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Labour still has an Israel problem Starmer's hubris won't make the war disappear

This is not 'situation normal' (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

This is not 'situation normal' (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)


November 2, 2023   7 mins

Keir Starmer, like Israel, must brace for a long war he might not be able to win. The Labour leader has staked out a position that is far more exposed than it might first appear, for this is a crisis he cannot control or predict, only manage. And it is one that is only going to grow.

In one important sense, he must not panic. As a senior Labour figure put it to me, this is “situation normal” for any Labour leader: events happen, the Left claims the moral high ground, tensions grow, the party must be managed. Almost every one of Starmer’s predecessors has been in the same situation. And, yet, this crisis is acutely challenging precisely because it is not normal for the very reasons he set out in his speech on Tuesday. The slaughter of Israeli civilians on October 7 was “terrorism on a scale and brutality that few countries have ever experienced”. And so will be the response from Israel, along with the subsequent fallout. This, after all, was Hamas’s entire strategy, years in the making: to lure Israel into the mistaken belief that they could be managed as a proto-state rather than a terrorist army committed to Israel’s destruction.

The very fact that Starmer felt the need to give a speech at Chatham House explaining his policy on the crisis in Gaza reveals the extent of the trouble. More than 60 Labour MPs have now called for a ceasefire, in direct opposition to Starmer, as well as 250 councillors, the party’s mayors in London and Manchester and its leader in Scotland. More worrying than any of these, though, is the quiet briefing that ultra-loyalists Wes Streeting and Shabana Mahmood are also unhappy with Starmer’s stance. This, in other words, is not a normal rebellion, but a dangerous gap between the leader and his party on a core question of judgement long before the crisis has reached its nadir.

On Tuesday, Starmer attempted to tread a careful line between understanding and discipline, saying that he recognised the strength of feeling while also warning that he would need to enforce collective discipline. Then, yesterday, he released a video to mark Islamophobia Awareness Month which, he said, “comes at a deeply troubling time for Britain’s Muslim communities”. As the war builds, managing to maintain this position will prove ever more difficult.

One element of Starmer’s problem is external, baked into the nature of the conflict. Unlike every other war in Israel’s history, planned as hard and fast retaliations to deter future attacks, this invasion is building violently but incrementally, as The Economist’s Defence Editor, Shashank Joshi, told me. Some are now talking of an operation lasting five years. This sort of scenario is far more likely to provoke regional escalation and even Islamist terror in the West. This is not situation normal.

The other part of Starmer’s dilemma, though, is internal, at the very heart of his party’s understanding of itself. Labour, as one party grandee put it to me yesterday, sees itself as a movement of “conscience and reform” standing up for the poor and dispossessed. “This party is a moral crusade or it is nothing,” as Harold Wilson put it. Right now, the dominant narrative in progressive circles is that Israel is the baddy and Palestine the goody. All else flows from this childish analysis. Pogroms are bad, but they do “not happen in a vacuum”, according to the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Israel’s response, in contrast, does seem to take place in a vacuum; the fate of its citizens held hostage by Hamas largely ignored (or worse dismissed), as well as the fact that Hamas actively does not support any negotiated settlement with Israel.

For those who insist that this situation is normal, it is true that Labour’s self-perception as the conscientious party of British politics always causes difficulties in foreign policy. Unlike domestic politics, which is all about moral and political judgements to do with the allocation of resources, foreign policy necessarily involves a myriad other considerations where morality offers no easy guide, from security to order, deterrence and even pure national interest. In a sense, the disordered world of international relations lends itself to the tragic mind of the conservative, while the ordered life of the nation state is the natural home of the progressive. At home, you can grow the economy and share out the proceeds; in foreign policy you cannot grow territory without someone losing out.

This — for what it’s worth — is as true for Blairite progressives as it is for the anti-colonial Left. Both want foreign policies based on notions of an overarching morality. For the former, this means liberal interventionism; for the latter, peaceful non-interventionism. It is no coincidence that both continue to regard the other as reprehensible. I have been struck by the continued vehemence of opinion over Ed Miliband’s decision in 2013, for example, to vote against airstrikes on Syria to deter the further use of chemical weapons. This has become a totemic moment for the Labour Right that Starmer must not in any way echo, much as Tony Blair’s decision to join the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 has become totemic for the Labour Left. To both sides, these two decisions were moral failings more than ones of judgement.

The most instructive illustration of the problems Starmer faces, however, is not from 2003 or 2013, but 2006 and Israel’s war with Hezbollah. This is an event Tony Blair describes in his memoir, A Journey, as being more damaging to him than anything since Iraq, revealing “how far I had swung from the mainstream of conventional Western media wisdom and from my own people”.

As Blair understood, the political problem he faced was baked into the very nature of the conflict, pitting — in progressive eyes — one developed “Western” nation against a disempowered “resistance” movement. Just as today, Hezbollah knew they could provoke Israel and that Israel would have to respond, but could not do so without quickly losing international support. Just like today, Blair was tasked with managing a situation in which initial sympathy for Israel’s right to defend itself quickly disappeared as the images of what that meant began to filter through to the public. “Within days, the international angst transfers from the provocation to the retaliation. [And] suddenly Israel is the aggressor.” This is the cycle we are now in once again, only this time the wheel is turning far more violently, just as Hamas planned.

By 2006, Blair had come to view the situation in the Middle East far more tragically than before. He still believed in a two-state solution, but, as he writes, “I had by now come to see the entire conventional approach on dealing with this problem as itself part of the problem.” He now saw Israel involved in a “wider struggle between the strain of religious extremism in Islam and the rest of us”. In other words, Blair saw the morality of the struggle entirely differently from most in his party and the wider international (Western) Left: not as Israel the oppressor, but Israel forced into the vanguard of the global struggle against totalitarian fanaticism.

Reading the accounts of the horror inflicted by Hamas in the October 7 attacks certainly adds credence to Blair’s understanding: babies burned and kidnapped, women raped so violently their bones were broken, Holocaust survivors brought into their living room and shot — and much of the horror recorded for posterity by its proud perpetrators. “Father, I killed 10 Jews!” one delighted Hamas terrorist is recorded calling home during the attacks. “Check your WhatsApp! I sent you the photos! Father, I killed 10 Jews! I killed 10 Jews with my bare hands. Check your WhatsApp. Father, be proud of me!”

Starmer himself seemed to come close to this moral understanding in his speech seeking to calm tensions in the Labour party yesterday. The attack, he said, was the “biggest slaughter of Jews, and that is why they were killed — do not doubt that — since the Holocaust”. As a result, Starmer argued, calling for a ceasefire only meant freezing the situation in Hamas’s favour, loaded down, as it is, with its sacrificial human booty of more than 200 kidnapped Israelis, including one nine-month old baby. The perpetrators of the worst pogrom since 1945 would be emboldened, Starmer declared.

The problem for Starmer is that despite the brutality of Hamas’s slaughter, Western opinion has moved in exactly the same way it did in 2006: from initial sympathy to condemnation within days. And yet because of the nature of Hamas’s terror, this crisis is certain to be far worse than the war against Hezbollah in 2006 and so the condemnation will be louder.

In such circumstances, Starmer’s position is particularly difficult. On the one hand, it seems almost inevitable that he will slowly modify his position to manage his party, reflecting its essential understanding of the conflict. There are already hints at this direction of travel. “The siege conditions haven’t lifted, and that is unacceptable,” Starmer declared.

And yet, the genocidal nature of Hamas and its support from Iran is not going away. Israel is already facing rocket attacks from Iranian proxies in Yemen and Lebanon. “We must teach Israel a lesson,” Hamas Official Ghazi Hamad declared on Lebanese television this week. “We will do this again and again. The Al-Asqa is just the first time, and there will be a second, a third, a fourth, because we have the determination, the resolve, and the capabilities to fight. Will we have to pay a price? Yes, and we are ready to pay it.” When challenged as to why Hamas had managed to build 500km of tunnels for itself but not to protect civilians, Mousa Abu Marzouk, from the organisation’s political bureau, told Russia Today that that was the UN’s job.

In the end, much will rest on public opinion. Will the West take Hamas’s words at face value, or for that matter Iran’s? Or will it filter the conflict through its own eyes, as the simple struggle between oppressor and oppressed?

Reading Blair’s account of the situation in 2006, you cannot help but feel he had given up. He was too tired and world weary. “At points I had wondered why I didn’t just cave in and condemn Israel and call for them to stop unilaterally,” he writes. “The Israelis would have understood it, and it would have been the proverbial safety valve for the fierce political criticism.” It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that had that war happened in 1996, rather than a decade later, this is exactly what Blair would have done. “I had my determination to comfort me,” he records in his memoir, “and by and large it did (which is, I suppose, what always happens to leaders when the final hubris overwhelms them).”

Starmer, though, is not yet even prime minister. Determination alone will provide little comfort and he will be warned not to let Blairite hubris overwhelm him. In Greek mythology, hubris is the excessive pride of someone who believes they can defy the gods. In the West, of course, our god is public opinion. One insider told me Starmer had little to worry about because, in the end, no one will vote in the 2024 general election based on events in the Middle East in 2023. And Starmer isn’t about to sacrifice his ambitions for a policy that will make almost no difference to anyone other than Labour’s own conscience.


is UnHerd’s Political Editor. He is the author of Betting The House: The Inside Story of the 2017 Election.

TomMcTague

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Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
5 months ago

His stance on Israel is, to my knowledge, the only brave and principled stand of his career. I wonder if he regrets it.

If he maintains this stance he’ll lose a large chunk of his party, if he folds he lose all credibility with the non-Israel-hating parts of the electorate

I guess we’ll see if he has any backbone.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
5 months ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

That’s why i think the author is wrong in his assumption Starmer’s stance will have.no influence on next years’ election. If the electorate see that he can maintain a principled stance – and one which i believe a majority of the voting public aligns with, despite the usual howling of the media – it will help reassure them regarding the character of the UK’s likely next PM. Non-Labourites will have no reason to change their minds if they’re already planning to vote to oust the Tories.

Should he capitulate however, and sufficient doubts might just make a difference, particularly as to whether he can gain an outright majority, his prospects will be open to ridicule in a way that people will instinctively react to – much more, i believe, than “woke” stances on what constitutes a woman for instance.

There’s a long way to go yet. This is his litmus test and i think he knows it.

Last edited 5 months ago by Steve Murray
Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
5 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

You were right to use the word ‘believe’ re your belief that most of the electorate want Israel to keep bombing Gaza. 76% want a ceasefire (https://new.thecradle.co/articles/76-percent-of-uk-citizens-want-ceasefire-in-gaza-poll). If either of you had any interest in the victims of the Hamas attack, you would also not be cheering on this onslaught, which is threatening those very hostages as well as innocent Gazans (see the anger of their families here: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/10/28/prisoner-exchange-israeli-captive-families-demand-answers-from-netanyahu)
But since you don’t like the idea that most people don’t think collectively punishing a country in retaliation for an act of terror they were not complicit in is a good idea you would rather imagine this view only belongs to the ‘woke mob.’

Last edited 5 months ago by Desmond Wolf
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
5 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

The focus not is not on the victims of this Hamas attack, It is on reducing or avoiding the victims of the next Hamas attack. And the next, And the next,

As for ‘an act of terror they were not complicit in‘, Hamas is the (once elected) government of Gaza, much like Putin is the (once elected) government of Russia, and old Adolf was the (once elected) government of Germany. Or, if you prefer, like Churchill was the elected government of the UK. Complicit or not, when a country goes to war, its people suffer.

Last edited 5 months ago by Rasmus Fogh
William Edward Henry Appleby
WE
William Edward Henry Appleby
5 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

The Israelis neglected their own security through arrogance and hubris. Gaza is completely walled in and a militarised border, yet they failed to keep out a bunch of determined bandits with bulldozers. Not to mention ignoring the intelligence shared by Egypt that something was about to kick off

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
5 months ago

Yes indeed and let’s also make clear – before anyone goes after you for being anti-Israeli – many Israelis and especially the families of the hosatges are furious with Netanyahu and what he’s doing. The idea that suing for peace puts you on the side of anti-Israeli hatred seems utterly remarkable to me. It’s about being on the side of ordinary people, not Islamic fanatics, not an authoritarian right-wing government and not the arms dealers making big bucks out of this.

Charles Hedges
CH
Charles Hedges
5 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

Hamas is motivated by religion. I have yet to see any evidence Hamas has altered it’s theological position which is influence by Khomeini. I have yet to see any attempt by Iranian government to alter Khomeini’s theological statements.
Hamas overthrew the PLO killing, over one hundred of it’s members. Is their any evidence to suggest the people of Gaza disagree with Hamas ? Is there any evidence to suggest Hamas have built bomb shelters for it’s people or constructed military infrastructure away from civilians?
Please provide a plan where Israeli governemnt can defeat Hamas with hurting non Hamas members. Please show evidence Hamas no longer wishes to destroy Israel.

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
5 months ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

There is no evidence Hamas no longer wishes to destroy Israel. Their actions are sadistic in a way that Israel’s are not (though in terms of scale of destruction Israel is far ahead in this extremely asymmetrical conflict, whose total deaths are 96% Palestinian and 4% Israeli). But yes, I think Hamas is an evil death cult. Do you think everyone in favour of peace is a supporter of Hamas like Suella Braverman and parts of MSM want you to?
Evidence that most people in Gaza do not support Hamas? There you go: https://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/polls-show-majority-gazans-were-against-breaking-ceasefire-hamas-and-hezbollah They are ordinary people who just want to be able to go about their lives without fear of being attacked or having their electricity and gas cut off.
A plan for destroying Hamas without hurting civilians? Now if we all focussed on this aim (which very few people would find controversial) there’d be a lot less hostility in the conversation. From what very little I know of the strategic possibilities it sounds like a ceasefire then prisoner swap (as the families of the hostages want) and then precision warfare aimed at taking out Hamas (with constant pressure on Isreal to not treat Palestinians like ‘animals’, as the war minister refers to them) would be the best course.

Last edited 5 months ago by Desmond Wolf
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
5 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

Well, I think that anyone in favour of an immediate ceasefire is de facto supporting Hamas – whether they think so or not.

As for ‘precision warfare aimed at taking out Hamas‘, or ‘A plan for destroying Hamas without hurting civilians‘, Israel would have done that long ago if it was possible. Which it is not. Hamas is all through the population of Gaza, when they are not hiding in an underground fortress below the Gaza population centres. Do you propose this knowing that it is impossible and so would protect Hamas from retaliation, or do you genuinely believe in miracles?

I have an alternative proposal which is equally realistic. We should simply convince Hamas that it is not in their interest to kill Israeli civilians. Instead they should opt for precision warfare aimed at taking out the Israeli leadership and systematically assassinate the Israeli government and general staff until Israel gives up. After all, how hard can it be?

Last edited 5 months ago by Rasmus Fogh
Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
5 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Well that last paragraph is ridiculous for a number of reasons, though it would be an insult to the intelligence of both of us to go into them (our smaller influence over Hamas, their less advanced military capability etc)
As for the first point I’m not convinced. Some people are arguing that Israel is doing exactly what Hamas want them to do – ie launch an invasion which through the sheer number of casualties it will involve will surely wear down international support for Israel. By that judgement, supporting Israel’s current war is a kind of support for Hamas.
Your next point about anything short of full scale war being divorced from reality I’ve answered in another comment which has been conveniently removed. Expect to see it tomorrow.

Last edited 5 months ago by Desmond Wolf
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
5 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

I covered that one elsewhere. Hamas would also be perfectly happy if Israel did *not* retaliate, leaving them with an uncontested victory. War works like that: put your enemy where no matter what he does it will hurt him.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
5 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

Actually, I have been a bit too aggressive in the debate here. The things you propose would be very good, and you are not wrong in wanting them. But look at it honestly: Do you really think that this is possible? If so how? Being good and well-meaning people does not allow us to disregard reality. We have to face up to the fact that some thing are just not possible in real life – and to what could happen if we try to do them anyway and fail.

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
5 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Thank you for this. I hope I haven’t been too aggressive towards you either. You may well have a better understanding of the possible solutions for ending this. But if uncritical pro-Netanyahu tribalism is what counts as realistic on here I will never stop calling it out.

Last edited 5 months ago by Desmond Wolf
Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
5 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

Hamas killed PLO members to take control and when in power murdered four homosexuals. Why should Israel trust Hamas if it is prepared to kill Palestinians ? The sensible way to assess future possible actions of a nation is to judge the way they treat their own people. If they are prepared to murder and torture their own people they will be even more willing to do so to their enemies.
Where does Hamas say it no longer wishes to destroy Israel and why has it not allowed non Hamas members to move safe areas and release it’s hostages?
Why did Hamas not build bomb shelters? From the River to the Sea means the destruction of israel. Hamas is keeping the Gazans as a de facto human shield which is what S Hussein did.
If Hamas cared for it’s own people it would not have built military targets near them and it would have built bomb shelters. The economic situation has been improving for the last two years which is why Israel became slack. If the PLO had been competent and less corrupt, GCC money would have enabled a high tech city to be constructed, perhaps one geared to the arab world.
You are not responsible for Israeli lives.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
5 months ago

That may be true – but so what? Are you saying that because they were not sufficiently vigilant they were asking for it? Or that they do not have the right to fight back?

Just for the record, Hamas is not just a bunch of thugs. It is not even Al Quaeda. It is the government of Gaza, well entrenched, with international connections and allies.

William Edward Henry Appleby
William Edward Henry Appleby
5 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

You are putting words in my mouth. In many previous posts I have condemned Hamas and also said Israel should seek revenge/justice against them. But what is happening now is a war-crime. Declaring a ceasefire is not going to cause another wave of bandits to cross the border, and if they do, I’m sure that the EDF will be waiting for them this time.

Last edited 5 months ago by William Edward Henry Appleby
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
5 months ago

Well, I was saying that you cannot talk about ‘punishing a country in retaliation for an act of terror they were not complicit in‘ when said act of terror was actually the government of the country going to war. And your answer (!) is that Israel neglected their own security. Why is Israel’s lack of vigilance relevant to the point you were answering – if you are not saying that they brought it on themselves by being careless? What point were you trying to make?

For the rest, the invasion and bombardments are not a war crime – just a war. The rules of war do not say that you can shoot rockets from civilian housing or put your command posts under hospitals, but that your enemy is not allowed to shoot back. If Israel keeps refusing to let in food and water that may be a different story.
Declaring a ceasefire now would mean that Hamas keeps its military structure intact and escapes further reprisals – thus leaving it both well prepared and well motivated to repeat its successful raid. One can be in favour of a ceasefire for humanitarian reasons anyway – but you should at least acknowledge that you are asking Israel to let Hamas off the hook in order to safeguard the welfare of its Palestinian supporters.

Anyway, I really hope that the EDF will not be waiting for another Hamas invasion. You see, they are my electricity suppliers 😉

Last edited 5 months ago by Rasmus Fogh
Andrew McDonald
AM
Andrew McDonald
5 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Very well said. btw EDF are doing enough damage at Sizewell C without branching out elsewhere.

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
5 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

A ceasefire might allow a prisoner swap, as the families of the hostages want. Also serious people you probably respect (like Jonathan Sumption, see his interview for Unherd) are saying that some of Israel’s actions amount to war crimes.
As for letting Hamas off the hook, 10x more Palestinians than Israelis have already been killed since the 7th of October so it’s not like they haven’t paid a price already (although in their eyes every dead Palestinian is martyr so all this killing is really just fulfilling their sadistic desires).

Last edited 5 months ago by Desmond Wolf
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
5 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

You said it yourself: All the Palestinians killed so far make no difference to Hamas desire to keep killing Israeli civilians. They do not see it as ‘a price to pay’, but as a useful victory in the proganda war.

The Economist in its recent editorial make the point that recent events show that Hamas is relentless and cannot be deterred, and conclude that the only hope for peace will be after Hamas has been rooted out – with all the killing that this war entails. I’d say they have a point.

Desmond Wolf
DW
Desmond Wolf
5 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Yes I deliberately said that to show the futility and possible blowback of the current strategy. This is why there needs to be pressure on Israel to avoid Palestinian civilian casualities as much as possible given their futility in running down morale among Hamas and possibly also the population.
Or we can just unimaginatively accept that full out war is the only way forward and trust in Netanyahu, great, humble and democratic egg that he is (just ask any family of the hostages(why won’t you answer my point on this?))

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
5 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

The goal is not to run down morale, but to kill and destroy as much of Hamas as possible. The trouble is that no matter how much you reduce Palestinian casualties you are still not going to convince the Palestinians to stop fighting Israel – as long as they think that keeping up the fight will potentially give them more than settling for the peace they can get. Which also means that as long as they have a reasonable hope of getting all of Palestine back from the Jews, they are not going to accept a peace. You need both carrots and sticks to get anywhere,
Many people talk about excessive aggression being a trap that Hamas has set for Israel, but they are wrong. Hamas aims for ‘damned-if-you-do-and-damned-if-you-don’t’. Invade and sow more hate, or do not invade and leave Hamas with a brilliant victory that gains them new recruits and can shortly be repeated. Never mind that the Israeli electorate is not going to accept a policy of just turning the other cheek.

For the hostages it is the usual dilemma. If you pay up you strengthen your enemy and encourage more hostage-taking in the future. If you refuse to pay up, the hostages die. Israel once exchanged several thousand enemy prisoners – including some of the current Hamas members, for a single soldier. I wonder how many regret that. The families of the hostages clearly want to save their loved ones now, at any cost, even if it means future defeats and hundreds of more dead in the future. That is all fair enough, their responsibility is to their families. But those responsible for governing Israel should choose the action that will cost the fewest Israeli dead in the long term. I doubt whether giving in to Hamas in return for getting the hostages back is the best way to get that result.

Last edited 5 months ago by Rasmus Fogh
Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
5 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Good points. But i’d say trying to reduce Palestinian casualities is worthwhile for its own sake, not because they will somehow be moved by how much effort Israel is making to do so.
I would need to go more into the weeds of what both sides want/what proposals have held most promise in the past to know what the best strategy is re bringing about a peace.
The most tenable positions now seem to be calling for Israeli caution in its targetting of civilian areas (though it seems the US is doing that already) and for an end to these settler attacks on Palestinians. And at the end of all this, it sounds like trying to grow the more moderate constituencies of Gaza (e.g. the business sector) and maybe providing economic incentives for Gazans to leave the strip and integrate into more moderate countries e.g. the West Bank or even at some point Israel (which apparently has done this to some extent) would be constructive things to do.

Last edited 5 months ago by Desmond Wolf
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
5 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

That is a post I can agree on. I guess the biggest disagreement in putting ‘pressure on Israel to avoid Palestinian civilian casualities as much as possible‘ is who gets to decide what is possible, if we still want Israel to be allowed to fight a war against Hamas. But on the words as they stand I agree (who would have thunk it?).

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
5 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Well, when two people with opposing views listen to each other in good faith all kinds of things are possible.

John Dee
John Dee
5 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

It’s a reasonable assumption that Hamas doesn’t mind Palestinian deaths, since they feed its narrative. Quite how Israel takes punitive action against an enemy that pointedly uses civilians as a shield while minimising civilian deaths is the conundrum that we’re asking Israel to solve.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
5 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

Hamas should allow people to move to safe areas and release hostages which they have not done. Hamas should not have taken hostages in the first place. Hamas could have moved people to bomb shelters before the attack if they had been built.

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
5 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

No I think he’s saying that some anger needs to be directed at Netanyahu for allowing his concern with his own (increasingly anti-democratic) position in the country to trump security. Lots of Israelis are angry about this – as well as his previous success in hijacking peace plans – and we should acknowledge them.

John Dee
John Dee
5 months ago

That’s the bit I’ll never understand (the intelligence failure). Either the Israelis aren’t as fiercely competent as their reputation suggests, or they allowed this to happen so they could eradicate Hamas. Either way, lots of civilians (innocent or not) are likely to pay the ultimate price.

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
5 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

I’ve heard those Hitler/Putin comparisons before and I don’t think they quite stack up – those leaders launched/are launcing full scale invasions against countries that had done far less to provoke them and so intervention seems more justified. The Ukraine and UK have/had a higher moral high ground in those wars because they had not been engaged in collectively punishing their opponents beforehand.
And, in the face of a short-lived attack (however horrific), a proportional (and more effective) response seems to me a special operation focussed on rescuing hostages and removing as many key Hamas people as possible (rather than just the blunderbuss approach currently being pursued which is liable to create something worse than Hamas afterwards).

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
5 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

Not sure what you are saying here. That Israel had provoked Hamas, and therefore should just accept its punishment and not strike back??? Could you clarify? Or that if you do not have the ‘moral high ground’ you should fight your wars with both hands tied behind your back – while your opponent has no such restrictions? Hamas went to war. War is hell – as a number of generals have noticed – and the idea that the population should be able to live their lives safe and undisturbed while their country goes to war is unfortunately not of this world.

For the rest:
1) Hamas attack is not just one-off. Hamas has been shooting rockets at Israeli civilians for years. Hamas is running a long, dedicated campaign against Israel, and if the latest attack (‘however horrific’) is a success, it will be followed by another one.
2) Surely you have noticed that Hamas is entrenched in a huge underground fortress, all entwined and buried under Gaza civilian dwellings, hospitals etc. I am sure Israel would love to make a ‘special operation focussed on rescuing hostages and removing as many key Hamas people as possible‘ but to do that they would have to go into all those tunnels with their special forces, and come out alive with the hostages. Which is impossible. This is not a Marvel comic, this is the real world.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
5 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Thank you for your logic and realistic insights Rasmus. It is very easy to call ceasefire… but to what end?

Dorrido Dorrido
DD
Dorrido Dorrido
5 months ago

ceasefire to stop massacre of innocent civilians, a war crime and collective punishment. Most observers say this destruction and brutal reprisal will increase support for hamas; there is an internationally agreed template for a peaceful settlement , the Oslo accords, signed by both parties, which Netanyahu has consistently undermined. A ceasefire should not allow a return to a status que of oppression of Palestinians and settler violence and land grabs in the West Bank; it must be made contingent on a return to the Oslo accords, and of course a legal process for crimes committed.
How Netanyahu’s Hamas policy came back to haunt him — and Israel | CBC News
Amid the Mourning, Israel’s Settlement Enterprise Celebrates a Great Victory – Opinion – Haaretz.com

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
5 months ago

Thanks for this – nice someone else in this echo chamber wants to open the window.

Rasmus Fogh
RF
Rasmus Fogh
5 months ago

So in order to be allowed to obtain a ceasefire Israel must abandon their security policy and control of the lands around them? Some ‘ceasefire’. Do you want the fighting to stop, or do you want Israel to lose? You cannot get both, you know.

Just out of curiosity, what will happen to Hamas in your peaceful settlement? Will they govern Palestine, or be left around to fight it out with the PA? Will they still conduct regular attacks on Israeli civilians to achieve their aim of ‘liberating Palestine from the River to the Sea’? Or if not, who will suppress them? Will they too undergo a ‘legal process for the crimes committed’, and who will force them to submit to it? Will their successors be any better than they are?

Any realistic proposal for a peaceful solution is welcome – I just wonder if yours will qualify.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
5 months ago

But Hamas does not want peace and will not stop the attacks because they do not recognise Israel and seek to obliterate it. So Israel is forced to seek to obliterate Hamas in order to protect their people, their country and their very existence. I hope you understand this.

Last edited 5 months ago by Lesley van Reenen
Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
5 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

I’m saying that even where a government like Israel’s has a legitmate war aim that we should support (the removal of evil Hamas (whom it deliberately helped to create)) – where civilians are involved and where the power (in part armed by the UK) launching the defence is engaged in a highly aysmmetrical war against a people it has helped to oppress, we are within our rights to call for us much limitation of civilian deaths as possible, especially where the war is being lead by people referring to Palestinians as ‘animals’ and quoting genocidal passges from the Bible. That’s all.
Of course you’re right that Hamas is deeply entrenched and that makes a special operation difficult. That doesn’t mean American and Israeli military strategists are not considering this option – they’re not saying it’s ‘impossible.’ The more I read about the possible solutions, the clearer it seems that in your ‘realistic’ world an invasion of Gaza is no likelier to end the evil of Hamas (it will likely create something worse) than peace proposals. As it stands there’s of course little we can do, besides hoping that the US will keep curbing Netanyahu’s bloodlust, and standing up for Palestinians wherever they are experiencing more undefendable acts of violence (incidentally where do you stand on the growing settler attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank?)
This seems to be a war with lots of ordinary people on either side who are furious with their leaders’ pursuit of destruction, fuelled by people (yourself excepted I hope) who say that no other option but blind acceptance of Netanyahu’s invasion plans are permissible (and those who protest otherwise should be branded as hateful or even arrested), when there are clearly other positions to take. The Gazans’ thin complicity in the actions of their government (which a majority were not happy with), does not mark them out as an evil hoard to be crushed. This is the real world, not the Lord of the Rings.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
5 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

I am no great fan of Netanyahu – or of the settlers, for that matter. I’d back the Economists conclusion that no peace is possible as long as Hamas is a player – if nothing else because the Israeli electorate would insist on so stringent and aggressive measures to keep Hamas down that this in itself would keep anyone in Gaza from considering a deal.

Stepping back a bit, we have two peoples who both want all the land ‘between the river and the sea’, both with good and understandable reasons, and neither with much of place to fall back on elsewhere. In other places (East Prussia, Sudetenland, India/Pakistan Turkey/Greece, Turkey/Armenia, Yugoslavia) that kind of situation has ended after war and ethnic cleansing when the populations were separated and both sides accepted that further military gains were hopeless. Maybe there is no other solution – and if so I think there would be less human suffering with the Israelis expelling the Palestinians, than with someone like Hamas conquering Israel.

A peace would require sharing. Much of Israel would accept giving up some of their maximum land claims for a reliable peace (though they might have to fight some of their settlers to enforce it – no small thing). Still, if there is no peace on offer anyway, Israel has no real incentive to reduce its demands. It is hard to see how to deliver that reliable peace when the territory is so small, the Palestinians do not really want to give up any of their claims, and they have lots of allies around who they can hope would help them get the lot if ever there is an opening. A one-state solution is hopeless, even in theory. A two-state solution might be possible, but it would take a lot of smarts and good will from both sides to get there.

What I will say is that peace proposals will get you nowhere unless you can get to where both sides can see a way to an acceptable result – which for Israel includes security from future Hamas attacks. And that calling for ceasefires and peace immediately, when in practice it means hamstringing Israel and letting Hamas get on with it, is playing Hamas game. The Economist, again, thinks that there can be no long-term peace unless you first defeat Hamas in war. Regrettably, I think they may well be right.

Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
5 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Actually on India- Pakistan, Nehru mishandled the situation so badly that complete exchange of population never took place. Today India as a democratic nation faces the same problem as Israel- hardline Islamic elements, increased illegal immigrants from Rohingya Muslims etc and a venal, corrupt Opposition which has no qualms about supping with the Devil for votebanks.
While Pakistan and Bangladesh have mostly violently got rid of what remained of the non Muslim population.
A two state solution will see Israel in the same spot as we in India face- democratic nations surrounded by militaristic/ hardline Islamic nations.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
5 months ago

Interesting.So are you saying that India must ba a all-Hindu nation with no room for competing religions? That the hate and enmity between Hindus and muslims is as deep and unfixable as between Jews and Palestinians? And that there never was any room for coexistance in a single nation?

Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
5 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

No, I am saying that the Muslims who live in India may start un- following Sharia law( which they privilege over Indian laws)not hold non Muslims to ransom ( search Nupur Sharma and Sar Tan Se Juda events of 2022)and not avail the best of both worlds( use secularism to cling onto Sharia, demand any land based on Waqf rights, claim caste based reservations et al
I had some interesting conversations with Jihadis a while ago to understand that what is preached in many rabid mosque sermons is that both Israel and India need to be obliterated of Kafirs and made fully Islamic .
There are many moderate Muslims- Bohras, Ahmadias, even some Shias. But a rabid Sunni orthodoxy rooted in 19th century Wahabism and it’s 20th century offshoots( Tabligh I Jamaat, Jamat Islam, MIM etc) hold the attention of the Western narratives aided and abetted by their old friends in the Leftist Marxistsand Congress.

Last edited 5 months ago by Sayantani Gupta
james goater
james goater
5 months ago

What an excellent, informative comment. Thank you. The fact that really peaceful sects of Islam — Bohras, and Ahmadiya Muslims especially — are seen as heretical by mainstream Sunni Islam is instructive and horribly revealing.

Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
5 months ago
Reply to  james goater

You may be aware how the Ahmadias and Ishmaelis are persecuted in Pakistan. In India the Bohras are very integrated and are very supportive of Hindus. I stayed in Bombay( Mumbai) for a long time, and the Bohras would enthusiastically participate in public Diwali celebrations on Marine Drive.
They also ardently support the present PM contrary to a lot of propaganda which routinely appears in Western MSM about the BJP being anti Muslim ( not true).

james goater
james goater
5 months ago

Yes indeed, well aware. I have a number of Ahmadiya Muslim friends here, in Japan. They are one of the very, very few persecuted groups who are granted asylum, comparatively easily, in this notoriously refugee-averse nation. That the Bohras of India have a far more peaceful existence than their Ahmadiya counterparts in neighbouring Pakistan does not surprise me in the least.

John Dee
John Dee
5 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

I’ve long considered that any Israel/Palestine ‘mutual accommodation’ would be scuppered by the extremists on both sides. Israel’s settlers are a constant provocation to the other side, and Hamas (lest we forget) are the de facto government in the Palestinian areas, while being committed to ending Israel as a nation.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
5 months ago
Reply to  John Dee

Good point. Arguably Hamas and Netanyahu+settlers have been cooperating in scuppering possible peace proposals since the Oslo accords.

Desmond Wolf
DW
Desmond Wolf
5 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Yes, and those West Bank Palestinians are regularly terrorised by Israeli authorities under the aparthied regime established there (not terrorism as sadistic as that of Hamas, but actions which qualify by the dictionary definition of ‘the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims’). It seems the pro-Palestinian cause has an unanswerable argument to make when it comes to calling for Israel to respect its legal border with the West Bank. Maybe it’s at this issue that all energies of that movement should be directed. I’m assuming a withdrawl of those settlements or an end to the apartheid system there would be a central PLO (and maybe even Hamas) peace treaty demand?

Last edited 5 months ago by Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
5 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Most of that sounds very sensible and hearing this I’d like to know more about what sort of peace terms are being offered by various sides, how likely their chances of success and to what extent other countries can influence their outcome etc. But annoyingly I’ve now got a ton of marking I need to get on with this weekend so that will have to wait.
Your point about a ceasefire playing to Hamas’ game, though well-reasoned, still doesn’t convince me. Hamas seem such a sadistic and self-destructive death cult that the fact that they want Israel’s eradication seems about the only thing we can fathom of their aims. Do they want to achieve this militarily by winning a war against Israel or morally by losing a war against Israel in which most of their population are killed?
In any case, the war they’ve goaded Israel into is losing the latter international support, at least among ordinary people in the UK and the US (though maybe that doesn’t much affect Israel?). It also exposes Israel to other threats such as that from Hezbollah in the north, as well as maybe Iran and others and so I’d like more conclusive evidence that either suing for peace or a special operation for the hostages really is ‘impossible,’ because I still don’t see how trying them excludes the possibility of war later. In short, it still doesn’t seem at all conclusive that a ceasefire would be a net gain for Hamas and Hamas only.
(Though listening to you the last couple of days has made me see some sense behind that view.)

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
5 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Of course avoiding the next Hamas attack is important, but why not focus on that once the hostages are rescused rather than diving into something that immediately jeopardises their chances of survival? Why not a prisoner swap or something else? How are other solutions never being discussed on here.
And yes you’re right that it is a normal part of war that civilians are considered complicit in the actions of their government, but that does not remove our responsibility (as an arms provider to said country) of pressurising them to focus on military targets as much as possible (and I know it’s ve hard to separate Hamas from their human shields but I presume there are things that can be done like the Hamlets program in Vietnam – though to be fair VN is one of countless examples proving the futility of this sort of war).
I don’t think civilian casualties are the necessity you think they are, though increasingly people are bringing up the fact that the allies killed 2 million Germans to make us morally prepared for the rising kill count of Palestinians to come. But the jury is out on whether the allies’ intense bombing of civilian targets in WWII paid off, with one report claiming that beyond a certain level it was futile and a case of war crime, while others like Peter Hitchens (writing for Unherd and the historians Tom Holland and Dominic Sandbrook have also shown how the UK and the USA deserve less moral credit for WWII than we give them as we see in their antisemitic disinterest in bombing the railway lines to German concentration camps, despite knowing the location of some of them at least as early as 1944.
And on the point of the Gazan elections, I would say the connection between the people of Gaza and Hamas is weaker than that between the people and the leaders of the other countries since the election that brought Hamas into power occurred almost 20 years ago and that in a country where almost half the population are under 18 means most people did not vote for them (though I would also add that even if many of them do still support Hamas, how much can they really be blamed given the fact they live in a dictatorship blockaded by a hostile power?)

Last edited 5 months ago by Desmond Wolf
Rasmus Fogh
RF
Rasmus Fogh
5 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

Why not free the hostages first? 1) because that still encourages Hamas to keep taking hostages in the future, 2) because of the freed prisoners and other concessions that would give to Hamas, 3) because Hamas could and would stretch the process over a year or two and demand a cessation of hostilities in the meantime. By the time it was over it would not be politically possible to restart the invasion. In short once you negotiate to release the hostages, you lose the option of fighting the war or of doing much to avoid the next attack. It is not nice, but it is the way it works.

Russell Sharpe
Russell Sharpe
5 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

“the connection between the people of Gaza and Hamas is weaker than that between the people and the leaders of the other countries since the election that brought Hamas into power occurred almost 20 years ago and that in a country where almost half the population are under 18 means most people did not vote for them”
So the half of the population that is under 18 has been raised entirely under Hamas rule, indoctrinated from infancy (I assume you have seen some of the children’s TV shows?) to think of the Jews as barely human and to regard killing them as a meritorous act which will bring social prestige in this life and divine favour hereafter.
Hitler only had 12 years to transform the German people into a nation of fanatics and largely failed. If he had succeeded we would have had to kill far more of them than we in fact did. Sadly the distinction between the inhabitants of Gaza (innocent civilian victims) and Hamas (evil perpetrators) is not really sustainable.

Last edited 5 months ago by Russell Sharpe
UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
5 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

The article you cite states this: “The poll had 2,685 respondents, 58 percent of whom said they are in support of an immediate ceasefire”. That is a very small poll and does not support your case.Even if it did, what would that mean? Of course everyone wants the violence to stop. Israel wants Hamas to abandon its pledge to kill or expel all Jews in the region, but that is not going to happen, as Hamas has repeatedly declared. What is incomprehensible to most of us was the way that pro-Palestinian supporters in this country started demonstrating against Israel and threatening Jews as soon as the news of the atrocities came out and before any IDF action had taken place. A person whose reaction on hearing that the people you support have engaged in the beheading of babies, mass rape,,burning families alive and taking hostages while gleefully posting the video evidence on social media was not one of utter shame, there is something seriously wrong with them.
Even the call for a proportionate response is absurd. Are the Israelis expect to enact the same level of gruesome atricities in the same numbers as Hamas? How would the world react to that, even if Israeli soldiers could be persuaded to act in such an evil fashion?.
The only response from Israel that the vehement supporters of Hamas would seem to want is that Israel should simply accept the endless rain of rockets into its territory and the murder of its citizens without protest or military action. Or better yet, abandon the only democratic state in the Middle East and disperse its citizens throughout the world in the endless quest for somewhere, anywhere where they won’t be subjected to the pogroms and anti-Semitic violence that we have seen across the world in the last days..

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
5 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Well it’s the only poll I’ve heard of at the moment and it reflects polls in the USA. And it does a better job of making my point than you do yours, claiming that all peace protestors (including Jewish ones?) were just out to threaten Jews. Every peace-supporting (pro-Hamas in your eyes probably) commentator I endorse in this wholeheartedly condemns what Hamas did. They are a sadistic death cult. But it seems fair to me to pressurise Netanyahu’s govt to not get carried away with its own genocidal rhetoric.10x more Palestinians than Israelis have been killed already since the 7th. Of course what Hamas did was worse by nature, but at some point the degree of destruction Israel inflicts is going to turn the tide of public opinion. Or do you think any number of Palestinian deaths is acceptable?

Last edited 5 months ago by Desmond Wolf
Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
5 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

You lose me immediately when you bring in proportionality. Have you learned nothing from this debate.

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
5 months ago

I have learnt plenty from this debate, including the difficulty (though not impossibility) of a special rescue operation for the hostages as well as about the the self-destructive psychology of Hamas that will make it harder (though again who can really say impossible?) to broker a peace deal. I have assimilated these views which has led to a tentative shift from thinking a ceasefire is appropriate to thinking that we need to support Israel’s war but remain critical of Netanyahu’s war machine, keep up pressure for civilian deaths to be limited (i.e. be as proportionate as possible) and straight out condemn the gratuitous killing of Palestinians living under an apartheid regime among the Israeli settlers on the West Bank which no one can give any justification for.
I haven’t seen much nuance from you however, though I suppose coming in here with a religious conviction that Netanyahu is above criticism there never really was much for you to learn was there.

Last edited 5 months ago by Desmond Wolf
Peter Joy
Peter Joy
5 months ago

Proportionality in reprisals is a settled and well-established point of international law (though I expect people ‘lose you entirely’, as they have successive Israeli Governments, when they mention that too).

Last edited 5 months ago by Peter Joy
Peter Joy
Peter Joy
5 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

“The poll had 2,685 respondents, 58 percent of whom said they are in support of an immediate ceasefire”. That is a very small poll…’
What are you on about? The average major political poll has just over 2,000 participants. For a binary question like that, a representative poll of 200 would be statistically fairly dependable – let alone 2,685. Whether you like it or not, it absolutely does support his claim in respect of public attitudes.

Aidan Trimble
AT
Aidan Trimble
5 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

The 76% figure came from a poll of less than three thousand people. In no way is that representative of the UK public.

Desmond Wolf
DW
Desmond Wolf
5 months ago
Reply to  Aidan Trimble

Yes I know – polls are not perfect. I’m just saying that those who claim most people in this country do not want a ceasefire have still got some work ahead of them if they want to prove that.

Peter Joy
Peter Joy
5 months ago
Reply to  Aidan Trimble

What an odd claim. In political polling, anything over 2,000 or so is considered pretty robust, with a margin or error of plus or minus two per cent. If you think a poll is meaningless because the pollsters asked a representative sample of 3,000 members of the public, rather than EVERY SINGLE PERSON IN THE COUNTRY, then you have little concept of statistics.
I suspect you’d have been less dismissive of this poll’s reliability had the results had been the ones you wanted to hear.

George Venning
George Venning
5 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

“one which i believe a majority of the voting public aligns with”
It seems that a huge majority of the british public supports a ceasefire. 76% in favour – 8% opposed.
https://yougov.co.uk/topics/travel/survey-results/daily/2023/10/19/e363e/1
YouGov is a fairly respectably pollster by the standards of these things.
It is certainly principled of Starmer to stick to his position. But that’s precisely because his position isn’t popular.

Last edited 5 months ago by George Venning
Aidan Trimble
Aidan Trimble
5 months ago
Reply to  George Venning

Again, it’s 76% of less than three thousand people.

Desmond Wolf
DW
Desmond Wolf
5 months ago
Reply to  George Venning

Yes, but public opinion is supposed to be despised when it doesn’t agree with what you believe, you understand. Those on here who liked to imagine the British agreed with them reverted to saying ‘good thing it doesn’t matter a whit what the British public thinks about the Israeli response’ when they discoverd otherwise.
But given that the UK arms industry, heavily subsidised by the UK tax payer, ‘provides 15% of the components in the F35 stealth combat aircraft that are currently being used in the bombardment of Gaza,’ it turns out that it does matter what people in the UK think about this. Just as it matters what we think about Saudi Arabia’s bombing of Yemen with British weapons in what the UN have called the ‘greatest humanitarian crisis of the 21st century.’

Last edited 5 months ago by Desmond Wolf
Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
5 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

He will bend. Not mentioned in the article (which was fascinating on Blair/Lebanon story) is the influence of the BBC and media. Now that the IDF take the war to Gaza City, we will be bombarded only with terrible unrelenting images of Palestinian victimhood and suffering. Hamas will as ever leave the stage, job done. The propaganda war is an unequal fight and public opinion will v swiftly (and to our shame) be driven back to the Evil Western Colonizer Israel outlook enshrined in the media’s and Labour’s progressive ideology. Even if Starmer clings tight to his robust position, it is very likely that he will be seen to paddling alone in a lifeboat, shunned by leftist MPs, resigning Muslim Councillors and angry marchers, so exposing the true and weak position of a Labour Party well at odds with talk of readiness for power.

Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
5 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

I agree with you on that analysis

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
5 months ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Cenk’s view is my view: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YRFKkmsDpuw
Awaiting my branding as an anti-Semite..

m pathy
m pathy
5 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

You are an anti-semite and you know it.

Desmond Wolf
DW
Desmond Wolf
5 months ago
Reply to  m pathy

I’m sure the families of those captured by Hamas – whose loved ones’ lives are threatened daily by cheers for war and accusations of anti-semitism against anyone against it – would agree with you.

Allison Barrows
AB
Allison Barrows
5 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

Cenk Uygur, the Turk who announced his impossible run for president only to be mercilessly mocked? The guy who proclaimed that he would legalize bestiality? That Cenk Uygur? Yikes, dude.

Dorrido Dorrido
DD
Dorrido Dorrido
5 months ago

Your comment is a clear deflection of what Cenk says.
His comments make complete sense

harry storm
harry storm
5 months ago

Actually his comments make no sense. Perhaps he forgot about the American invasion of Afghanistan because he popped a gasket thinking about the Israeli response to a gruesome massacre.

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
5 months ago

Anything relevant to say? David Cameron was possibly an actual practitioner of bestiality yet I don’t bother using it to attack him (his public deeds – doubling homelessness, Libya and Greensill are what’s relevant).
Uygar is also running to encourage others to do so. Plus, many people running for public office are mocked in the beginning (I recall Obama wasn’t taken seriously by his own wife).
But yes of course the bestiality thing is stupid. You can be wrong about one thing and right about another. Isn’t that the sort of fair-mindedness this publication is meant to be all about?

Last edited 5 months ago by Desmond Wolf
harry storm
harry storm
5 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

he’s far from right here. In fact he comes across like an angry moron.

Sue Whorton
Sue Whorton
5 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

The references to porkers were first used by LBJ. He pointed out that it didn’t have to be true, just that people had an image they thought could be true.

Peter Joy
PJ
Peter Joy
5 months ago
Reply to  Sue Whorton

Yep. The idea was just to plant that image in people’s heads.

Peter Joy
PJ
Peter Joy
5 months ago

Given that no one seems much bothered by the long-term imprisonment and mass murder of pigs and chickens, I can see why Mr Uygur’s thinks the State might have better things to do than prosecute Turks for lesser crimes against them.

Gorka Sillero
Gorka Sillero
5 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

The same guy who denies the Armenian genocide happened, of course he would side with the jihadis

Desmond Wolf
DW
Desmond Wolf
5 months ago
Reply to  Gorka Sillero

That’s indeed a bad thing that he thought when he was younger, with a head full of Turkish propaganda. But he apologised (he co-hosts a show with Ana Kasparian whose great-grandparents are survivors of that genocide). And stop saying people denouncing Hamas but demanding peace are siding with the jihadis – lots of Jewish Israelis also want peace, not least the families of hostages who know that this bombardment (instead of a prisoner swap or a special op) is likelier to kill their loved ones.

Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
5 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

There’s that illusory ‘special op’ again. And the Hamas government’s idea of a swap is usually ‘all of ours for one of yours’. Rasmus has it right (above) – this is not a Marvel comic.

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
5 months ago

Well would it really be so bad if they had to swap more Hamas prisoners for a lower number of Israeli captives? Wouldn’t that be entirely consistent with the Netanyahu government’s belief that Palestinian lives, these ‘animals,’ are worth less than Israeli ones?
And of all the options, it seems the only way of properly serving the afflicted families in whose name this war is allegedly being waged.

Last edited 5 months ago by Desmond Wolf
harry storm
harry storm
5 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

Thanks for turning the Jewish/Israeli willingness to give up dozens of prisoners for one Israeli life into a negative. Imagine how bigoted you have to be to do that.

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
5 months ago
Reply to  harry storm

Yes I am bigoted – against Netanyahu’s government, that has caused both sides so much pain (from growing Hamas to neglecting security and eroding the rule of law within Israel).
And from all I’ve heard, a prisoner swap sounds like the best solution, but if you have a better one I’ll happily be proven wrong.

Last edited 5 months ago by Desmond Wolf
Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
5 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

The best solution is a cease fire forever. But Hamas will not settle for that because they do not want peace – they want to obliterate Israel.
The only solution, is thus removing Hamas from the equation.

Peter Joy
Peter Joy
5 months ago
Reply to  harry storm

That’s rather OTT. Israel wasn’t delivering that exchange rate out of charitable generosity. What you forget is that with its military control of the West Bank, Israel at any given time possesses far more Palestinian captives than Hamas or Hezbollah – let alone toothless Fatah – ever has Israeli ones. And it can seize more any time it likes. There are currently some 5,000 Palestinians detained without trial in Israeli jails – some for years – including many young teenagers for stone-throwing. And a Israeli spokespeople are forever pointing out, there are hundreds of millions of Muslims in the world, but only 12 million of the Chosen People. In a typical past prisoner swap, a few captured IDF troops would be handed over in return for maybe 30-50 Arab militants. Rate of about 10-20:1, the exchange rate reflected the facts above. In successive Gaza and Lebanon rocketings, bombings and bombardments, the exchange rate in casualties has also been a fairly steady 10 or 20:1, reflecting the huge disparity in technology, firepower and resources.

Last edited 5 months ago by Peter Joy
Jim Veenbaas
JV
Jim Veenbaas
5 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

I hope for peace too, but how exactly does that work? There was a ceasefire in place Oct. 7, but that didn’t stop them. A Hamas official this week said that it won’t stop until Israel is wiped off the map.

Desmond Wolf
DW
Desmond Wolf
5 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Well i’m out of my depth when it comes to suggesting details over some kind of peace negotiation (but this is how all wars must end right?). A justification for the war is the unique sadism of Hamas. But that same sadism might be the reason Hamas doesn’t surrender until most of Gaza is eliminated and in light of that possibility I’m not sure why calling for a ceasefire is naive.
Again I don’t have well thought out alternatives, I’m just surprised by the uncritical endorsement by most people on here of a war being carried out by a government which has helped create Hamas, is losing popularity in Israel, that makes no secret of the fact it intends to shrink Gaza, which it sees as populated by ‘human animals,’ and which makes war announcements citing genocidal passages from the Bible. Oughn’t that to give us all pause for thought before throwing all our energies into smearing peace protestors as somehow ‘pro-Hamas’ and believing the Israelis ‘had it coming,’ as sky had to apologise for doing this week?

Dorrido Dorrido
Dorrido Dorrido
5 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

Thanks for sharing. I fully agree with what Cenk says

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
5 months ago

Welcome. I’m not sure of how practical his proposed solution is but I felt hopeful hearing what could be some non-polarising third way between all out war and ceasefire..

Tony Freeman
TF
Tony Freeman
5 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

I doubt you’re an anti-semite. But you are applying moral wishful thinking. Oh, how I wish you were right and that this conflict could be dealt with as you say. Being wrong though does not make you an anti-semite but it does unfortunately show you as sadly naive.

harry storm
HS
harry storm
5 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

I watched that interview. Cenk is an idiot. His solution: to emulate how the Americans went after Bin Laden only, serves to reveal just how stupid he really is. He contrasts America’s murder of bin Laden with israel’s response and says that’s what Israel should do. Apparently he forgot the Afghan invasion which America initiated just after 9/11, one which killed thousands of innocent Afghans. That’s quite the omission.

Peter Joy
PJ
Peter Joy
5 months ago
Reply to  harry storm

I expect that rather than the ludicrous $5 trillion wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Mr Cenk was referring to the operation in 2011 where the US forces actually went after OBL himself, in a well-planned and professionally executed surgical operation, on the basis of sound intelligence – you know, with about four helicopters and a single SEAL Team? They found him, of course, in a discreet walled compound in a military cantonment in Pakistan (‘a stalwart ally in the War on Terror’, as President GW Bush described that State). Casualties? Three dead, IIRR: OBL, his wife and his one guard.

Last edited 5 months ago by Peter Joy
Avro Lanc
AL
Avro Lanc
5 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

If the cap fits

Mike Downing
Mike Downing
5 months ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

I agree. I see this as Starmer’s ultimate poison chalice. If he starts to flip-flop as usual it will allow division to grow in his own party and open him up to ridicule by the media and voters.

Steve Jolly
SJ
Steve Jolly
5 months ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Being an American, I have no horse in this race so to speak, but my estimation of Starmer has ticked up by a considerable margin based on his stance here, especially in the face of the useful idiots supporting Hamas by condemning Israel for its counterattack. These misguided protesters and public opinion polls are a critical leg of Hamas strategy. Hamas is literally using the sentimentality and stupidity of western populations against Israel. It is shameful that the tactic is working. Starmer seems like he gets that, which puts him ahead of many others in my book. He may yet lose his nerve and buckle under political pressure, but at least his heart seems to be in the right place, which is more than can be said for others.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
5 months ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

His wife’s family is Jewish and that ill affect his perspective

harry storm
harry storm
5 months ago

I think you meant “positively affects his perspective.”

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
5 months ago
Reply to  harry storm

I did say “ill”

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
5 months ago

You would think so, wouldn’t you?
Not that it stopped Sir Keir – in the hope of personal political advancement – spending several years offering his full-throated support to a “Friend of Hamas”, terrorist sympathiser in the shape of Jeremy Corbyn.
If Starmer is taking a principled stand then that is to be applauded, but it would be something of a new experience for him

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
5 months ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

I think he was just trying to stay in the running to replace Corbyn.
I bet there is someone sitting on a lot of dirt about Sir Kier

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
5 months ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

The heavy hand of Unherd censorship is playing on this thread. Watching and waiting but if this continues I will not be around for much longer.

Desmond Wolf
DW
Desmond Wolf
5 months ago

Give it another day

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
5 months ago

It’s not such UnHerd but various ‘objectors’ who are having a field day ‘flagging’ everything they can on this toxic topic.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
5 months ago

It seems that many of the comments have returned. I do hope Unherd monitors the people doing the flagging. They have no place here.

Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
5 months ago

Here’s what proportionality actually means according to international law.  It does not mean t*t for tat. It means that Israel’s strikes against HAMAS have to be proportional to the threat and stopping the threat. Israel has used a proportional response. HAMAS continues to fire rockets at Israeli civilian population centers, so the threat still exists. Pictures from Gaza show some destroyed buildings but large areas that have been left virtually untouched. Israel is not carpet-bombing but is trying to hit specific targets of rocket launch sites, HAMAS leaders and underground tunnels that shelter HAMAS murderers and their weapons and their command and control. Anyone claiming that Israel has violated the rules of war in that the response from the Israel Defense Forces has been disproportionate either doesn’t understand what that means, or they are deliberately spreading lies. 1. No army or nation in history has been obligated to feed and power its foe during wartime. 2. Hamas could have released hostages at any time; Israel has committed to restore supply if they did.  3. Hamas has copious supplies of food, water and fuel hoarded in their tunnels. They could have used this at any time to ease the Gaza population’s suffering.

Last edited 5 months ago by Samuel Ross
Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
5 months ago
Reply to  Samuel Ross

The notion of ‘proportionality’ is a logical nonsense. It is a given that the first Islamic country in the region to make nukes, probably Iran, will use them on Israel. At which point what exactly would ‘proportionality’ mean?
A likely chain of events might then be, Tel Aviv will be destroyed but I bet the Israelis have an automated response in place which will destroy every major city of the attacking nation.

alan bennett
alan bennett
5 months ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

And hopefully the cities of supporting nations likeTurkey, and supranationals like the EU and the UN.

Dorrido Dorrido
Dorrido Dorrido
5 months ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

what a strange bigoted comment, what is the relevance that an Islamic country has nukes? What about if an extremist ethnonationalist country like Israel illegally has nukes?

Rob C
Rob C
5 months ago

Because the Jews have what they want — control of Israel/Palestine. Why would they use nuclear weapons? Iran on the other hand doesn’t have what they want — Muslim control of Israel/Palestine — and so would need to use nuclear weapons to destroy the occupiers.

Peter Joy
PJ
Peter Joy
5 months ago
Reply to  Rob C

Hmm. It’s not as if the Iranians are either Sunni or even Arab. Their bad relations with both go back nearly 1,500 years. They are well aware of the doctrine of MAD – it’s the one the UK, US and Russia subscribe to – and are not so stupid as to want to get Iran’s cities flattened and its people obliterated and land poisoned in the attempt to do the same to Israel for a notional Sunni Arab benefit.
What Iranian nuclear weapons would do is act as a deterrent against US and Israeli aggression (hence their desire for it not to have them) and force both (and Saudi) to take more serious account of Iran, i.e. start dealing with it as a sizeable and ancient sovereign nation rather than a wicked pariah that dared to overthrow its US-UK appointed puppet ruler (Shah Reza Pahlavi) back in 1979. The US has never forgiven that – just as it has never forgiven Cuba for the overthrow of Batista.

Last edited 5 months ago by Peter Joy
Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
5 months ago

1. I am the least bigoted person on earth, I did a test on the internet and the internet guys said I should get an award for how free of bigotry I am, honest. I can prove this by sending you the certificate if you can please post your bitcoin account details here.

2. Israel already has nukes. They haven’t used them yet. They have so far tried to prevent neighbouring countries from getting nukes by crippling their reactor programmes. But this clearly cannot work for ever. If North Korea can now make nukes, so will the Arab countries in the region be able to eventually. It’s just the march of time and technology so what was very difficult seven decades ago is simpler now because most of the components needed to make nukes and to a lesser extent rockets are now available off the shelf. North Korea will certainly have used US and Japanese chips, precision engineering and software from the UK, Swiss etc.

3. I am stone cold certain that any of Iran, Egypt, Saudi, Iraq or Libya getting a nuke means they will use it on Israel sooner or later, not least because their stated aim over decades has been to wipe out the state of Israel. Iraq and Libya are out of the picture for the moment but Iran is formidable and the Saudis have a lot of money.

Andrew F
Andrew F
5 months ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

I disagree with your section 3 reasoning.
I would be surprised if Israel did not get commitment from USA that Egypt will not get nukes before signing peace treaty.
The same goes for Saudi Arabia.
Problem is Iran and both Obama and Biden policies of appeasing Iran is bad and mad.

Last edited 5 months ago by Andrew F
John Dee
John Dee
5 months ago
Reply to  Andrew F

I seem to remember that ‘peace treaties’ were in place just before 1939. Didn’t help, did it?

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
5 months ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

Great post Prashant.

R Wright
R Wright
5 months ago

Israel has nukes. It is an open secret.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
5 months ago
Reply to  R Wright

‘We’, the UK ‘sold’ the necessity plutonium to Israel thanks to the treachery of a senior civil servant one Michael Israel Michaels.

Michaels seems to have operated with complete impunity during the Macmillan and Wilson governments. No doubt the US connived in this deceit, but we shall probably never know for sure.

2hrs later: Who seriously denies this?

Last edited 5 months ago by Charles Stanhope
Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
5 months ago

We sold a jet engine to the USSR in the 1940s. It ws not treachery but incompetence. We also closed down our aircraft and missile R and D . It would appear that the HMG was utterly incompetent when it came to developing our aircraft , missile and defence capabilities in the late 1940s to late 1960s.

Charles Stanhope
CS
Charles Stanhope
5 months ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Why has this ‘thread’ been so savagely censored?

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
5 months ago

The incompetence of HMG post 1945 ?

Peter Joy
PJ
Peter Joy
5 months ago

Whatever could have been Michaels’ motivation to betray Britain’s security interests in Israel’s favour? Money? Blackmail?
JFK was eager to prevent Israel getting the bomb’ and, despite much difficulty and wiggling and prevarication, extracted an inspection regime from the then Israeli PM in 1963. But later that year, of course, JFK was killed in Dallas, and LBJ got distracted by Vietnam, the inspections lapsed – and by the time Nixon was in the White House, Israel’s nuclear warheads were a fait accompli. They are reckoned now to have anything from 80-400 of them.

Last edited 5 months ago by Peter Joy
Peter Joy
Peter Joy
5 months ago

Mystified as to why people would down-vote your post, without commenting on it. If someone knew better, or had reason to believe that this allegation was untrue, you’d think they’d say so.
It’s as if you’re saying something that’s not supposed to be said.

Peter Joy
PJ
Peter Joy
5 months ago

Well, from a technical point of view its not ‘illegal’ as Israel has pointedly never signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty and pretends to ambiguity about the existence of its nuclear arsenal – which it has had (partly thanks to French, German, Norwegian and UK cooperation and connivance) since the late 60s. But one Mordecai Vanunu blew the gaff on the programme back in the 80s (and was then kidnapped from Italy by Mossad agents in complete and characteristic contempt for Italian law and given about 20 years jail). In any case, Israel is are well-known to have a sizeable and varied nuclear arsenal (see my previous post): indeed, their Culture Minister last week proposed dropping one on the south half of Gaza, which tells you something about the kind of politician now in Bibi’s Cabinet

Peter Joy
Peter Joy
5 months ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

Given that Israel already has an arsenal of some 200-400 warheads, deliverable by cruise missiles from five submarines; as aerial bombs from stealth fighters; by medium-range ballistic missiles; as tactical nukes by heavy artillery; and potentially even a nuclear landmine in the Golan – given all that, no Iranian regime would attempt a first-use against Israel. The neocons constantly claim that the Iranian leadership are suicidal maniacs, just as they intermittently claim Putin is, but it’s a wholly self-serving claim. For a sizeable nation like Iran – stimulated to industrial self-reliance by decades of US sanctions – a nuclear deterrent would be a useful insurance policy against further Israeli (or US) attacks. The big lesson of the past 60 years is that possession of a nuclear deterrent will keep US boots off a dissident nation’s back (see China and North Korea). If Iraq really had had effective WMD, the US would never have invaded it.

Last edited 5 months ago by Peter Joy
Thor Albro
TA
Thor Albro
5 months ago

Quite a schism here between UK sentiment and America. My sense (as a Yank) is that the pro-Palestine fanatics here have been shunned by both right and left. The overwhelming sentiment is for the Israelis, and there is little sympathy in the media for hand-wringing about collateral casualties. There is a grim feeling of yet another inevitable war against Islamic insanity. Indeed, this dynamic may be a hinge point for our history, as so many good liberals (including millions of Jews)look with horror on their unhinged progressive former allies as they hysterically scream for Jewish genocide,

Matt M
Matt M
5 months ago
Reply to  Thor Albro

I suspect the difference is 6.5% of Brits are Muslims compared to 1.1% of Yanks. I wonder what the prevailing mood is in Sweden (8.1%), France (10%) or in Brussels (20%)?
For what it is worth, I suspect the man-on-the-street in Britain is more closely aligned to his American counterpart than this article suggests.

Last edited 5 months ago by Matt M
Billy Bob
Billy Bob
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

I must say I disagree. If we’re talking in terms of the overarching historical conflict rather than simply the events of the last few weeks I’d wager there’s more sympathy for the Palestinians position than the Israelis amongst Britons.
However unlike the Americans who seem to be much more invested in Israel, a vast, vast majority of Brits would sit firmly in the don’t know/don’t care/all as bad as each other opinion

harry storm
harry storm
5 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

Good thing it doesn’t matter a whit what the British public thinks about the Israeli response.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
5 months ago
Reply to  harry storm

This is very true, hence the reason Britain shouldn’t be getting involved. Why the PM went over there I have no idea, as it’s nothing to do with Britain

Just to add, the YouGov poll on where people’s sympathies lie breaks down as

10% more with Israelis
24% more with Palestinians
32% neither
34% don’t know

Last edited 5 months ago by Billy Bob
Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
5 months ago
Reply to  harry storm

Britain does sell Israel a lot of weapons to be fair and the British arms industry is heavily subsidised by the government, so I’d say it does matter at least a whit what the British public think. Just as it should matter that most of us probably don’t want our money going on arms for Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen, described by the UN as the ‘world’s largest humanitarian crisis.’

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
5 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

I suppose a fact finding mission of how many children can be killed by each missile we’ve sold them could be handy information for research purposes.
Although rather hypocritically I have no issues with selling arms to anybody, if we didn’t somebody else would so we may as well take their money

Last edited 5 months ago by Billy Bob
Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
5 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Thanks for your honesty, but do you really believe that justifies it? There seems no economic necessity to me – why not get better at manufacturing more productive technology and sell that instead?

Billy Bob
BB
Billy Bob
5 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

In an ideal world yes I agree, but in the meantime if it’s creating skilled well paid jobs in Britain as well as improving the nations defensive capability I’d keep selling them

Jane Anderson
JA
Jane Anderson
5 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

I disagree. Some of the most extreme anti Israel rhetoric and support for Hamas is coming from America. This is part and parcel of the extreme condition of american politics – which has now infected our own.
Most people are not left wing activists who have invested their political certainties in being anti-Israel. Most people will see the situation for what it is. Which is a country subject to acts of the most extreme and sickening brutality, and will sympathise with Israel’s aim to destroy Hamas.
They see mobs on the street screaming anti Israeli and anti Jewish rhetoric and calling for jihad, and they feel empathy and shock on behalf of Jewish people everywhere, including those in their own country.

Last edited 5 months ago by Jane Anderson
Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
5 months ago
Reply to  Jane Anderson

Just to clarify, seeming support for Hamas is coming from American campuses, many of which are bought by anti-American organizations. The kids and faculty populating these institutions are ignorant to the point of farce.

Desmond Wolf
DW
Desmond Wolf
5 months ago

You got numbers on people explicitly supporting Hamas or are you just going on media misrepresentations of protests calling for a ceasefire? Because that’s what two thirds of Americans want according to this: https://truthout.org/articles/two-thirds-of-american-voters-want-us-to-call-for-a-ceasefire-in-gaza/

Last edited 5 months ago by Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
5 months ago
Reply to  Jane Anderson

https://truthout.org/articles/two-thirds-of-american-voters-want-us-to-call-for-a-ceasefire-in-gaza/
So are two thirds of Americans left wing activists who are anti-Israel?

Matt M
MM
Matt M
5 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

I actually suspect the most common conclusion the British people will draw from looking at the protests in London and elsewhere will be: Enoch was right!

Last edited 5 months ago by Matt M
Charles Stanhope
CS
Charles Stanhope
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

Precisely! Enough is enough.

Simon Shaw
Simon Shaw
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

Too true!

William Edward Henry Appleby
WE
William Edward Henry Appleby
5 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

This

anthony henderson
AH
anthony henderson
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

So 93.5% are not Muslim, why then does the government, companies, media etc go out of their way to appease them?

Mike Michaels
Mike Michaels
5 months ago

Cos they’re shit scared of them.

Matt M
MM
Matt M
5 months ago

97% of the population are heterosexual but half of all news stories, political debates, adverts and so on are about homosexuals, bi-sexuals, transvestites and the rest.
What gets all the attention makes very little sense.

Last edited 5 months ago by Matt M
Mrs R
Mrs R
5 months ago

I have come to the think that perhaps they are actively enabling the establishment of the global caliphate. One world government, one world religion- a religion that means submission.
Is it mad to think this? I would have hoped so but recent years have changed me. The assault on the Christian values that underpinned our culture has been relentless and successful, now we have the assault on whiteness – who would have imagined that? – and the teaching of critical race theory that paints white people as the problem. Ie. The oppressor. History shows where this can lead.
Time we stopped cowardly pretending this will go away. We owe it to all younger generations whatever their race or beliefs.

Mrs R
Mrs R
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

Given Blair’s experience one has to wonder why his government was the one solely responsible for opening our borders to mass, uncontrolled immigration from Islamic counties and for the shutting down of any objections by the imposition of Hate Laws and the demonising of dissent as racist. Genocidal ambitions towards Jews and infidels in general along with imperialist ambitions to establish a global caliphate are not unique to Hamas. I found it strange how his government advocated the most monolithically conservative voices from the burgeoning Muslim community.
They spoke of their determination to stamp out ‘terror’ but their actions spoke differently.

Emmanuel MARTIN
EM
Emmanuel MARTIN
5 months ago
Reply to  Thor Albro

On an absolutely unrelated note, there are more influent muslim communities in the UK

Last edited 5 months ago by Emmanuel MARTIN
Simon Shaw
Simon Shaw
5 months ago
Reply to  Thor Albro

That appears to be exactly what Muslims want!

Dougie Undersub
DU
Dougie Undersub
5 months ago
Reply to  Thor Albro

There seems to be plenty of pro-Palestinian feeling on university campuses, Thor.

Walter Lantz
Walter Lantz
5 months ago
Reply to  Thor Albro

As a Canadian I can’t claim to speak for our American cousins but there was an interesting news item that crawled across my TV screen this morning. Michigan Democrats have issued a warning to Biden that his stance is perceived as too pro-Israel which could be a problem for their chances at repeating in 2024. Michigan is a key swing state as well as home to the largest Arab-American demographic in the US (mainly Detroit).
Here in the Great White North progressive politicians like Trudeau are trying to walk a tightrope. Support for Israel. Sympathy for the Palestinians. Unfortunately for Trudeau, his government is still recovering from last month’s “invite a Nahtsee to work day” fiasco when Zalensky made an appearance in parliament. Today Trudeau is meeting with Palestinian community leaders to “hear their concerns” but he’s about as popular in the latest polls as an actual d**k in a bowl of spotted d**k so it’s meaningless.

Paul T
PT
Paul T
5 months ago

The left’s reflexive screech for a ceasefire almost before the bodies had hit the ground shows exactly what they are; revolting terrorist enablers.

Dorrido Dorrido
DD
Dorrido Dorrido
5 months ago
Reply to  Paul T

Israel is the terrorist enabler:
How Netanyahu’s Hamas policy came back to haunt him — and Israel | CBC News
Israeli policy is not to find the hostages or hamas, but revenge, to kill and terrorise and brutalise – all war crimes
Amid the Mourning, Israel’s Settlement Enterprise Celebrates a Great Victory – Opinion – Haaretz.com
Continuing to enable and excuse Israel’s brutal repression will never bring peace or security to Israel

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
5 months ago

Well, what would bring peace and security to Israel? I’d like to hear your proposals.

As for ‘find[ing] the hostages or hamas‘ that is impossible as long as both are hidden in an underground fortress under a hostile Gaza. As you surely know. The choice Israel has is either to bomb and invade – as they are doing – or to give up and leave Hamas in peace to negotiate for the hostages and prepare the next atrocity.

Rob C
RC
Rob C
5 months ago

What do you think would bring peace and security to Israel? Let’s hear your plan.

Desmond Wolf
DW
Desmond Wolf
5 months ago

Hear hear. This comment will be taken down though before the end of the day. Anything critical of Netanyahu gets the Netanyahu treatment on here. Maybe Unherd’s billionaire owner Paul Marshall has investments in arms companies fuelling this war. His investments in other areas certainly raise questions over how much we can trust this outlet on other issues, such as man-made climate change, which he is liable to want to downplay given his £2.2bn investment in fossil fuels.

Last edited 5 months ago by Desmond Wolf
Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
5 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

Unherd has strangely changed its contact process. One of Rasmus’s posts has disappeared and I tried to query this. It is very difficult. Sounds like they are going the way of mainstream media.

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
5 months ago

Comments often disappear actually and usually it isn’t clear why (unless there’s some obscenity). They normally return after a day or two though. Think met police vs Republic.

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
5 months ago

And the post has disappeared because it was a response I think to one of mine (which was removed). Though I can still see it if I go to ‘my comments.’ It was my disputing of his suggestion that there is moral equivalence between Israel’s invasion of Gaza and Britain’s invasion of Nazi Germany. You’d have to only be reading Unherd’s coverage of this conflict to believe him. Clearly the Palestinians have a far more legitimate grievance than Nazi Germany (occupation by Israel and apartheid in their own land for decades) and their aim of having their own state free state is somewhat less ambitious let’s say than anything Hitler was planning..

Last edited 5 months ago by Desmond Wolf
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
5 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

My point was not that there is a moral equivalence between Hamas and either Churchill, Putin, or old Adolf (I mentioned all three). But that in all four cases we had a (once elected) government going to war – and the people under that government cannot claim that they are completely disconnected from what their government is doing and therefore should be immune from the consequences of war.

As for the posts, it is immensely frustrating, but I do not think it is a matter of one-sided censorship. My posts disappear too. It could be misuse of the ‘report comment’ system, but most likely it is just that their algotrithmic moderation system stinks. Apparently some combination of lots of downvotes and many repeated posts (well, I sure do not know) gets you removed. Which is silly – I would much rather prove you are completely wrong than have your posts disappear 😉

Andrew F
Andrew F
5 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

It is mostly automated algorithm.
If you type Communism, Stalin, Mao etc it gets through.
But if you type fasc*st, Na*I, Islamofasc*st, etc without asterisk you get “awaiting for approval”
This shows you how demented Unherd is.

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
5 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

‘people under that government cannot claim that they are completely disconnected from what their government is doing and therefore should be immune from the consequences of war’ – fair
‘would much rather prove you are completely wrong than have your posts disappear’ – well thank you for engaging rather being another squawking war hawk reporting me off the page. And thanks as well for recognising the force and nuance of my arguments, which had the grace to acknowledge that yours were not completely wrong 😉

Last edited 5 months ago by Desmond Wolf
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
5 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

Yes, I noticed. Neither were yours.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
5 months ago

Well, Netanyahu’s policy has worked in one respect at least. Everyone can now see that Hamas isn’t interested in a two-state solution either.

Paul T
Paul T
5 months ago

Blah blah blah get back under your stone.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
5 months ago
Reply to  Paul T

Or maybe they believe 9000 civilian deaths (and counting) is too high a price to pay for retaliation against the terrorist group?

El Uro
El Uro
5 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Do you remember “civilians” dancing on the streets 9/11? I do.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
5 months ago
Reply to  El Uro

What’s your point? Because they detest Israel they deserve to be killed?

Paul T
Paul T
5 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Thats your point though isn’t it; the one that you keep trying to project onto others. Its revolting too.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
5 months ago
Reply to  Paul T

I’m confused. What point do you believe I’m trying to make?

Paul T
PT
Paul T
5 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

“What’s your point? Because they detest Israel they deserve to be killed?”
Thats your comment right there; your words. This isn’t play school, if you write words intending to project them onto others and other people are wise to it…its what you want; you think Israelis “deserve to be killed”.

Billy Bob
BB
Billy Bob
5 months ago
Reply to  Paul T

Did you not see the question mark? In other words I was asking a question, is that what El Uro believes as that was what was seemingly implied by their comment.

Paul T
Paul T
5 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Nah, don’t believe you. You are like the Sun back in the 80’s; article on one page about a person they wanted to get with an article on the facing page about pedeophiles.

Simon Neale
Simon Neale
5 months ago

Then, yesterday, he released a video to mark Islamophobia Awareness Month 

Proof that even in the midst of the darkest most appalling crimes against humanity, there are still belly-laughs to be had.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
5 months ago

In a sense, the disordered world of international relations lends itself to the tragic mind of the conservative, while the ordered life of the nation state is the natural home of the progressive. At home, you can grow the economy and share out the proceeds; in foreign policy you cannot grow territory without someone losing out….This — for what it’s worth — is as true for Blairite progressives as it is for the anti-colonial Left. Both want foreign policies based on notions of an overarching morality.”
Interesting thought, but in view of the modern multicultural society Britain has become, slightly flawed.
The paragraph seems to presuppose that there is still an overarching morality among the domestic population where “progressives” can be in their happy place and generate domestic policy along the lines of those accepted moral positions. But does Britain still have such a uniform overarching, coherent morality these days? Or has the arrival and patchy integration of so many different cultures (including their own mores, world views and conflicts) diversified the pre-existing moral framework of Britain to such an extent that the only way to govern the nation now is to use a pragmatic, conservative mindset rather than the (supposedly) morality-driven progressive mindset? Is national life “ordered” in that way any more?

Mrs R
Mrs R
5 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Unfortunately I now believe that most senior politicians speak with a forked tongue. I no longer am able to trust them.
What do you make of Maajid Nawaz’s take: 5th generation warfare is all other traditional forms of warfare combined with the assault on perception and reality that we have all become accustomed to since Covid. Globalist seek to provoke this global hybrid civil war, where various intersectional groups in Western societies turn on one another, so as to manufacture a pretext to further securitise Western societies in the name of an ‘emergency.’
It makes a lot of sense to me. If we look at the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq – which were part of the so-called War on Terror – all they achieved was the death of countless thousands along with the radicalisation of millions of Muslims. Today the Taliban controls Afghanistan. Trillions of dollars were spent prosecuting these wars – and others have followed – which achieved the very opposite of the goals stated along with the displacement of millions and the irreversible alteration to Western demographics. It is as if the real aim was to destabilise nations, Middle Eastern and Western, and enable the spread of radical islam.

Last edited 5 months ago by Mrs R
Steve Murray
LL
Steve Murray
5 months ago
Reply to  Mrs R

This is indeed the agenda being pursued, aided and abetted by “useful idiots” , whose comments can be read in this very thread.

Simon Shaw
Simon Shaw
5 months ago
Reply to  Mrs R

Worked very effectively too! Are civil wars on the way?

Charles Hedges
CH
Charles Hedges
5 months ago
Reply to  Mrs R

I think it is incompetence. All Empires/civilisations end declining becuse a population no longers realises people have to have the spirit to be tempered by adversity, physical and mental and then their mettle tested before they hold the reigns of power.
The last politicians to mention that people must be willing to shoulder burden of responsibility was J Kennedy at his inaugeration speech
-born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage–and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.
Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.
This much we pledge–and more.
My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.
The Kohima Epitaph states ” We gave our today for your tommorrow”.
We have a population who vote for politicians who promise a life of material comfort and security, free from hardship and danger’ who refuse to be tempered and accept the discipline required to be tempered.

Rachel Taylor
Rachel Taylor
5 months ago
Reply to  Mrs R

The money and manpower was wasted prosecuting the peace, not the war.

Susan Grabston
SG
Susan Grabston
5 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Woke is a psychographic view of the world. As you infer it cannot survive the psychological fragmentation that now makes up this country. Much easier for the left to go back to class – simples compared withrl the current mental morasse.

Justin Clark
Justin Clark
5 months ago

Please may we have awareness months for the following:
1/ Jews
2/ Grooming gang rape victims
3/ Women in Iran
4/ Women in Saudi Arabia
5/ Women in Pakistan
6/ Israeli hostages
7/ Persecuted Christians

David Lindsay
DL
David Lindsay
5 months ago
Reply to  Justin Clark

The Holy Family Church in Gaza City was bombed during Mass on All Saints Day. That’s a hat-trick, since Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants have all now been bombed. The previous night, it was the Greek Orthodox Cultural Centre, as it had already been the extremely ancient Church of Saint Porphyrius. Almost all Greek Orthodox of the Jerusalem Patriarchate are Palestinian. And the whole world knows who bombed the Anglican-Baptist Al-Ahli Arabi Hospital, including its chapel, with a handful of people in a handful of countries pretending to believe something else, thereby placing themselves in the same category as those who affected to imagine that Dr David Kelly had committed suicide. Indeed, those are very often the same faux fantasists.

At a demonstration against the genocide of Gaza, nothing could be more appropriate than the Flag of Saint George. There is a legend about Saint George, but he himself is not a purely legendary figure. His tomb at his birthplace, which is now known as Lod, was once a major focus of unity between Christians and Muslims in devotion to the Patron Saint of Palestine, Lebanon and Egypt before, and as much as, the Patron Saint of England. But three quarters of those who practised that devotion were violently expelled in 1948.

In similar vein, it is proposed to expand Jerusalem Walls National Park to include the Mount of Olives, under the control of Elad, a militant Israeli settler organisation. Even before the Government of National Unity, Benjamin Netanyahu depended for his parliamentary majority on people who spat on passing in the street those who shared in the Ministerial Priesthood of the Lord Jesus Christ, and who actively believed that there was a religious obligation to burn down churches, since they held the Divinity of Christ to be an idolatrous assertion.

They recently desecrated the Protestant cemetery on Mount Zion, where it is maintained by the local Anglican diocese on behalf of a British owner. They obviously bombed that diocese’s previously Baptist hospital in Gaza, and they have erected as a loyalty test the willingness to parrot their ever more ludicrous accounts of what the whole world can see and most of the world has no compunction about saying.

While fourth generation Israelis could not possibly be told to “go home”, the State of Israel’s having been founded in the same year that the Empire Windrush docked at Tilbury, it is clear from the Bible that the pre-Israelite population, the founders of Jerusalem, never went away. They never have. They became Christian when or before the Roman Empire did, and they adopted the use of Arabic at the time of a Muslim Conquest contemporaneous with the Saxon Conquest of what is now England. Those ancient indigenous Christians are still there. The founders of modern Palestinian identity, they are the people of Shireen Abu Akleh, the people of Saint George.

Last edited 5 months ago by David Lindsay
Neil Turrell
Neil Turrell
5 months ago
Reply to  Justin Clark

Older White men!

Michael James
Michael James
5 months ago

Since Hamas would never agree to a ceasefire, the call for one is a veiled call on Israel to stop defending itself.

Peter Kettle
Peter Kettle
5 months ago

Immediately following the 1979 Islamic revolution, the new regime led by Ayatollah Khomeini began systematically oppressing LGBT people and publicly executing them by the thousands. These atrocities were justified as a means of “eliminating corruption” and preventing the “contamination” of society. We will never know the exact figure but between 4,000 and 6,000 gay, lesbian, and bisexual people have been executed since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. I well remember the BBC giving tacit approval of the removal of the Shah Of Persia. Led by the arch fascist Ayatollah Homeini, Iran’s legal system, rooted in Islamic law, criminalised consensual sexual relations between same-sex individuals. Official penalties under Iranian Law ranged from lashes to death and who knows what tortures; gangs who threw gays from the rooftops without being prosecuted; the vanishing of thousands of critics of the regime. Iranian law does not distinguish between consensual and non-consensual same-sex intercourse. These cruelties and executions are obviously not on the radar of today’s ‘QUEERS FOR PALESTINE’. This is Identity Politics at its craziest and most ignorant. What appears to be missed by many in the West is that it is Israel’s security and civilian presence in the West Bank that is preventing Hamas, or groups such as Al Qaeda or ISIS, from seizing control of the area and seeking the Caliphate everywhere…

Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith
5 months ago

The dilemma stems from a total lack of absolute values. All politicians are susceptible to this but it is particularly acute for those who set themselves up as moral crusaders.
What happened on Oct 7 was premeditated savage barbarism, nothing that has gone before or happens since can ever change or justify that. Similar things happened centuries ago perpetrated in the name of Christianity. Fortunately Christianity, albeit by no means perfect now, grew up. Oct 7 may well be one of the worst examples of barbarism in modern times but it is interesting how often barbaric acts are associated with Islam. Can we really wait centuries for Islam to grow up?

Micheal MacGabhann
MM
Micheal MacGabhann
5 months ago
Reply to  Adrian Smith

If Islam is a problem, Israel is hardly the answer. Both based on fairy tales.

Dorrido Dorrido
DD
Dorrido Dorrido
5 months ago
Reply to  Adrian Smith
Tyler Durden
Tyler Durden
5 months ago

This phenomenon reflects the lack of critical reflection on the construction of a political Islam over the last x years. I don’t know how many decades, in fact, but arguably accelerating over the last 30 years insofar as the Muslim religious identity has become tied to a global political struggle.
You could say that the modern Jewish identity is also international in associating Israel as the centrepiece of the modern religious culture. This is why attacking Israel’s right to exist is modern anti-Jewish prejudice.

R Wright
R Wright
5 months ago

“One insider told me Starmer had little to worry about because, in the end, no one will vote in the 2024 general election based on events in the Middle East in 2023. And Starmer isn’t about to sacrifice his ambitions for a policy that will make almost no difference to anyone other than Labour’s own conscience.”

The problem with this is that Labour has become beholden to the whip hand of its Muslim base and the activists that worship them. They will change their vote over Palestinians.

Last edited 5 months ago by R Wright
Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
5 months ago

I am really not well informed to comment on the present Labour Party, but to my reading, despite its ” moral ” veneer, it was a Labour Party Government under one of its most individually decent Prime Ministers, who allowed one of the worst genocides of recent modern history.
The Partition of India- events before and immediately after, starting with the horrific Direct Action Day riots triggered by the Muslim League.

Rasmus Fogh
RF
Rasmus Fogh
5 months ago

A bit off topic, but as someone closer to the situation – what do you think Britain could and should have done to avoid Partition? As we saw in Afghanistan, an imperial power that is on the point of withdrawing forever does not have much authority or power in the country they are leaving.

Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
5 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

It’s difficult to pinpoint- as my research is pointing to a gameplan for Partition since 1919-20.
However if one has to delineate short – term from 1946, Bengal is the place to begin from.
Events as they unfolded there in particular made things increasingly unworkable.
To start with Frederick Burrows should not have been made Governor of Bengal. Lord Wavell should have been retained as Viceroy. Old India hands like Henry Beveridge ICS and others who were honest and knowledgeable administrators should have been retained in key jobs instead of being marginalized.
And the Muslim League should not have been encouraged as on Direct Action Day especially in Calcutta where HS Suhrawardy was given free rein to carry out ethnic cleansing in August 1946 by carrying out arbitrary transfers and getting in upcountry Pathans overnight in the Police Department.
The results of that horrific carnage made it clear that Partition’ was going to be forced on Congress.
I can go on and on from a mere preliminary research( have miles more to go for an upcoming book on this theme), but it was a sad end for 200 years plus of what imho was India’s most enlightened foreign ruler since the Kushanas of the 1st century AD( roughly).

Last edited 5 months ago by Sayantani Gupta
Simon Shaw
Simon Shaw
5 months ago

I am grateful for your comments about India,I was at school from ,52 to ,64 and we never had recent history or currents affairs mentioned,what an omission!

Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
5 months ago
Reply to  Simon Shaw

Thanks, it’s strange what we were taught or not taught. At school in India in the late 1970s and 80s one was taught all about British history, but none about that of our neighborhood including China.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
5 months ago

Britain was bankrupt by 1942. Orwell and other ICS were pushing for Dominion Staus from the 1930s. Wavell was not liked by Churchill or Attlee. Wavell was bright, like Air Chief Marshall Dowding, were both ex Winchester College, understood complexity and were not prepared to over simplify to assist those lacking in the intellectual abilities to understand. Nehru was very pally with the Fabians but lacked the toughness to deal with violence. Mounbatten was very charming and charmed Churchill, Attlee and Nehru.
In 1946 Britain had to reduce bread ration to feed Germany, the communists were practically running Italy and France, Bevin was trying to stop the spread of communism and there was need for massive house building- Aneuran Bevan was loud and influential. Those who understood India, the ICS /Army were ignored by The Labour Party, Mounbatten , Foreign Office, Home Civil Service,British Army. The ICS recruited the best and were loathed by FO and Home Civil Service who were therefore glad to rid of India. Another Indian hand who was ignored was Field Marshall Slim.
Post war stresses in Britain were immense, made worse because Labour Party was short of experience with regard to India and did not listen to those who had it.

Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
5 months ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Yes, I don’t disagree with what you say.
Almost 200 years of an association ended disastrously under the Labour Party. I gave my reasons specifically for Bengal which perhaps suffered the ill effects of 1947 worse than Punjab and is still paying a price for the politics of Islamist appeasement created by the shoddy handling of the process.

Paul Devlin
Paul Devlin
5 months ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Mount batten allegedly ‘charmed’ both Nehru and Jinna

Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
5 months ago
Reply to  Paul Devlin

Nehru possibly. Who also charmed MiLady.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
5 months ago

Attlee was the most proactive member of the Simon Commission* and far better informed about India than WSC and many others for example, which makes his decision all the more inexplicable.

(*1928-30.)

Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
5 months ago

I am going to have to research more on what and who changed his mind…to take the atrocious decisions he did take in 1946…
He did visit in 1953 to Calcutta and make very candid comments to Justice PB Chakraborty also then double hatting as Governor of Bengal…
Agree about WSC- maybe the rugged cohorts of 41st Punjab Rifles had lots to do with his ” emotional” reactions to Indian events..

Last edited 5 months ago by Sayantani Gupta
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
5 months ago

Attlee had promised the British people Utopia despite the fact that we were ‘bankrupt’. India was an irritant NOT a priority, and thus sadly expendable.

Not a ‘good report’ in retrospect, but probably unavoidable given the circumstances.

Sayantani Gupta
SG
Sayantani Gupta
5 months ago

It could have been managed better… remember Sarah Layton( Geraldine James)in ” The Jewel in the Crown” series – fourth book of Paul Scotts Raj Quartet- ” We stood by…and let it happen..”

Charles Stanhope
CS
Charles Stanhope
5 months ago

‘We’ rather busy at the time trying to suppress Jewish terrorists in the Palestine Mandate, return the Dutch East Indies to their rightful owner, garrison and de-nazify the ‘master race’, as well as trying to build a new (socialist) Jerusalem in the UK. Something ‘had to give’.

Sayantani Gupta
SG
Sayantani Gupta
5 months ago

Well, the troops trapped inside Fort William by the Hugli circa 16th to 18th August 1946 felt rather useless ( if you decode Lt Colonel Francis Tuker) especially as they were called up from Ramgarh and Tippera in a rush.
All while HSR and mobs of a ” peaceful” kind were engaged in serious swordplay whose hapless victims ended up chopped into several bits and stuffed in dustbins..

Last edited 5 months ago by Sayantani Gupta
alan bennett
AB
alan bennett
5 months ago

Nothing any civilised nation could do, would have kept those warring savages apart.
Only the genocide of one would or still will, bring any peace.

Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
5 months ago
Reply to  alan bennett

I don’t agree with either your ethnic characterization or description, but as we are obviously on opposite poles of this topic, let it rest.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
5 months ago

I applaud your restraint

Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
5 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Thanks