A New King Arose Who Did Not Know Moses

Organizational Chart of Pharaoh’s Egypt in the days of Moses

It’s hard to understand what’s going on in Israel, Gaza, and throughout the Holy Land without a grasp on the religious background. My knowledge of Islam is scant, but my knowledge of Judaism is better because the Hebrew scriptures lead into my own Christian tradition. And what I know of the Hebrew scriptures brings me great grief as I look at what is going on in Gaza, the West Bank, and throughout Israel.

The first two books of the Torah — Genesis and Exodus, in more common parlance — tell two grand stories central to the Jewish people, and by extension, to my own Christian brothers and sisters as well. Over the last several years, and especially since the Hamas attack in early October, these two stories have been echoing through my head, especially with respect to Benjamin Netanyahu, his far-right cabinet, their supporters in Israel, and the dangerous political path they all are following.

The book of Genesis tells the stories of origins – the origin of the world, and the origin of the people of Israel as God’s chosen ones. Genesis ends with the story of Joseph and his brothers, ten older and one younger. The short version of the story is that Joseph was his father’s favorite, so much so that his older brothers were filled with anger, jealousy, and envy. One day, while the brothers were away from home, they beat Joseph and sold him into slavery in Egypt, then told their father that a wild animal had attacked and killed him. While in Egypt, Joseph came to the attention of the pharaoh, and interpreted a dream of pharaoh’s that foretold seven years of great harvests, followed by seven years of severe drought. Pharaoh listened, and stored up grain in the good years, and he named Joseph as the administrator of the grain program. When the drought arrived, Joseph’s brothers back home were caught in it, and came to Egypt to find grain. Joseph recognized them, but they did not recognize him. When Joseph finally revealed himself to them, they feared he would take revenge. Instead, Joseph offered forgiveness. “What you intended for evil, God intended for good.” Joseph told his brothers that while they let their anger rule, God was using Joseph to prepare for the great famine, and thus save his whole family. Because of Joseph’s great service to the pharaoh and all of Egypt, Joseph and his brothers were invited to stay in Egypt, and they did. Genesis ends with reconciliation between the brothers, the forebears of the twelve tribes of Israel.

Where Genesis was about the Lord and the relationships between the insiders, the brothers (and later, the tribes), Exodus is about the Lord and the relationships between the Israelites and the aliens, the non-Israelites. Exodus takes up the Genesis story generations later, when the Israelites had grown numerous in Egypt and “a new king arose who did not know Joseph.” Instead of continuing to respect what Joseph had done long before, the new king feared all these foreigners and ordered them enslaved. The Lord chose Moses to lead them out of slavery, and after a grand struggle (the ten plagues sent to torment Pharaoh), they left Egypt and entered the wilderness, moving toward the Promised Land. God gave Moses the ten commandments, and Moses spent the wilderness years teaching the newly-liberated children of Israel what it means to live as God’s people.

As the Lord spoke with Moses throughout these wilderness years, the Lord had a refrain for Moses and the children of Israel: “Remember that you were a slave in Egypt.” God was not simply reminding them that things were rough in the past. Instead, God was telling the children of Israel how they are to live in the the present and the future, saying in essence: “You used to be slaves, and I didn’t bring you out of slavery so you can become slave owners yourselves.” For example, consider the Lord’s words from Deuteronomy 24 (New Revised Standard Version, with emphasis added):

17 You shall not deprive a resident alien or an orphan of justice; you shall not take a widow’s garment in pledge. 18 Remember that you were a slave in Egypt and the LORD your God redeemed you from there; therefore I command you to do this. 19 When you reap your harvest in your field and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be left for the alien, the orphan, and the widow, so that the LORD your God may bless you in all your undertakings. 20 When you beat your olive trees, do not strip what is left; it shall be for the alien, the orphan, and the widow. 21 When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, do not glean what is left; it shall be for the alien, the orphan, and the widow. 22 Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore I am commanding you to do this.

You are not to be oppressors, said the Lord to Moses and the people, but you are to treat others as you were *not* treated when you were slaves in Egypt. Remember your heritage, said the Lord, and therefore care for the poor, the widow, the orphan, and the alien.

Can you see why passages like these have been echoing in my head in these last few months?

There is a difference between protecting yourself and taking vengeance, and Netanayhu and his allies have been confusing the former for the latter. Around 1200 were killed by Hamas last October and another 200 or so were taken hostage. In return, Israel has killed tens of thousands, leveled entire neighborhoods, forced hundreds of thousands to leave the rubble and seek new homes, and plunged the entire Gaza strip into hunger. Throughout the West Bank and often with explicit support of political leaders in Jerusalem, Israeli settlers have become more brazen in attacking their non-Jewish neighbors, taking their homes and land in violation of Israel’s own laws and international treaties to which Israel is a party.

There is a non-trivial segment of the Israeli political world that does not remember that they were slaves in the land of Egypt, and that the Lord does not want them to be slave-owners. The far-right in Israel, who claim that Israel should possess everything from the Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea, is particularly firm in demanding that non-Jews of all stripes have no rights and no place in this land, because this is the land God promised only to them. Slowly but surely, the rights of non-Jews in Israel have been circumscribed, limited, and even taken away, such that the South African-born Israeli journalist Benjamin Pogrund, a Jew, has begun describing Israel using a word he long opposed using: apartheid. As he wrote last August — before the Hamas attack:

Israel 2023, South Africa 1948. I’ve lived through it before: power grabbing, fascism and racism – the destruction of democracy. Israel is going where South Africa was 75 years ago. It’s like watching the replay of a horror movie.

In 1948, as a teenager in Cape Town, I followed the results of the 26 May election on a giant board on a newspaper building. The winner-takes-all electoral system produced distorted results: the Afrikaner Nationalist party, with its smaller partner, won 79 parliamentary seats against 74 for the United party and its smaller partner.

But the Nats, as they were called, in fact won only 37.7% of the vote against the opposition’s 49.2%. Although the opposition received more votes, the Nats said they had a majority and could do what they wanted.

In the Israel of 2023, I’m reliving some of these same experiences.


We deny Palestinians any hope of freedom or normal lives. We believe our own propaganda that a few million people will meekly accept perpetual inferiority and oppression. The government is driving Israel deeper and deeper into inhuman, cruel behaviour beyond any defence. I don’t have to be religious to know that this is a shameful betrayal of Jewish morality and history.

What was it that the Lord said to Moses and the children of Israel? Oh, yes: “Remember that you were a slave in Egypt . . .”

Pogrund remembers, and his whole piece is worth reading. Sadly, the events of the last five months have made it even more true than the day it was written. I read his piece when it first appeared last August, but these words from near the end continue to echo in my head even today:

We are at the mercy of fascists and racists (both carefully chosen words) who cannot, and will not, stop.

I write about South Africa and Israel because I know both of them, 53 years in one and nearly 26 years in the other. Neither is unique. The same pattern of rightwing repression has happened in our time in Hungary and Poland, in Asia, Africa and Latin America, and earlier in Europe in the 1920s and 1930s.

I did not want to write this article. It was torn out of me, addressed to Israelis because the rightwing government is taking the country into institutionalised discrimination and racism. This is apartheid. South Africa under apartheid was straightforward: white v black. Israel is complex. The 21% Arab minority has the vote. Everyone pays the same national insurance and enjoys the same benefits – medical and social welfare. In hospital, I, a Jew, share a room with Arabs and we are cared for by the same Jewish and Arab doctors and nurses. Everything is open: beaches, park benches, movies, theatres, restaurants. The apartheid label is correct, but caution and thought are needed about comparisons.

In Israel, I am now witnessing the apartheid with which I grew up. Israel is giving a gift to its enemies in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and its allies, especially in South Africa, where denial of Israel’s existence is intense among many black people, in trade unions and communist and Muslim circles. BDS activists will continue to make their claims, out of ignorance and/or malevolence, spreading lies about Israel. They have long distorted what is already bad into grotesqueness, but will now claim vindication. Israel is giving them truth.

I didn’t want to write this post, either. But I look at and listen to the Jews who are protesting the actions of the Netanyahu government and their supporters, who sound more and more like the biblical prophets of old, calling the leaders of Israel to account. I look and I listen, and I could no longer remain silent. The complexity of Israel that Pogrund wrote about last summer is disappearing, faster and faster each day.

Because Bibi Netanyahu is the new king who did not know Moses.


Image h/t to Pastor Daniel Erlander, from his excellent book Manna and Mercy: A Brief History of God’s Unfolding Promise to Mend the Entire Universe.



105 replies
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    • taluslope says:

      I was in a very unusual writing phase for me late last fall. I was very disturbed by what was happening in Israel and knew it wouldn’t end well so I never listened to news other than brief summaries. Enough so that I was inspired to speak in a prophetic voice (think Isaiah) with the following (don’t know if it is understandable):

      Now let me speak my final words;
      Tho they be no songs of praise,
      nor hymns of rejoicing, …
      For Israel, you have sinned!
      You have seen a great light,
      and gone _far_ astray.

      Now proud prodigal son, no birthright own;
      why have ye only with warring joined,
      and thus co-mixed with evil be,

      • wetzel-rhymes-with says:

        What happened in ancient Israel had a profound impact on the sense of historical consciousness as millennia have unfolded for the entire world for the pre-Christian and pre-Muslim world and then later the Pilgrims and the Shining City on the Hill. In Christian eschatology the anti-Christ is the avatar for everything that has gotten lost.

        The Pilgrims arrived in North America and they would look for Satan and see him everywhere and project the reflection of themselves. They were a historical people, the Pilgrims, and thought God was telling some kind of story in everything that was happening to them, so this is a kind of eschatological picture where everything is like a play. A person can say things like you have to study the Bible existentially to understand that’s not what it’s saying history works that way at all. I think it’s Methodist in me to see putting anti-Christ in history is to make humanity itself a fatted calf. The idea of any kind of historical people will just another kind of idol in my opinion. If God is telling jokes to you it’s more likely your unconscious has a sense of humor. I think there is a crisis that people look for answers in history and God has stopped talking to them, but people were living in North America before the Pilgrims got here. God’s always talking.

        • taluslope says:

          Perhaps it’s that I don’t have a Methodist background, but I don’t understand your reference to anti-Christ in terms of current events (unless you are referring to Daniel and Revelations, which I’m not). Also don’t understand you usage of “historical people.”

          I apologize to all that I know this isn’t the site to discuss religion, but I’m currently reading all I can to try to understand my personal history. And I don’t think anyone can understand their/our history without understanding: 1.The Greek philosophers; and 2. Hebrew and Christian scripture. I have a long way to go in my quest; I’m a scientist, not a historian.

        • wetzel-rhymes-with says:

          Hey, you’re the one who launched in with the prophetic voice. My job is a kind of scientific editor. A scientist should have an art! It’s cool you write poetry. I write country music.

          I’m not a theologian or anything like that, but I think in Methodism about the most you can idolize is a tree, so Methodism is a Protestant branch that is very prosaic about historical claims, but if someone asks what religion I am I’d say existentialist Methodist or non-Church going Unitarian, so I’m about as doomed as anybody.

          The way I think about it is in some kinds of Christianity history has a speaking form to it, and everything is mediated through the priest history of charismatic visions. Your poem made me think of the question what would it mean if God were to stop speaking to the Children of Israel. In the Old Testament that would be the end of the world. I think people need for history to make sense like a story, even if this is just the progressive ideal. The anti-Christ just might be a seedy story of people on the make where truth is no better than fiction.

        • Theodora30 says:

          Many fundamentalist Christians interpret the book of Revelations as prophesying that Jesus will only return to earth after the Battle of Armageddon in which the Jews will retake all of historical Israel in a massive battle against the Antichrist. Only after that battle is won will Jesus return. Then all the evil people as well as all Jews who refuse to convert will be sent straight to hell.
          Many also believe that before the Battle of Armageddon begins the “Rapture” will occur — Jesus will raise all good Christians, living and dead up into the air with him and presumably whisk them off to heaven. I have never been clear about who will be left to fight against the Antichrist. Maybe just the Jews?
          This is why evangelicals are so adamant about supporting Israel and why they want more land grabs of Palestinian land. They don’t support Jews who they see as bound for hell, they just want them to fulfill what they believe is the prophecy in Revelations.

          Netanyahu and his ilk also use Biblical stories to justify their killing of so many innocent Palestinians.


  2. soundgood2 says:

    Thank you so much for this. I read the Bible years ago in a literature class and I have a passing knowledge from various places, including picking up and reading at random while bored in Church waiting to hear my daughter sing in the choir and vacation Bible school when my mom wanted us out of the house. Your overview here is important and something I have not seen written down in such a clear and concise manner. Organized religion can be a force for good and used as a force for evil as well. With so much evil in the world perpetrated by people who purport to be following the tenets of their religion, it is important to understand that there is another way to interpret those texts for those of us who have become soured on organized religion.

  3. vilesdavis says:

    Thank you for this piece! I’ve read more than a few articles over the years that discuss the seeming disconnect between Israel’s understanding of pogrom and the Shoah and its government’s subsequent treatment of those it considers to be “other,” but very few that avoid becoming shrill or heavy-handed.

  4. Hank Gillette says:

    The headline is wrong. If you check, I think you will find that it was Joseph, not Moses, that the new king of Egypt did not know (Exodus 1:8).

    [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use the SAME USERNAME and email address each time you comment so that community members get to know you. You have (17) published comments here to data as “HGillette.” Please revert to that name in future comments. /~Rayne]

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      See, below, at 3.42pm. Peterr, I believe, is the Rev. Dr. Peterr. I assume he knows his bible well.

  5. benfdcmd says:

    Two observations:

    1) Netanyahu and the extremist parties in his coalition would be out of power if elections were held any time soon. They should not be taken as representative of Israeli society, any more than Trump’s MAGA movement should be taken as representative of American society. One hopes that the developments that concern Pogrond about the extreme Israeli right will be allayed, as we also hope regarding the concerns about MAGA here at home.

    2) The main divide in Israeli society about the war with Hamas is not left versus right, but rather relates to how best to handle the hostage issue. Netanyahu or no Netanyahu, there is a very strong consensus across the political spectrum that Hamas’s military must be destroyed both in Gaza and in the West Bank, and Hamas’s rule over Gaza ended. As for talk of turning Gaza over to a “rehabilitated” Palestinian Authority, I don’t think it is widely understood here that the PA is paying stipends to the perpetrators of the atrocities of October 7 that have been captured and to the families of the perpetrators who have been killed.

    • Mehitabel says:

      Nor do people understand that top Hamas leaders are billionaires, and have obtained much of their wealth by subverting the aid meant to help the palestinian people. At this point, much of the problem seems inextricably wound into the social and financial infrastructure of that group of people.

    • Martin Cooper says:

      I’m pretty sure no one in the EW community stands behind Hamas’s “war aims,” whatever they were when they entered Israel (not the occupied territories) and murdered, raped and kidnapped 1200 Israelis. So it seems unlikely that anyone here would argue against Israel’s determination utterly to eradicate Hamas. How is that to be accomplished without devastating consequences for innocent Gazans (Hamas doesn’t care) when Hamas has spent years and billions of dollars of aid money (compromising and controlling the aid NGOs in the process) to arm itself and build a very impressive tunnel defense complex?

      Beyond that, can anyone justify Hamas’s hostage taking and its abuse of the hostages captured? Would Hamas negotiate for their release absent a very severe Israeli military response? Fair enough, insist that Israel try to avoid harming innocents in circumstances that Hamas has created to make that virtually impossible, but let’s acknowledge that the war would end immediately if Hamas ceased fighting, released the hostages, and its leaders absconded into exile.

      The sad fact is that the hundreds of thousands of Israeli families who lived in southern Israel towns and villages and who are now internally displaced refugees living elsewhere in Israel in hotels and Airb&b’s cannot and will not return unless Gaza is demilitarized, and if that doesn’t happen the future of Israel is forfeit. People will emigrate; they won’t want to raise their children there.

      I started writing this because I largely agree with Benfdcmd’s sensible and moderate observations. Full disclosure: I am a secular, non-observant American born Jew who lived in Israel 2001-2009. For a long time I favored the two-state solution and was (and continue to be) very critical of the right-wing settler movement. However, it’s clear to me, as it is to Benfdcmd, that the notion of a “revitalized” Palestinian Authority assuming governance of both the West Bank and Gaza is nuts–they’re nowhere near capable and it ain’t going to happen. I had thought about a new UN Mandate for the West Bank and Gaza, administered not by the surrounding corrupt and authoritarian Arab states but rather by competent civilian and military cadres from non-Arab Muslim states such as Malaysia, Indonesia and Pakistan and Muslims from India.

      About 10 years of competent governance by said cadres should be enough time to bring Gaza and the West Bank up to a level enabling a peace settlement with Israel and finally a two state solution, by which time Israel will hopefully have come to its senses and marginalized its right-wing political and religious fanatics as well.

        • Harry Eagar says:

          How about the Kurds? They have, over the past generation or so, been treated worse than the Palestinians, don’t have a state, but no one’s heart bleeds for them.

        • Martin Cooper says:

          Okay, your point is valid, but it nevertheless seems to me that post-war governance of Gaza and the West Bank should be administered by cadres that have not been involved in the Arab-Israeli conflict throughout the past 75 years.

      • Philip Munger says:

        Israel is no more capable of eliminating Hamas in one year (or two year, or three, and so on) than we were of eliminating the Taliban in twenty years. Rather, by creating tens of thousands of martyrs, they are guaranteeing Hamas recruits for the next generation.

      • dopefish says:

        Thanks for this comment.

        In some of my recent comments I said that I think Hamas is totally responsible for the current situation in Gaza, because they deliberately provoked this severe military response from the IDF and deliberately created these conditions where thousands of Gaza civilians would die as a result. Maybe I should have assigned some small fraction of the blame to Israel with regard to blockading aid, and the news stories about children starving are now absolutely heartbreaking. But like you say, if Hamas chose to release the remaining hostages and surrender themselves, this war could quickly come to an end.

        The other nations of the world should perhaps pressure Israel to allow more aid in, and to try even harder to avoid killing civilians. But I think its extremely arrogant of us to demand that Israel stop military operations (e.g. “immediate ceasefire”) while Hamas leadership still exists and Hamas still holds Israeli hostages. We should recognize that the reason civilians are dying in Gaza is because Hamas terrorists are using them as human shields. Hamas wants these civilian casualties.

        We should also stop prattling about two-state solutions [for right now at least], since there is no chance right now of any kind of responsible Palestinian government that would accept Israel’s right to exist, and no two-state peace plan can work without that. Israel is probably going to have to occupy and run Gaza for the foreseeable future. They don’t want to, but who else can they trust to govern it? They can’t leave it to be taken over by a Hamas 2.0. [edit: sorry Martin, my “stop prattling” was not directed at you, but rather at the clueless news media that keeps talking about it.]

        • SteveBev says:

          “should also stop prattling about two-state solutions [for right now at least], since there is no chance right now of any kind of responsible Palestinian government that would accept Israel’s right to exist, and no two-state peace plan can work without that.”

          Sure Jan.

          This has been the policy of successive Israeli governments and Israeli politicians of the right for years and years.

          They have promoted a divide and rule policy, undermine the Palestinian Authority and simultaneously promoting Hamas’s hold on Gaza creating “facts on the ground” in which they can plausibly claim (plausibly to an Israeli populace which routinely put into office personally corrupt and politically vicious governments) “there are no partners to peace”

          Gazan’s have been blockaded by Isreal into one of the most densely populated and impoverished ghettos ever created, and subject to periodic incursions by Isreal to exact collective punishments, and remind them whose boot is on their throats. Hamas is a mafia – a convenient partner in crime with Isreal.

          Israeli State has always retained the option of massacre as a tool of policy against the Palestinian people. And that is the tool they chose to use now because their Frankenstein’s monster has gone too far.

          This massacre is excused by sophists of all stripes, and as such those apologists align themselves with the bloodthirsty rabid racists of the Israeli political hard right.

  6. Elvishasleftthebuilding says:

    This is an excellent piece. The great tragedy of recent Israeli history is the backsliding from the moral imperative which underlay its creation (arguably). Israel has changed from being a place of refuge for Jews to a place where the state, run by Jews, have become the abusers. As I write this, I realize that your post says it better than I can. So I’ll just stop with simple thanks.

  7. Elvishasleftthebuilding says:

    I do have one related question. I was in Asheville North Carolina this Saturday where a group of around 250, maybe a bit more, were protesting Gaza, with Palestinian flags and accusing Biden of genocide. Very minimal mention of Israel or Netanyahu and certainly none of Hamas. I understand that other similar demonstrations occurred on Saturday.

    My question is who is funding these and who is organizing these? Is it a Russian operation or am I just being overly paranoid, and that this is simply grass roots activism by people who feel strongly and whose rhetoric can be a bit shrill and overstated?

    • Peterr says:

      Given the two choices you offer in your last sentence, I’d go with “overly paranoid” in this case.

      • Molly Pitcher says:

        I believe that Bibi and the Israelis “Remember that [they] were slaves in Egypt”, they have forgotten the rest of the admonition. The original intent and meaning of the phrase has been twisted to justify punishing, out of all defensible proportion, what was a cruel attack by Hamas.

        I see it as the national version of a person who was abused as a child becoming a child sex abuser themselves. The US is a few weeks behind when they should have withdrawn support of Israel. We are now complicit. Bibi has no intention of listening to anyone and we should have recognized and accepted that reality a while ago.

        He has become Pharaoh.

    • Harry Eagar says:

      You do not say whether the protesters were Palestinian-Americans or what. But similar protests, notably of course, around Dearborn, have been comprised of immigrants from Palestine. I find that inexplicable, in moral terms; and weird as regards public opinion.

  8. Padfoot says:

    “Because Bibi Netanyahu is the new king who did not know Moses.”

    And as Tom Friedman has pointed out, Netanyahu is the worst leader of Israel in history; not just since 1948, but since the biblical Israel came into existence. He not only doesn’t know Moses, he has become the pharaoh. If things don’t change soon, Netanyahu will lead the Israelites into a parted Red Sea that will crash on them.

  9. clemorktahyde says:

    Thanks to Peterr for this post, which I appreciate and commend. As someone else has pointed out, the title of the post needs to name Joseph, not Moses, as reflected in Exodus 1:8. This is obviously a typo, since the body of the post correctly names Joseph. In any case, thanks for offering a learned perspective.

    • Peterr says:

      No, the title refers to Bibi, making the same kind of mistake with Moses that the pharaoh of old made with Joseph.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      It’s more polite to the author if you frame a suggested correction in the form of a question, instead of assuming you know what the author really intended.

  10. Tetman Callis says:

    Deuteronomy 24:17-22 has long been one of my favorite passages from the Bible. A generous and equitable society could be raised on those foundations.

  11. OldTulsaDude says:

    Two steps to a saner life:
    1. Firmly grasp holy book.
    2. Cast holy book into the trash.

    • John Thomas says:

      Peace on Earth (and more specifically, the Middle East) will be possible only after the Era of Mankind has passed.

  12. wetzel-rhymes-with says:

    What is happening for Palestinians in Israel and the West Bank might echo Jewish life millennia ago under the Pharaoh. Here is some Biblical commentary from the web “What made the situation in Egypt unbearable was not only the slavery but also its extreme harshness. The Egyptian masters worked the Israelites “ruthlessly” (befarekh, Exod. 1:13, 14) and made their lives “bitter” (marar, Exod. 1:14) with “hard” (qasheh , in the sense of “cruel,” Exod. 1:14; 6:9) service. As a result, Israel languished in “misery” and “suffering” (Exod. 3:7) and a “broken spirit” (Exod. 6:9). Work, one of the chief purposes and joys of human existence (Gen. 1:27-31; 2:15), was turned into a misery by the harshness of oppression.”

    What is happening to the Palestinians of Gaza is worse than treatment of the ancient Hebrews in Egypt. Life as an Aztec slave wasn’t so bad in comparison, either, unless you were a war captive. It was a great honor to be allowed to sacrifice a war captive slave in a public setting in the Aztec Empire, but nobody remembers those massacred by the Aztecs, actually. The Hamas Israeli War or The Gaza War will never be forgiven by either side. As far back as between now and Exodus, people will remember this war into the future.

    For my part, I think Assyrian culture has been a big influence on the regional approach to conflict and interaction among social groups throughout the Middle East. The Assyrians depicted the torture in great detail on the walls of the imperial palaces that they conquered. They created tablets containing every single punishment the Assyrian army carried out. The Assyrians cut off the limbs, gouged out the eyes, and then left those poor other tribes to roam around to serve as a living reminder of the Assyrians’ cruelty. That seems like the closest analogy I could find to what the Israelis are doing to the people of Gaza. It is very difficult because Israel is our old friend, and they suffered a terrible attack in October. It’s not a special tragedy because the Jewish people are a historical people.

    • Ithaqua0 says:

      We have been their friend through thick and thin, but I’m not sure they were ever our friend. And… at some point, one should be able to look at an old friend’s behavior and say “things have changed, I’ll be your friend no longer.”

      • wetzel-rhymes-with says:

        Israel is losing its mind the way a country in the terror state can lose its mind when the brutality of reciprocal terror becomes a form of normative fascist complicity. Public opinion in Israel has these features in common with the lead-up to the Iraq War in how a government with autocratic tendencies can exploit its people’s fear politically. I think if Israel is a real democracy and they value the friendship of the United States, it’s not remembering the Jews were once slaves in Eqypt but that friends don’t make friends airdrop to get past them to get food to starving people.

        • Ithaqua0 says:

          That last sentence of yours is probably better than anything I’ve ever written on any number of subjects.

        • wetzel-rhymes-with says:

          If I can make sense sometimes it’s because of positive feedback from people like you! It works in the amygdala!

  13. CaptainCondorcet says:

    “How blessed will be the one who seizes and dashes your little ones Against the rock” – Psalms 137:9 (NASB).

    Bibi is a problem in no small part because he is well aware he has a following of ultranationalists who are more than happy to accept the Imprecatory Psalms as foreign policy guidelines. Add in his own self-interest in avoiding what was seemed an almost-certain conviction of some kind for his shady dealings, and you have a dangerous, dangerous mixture of Machiavelli and Moses.

    • Peterr says:

      Long ago, I read one of the old Jewish rabbis commenting on Psalm 137, who made two observations. First, he noted that this is the prayer of someone consumed with sorrow, anger and despair, asking for God to take vengeance on his oppressor, and so we (says the rabbi) should be able to bring *anything* to the Lord in prayer, even our most painful. Second, he went on, unlike some of the other psalms of lament, there is no turn midway through to say “. . . and wonder of wonders, God has heard my prayer and done what I asked for.” There is *only* the pain of the one praying, so do not assume that God blessed the anger and did what was asked.

      I need to go find that rabbi’s words again.

  14. Oakland Mole says:

    Isn’t the Biblical injunction “an eye for an eye” really a limit on how far you can go to exact retribution, and not a requirement? The punishment of the people of Gaza has far exceeded that limit.

  15. Lit_eray says:

    Much credit to Peterr for this piece that accepts and elaborates from a Christian perspective the grief from religious percepts gone wrong. I appreciate the recitation from influential texts, and the lack of claim for those texts as actual history. I also, without religion, endure such grief invented and promulgated by homo sapiens.

  16. Thomasa98 says:

    Thank you Peterr:
    You have helped me clarify my thinking viz. Isreal. I have been thinking about the movie “Exodus” in the context of American support for Israel during my lifetime. I was born in 1948 and saw the movie Exodus in 1961 or thereabouts. I have recently read criticism of the film to the effect that it was a vehicle to drum up American support. My observation over my adult life has been that there is all but unquestioning support for the Zionist movement until very recent years. I have never understood that. I am about to order a Laser Disc copy of Exodus and see how the film speaks to me.

    I question whether the film itself has much impact today as anyone much younger than I will not remember it if they saw it in a theater. However, it may have had a lasting impact on American attitude and even policy that has endured since. The film should be in my hands in a week or so.

    • earthworm says:

      thomas 98 — please remember that your Exodus is a film, not reality.
      Even the Leon Uris’s novel, Exodus, was not a work of historical research, but a piece of writing whose purpose was propaganda. Partially based upon historical research, perhaps, but still one-sided and with a view to influence hearts and minds.
      (As an aside, one of the problems in American cultural life is bad education and receiving one’s “information” from films and reality TV. We no longer teach civics class in high school, we have West Wing!
      Consider the amount of time Americans spend “watching” Netflix, Hulu, etc, high percentage imaginary content, delivered visually and viscerally, not through pre-frontal cortex.)

  17. observiter says:

    I like what you have presented in that it makes me think about all sort of related topics.

    Let me first say there is not “one” Jew, and so on. The Ten Commandments and Bible consist of allegory stories, though there are some people who (supposedly) believe them to be absolutely true.

    But there seems to be consensus that the Jews, after Egypt, wandered the desert for years and then made the land, to be eventually called “Israel,” their home. The Jews entered the “Promised Land” around 1400 years before Jesus was born, and much more than that before Mohammed.

    We can get into silly debates about who was where first, but the topic does arise among the ultra-religious, ultra-right-wing, fanatic types. It is a discussion they raise current times, while the rest of us — the majority — shake our heads.

    Israeli citizens today encompass a spectrum of views and religious beliefs — just like the U.S. Just before the invasion, there were huge protests against Netanyahu politics. He gained power by joining with the most right-wing, ultra-religious in Israel. It is a mistake to stereotype Israelis, who also include Arabs and Christians (etc.), and Jews.

    What’s going in Gaza is complex. But what I do notice is not a word now is spoken of Hamas. Instead we hear “Gaza” and “Palestinians” and “Israel.” Why is this, I think about.

    This is what I think about the Gaza residents/Palestinians: They are patsies in this, taking the brunt of events that should not have occurred. The difference is that I totally blame Hamas. They don’t care even a sliver for anyone in Gaza.

    Hamas knew Israel would respond. If you stick a large pole into a wasp hive, you know quite well you’re going to be attacked in an aggressive manner. Hamas did NOTHING in Gaza to prepare. They didn’t accumulate stores of food for the Gaza residents, and so on. NOTHING.

    And they’ve done nothing for Gaza since they grabbed leadership from the Palestinian Authority via a coup. Hamas leaders have taken money supposed to be for Gaza, spent the money on purchasing houses for themselves in other countries (one did buy a house in Gaza somewhere), spent huge sums building the complex tunnel network, and spent the money creating military schools to educate the young about weapons and killing Jews. What have they spent to better the lives of the people living in Gaza.

    Hamas did not attack the Israeli ultra-religious, right-wing, settlers who have a history of violence against Palestinians — settlers who previously assassinated an Israeli Prime Minister in the process of creating peace and statehood for the Palestinians.

    Instead, Hamas attacked the most vulnerable in Israel. They attacked and killed young Israeli adults attending a peace festival. And peacenik farmers. They not only raped women, they dislocated their hipbones so they could be raped harder. They cut off body parts and killed others, the very young and old.

    If Hamas is capable of such thug actions as demonstrated in Israel, how do you think they treat those living in Gaza.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      You’re poking at a straw man. If you haven’t noticed a word spoken about Hamas, then you haven’t been paying attention.

      • observiter says:

        Earl, I always think highly of what you write, the points you make.

        Hamas set up those in Gaza. They are totally to blame. Israel plays a part in the reaction and subsequent deaths. I am no lover — ever– of Netanyahu.

        But what is happening here in my area, and other areas in the U.S., is appalling. There are no statements about Hamas — at all. That is why I bring it up.

        What there is are large groups loudly, aggressively protesting against Israel AND Jews. Yelling and screaming at city councils, county supervisors, and so on. Threats and actions against Jews. The local rabbi just finished having a security fence constructed around his house because of threats. There was a huge march on Sunday (thousands participated) down San Francisco’s Market Street against anti-semitism — but no TV station or newspaper covered it.

        But what IS being covered by TV and newspapers are protests against “Israel, ” “Jews, ” about the deaths of Palestinians in Gaza by Israel and Jews.

        Israel IS sensitive about attacks. I don’t think most people completely understand. I will add some perspective. San Francisco’s population is around 800,000. I tried imagining what it would look like if all 800,000 showed up for a concert or sporting event. Where in the world would 800,000 fit? Even standing side-to-side in a huge parking lot.

        OK, so how about this: What would it look like if 7.5 times that amount of people showed up. What would 6 million look like — the amount of Jews murdered by the Nazis. I’m not even including the disabled, gay, Jehova Witnesses who were also murdered. The Jews don’t forget this and Israel is sensitive to being attacked. But I’m not revealing anything new.

        Does this mean Gaza residents should die? I take particular note when I hear the source for the number of deaths in Gaza and the amount of Israel actions seems to be coming from Hamas (quoted during major TV newscasts I’m hearing). But death is death, regardless the size. Deaths that should never have happened.

        Meanwhile, the last several years, the neighborhoods where I live are being plastered with pamphlets against Jews. Students at the local large high school who happen to be Jewish suddenly had their names and home addresses openly displayed throughout the internet by some “hacker.” The large Jewish Community Center (which welcomes all people) installed a large concrete barrier between the parking lot and building entrance, in case of a car bomb. And so on. You’ve heard about the murders at various U.S. temples.

        What is meant by being Jewish. Most are not religious but followers of cultural aspects. I’m an aetheist. Most care a lot about others.

        There is a large wave of antisemitsm that Hamas has cultivated for their own purposes, but Hamas is not called on this.

        • ExRacerX says:

          “Hamas is not called on this.”

          Who is the (omitted) subject in your passive-voice construction?

        • wetzel-rhymes-with says:

          ‘Meanwhile, the last several years, the neighborhoods where I live are being plastered with pamphlets against Jews. Students at the local large high school who happen to be Jewish suddenly had their names and home addresses openly displayed throughout the internet by some “hacker.”’

          I am sorry that this is happening in your neighborhood. Something is feeding this in Tic-Toc and Twitter. We are in a post-Orwellian pogrom on all sides coming through into our social media. The openness of our society will be used to make us fascist, and it is easy to see how it could happen. It’s sad but think of society as a Twitter or Tic-Toc simulacra, where people ge their norms and stereotypes, the students at any college walking around with their noses in their phones.

          I think there is a new phenomenologicalistic propaganda coming out of the Q-Anon and FSB genius, so in the feeds of African Americans there will stories of the criminal undocumented, street fighting for white people to hate black people, and people’s subjective experience will be they hate these groups. Any Twitter user can see Elon forming a permission structure for the Russians or other large entities to do this to us. A phenomenological speaker is more equal than others. I don’t want to disempower anyone who is hitting the streets for Palestinians, but I’ve never heard anti-Semitism from young American kids in my life, not when I was in college or from anybody, really, except a weirdo piano mover one time. I’ll swear on the Bible this is not home grown or it is being cultivated propagandistically. Someone is taking the Israeli-Gaza war and connecting Israel to “Jew” in a way that is hateful and would never have been permitted before in American society.

        • Ithaqua0 says:

          “There was a huge march on Sunday (thousands participated) down San Francisco’s Market Street against anti-semitism — but no TV station or newspaper covered it.”

          This is false:



          … and plenty more.

          I usually would assume this was an oversight on your part, but given how much news there was about the event (I live just north of Berkeley), I’m somewhat inclined to think you’re just lying for effect. Either way, it certainly discredits pretty much everything else you say – stuff that may or may not be true, but the fact that you say it doesn’t mean much.

        • observiter says:

          I went to all the major TV and Bay Area news sources Sunday evening (day of the march) and the following day (Monday). The only news source was bare mention on KCBS AM radio early Monday morning.

          I’m glad to see you have news links. I spoke with two who attended the march. They mentioned 10,000 were estimated to have attended.

        • Rayne says:

          This has been a problem since the lead-up to the Iraq War. Protesters should be more organized: 1) prepare and send press releases announcing the protests to media outlets with ample time for media to plan coverage; 2) protest AT THE MEDIA’S LOCATION so the media can’t escape it. Do it right there on their doorstep. Force the media to report it; 3) work with organizations to obtain public access broadcast channels and simulcast with streaming online so that if media refuses to cover it even on their doorstep, the material is there to shove in media’s craw as an example of their failure; 4) astro-turf print/online media where possible with coverage.

    • dopefish says:

      Thank you for this comment. Especially for calling attention to the double standard around how Israel’s conduct is judged versus the conduct of Hamas.

      I recall reading this opinion piece shortly after the October 7 attack, which brings a feeling of inevitability to the current situation in Gaza:

      Hamas does not yet seem to realize how deep the Israeli public’s determination goes. Hamas’s only strategy for survival seems to be forcing the Israel Defense Forces to inflict so high a civilian toll in Gaza that the world demands a stop to the Israeli war machine.

      But Israelis will be reeling from the images of October 7 for a long time to come. They have their answer, and from it flows a clarity of purpose that has been missing for the past three decades. The Israeli war machine will be implacable. Hamas will not survive.

  18. Margo Schulter says:

    Comparing the Group Areas Act of South Africa (1950?) with the Absentees’ Property Law of Israel (1950) can be instructive as one stop on the Trail of Broken Treaties. Uri Davis, an Israeli Jew, wrote a book with a title like _Israel: An Apartheid State_ sometime by the early 2000’s. The parallels of the atrocities of October 7 with the atrocities of 1948 committed by Zionist militias at places like Deir Yassin (9 April 1948) are painful. I am against the death penalty, but would convict those Hamas followers guilty of atrocities of “conduct becoming of a Zionist militia” and sentence them to life imprisonment and honorary membership in Likud, which has its own terrotist roots, And the same justice should apply to the state terrorism against the civilian population of Gaza.

    I am for a binational Palestine/Israel. That was the position of the Rabbi Judah L. Magnes and Albert Einstein, and more recently the Palestinian-American scholar Edward Said.

  19. Ed Walker says:

    Just like Peterr I didn’t want to write about Palestine,

    This post makes me think the guiding principle of current Israeli policy is found in Psalm 137:8-9:

    8. Daughter Babylon, doomed to destruction,
    happy is the one who repays you
    according to what you have done to us.
    9. Happy is the one who seizes your infants
    and dashes them against the rocks.

    • taluslope says:

      One of the most horrifying images in all of scripture. At some point in time the Israelis’ will have to come to terms with what they have done; or they will truly have lost their way.

      • taluslope says:

        Or maybe they won’t. There are plenty of passages in the Hebrew bible they can use for “justification” if they want. I hope they don’t.

  20. xyxyxyxy says:

    As far as the far-right in Israel demanding that non-Jews of all stripes have no rights and no place in this land, it’s not only Non-Jews. It’s also Jews who are not Orthodox that should have no rights and no place in this land.
    Except as their protectors since the Orthodox will not serve in the military but expect the non-Orthodox military personnel to protect them.

  21. dopefish says:

    Peterr, thank you for writing this eloquent and interesting piece.

    Although I suspect my political views on the situation in Gaza differ from a lot of the audience here, I’m no fan of Netanyahu. Among other things, I think he deserves most of the blame for that “judicial reform” crisis last summer that divided and distracted Israelis just in time for Hamas to spring their little rape-and-butchery surprise in October.

  22. kmlisle1 says:

    No one seems to have a connection to the Palestinian protest groups so I thought I would contribute one example from my own experience. I live in a small Florida city with a regional medical center and a huge University. I attended a vigil on Sunday held by Healthcare workers for Gaza. There were doctors, nurses, pharmacists, midwives, and many medical students along with Palestinian families and a large supporting group of young people who are part of the national group Jewish Voices for Peace. One of the young leaders is a midwife and granddaughter of a rabbi who attends my church. We teach Sunday School together.

    I assure you there is no Russian money here to pay for handmade flyers and copies made at the local library for 9 cents each. This is a genuinely grassroots group. In this case, the leaders and speakers were doctors and nurses from Palestine who were educated here and their friends who have supported and even served in Palestine as medical professionals. They are supported by our churches and civic organizations, They hold meetings at our church. Many are young people who met and befriended Palestinians on TikTok and are horrified as they have watched them disappear from the screens one by one. There is huge outrage amongst hundreds of young people here about what they see as a genocide.

    • Elvishaslefthebuilding says:

      Thank you. The protest that i observed in Asheville was not like the one you describe. It was mainly aimed at accusing Joe Biden of genocide. Israel and Netanyahu were secondary. That being said, it’s only one data point. My own biases may get in the way here, as I believe the Biden administration has done a reasonable job of trying to curb Israeli excesses, and to ensure that the focus is both on Hamas and on Israeli excesses. The actions the Administration took against settlers on the West Bank were positive in my view, as well as the Vice President meeting with Gantz. I don’t know whether or not these are token or meaningful. Perhaps it is too early to tell. In any event, this is a time where I hope people are keeping their heads about them.

    • Harry Eagar says:

      You do not seem to see the contradiction in Palestinian immigrants protesting Jewish immigrants.

  23. Suburban Bumpkin says:

    Thank you Peterr for putting my thoughts into words. Israel and the possiblility of Palestine is complicated and as the years go by and the violence and grievances pile up it becomes harder to believe there will ever be a resolution to this conflict.

  24. Jeremy Daw says:

    The criticism of Israel circles around the old adage “A drunk man looks for his keys under the light”. We criticize Israel because they are us, and we understand us. This is exactly what you have done and how you have framed the argument. You have not read and do not understand the Qu’ran.
    If you looked, you would see that Iran is behind all of this. They have a “12th Imam” Shite Madhi driven cult which animates their desire to eradicate Israel and bring about the new age of the global Caliphate. I wish I was making this up, I’m not.
    To quibble about Netanyahu is again, looking for your keys under the light. This all reminds me of people taking selfies in front of a tsunami wave, it’s not high, but it’s broad, wide and deep.
    The depth of ignorance in the Western mind is astonishing. It is aided by a deep and abiding respect of “others beliefs”, that is how we emerged from the European Christian wars. But this is not how we should be dealing with the current situation. Most do not see that we have been at war with Islam for a thousand years. It may have stopped for us with the end of the Ottoman “empire” (in fact, the last Caliphate) but it never ended for the Muslim world.

    • Ed Walker says:

      Oh please explain how the 12th Imam has anything to do with 29000 dead Palestinians and counting.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      To say nothing of the reductionist, over-generalizing, conspiracy mongering in that comment.

    • SteveBev says:

      “For years, the various governments led by Benjamin Netanyahu took an approach that divided power between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank — bringing Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to his knees while making moves that propped up the Hamas terror group.

      The idea was to prevent Abbas — or anyone else in the Palestinian Authority’s West Bank government — from advancing toward the establishment of a Palestinian state.”
      Times of Israel 8 October 2023

      I cite this not as the definitive perspective from which to analyse the situation, but offer it up as a strand of analysis that at least attempts to be clear eyed about the flaws in its own society and its state’s governance politics and politicians as contributors to the current crisis.
      Humility, self awareness and a willingness to accept hard truths better serves humanity than bogus arc of history clash of civilisation nonsense.

    • Harry Eagar says:

      I agree that Iran is funding and guiding all the various Jew-hating organizations, but most of them are Sunni (with a sprinkling of Christians).

      Should the self-styled friends of the Palestinians manage to extinguish Israel, there will not be peace in the area. There will be brutal confessional war, as, of course, there already is in Yemen.

  25. David F. Snyder says:

    A bit of an aside, but I was listening to “I Had A King Once” by Joni Mitchell when I came to emptywheel and saw this post’s title. Here’s a link to Joni’s song for those who don’t know it (on her first (and my favorite) album): https:// www .youtube.com/watch?v=2NK0asxf2zk

    — addendum
    Sorry, Rayne, I forgot to break the link before posting.

    The link goes to Joni’s YouTube channel so she gets the ad dollars.

    • Rayne says:

      You broke the link but not in the right places to get by the algorithm.

      Next time try: https :// www .youtube .com /whatever-follows-here .html

      Certain combinations are privileged and coded into the platform so that it automatically interprets the combo as an active link.

  26. PeaceRme says:

    Thank you for this Peter. My mind goes in circles when I dive into all of the behaviors of human beings throughout history manifested by religion or belief system. We get lost in all the details as to who is righteous, who is not, who deserves to use power and control and who should not.

    We lose sight of the fact that abuse is stored in the human body as energy that exacts its toll if not fully understood and mindfully experienced. We see the wounded who fight for peace and we see the wounded who are lost in the mental illness caused by violence.

    That’s why I am dedicated to the Birds Eye view. Regardless of all the wounds, the rationalizations, the grief, regardless of who is God, the truth stands.

    Power and control perpetuates violence. The behaviors used by any human against another destroy the most exquisite intelligence of the human being. It doesn’t matter what religion uses power and control. It matters only that as human we understand its impact in our lives.

    We don’t have to agree on a God or set of beliefs to stop it. Today we can use science. Power and control creates mental illness. It destroys our ability to make rational choices. It perpetuates more violence. It grows in all of us without mindfulness. There are no chosen people or person who should have this power over others. What if we could finally understand this? Power and control even in small doses destroys love. Creates narcissism and sociopathy. Destroys our capacity to be peaceful. This is an undeniable fact.

    And let me add this applies to our mythological superman, marvel heroes. We are lost looking for the leader who deserves by righteousness to use power and control. There is no one. Nor will there ever be.

  27. Phillatius says:

    (Note to moderator: please check link; sorry if t’s illegal.)

    I recognized the art work immediately!


    Dan Erlander was campus pastor at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Wa. during a period of time when my father was provost there (having being “fired” summarily from his solemn call as executive secretary of the Commission on Theology and Church Relations of the LCMS in 1969 during the Preus regime). I have the copy of the book Dan gave to him—as well as an autographed copy of Baptized We Live, which he gave my father in 1986.

    My thoughts are similar to yours, Peterr. I majored in Hebrew at Concordia Senior College in Fort Wayne, Ind. in the early 1970s and have nothing to add—though I wish I had Richard Elliott Friedman’s The Bible with Sources Revealed at the time.

    Except for some periodic visits of several months to see my mother until she died in 2016 and to meet with and discuss theology with my mentor and friend, Bob Schultz (Robert C. Schultz, translator of Althaus’s The Theology of Martin Luther and The Ethics of Martin Luther,, I’ve been out of the United States since 2011, in northeast Thailand. I don’t remember how I came to learn of this website, but I appreciate it.

  28. Ed Walker says:

    I live in Chicago. A small protest group (maybe 250, small by Chicago standards) of Palistinian activists marched in my neighborhood and stopped in front of my building. Their demand was that we all our congressionals asking them to demand an immediate ceasefire. My Congressman, Mike Quigley, has already done that. My senators, the old-timer Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth offer weak support, and probably that’s all we can expect of them.

    I didn’t hear any anti-Biden language. I did see a huge number of cops.

  29. earlofhuntingdon says:

    On the topic of bias against Palestinians, this is from yesterday’s Guardian:

    Girl Scout troop disbands after parent chapter blocks Palestine fundraiser

    St Louis group wished to donate money from bracelet sale to children’s relief fund but Girl Scouts said it could make political statement

    A Missouri regional Girl Scout authority declared it was too political for a local troop in St. Louis to raise a few dollars for a Palestinian children’s relief fund. The troop voted to disband rather than compromise its values. The national organization did not, however, prohibit another troop from fundraising for Ukraine. I’d say its biases are showing and its consistency needs work.


    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The UNRWA report says: “Methods of ill-treatment [by Israeli forces] reported included physical beatings, forced stress positions…threats of harm to detainees and their families, attacks by dogs…use of loud music and noises, deprivation of water, food, sleep and toilets, denial of the right to practice their religion (to pray) and prolonged use of tightly locked handcuffs causing open wounds and friction injuries.

      “The beatings included blunt force trauma to the head, shoulders, kidneys, neck, back and legs with metal bars and the butts of guns and boots, in some cases resulting in broken ribs, separated shoulders and lasting injuries….The report included allegations of widespread sexual assault, although not rape.

      The jury’s still out on the level of proof the UN has for these alleged acts. The IDF issued a blanket denial of all allegations.


      • stillscoff says:

        The UNRWA report describes actions exactly like the methods used in “enhanced” interrogation techniques.

        It’s not that I’m surprised our so-called closest ally would use such techniques.

        It’s that I’m repulsed by the idea of anyone using such inhumane tactics every bit as much as I abhor the attack Hamas waged against innocent people in Israel.

        Both Hamas’ and Israel’s actions are guaranteed to produce a new generation of hate and terror. The cycle of violence will continue.

        I’m so tired of this shit.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Meanwhile, on the other side of the ledger:

      The UN claims that “Hamas Committed Sexual Violence in October 7 Attacks and Against Hostages….[and] found…“clear and convincing information that sexual violence, including rape, sexualized torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment has been committed against hostages,” and that “there are reasonable grounds to believe that conflict-related sexual violence occurred” in at least three locations during the October 7 attacks. “In most of these incidents, victims first subjected to rape were then killed, and at least two incidents relate to the rape of women’s corpses.”


  30. taluslope says:

    Peterr, thank you so much for this, I alway enjoy your posts. Would like to hear someday your thoughts on Paul (St. or not).

    Unfortunately, I posted to the introductory post threatening hell fire if our name is misspelled. I’m hoping you will read it and let me know if the poetry is understandable.

  31. DaBunny42 says:

    How do you suppose we would respond to a similar attack on the US. We have a concrete answer to that question. Nearly 3000 Americans were killed on 9/11. (No kidnappings, rape, or torture, with all the ongoing trauma of those crimes.) In response, we killed well over 100,000 Afghanis. That’s not even considering our ill-considered crusade into Iraq. Remember that, as we propose to piously wash our hands and turn from Israel.

    Netanyahu, and the malign fools like Ben G’vir and Smotrich who have tied themselves to his machinations, have abused and antagonized Palestinians in the West Bank. They pulled troops away from Gaza, certain that the bribes they arranged to have sent to Hamas. They appear willing to tear apart the lives of Palestinians and Israelis alike, so long as doing so benefits their political lives. I feel nothing but disdain and horror at what they have wrought.

    But the Rev. Peterr spared half a sentence of his essay to acknowledge the deaths Hamas caused. Few if any of Israel’s critics here even go so far, let alone engaging with Hamas’ gleeful use of rape as a weapon and their other crimes.

    • Rayne says:

      (No kidnappings, rape, or torture, with all the ongoing trauma of those crimes.)

      Oh honey, no.




      If anything Israel should have learned from our trillion-dollar-plus response that kinetic war and torture were gross failures; that we made little to no effort to truly win hearts and minds while deeply damaging our credibility around the globe.

      • DaBunny42 says:

        I was unclear. I was comparing October 7th to 9/11 and meant that torture/rape was not visited on the US on 9/11. I was NOT claiming it wasn’t part of our response.

        A loved one is currently leading a platoon 502d Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division. Soldiers from that regiment committed the Black Hearts atrocities in Iraq two decades ago. I’m all too aware of what’s been done in our name.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      One more bunny down the rabbit hole. Your last paragraph reads like it was written without reading anything here, not even comments immediately preceding yours. What’s up, Doc?

      • DaBunny42 says:

        I thought that after I wrote my comment, I responded to yours quoting Mother Jones and acknowledged that it contradicted the point I made. Not sure what happened to that.

        As part of the response, I did note that your “entry on the other side of the ledger” was the first I’d seen here (in this post) from someone criticizing Israel.

        I can’t claim to have read through all posts on emptywheel, and must admit I read here more for insight on domestic (US) legal issues than on Israel/Palestine. Maybe there’s a vast corpus decrying Hamas’ atrocities that I overlooked? Let me know.

  32. observiter says:

    We can point fingers this way and that. The situation is much more complex than what seems. But I take particular notice when a party (i.e., Hamas) subscribes to fundamentalist extremist views. Israel isn’t absent of fault in regard to Gaza, but I would place caution.

    Hamas isn’t hiding what their aim was in regard to Oct. 7. You can easily locate their thoughts on this, including their thoughts about what they projected would occur to the Gaza residents due to their/Hamas invasion. They even recognized how easy it would be to shift blame towards the Israelis for harm (post invasion) to the Gaza population.

    Hamas apparently believes the Gaza residents will just have to bear the consequences because their/Hamas aim — of creating a fundamentalist extremist Islamic land, including the destruction of Israel — is more important. Also, Hamas doesn’t believe in Statehood for the Palestinians. They believe in fundamentalist extremist rule.

  33. earlofhuntingdon says:

    If Hamas is responsible for the acts that initiated the current civil war between Israel and the Gaza Strip, Netanyahu’s govt is responsible for its response. Full stop. Given that govt’s hard right makeup, it didn’t need to be goaded into an unrestrained war on the civil population. Like Trump, it doesn’t do nuance. It’s following a familiar pattern of imperial control: destroy the village to save it. One bad guy on the bus? Burn the bus, never mind the school children.

  34. observiter says:

    There are no easy solutions here, Earl. I appreciate your thoughts and intentions. Donating to the Palestinian youth is a worthy cause.

    Israel was attacked. There’s no way Israel was going to twiddle their thumbs and say “oh well.” Hamas knew that. I’d love to hear your thoughts about what Israeli should have done. It’s also easier to provide comments when we are on the other side of the globe, safe and secure.

    Hamas was hoping the attack would excite their fellow extremists and other closeby countries to join them in finally annihilating Israel. It didn’t turn out that way. The larger countries don’t like Hamas (you can maybe guess why).

    But for conversation sake, if Hamas were successful at invading and destroying Israel, what do you think Hamas would do to the Israeli people. Do you think they would do what they did on Oct 7, perhaps? Or worse? Let’s jump up and down in glee, imagining that carnage !!

    My understanding is Israel has now agreed a second time to a cease fire, with the condition that Hamas indicate the number of Israeli hostages they currently have. Hamas has refused the condition, and thus the cease fire.

    The U.S., separately, has indicated they are building a pier, extending from the sea to Gaza, so that ships can provide an easier, quicker way to deliver significant amounts of food and supplies to the Gaza population. Hamas should have/could have done something like this before deciding to starve the population they are in charge of. They didn’t. Gosh, I’m hearing the Hamas leaders aren’t even in Gaza but in another country!

    We went into Afghanistan, then we/U.S. pulled out. Regardless if we should have ever been there — when we were there, we were setting up schools and girls could become educated. A fundamentalist extremist Islamic group now rules this land and they dismantled the schools. You think the population likes having militaristic fundamentalist extremist rulers? You think they voted them in? How do you think girls are treated there. But ho hum.

    I don’t think Netanyahu is going to be in power come the next election cycle. Yes, like Trump he gained his power through smoke and mirrors and devil-bargains.

  35. observiter says:

    At the top, Peterr says: “…You are not to be oppressors, said the Lord to Moses and the people, but you are to treat others as you were *not* treated when you were slaves in Egypt. Remember your heritage, said the Lord, and therefore care for the poor, the widow, the orphan, and the alien.”

    And: “…There is a difference between protecting yourself and taking vengeance, and Netanayhu and his allies have been confusing the former for the latter. …”

    And lastly: “…But I look at and listen to the Jews who are protesting the actions of the Netanyahu government and their supporters, who sound more and more like the biblical prophets of old, calling the leaders of Israel to account. …”

    My comments regarding biblical passages are this: Like all of the Judeo-Christian populations (including Islamic) throughout the world, how many of the religious, especially ultra-religious, actually follow the tenets of their “bibles.”

    Currently in Israel, we see an aggressive organized group of Israeli right-wingers, joined with right-wing religious Israeli settlers, attempting to stop food from entering Gaza. They appear to be protesting and fighting with the Israeli army members at the road leading into Gaza. Yes, this is horrifying to me. But, there are also groups of Israeli Jews who are protesting these protesters, and strongly advocating for immediate food aid into Gaza.

    Hamas was smart. In October, they left the far-right/settlers alone but instead attacked the peace-seeking Jews. If Hamas had attacked the militaristic Israeli settlers, the battle and deaths would have occurred on Israeli soil. World opinion would not have favored Hamas messaging.

    But instead, Hamas attacked peace-loving young adults and farmers, with minimal defense mechanisms. Hamas wanted Israel to enter Gaza and for battles to occur there in the midst of a dense Gaza population, and Israel followed this anticipated response. World opinion is horrified by this and they support Hamas’ vision in its move to show Israel is a monster.

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