The fastest way to identify the stance of someone speaking about the barbaric attack launched against Israel on Simchat Torah is to note how they identify the two sides. Do they say Israel and Gaza or Israel and Hamas? (Those formulations are basically synonymous.) Or do they refer to Israel and Palestine?
If it’s the latter, that instantly makes clear how that person – or news outlet, or political organization, or so-called humanitarian group – views Israel: that we have no right to exist here. And possibly not elsewhere either, were it up to them.
In a sense, framing the conflict as Palestine vs. Israel amounts to a tautology: They are one and the same sliver of land. Yes, our tiny Jewish State whose cartographic outline is cut and pasted onto their flags and banners and t-shirts and websites and memes. There has never been nor does there currently exist an Arab state called Palestine. The term today is only ever used to refer to our haters’ dreamed-of alternative to the State of Israel. Not to Gaza, not to the West Bank, not collectively to the two territories, which are ruled by rival gangs and do not even share a border – but to the entirety of our Jewish State. The appellation is unmistakably anti-Zionist and (tautologically as well) antisemitic.
Whether or not the declaration begins “I stand with…” or is accompanied by a graphic symbol of terrorism, such as the silhouette of a murderous parachutist or Hamas’s crisscrossed swords over the Temple Mount, using the term “Palestine” in the context of discussing this war does not make you a friend of the people of Gaza (a place few of the mindless shouting hordes on college campuses or the streets of London and L.A. could identify on a map). It signifies one-hundred percent rejection of Israel. Support Palestine equals Wipe out Israel.
These are the same voices which have been busy rationalizing what Hamas perpetrated on October 7 and what the terrorist group has been perpetrating non-stop since seizing control of Gaza after Israel relinquished the strip nearly 20 years ago: indiscriminately attacking Israeli cities and towns with Iranian rockets, and diverting all aid money toward their terror infrastructure and their own fat bank accounts.
Likewise, those who purport to condemn Hamas’s unfathomable brutality but follow their pseudo-denouncements with a but, which inevitably occurs whenever Israel is attacked, are no less morally culpable than those who don’t condemn Hamas at all. One is just more diplomatic (or artful, depending how you view it) than the other.
There is no room for dialogue with such people, because they do not respect our humanity. They do not even recognize our humanity.
Dara Horn titled her acclaimed bestseller People Love Dead Jews. Judging from much of the response to Hamas’s actions on the global street, especially as the war rages on and the initial revulsive images fade from the headlines, even that might be too much to expect. Forbearance for Israel, even among our sort-of friends, quickly wears thin.
“Known thy enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles, you will never be defeated.” We cannot succeed unless we know who – and what – we are up against in this monumental battle. Reference to “Palestine” should be a litmus test to identify whom we unfortunately cannot trust and whom we should not waste resources trying to unblinker. Even the best hasbarah will be wasted on them.
Better to direct our energies toward those who are still learning and listening, who are not already poisoned, who can tell the difference between cold-blooded brutality and self-defense. Who don’t hate Jews.
Better still to focus on strengthening our soldiers, our faith, our sense of purpose, and each other.