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A pogrom against Israel

We are witnessing an obscene assault on national sovereignty and the Jewish people.

Brendan O'Neill

Brendan O'Neill
chief political writer

Topics Politics World

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The invasion of Israel by Hamas gunmen is an obscene assault on national sovereignty and the Jewish people. Details remain murky, but the facts we have are horrifying. Around 2,500 rockets have been fired from Gaza into Israel, some reaching as far as Jerusalem. Dozens of Hamas jihadists have paraglided and driven into Israeli territory. They’ve stormed villages and towns – 14 locations in total, according to Haaretz. And they’re reportedly shooting civilians. At the time of writing, Israel’s emergency services say at least 20 people are dead. ‘We are at war’, says Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Yes, you are.

It has the whiff of a pogrom. It feels like a hateful onslaught against a people dressed up as ‘resistance’. Images of weeping Israeli kids running for the bomb shelters alongside video clips allegedly showing Hamas supporters cheering over the dead body of an Israeli soldier speak to the existential nature of this unconscionable attack on a sovereign nation. Hamas is a radical Islamist movement. Its founding charter committed it to an apocalyptic ‘struggle against the Jews’. As recently as 2021, its one-time interior minister was publicly calling on people to ‘cut off the heads of the Jews with knives’. Today’s invasion of Israel is no mere clash of nations, no mere tussle over borders – it’s a hate crime of global proportions.

No nation would be expected to tolerate such a militant violation of its borders. Buildings are on fire in Sderot, people are fleeing cars engulfed in flames in Ashkelon, the Be’eri kibbutz in Negev is reportedly under siege. ‘Please send troops. There are burning houses’, whispered a kibbutz resident through the local TV channel. Imagine it was Brighton or Plymouth, and scores of armed men were pouring in. We’d act. Israel has the right to act, too. The anti-Israel left will disagree. They’re quiet now that Israel’s being attacked, but they’ll pipe up when it responds. It is a testament to the unhinged Israelphobia and outright moral decay of the modern left that today’s leftists really believe Israel should let itself be attacked. ‘You deserve it’, they think, and sometimes say. They say it about no other nation on Earth.

Even as we condemn the invasion, we must also reflect on what it might tell us about the situation in the Middle East. To my mind, it points to a possible weakening of Israeli resolve alongside an emboldening of Israel’s Islamist enemies. There’s no avoiding the fact that we have just witnessed a catastrophic intelligence failure on Israel’s part. This is a nation famed for its thorough and daring intelligence-gathering, which has infiltrated its haters everywhere from Gaza to Lebanon to Syria. And yet today it was utterly taken by surprise. An attack that will have been months in the planning somehow escaped its notice. This will worry Israelis, profoundly.

Is it possible Israel is losing its moral and political focus? It’s been rocked by domestic strife this year. The protests over judicial reform – following the Netanyahu government’s decision to limit the powers of the Supreme Court – have stirred up huge tension. Including within the elite itself. Former Mossad chiefs alongside Israeli big business have expressed displeasure with the government. A lack of national unity, disarray in establishment ranks, may have caused Israel to take its eye off its enemies. Internal angst dragging attention from external threats. A hard question: is national resilience withering in Israel, and if it is, what sign will that send to its militant foes on its borders?

Regional power plays might also have shaped today’s invasion. In recent months, Israel and Saudi Arabia have been making moves to establish diplomatic ties – to achieve ‘normalisation’, as it’s called. This has unnerved Iran, which of course is locked into numerous proxy conflicts with the Saudis over influence in the Middle East. Might Hamas be doing the bidding of its sponsors in Iran with today’s bold and horrific attack on Israel? And how will Saudi Arabia respond? The possibility of even greater instability in the region – in Israel itself, in Lebanon and in the various sites of Iranian-Saudi proxy war-making – feels very real indeed right now.

For now, though, as we await more clarity on the planning and impact of the Hamas invasion, we should oppose it as a grotesque violation of national integrity and life itself. The West’s leftist haters of Israel will say it’s an ‘act of resistance’. These apologists for radical Islam will dress up this invasion by a movement that was founded with the express purpose of killing Jews as a ‘rebellion’. They will expose, unwittingly, the true extent of their own moral decomposition. For if the world’s only Jewish state angers you more than any other state, even as its civilians are being gunned down and burnt out, then, truly, you have left the realm of politics and entered the realm of bigotry. You have become an intellectual facilitator of the pogrom.

Brendan O’Neill is spiked’s chief political writer and host of the spiked podcast, The Brendan O’Neill Show. Subscribe to the podcast here. And find Brendan on Instagram: @burntoakboy

Graham Linehan and Brendan O’Neill – live and in conversation

Graham Linehan and Brendan O’Neill – live and in conversation

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Topics Politics World

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