list of 902 names will be continuously updated with names that have been cleared for publication.

Anti-Israel graffiti on Cornell campus

Spray paint on the main sidewalk of Campus Road, depicting messages such as “Zionism = Racism” and “Israel is Fascist” appeared on Wednesday morning.

Some time before 9:00 AM, the graffiti began on Campus Road sidewalks between Olin and Sage Halls on campus. As-yet unknown perpetrators painted messages in red and white spray paint and displayed the following messages along the primary thoroughfare: “Israel is Fascist,” “Zionism = Racism,” “Free Palestine,” and “F*ck Israel.” 

Another photo of the graffiti, from Twitter (Sam Friedman

Later on Cornell sent people to clean up the graffiti.

It's time for a ceasefire in Gaza


Thursday, October 19, 2023

So much for "peaceful" protests against Israeli actions in Gaza in Berlin

More than 60 Berlin police officers injured at pro-Palestinian protests

AFP - 
Published: 19 Oct, 2023 CET.Updated: Thu 19 Oct 2023 11:17 CET

Demonstrators near Berlin's Sonnenallee set off pyrotechnics on Wednesday evening. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Paul Zinken

Sixty-five police officers were injured at overnight protests in Berlin against Israel's bombardment of the Gaza Strip, authorities said Thursday, as demonstrators defied bans on such gatherings. 

Bild Daily said a call had gone out on Telegram calling on "men" to "turn Neuk枚lln into Gaza. Burn everything". 

As police ordered protesters to disperse, "rubbish bins and obstacles were put on the streets" and "stones and pyrotechnics were thrown" at them, prompting police to respond by firing water-cannon, said authorities. 

Since Israel began its relentless bombing raids on Gaza in response to Hamas' deadly attack on October 7th, pro-Palestinian protests have erupted across major German cities despite widespread bans. 

The officers were "wounded by stones, flammable liquid and acts of resistance," Berlin police said on social media platform X, formerly Twitter. A police spokeswoman said 174 people were arrested, including 65 who will be facing investigations. 

The gathering had begun late Wednesday in Neuk枚lln, a district with a large Arab community. 

The number of anti-Semitic incidents has also jumped, with a synagogue in Berlin hit by Molotov cocktails early Wednesday. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Thursday urged authorities to prevent demonstrations that could degenerate into anti-Semitic incitement. Gatherings where "anti-Semitic slogans are shouted, where the deaths of other human beings are glorified" must be outlawed, said Scholz.

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

The murdered, kidnapped, and missing victims of Hamas in Be'eri, Nir Oz, and Kfar Aza

Dr. Rachel Elior, Professor Emerita in Jewish Thought at the Hebrew University, was one of my dissertation advisors. I studied the Hekhalot literature with her in a seminar in the late 1980s when I was in Israel, and from her I learned to love this literature.

She just posted this on Facebook (my translation from the Hebrew):

110 murdered in Be'eri (kibbutz near the border with Gaza). 
At least 80 members of (kibbutz) Nir Oz - a small kibbutz of about 400 people - are listed as missing. More than 25 were murdered.
In Kibbutz Kfar Aza, which had more than 800 people before the catastrophe, 52 Kibbutz members were murdered, seven were kidnapped to Gaza, and 13 are missing. Six more were wounded. Also in this case the numbers are not final


Israeli Progressives Speak Out on War

This statement by Israeli progressives (publicized by the Shalom Center) calls out the inexcusable members of the left who have come out in support of Hamas.
The Shalom Center
If you are a leader in any form of Jewish spiritual or other organizational life, please preserve this statement. We will be back to you for a possible support statement in the next couple of days.

Israeli Progressives Speak Out on War

We emphasize: there is no contradiction between staunchly opposing the Israeli subjugation and occupation of Palestinians and unequivocally condemning brutal acts of violence against innocent civilians.

We, Israel-based academics, thought leaders and progressive activists committed to peace, equality, justice, and human rights, are deeply pained and shocked by the recent events in our region.

We are also deeply concerned by the inadequate response from certain American and European progressives regarding the targeting of Israeli civilians by Hamas, a response which reflects a disturbing trend in the global left's political culture.

On October 7, 2023, Hamas launched an unprecedented attack that included mass murder of innocent civilians in their homes, indiscriminate violence towards women, the elderly, and children, and mass kidnappings of Israeli citizens. Entire families were wiped out in this carnage, whole communities were reduced to ashes, bodies were maimed, infants were massacred. It is impossible to overstate the damage caused by these events, both on a personal and a collective level. The traumatizing events of that Saturday in October will leave a lasting mark on our hearts and memories.

As expected, in response to Hamas's actions, the State of Israel launched a massive military operation in Gaza.We still cannot estimate the death toll of these attacks, but it is likely to be higher than anything we have witnessed heretofore. This cycle of aggression severely undermines our long-standing struggle against oppression and violence and in pursuit of full rights and equality for all residents of Israel-Palestine. At this moment, more than ever, we need support and solidarity from the global left, in the form of an unequivocal call against indiscriminate violence towards civilians on both sides.

Many of our peers worldwide have expressed strong opposition to Hamas's attack and have offered unambiguous support for its victims. Prominent voices in the Arab world, too, have made it clear that there is no justification for sadistic murder of innocent people. However, to our dismay, some elements within the global left, individuals who were, until now, our political partners, have reacted with indifference to these horrific events and sometimes even justified Hamas's actions. Some have refused to condemn the violence, claiming that outsiders have no right to judge the actions of the oppressed. Others have downplayed the suffering and trauma, arguing that Israeli society brought this tragedy upon itself. Yet others have shielded themselves from the moral shock through historical comparisons and rationalization. And there are even those – no small number – for whom the darkest day in our society’s history was a cause for celebration.

This array of responses surprised us. We never imagined that individuals on the left, advocates of equality, freedom, justice, and welfare, would reveal such extreme moral insensitivity and political recklessness. Let us be clear: Hamas is a theocratic and repressive organization that vehemently opposes the attempt to promote peace and equality in the Middle East. Its core commitments are fundamentally inconsistent with progressive principles, and thus the inclination of certain leftists to react affirmatively to its actions is utterly absurd. Moreover, there is no justification for shooting civilians in their homes; no rationalization for the murder of children in front of their parents; no reasoning for the persecution and execution of partygoers. Legitimizing or excusing these actions amounts to a betrayal of the fundamental principles of left-wing politics.

We emphasize: there is no contradiction between staunchly opposing the Israeli subjugation and occupation of Palestinians and unequivocally condemning brutal acts of violence against innocent civilians. In fact, every consistent leftist must hold both positions simultaneously.

The seventh of October is a dark day in the history of Israel-Palestine and the lives of the peoples of this region. Those who refuse to condemn Hamas's actions do immense damage to the prospects of peace becoming a viable, relevant political option. They weaken the left’s ability to present a positive social and political horizon, turning it into an extreme, narrow, and alienating political force. We call on our peers on the left to return to a politics based on humanistic and universal principles, to take a clear stance against human rights abuse of any form, and to assist us in the struggle to break the cycle of violence and destruction.

Prof. Aviad Kleinberg, President of the Ruppin Academic Center ,拽诇讬讬谞讘专讙 讗讘讬注讚' 驻专讜驻
Avirama Golan, author and journalist ,讙讜诇谉 讗讘讬专诪讛
Ibtisam Mara'ana, Former MK, Labor Party ,诪专讗注谞讛 讗讘转讬住讗诐
Adam Raz, Historian, Human rights activist ,专讝 讗讚诐
Prof. Eva Illouz, Directrice d’茅tudes EHESS Paris, Membre of Institute for Israeli Thought ,讗讬诇讜讝 讗讜讜讛' 驻专讜驻
Dr. Ofek Birnholtz, Bar Ilan University ,讘讬专谞讛讜诇抓 讗讜驻拽 专"讚
Ortal Ben Dayan, Social Activist ,讚讬讬谉 讘谉 讗讜专讟诇
Ori Ben Dov, Social Activist ,讚讘 讘谉 讗讜专讬
Uri Weltmann, National Field Organizer - Standing Together ,讜讜诇讟诪谉 讗讜专讬
Ori Kol, Social Entrepreneur ,拽讜诇 讗讜专讬
Dr. Orit S么nia Waisman, David Yellin Academic College of Education, Jerusalem ,讜讬住诪谉 住讜谞讬讛 讗讜专讬转 专"讚
Eilon Tohar, Social Activist ,讟讜讛专 讗讬诇讜谉
Iris Leal, Author ,诇注讗诇 讗讬专讬住
Alon-Lee Green, National Co-Director of Standing Together ,讙专讬谉 诇讬 -讗诇讜谉
Dr. Eli Cook, Head of the General History Department, Haifa University ,拽讜拽 讗诇讬 专"讚
Dr. Almog Kasher, Bar Ilan University ,讻砖专 讗诇诪讜讙 专"讚
Prof. Orna Ben-Naftali, the College of Management Law Faculty and the Van Leer ,谞驻转诇讬 -讘谉 讗专谞讛' 驻专讜驻
Jerusalem Institute
Josh Drill, Social Activist ,讚专讬诇 讜砖'讙
Ghadir Hani, peace activist, Standing Together ,讛讗谞讬 讙讚讬专
Prof. Gila Stopler, Faculty of Law, College of Law and Business ,住讟讜驻诇专 讙讬诇讛' 驻专讜驻
Prof. Galia Sabar, Tel Aviv University. Former President of Ruppin College ,爪讘专 讙诇讬讛 驻专讜驻׳
Dr. Dov Khenin, Former MK, Hadash, Tel Aviv University ,讞谞讬谉 讚讘 专"讚
David Grossman, author ,讙专讜住诪谉 讚讜讬讚
Dorit Hadar Persky, M.A teacher for special education, David Yellin Academic College of ,驻专住拽讬 讛讚专 讚讜专讬转 Education, Jerusalem
Prof. Danny Gutwein, Haifa University ,讙讜讟讜讜讬讬谉 讚谞讬' 驻专讜驻
Prof. Dani Filc, MD PhD, Standing Together ,驻讬诇拽 讚谞讬 驻专讜驻׳
Dr. Hagar Gal, David Yellin Academic College of Education, Jerusalem ,讙诇 讛讚专 专"讚
Vered Livne, former Director General of The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) and ,诇讬讘谞讛 讜专讚 leadership member of Standing Together
Taleb el-Sana, Former MK, Arab Democratic Party, Head of High Committee for Arab Citizens ,住讗谞注-讗 讟诇讘 of the Negev
Yoav Hareven, leadership member of Standing Together ,讛专讗讘谉 讬讜讗讘
Prof. Yoav Goldberg, Bar-Ilan University ,讙讜诇讚讘专讙 讬讜讗讘' 驻专讜驻
Prof. Jonathan Rubin, Bar Ilan University ,专讜讘讬谉 讬讜谞转谉' 驻专讜驻
Yossi Sucary, Author ,住讜讻专讬 讬讜住讬
Dr. Yofi Tirosh, Tel Aviv University ,转讬专讜砖 讬讜驻讬 专"讚
Prof. Yael Hashiloni-Dolev, Ben-Gurion University, Sociology and Anthropology ,讚讜诇讘 -讛砖讬诇讜谞讬 讬注诇' 驻专讜驻 Department
Dr. Yael Sternhell, Tel Aviv University, 砖讟专谞讛诇 讬注诇 专"讚
Dr. Yiftah Goldman, David Yellin Academic College of Education, Jerusalem ,讙讜诇讚诪谉 讬驻转讞 讚״专
Dr. Carmel Shalev, Faculty of Law, Tel Aviv University ,砖诇讜 讻专诪诇 专"讚
Dr. Lisa Kainan, David Yellin Academic College of Education, Jerusalem ,拽讬谞谉 诇讬住讛 专"讚
Prof. Meir Yaish, Haifa University, 讬注讬砖 诪讗讬专' 驻专讜驻
Mossi Raz, former MK, Meretz ,专讝 诪讜住讬
Dr. Meital Pinto, Zefat Academic College, Ono Academic College ,驻讬谞讟讜 诪讬讟诇 专"讚
Meital Peleg Mizrachi, Postdoctoral fellow at Yale University, environmental justice ,诪讝专讞讬 驻诇讙 诪讬讟诇 researcher
Mickey Gitzin, New Israel Fund, Executive Director in Israel ,讙讬爪讬谉 诪讬拽讬
Dr. Miri Lavi Neeman, Arava Institute for Environmental Studies ,谞讗诪谉 诇讘讬讗 诪讬专讬 专"讚
Nadav Bigelman, Social Activist, member of Standing Together ,讘讬讙诇诪谉 谞讚讘
Prof. Noam Zohar, Bar Ilan Univesity ,讝讛专 谞注诐' 驻专讜驻
Niv Meyerson, Social and environmental justice activist ,诪讗讬专住讜谉 谞讬讘
Sally Abed, Member of national leadership, Standing Together ,注讘讚 住讗诇讬
Dr. Adi Makmal, Engineering Faculty, Bar-Ilan Uni. Israel ,诪讻诪诇 注讚讬 专"讚
Odeh Bisharat, Writer ,讘讗砖讗专转 注讜讚讛
Prof. Eran Dorfman, Literature Department, Tel Aviv University ,讚讜专驻诪谉 注讬专谉' 驻专讜驻
Prof. Amit Schejter, department of communication studies, Ben-Gurion University, chairman ,砖讻讟专 注诪讬转' 驻专讜驻 of ACRI
Dr. Anat Herbst-Debby, The Gender Studies program, Bar-Ilan University ,讚讘讬-讛专讘住讟 注谞转 专"讚
Dr. Ofri Ilany, Van Leer Institute, historian and journalist ,讗讬诇谞讬 注驻专讬 专"讚
Eran Nissan, Mehazkim, CEO ,谞讬住谉 注专谉
Tzlil Rubinshtein, Social Activist ,专讜讘讬谞砖讟讬讬谉 爪诇讬诇
Ran Heilbrunn, Writer ,讛讬讬诇讘专讜谉 专谉
Dr. Ronit Donyets Kedar, College of Law and Business ,拽讬讚专-讚讜谞讬抓 专讜谞讬转 专"讚
Prof. Ruth Halperin-Kaddari, Bar-Ilan University Faculty of Law ,拽讚专讬-讛诇驻专讬谉 专讜转' 驻专讜驻
Dr. Raphael Zagury-Orly, Institut Catholique de Paris ,讗讜专诇讬- 讝讙讜专讬 专驻讗诇 专"讚
Dr. Shlomit Aharoni Lir, Bar Ilan University ,诇讬专 讗讛专讜谞讬 砖诇讜诪讬转 专"讚
Prof. Sharon Armon-Lotem, Bar-Ilan University ,诇讜讟诐- 注专诪讜谉 砖专讜谉' 驻专讜驻
Tom Yagil, Social and Environmental Justice Activist ,讬讙讬诇 转讜诐
Dr. Tamar Ascher Shai, David Yellin Academic College of Education, Jerusalem ,砖讬 讗砖专 转诪专 专"讚.


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Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Was the Hamas attack on Israeli civilians "exhilarating"?

Professor Russell Rickford of Cornell speaking on Sunday, October 15 at a rally in downtown Ithaca about the Hamas attack on Israeli civilians the week before.

From the Cornell Daily Sun report on his speech:
Rickford stated that he was initially “exhilarated” by Hamas’s attack on Israel, in which 1,400 Israelis were killed. The United States and the European Union classify Hamas as a terrorist organization.
“Hamas has challenged the monopoly of violence. And in those first few hours, even as horrific acts were being carried out, many of which we would not learn about until later, there are many Gazans of good will, many Palestinians of conscience, who abhor violence, as do you, as do I. Who abhor the targeting of civilians, as do you, as do I,” Rickford said during the rally. “Who were able to breathe, they were able to breathe for the first time in years. It was exhilarating. It was energizing. And if they weren’t exhilarated by this challenge to the monopoly of violence, by this shifting of the balance of power, then they would not be human. I was exhilarated.”
He added: “What has Hamas done? Hamas has shifted the balance of power. Hamas has punctured the illusion of invincibility. That’s what they have done. You don’t have to be a Hamas supporter to recognize that,” Rickford said. “Hamas has changed the terms of the debate. Israeli officials are right — nothing will be the same again.”
This is sickening. I have heard Rickford speak at demonstrations in Ithaca in the last few years, and regardless of the reason for the demonstration, he always obsessively ties Israel to whatever evil the demonstration is protesting.

On Friday night, October 6, I was about to fall asleep at about midnight when I noticed an alert on my phone about an attack in Israel. I was surprised and went to my computer, and stayed up for several hours listening to the coverage on the Israeli network Kann, reading tweets and postings on Facebook. It was clear very early that the Hamas terrorists were attacking civilians. We didn't learn of all the attacks immediately, of course, but if you wanted to know, you could find information. 

The Cornell president issued a good statement:
In a University statement sent around 4:30 p.m. on Monday, President Martha Pollack referred broadly to faculty who have spoken positively about Hamas.
“I am sickened by statements glorifying the evilness of Hamas terrorism. Any members of our community who have made such statements do not speak for Cornell; in fact, they speak in direct opposition to all we stand for at Cornell,” Pollack said. “There is no justification for or moral equivalent to these violent and abhorrent acts.”

 This is her full statement:

Supporting one another as we stand against hatred (Follow up on events in Israel)
Oct. 16, 2023
Dear Cornell Community,
The despicable atrocities perpetrated by the Hamas terrorist organization in Israel last week left the world reeling with shock, horror, anger and grief. The brutal attacks shattered countless innocent lives, caused unimaginable pain and challenged our very understanding of humanity. The intentional targeting and killing of innocent civilians is the very definition of terrorism. I am sickened by statements glorifying the evilness of Hamas terrorism. Any members of our community who have made such statements do not speak for Cornell; in fact, they speak in direct opposition to all we stand for at Cornell. There is no justification for or moral equivalent to these violent and abhorrent acts.
I am outraged by them and, along with senior leadership of the Cornell Board of Trustees, I again condemn them in the strongest possible terms.
The Cornell community on our campuses and around the world includes students, faculty, staff and alumni who are Israeli, Palestinian and others who have close ties to the region. As the fighting there continues, the pain and suffering felt by all people throughout the region is and will be completely heart-wrenching. I am a grandmother and I weep for the Israeli babies who were murdered or kidnapped; I weep for the Palestinian babies now in harm’s way.
Please know that the safety of all members of our community remains a top priority. On the Ithaca campus, Cornell Police have increased patrols and police presence and are working with the Office of Emergency Management and with city, state and federal agencies to continually assess conditions. They are also in close coordination with the public safety teams on our campuses in New York City and beyond.
Our community must, as it always has, stand against hatred of all forms. I am inspired by our Jewish, Palestinian and Muslim students who were joined by others in holding peaceful vigils last week and who were generous in their expression of shared loss for all in the region. I hope that the Cornell community is able to find grace, care and empathy for one another, and to support one another in the very difficult days ahead.
As we reflect on the pain of all those affected, and mourn the loss of innocent lives, I pray for the safe return of all hostages, and that our collective humanity will prevail over hate.
Martha E. Pollack

 Update - Denunciation of Rickford's words by the president of Cornell.

Statement of President Pollack and Board Chair Kayser on Prof. Russell Rickford comments
Oct. 17, 2023

We learned yesterday of comments that Professor Russell Rickford made over the weekend at an off-campus rally where he described the Hamas terrorist attacks as “exhilarating.” This is a reprehensible comment that demonstrates no regard whatsoever for humanity. As we said in yesterday’s statement, endorsed by senior leadership of the Board of Trustees, any members of our community who have made such statements do not speak for Cornell; in fact, they speak in direct opposition to all we stand for at Cornell. The university is taking this incident seriously and is currently reviewing it consistent with our procedures.
Martha E. Pollack
Kraig H. Kayser, MBA ’84
Chairman of the Cornell University Board of Trustees

 Update, October 19 - statement from Rickford in the Cornell Daily Sun

I apologize for the horrible choice of words that I used in a portion of a speech that was intended to stress grassroots African American, Jewish and Palestinian traditions of resistance to oppression. I recognize that some of the language I used was reprehensible and did not reflect my values. As I said in the speech, I abhor violence and the violent targeting of civilians. I am sorry for the pain that my reckless remarks have caused my family, my students, my colleagues and many others in this time of suffering. As a scholar, a teacher, an activist and a father, I strive to uphold the values of human dignity, peace and justice. I want to make it clear that I unequivocally oppose and denounce racism, anti-semitism, Islamophobia, militarism, fundamentalism and all systems that dehumanize, divide and oppress people.

Update, October 22 - Rickford has taken a leave of absence for the rest of the semester (report from the Cornell Review).

History Professor Russell Rickford, who has come under fire for calling the Hamas attacks in Israel “exhilarating” and “energizing,” has taken a leave of absence.
According to an email acquired by the Review, Rickford will not teach his survey course on post-civil war African American history for the remainder of the semester. A Friday email from Professor Tamika Nunley to the class’ students indicates that she will teach the class while Rickford is on leave:
Professor Rickford will be taking a leave of absence and I will assume teaching responsibilities for this course for the remainder of the semester.
Cornell Media Relations confirmed Rickford’s leave, saying: “Professor Russell Rickford has requested and received approval to take a leave of absence from the university.” The Cornell history department, when asked for comment about Rickford’s status, only referred to the university’s statement condemning the professor....
Rickford’s – seemingly temporary – departure comes amidst immense pressure on the university to dismiss him for his comments....
Meanwhile, the university has issued a statement denouncing Rickford by name after issuing a general statement condemning those who “glorify the evilness of Hamas terrorism.”....
Neither Cornell nor the history department have indicated whether Rickford will face further action upon his return from leave.
This story has been updated with Cornell’s confirmation that Rickford requested the leave of absence.