Untangling Anti-Israel Propaganda for Today’s College Students

By Hendrik van der Breggen Published on May 13, 2024

If recent encampments and protests on university campuses have demonstrated anything, it’s that many of today’s university students are woefully ignorant about Israel and the Israel-Hamas war. Clearly, students have been bamboozled by anti-Israel propaganda and need actual schooling rather than woke indoctrination.

Surprise Quiz!

Here, then, is a surprise quiz. (I have added answers to minimize “triggering” those students who confuse vandalism and waving placards with studying and seeking truth.)

TRUE or FALSE?

1. October 7 didn’t happen.

False. The footage from the Hamas fighters’ bodycams, the testimony of survivors, and forensic investigation provide ample evidence that on October 7, 2023, Hamas brutally murdered more than 1,200 Israelis, injured many more, and took 240 hostages.

2. Israel was occupying Gaza immediately before October 7.

False. Israel gave Gaza its independence in 2005, hoping for peace. In turn, Gaza embraced Hamas — a terrorist organization — and over the past nearly two decades has launched thousands of rockets against Israel and constructed a vast underground war machine.

3. The Israel-Hamas war is about land.

False. See above answer (i.e., Israel gave Gaza back to Gazans in 2005).

Also, Gazans (more generally, Palestinians) have repeatedly rejected Israel’s offers of peace in exchange for land.

In fact, Gaza — led by Hamas — is fighting a religious war against Israel. Hamas is an Islamist terror organization that seeks to exterminate Jews and their Jewish state. Islamists see Israel as a satanic affront to the “true religion” of Islam. Israel is the “Little Satan” (and the U.S. is the “Great Satan”).

4. Israel is committing genocide.

False. Israel is fighting a war of self-defense — a war started by Hamas. And it is Hamas that is the genocidal regime.

In the Israel-Hamas war, Israel is targeting Hamas fighters and is not trying to wipe out Gazans. Hamas, on the other hand, targets all Israelis and wants to exterminate all Jews — whether women or men, children or aged, civilians or soldiers. That is genocide!

Yes, sadly, in targeting Hamas fighters Israel has killed many Gazan civilians. This is a tragedy. But for Hamas it’s a strategy.

Hamas hides behind (and below) Gazan civilians, knowing Israel is reluctant to kill civilians, yet also knowing Israel is morally obliged to risk killing Gazans to stop Hamas and thereby protect Israeli citizens. To Israel’s credit, the civilian-combatant death ratio is low when compared to other cases of urban warfare in recent history. And this is all the more impressive when we also realize that many Gazan casualties are due to the misfiring of many Hamas rockets.

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Again: Israel is not committing genocide. Rather, Israel is engaging in self-defense against a genocidal Islamist-jihadist regime — a regime that deliberately sacrifices its own citizens so gullible Westerners will believe it is the victim, and thus not support the only democracy in the Middle East. (In view of the campus anti-Israel protests and the Biden administration’s waffling support for Israel, Hamas is playing its wicked game all too well!)

5. Israel’s military response is not proportional.

False. Class, please put down your placards and put on your thinking caps.

Proportionality in war is not mathematical equality (one side rapes and murders 100 people, so the other side rapes and kills 100 enemies in response — that’s gang warfare). Rather, it involves weighing, on the one hand, possible deaths on one’s own side if opposing military targets are not struck, and, on the other hand, possible deaths of civilians on the other side if the military targets are struck.

Hamas, which the majority of Palestinians (and Iran) support, has vowed to commit the atrocities of October 7 over and over and over again in order to wipe Israel off the map and exterminate Jews. Therefore, Israel has been forced to defend itself against Hamas by striking Gaza.

And this is no easy task. Why? Because Hamas has spent nearly 20 years embedding its fighters in hundreds of kilometers of tunnels located under Gaza’s hospitals, homes, schools, and mosques. And this task is all the more difficult because Israel is attempting to target Hamas without targeting civilians, even though many of those civilians have helped Hamas build its war machine.

Therefore, Israel’s military response is proportional. Israel is doing what is needed to prevent a death cult — Hamas — from murdering millions of Israelis.

6. Israel is an oppressor.

False. Again, Israel is acting in self-defense. Again, Hamas brutally attacked Israel on October 7.

If any country is an oppressor, it’s Iran. Iran explicitly advocates for (and even shouts,) “Death to Israel” (and “Death to America”). Also, Iran supports and surrounds Israel with terrorist groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah, and Islamic Jihad. Via this “ring of fire,” Iran is attempting to exterminate Israel. That is oppressive!

But aren’t Israel’s Gaza border policies oppressive? Perhaps, though certainly not like that of Iran’s oppression via its proxies (including Hamas). Keep in mind that the efforts on Israel’s part to ensure secure borders between Israel and Gaza are a result of Gaza’s deadly actions against Israel. Remember the almost two decades of rocket fire? Remember the attack tunnels? Israel’s border policies protect Israel from Hamas.

7. Israel should agree to a permanent ceasefire before eliminating Hamas.

False. Hamas (Gaza’s leadership) started the war and so should lay down its arms, return all hostages, and agree to an unconditional surrender. If Israel agrees to a permanent ceasefire before Hamas surrenders and releases all hostages, Hamas will regroup and continue its promised genocidal war against Israel. Moreover, other terrorist groups around the globe will be emboldened by Hamas’s success.

As an Israeli spokesperson said: If there’s a fire, you don’t just put out 80% of it — you put out all of it. It’s the same for Hamas.

Think about it. We didn’t let Nazi Germany or Imperialist Japan off the hook until they were thoroughly defeated. And rightly so.

8. Israel is an apartheid state.

False. Israel is a democracy in which Arabs and other minorities (and women) have full rights. There is no apartheid in the State of Israel.

At this juncture, a student might try to justify the apartheid charge against Israel by pointing to the West Bank. But this would be a(nother) mistake.

First, the West Bank is not Israel. It is a disputed territory, of which parts are controlled by the Palestinian Authority and parts by Israel (it’s messy).

Second, yes, Palestinians and Israelis are segregated in the West Bank. But segregation in the West Bank is done for security reasons, not apartheid.

This segregation is no doubt difficult for Palestinians, but it’s not an instance of apartheid (or racism). The segregation and Israeli occupation in West Bank is Israel’s response to the many past Palestinian attacks and suicide bombings against Israel.

Again, it’s not apartheid. It’s not discrimination or oppression based on race or ethnicity. Rather, it’s an attempt to restrain hostile actors. This is an important difference!

To see what real apartheid states look like — which includes discrimination and oppression based not only on race or ethnicity but also gender and sexuality — look at Israel’s neighbors and ask: Why are there so few (if any) Jews living in those countries? Why are women less than first-class citizens? Why does Gaza toss gay people off tall buildings rather than celebrate Gay Pride Month?

End of quiz. Class dismissed. Please leave your placards in the garbage can, clean up your mess on campus, and apologize sincerely to all Israeli and Jewish students on your way out the door.

 

Hendrik van der Breggen, PhD, is a retired philosophy professor (formerly at Providence University College, Manitoba, Canada) and author of the recent book Untangling Popular Anti-Israel Arguments: Critical Thinking about the Israel-Hamas War. A PDF is available for free at his blog APOLOGIA or the paperback can be  purchased at Amazon.

 

Updated May 13, 2024 at 11:56 a.m. CDT.

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