Israel Won’t Ever Be the Country of American Fantasies—Nor Should It Aspire to Be

Following last week’s election, the veteran Middle East reporter Thomas Friedman authored a New York Times column under the headline “The Israel We Knew Is Gone,” full of dire predictions about what will befall the Jewish state now that its citizens have returned its longest-serving prime minister to power. Daniel Gordis dissects the column’s faulty assumptions and misguided conclusions, which distill misconceptions that plague much American commentary on Israel:

Here’s the heart of the problem. There are many people around the world who want Israel to be something it does not wish to be. They want it to be successful, but humble. They want it to be strong and secure, but still desperate for foreign support of all sorts. They want it to be Jewish, but in a “nice” kind of way. Israeli dancing (which I haven’t seen here in years), flags at the right time, a country filled with “Hatikvah moments,” as some call them. A country traditional enough to be heartwarming, but not so traditional that it would dare imply that less intense forms of Jewish life cannot make it. A country steeped in memory, but also one that is finally willing to move on.

An Israel moderate in every way would be an Israel easy to love. It would be a source of pride, but not a source of shame. It would be an Israel that would make us feel great as Americans and as Jews. The only problem is that that Israel doesn’t exist, and it never has.

And what of Friedman’s more specific gripes?

Tom Friedman writes that “Netanyahu has been propelled into power by bedfellows who see Israeli Arab citizens as a fifth column who can’t be trusted,” intimating that Israeli Arabs are not a fifth column. Some are; some aren’t. . . . I’ve interviewed many Arab women and men who are quite the opposite. But if you live in the Negev, if you have farmland you can’t protect from Arabs in the south or the north, you’re fearful. If you’re a young Jewish Israeli woman afraid to walk in downtown Beer Sheva, you don’t think a “fifth column” is a ludicrous claim. . . . Friedman can dismiss it, but Israelis increasingly don’t. The left and center ignore the issue, and now, Israelis are ignoring them.

Read more at Israel from the Inside

More about: American Jewry, Israeli Arabs, Israeli politics, New York Times

Ordinary Gazans Are Turning against Hamas—and Its Western Sympathizers

In the past few days, difficult-to-confirm reports have emerged of unrest in the Gaza Strip, and of civilians throwing stones at Hamas operatives. A recent video from Al Jazeera showed a Gazan declaring that “God will bring Qatar and Turkey to account” for the suffering of Palestinians in the current war. Being an agent of the Qatari government, the journalist turned away, and then pushed the interviewee with his hand to prevent him from getting near the microphone. Yet this brief exchange contributes much to the ongoing debate about Palestinian support for Hamas, and belies the frequent assertion by experts that the Israeli campaign is only “further radicalizing” the population.

For some time, Joseph Braude has worked with a number of journalists and researchers to interview ordinary Gazans under circumstances where they don’t fear reprisals. He notes that the sorts of opinions they share are rarely heard in Western media, let alone on Al Jazeera or Iran-sponsored outlets:

[A] resident of Khan Younis describes how locals in a bakery spontaneously attacked a Hamas member who had come to buy bread. The incident, hardly imaginable before the present war, reflects a widespread feeling of “disgust,” he says, after Gazan aspirations for “a dignified life and to live in peace” were set back by the Hamas atrocities of October 7.

Fears have grown that this misery will needlessly be prolonged by Westerners who strive, in effect, to perpetuate Hamas rule, according to one Gazan woman. Addressing protesters who have taken to the streets to demand a ceasefire on behalf of Palestinians, she calls on them to make a choice: “Either support the Palestinian people or the Hamas regime that oppresses them.” If protesters harbor a humanitarian motive, she asks, “Why don’t we see them demonstrating against Hamas?”

“Hamas is the destruction of the Palestinian people. We’ve had enough. They need to be wiped out—because if they remain, the people will be wiped out.”

You can watch videos of some of the interviews by clicking the link below.

Read more at Free Press

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Palestinian public opinion