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How Hamas Uses Words and Manipulation as Weapons

Pro-Hamas demonstrators in Geneva, Switzerland. Photo: Screenshot

I spent the first two weeks of the Hamas war in Jerusalem, with life punctuated by screaming air-raid sirens and the blessed booms of Iron Dome interceptions. Since then, back in Washington, D.C., I wish we had an Iron Dome device to shoot down the bad ideas and bogus phrases that play a crucial role in Hamas’ strategy to generate hatred of Israel, spark Arab and Muslim uprisings, derail Saudi Arabia’s normalization policy, and, ultimately, kill all of Hamas’s enemies (a category of which the Israelis are only a part). Let’s try to intercept a few of them.

Hamas knows it cannot defeat the Israeli army, so it fights an asymmetric war. It kills Israeli civilians and cruelly hides among Palestinian civilians so that Israelis, in defending themselves, get blamed for unintentionally killing those unfortunate civilians. The war aim is not military. It is to influence public opinion around the world. The internet is a key front. News stories, ideas, memes, and words are essential.

When American journalists fall for Hamas tricks, it is hard to tell if they are gulls or confederates. The Wall Street Journal now points out that Hamas runs the Ministry of Health in Gaza. The New York Times now explains that the ministry is “part of the Hamas government.” But The Washington Post continues to cite that ministry for casualty information, at times without acknowledging that it is an arm of Hamas. Do Post reporters really think that a group that organizes mass rapes and the knifing of babies is credible in reporting about its enemies?

The war against Israel involves bizarre contortions of political terminology. Consider the terms “moderate” and “extremist.” The Palestinian Authority (PA), which governs almost all the Arab residents of the West Bank and is reputed to be moderate, is backing Hamas in this war. The PA president denounces Israel for “aggression,” and the PA prime minister accuses Israel of “genocide” in Gaza. Having said America is “with Israel,” President Biden cannot be happy that these “moderates” are accusing him of supporting aggression and genocide. His enraged denunciations of the October 7 massacre suggest that it changed his views of Hamas. He now seems aware that the Palestinian extremists are even more extreme than he had previously understood. Perhaps he will see also that the Palestinian “moderates” are far less moderate than he understood.

In every speech, President Biden pleads for a “two-state solution,” implying that Israel could achieve that goal if it wanted to. But what keeps such a peace out of reach are the extremism, hatred, and unwillingness to compromise of Palestinian leaders in the PA as well as Hamas. All of this should be easier to discern now than before October 7 — and it all warns against giving the PA control over Gaza after Hamas is destroyed. The Palestinians need new leaders altogether. Otherwise, there cannot be peace.

Similar word games are played with the term “refugee.” Take Gaza’s Jabaliya “refugee camp.” The astute Bret Baier of Fox News wondered aloud why it is called a refugee camp, as it is full of permanent structures. Good question. The answer is that the United Nations defines “refugee” differently for Palestinian Arabs than for anyone else. There is one UN refugee office for Palestinians (UNRWA) and one for the rest of the world (UNHCR). Displaced people who are not Palestinian Arabs are refugees only until they find a place to live for an extended time, which is usually within a year or two, maybe three.

According to UNRWA, however, Palestinian Arabs from Israeli-controlled land remain refugees for their whole lives, and their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and so on also qualify as refugees. By that definition, Tel Aviv is a refugee camp. New York too, for that matter. And London and Paris.

One of the most potent verbal missiles fired at Israel by its enemies is the accusation that it is “colonialist.” This is an especially gross case of the fraudulent manipulating the stupid.

Colonialists staked claims on behalf of their imperialist motherlands. Think of the British in India or the French in their African colonies. After Zionists began urging a “return” to Zion in the late 19th century, the typical Jew who came to build a Jewish-majority state arrived as a refugee, with little to no money. He staked no claim for the country he came from, and thought of that country as anti-Jewish and oppressive — by no means his motherland. He saw Palestine, which he called the Land of Israel, as his motherland. Jews are indigenous there. Arabs also think of themselves as indigenous, though it was relatively recently (in A.D. 7th century) that they colonized Palestine on behalf of the Arab Empire founded by the Prophet Muhammed. Since then, whenever Arabs or Muslims controlled Palestine, the land was a colonial province of a non-Palestinian empire based in Baghdad, Damascus, Cairo, or Istanbul. Who, then, are the colonialists?

And now, Israel is being pressed to make “humanitarian pauses” to ensure that food and other supplies make it into Gaza. Is there another case in the annals of the human race when a country at war was duty-bound to sustain a population under enemy control before the enemy surrendered? Wars have often been decided by which side most effectively cuts supplies to the other side. That was how the Allies won the First World War. Remarkably, when Germany surrendered unconditionally in 1918, there was not a single Allied soldier on German soil. The Allies won not by taking Germany over, but by preventing supplies from getting in. If a foreign diplomat had told British leaders that they had a humanitarian duty to feed the Germans before they surrendered, he would have been dismissed as clueless, if not crazy. Even so, Israel is allowing massive quantities of humanitarian aid into Gaza, though there seems to be wall-to-wall opposition in Israel to any kind of cease-fire, even one that is labeled a “pause.”

The promoters of pauses also commonly express fear that Islamophobia is surging in the West. The warning is better received if it comes from principled opponents of bigotry. But Hamas supporters denounce anti-Muslim bigotry while championing obliteration of the Jews. In any event, is there anything that generates hostility toward Islam and Muslims more than committing mass rape, burning live people, and butchering babies, at the hands of people who proclaim that they are acting in the name of Islam? Nothing will help the fight against Islamophobia more than the destruction of Hamas.

Let’s end on a hopeful note. People naturally wonder what will come after this round of war ends. The nothing-gets-accomplished-by-violence school argues that, no matter how many Hamas members Israel kills, other Palestinians will replace them, and in any event, Hamas’ ideas can’t be killed. But that’s not necessarily true.

Hitler’s defeat effectively ended Nazism in Germany (at least it has for nearly 80 years). Likewise, when the Tokyo military regime was destroyed, its extremist ideology went with it. And though Marxism-Leninism is still alive in China, the USSR’s demise buried that ideology in Russia and the other former Soviet states. Ideas, as a practical political matter, can actually be killed and buried, perhaps never to be resurrected. Another example, closer to home: The American South’s pro-slavery ideology died with the Confederacy and never came back. Ideological movements tend not to regenerate after they spawn wars in which they are devastatingly defeated. This is an optimistic thought for Gaza.

As Israel defeats Hamas — despite the terrorists’ rockets, jihadist ideology, and dishonest propaganda — Gazans have an opportunity to rise up and create a better government, not run by murderous ideological extremists. “Free Palestine” could be reinterpreted to mean that the Arabs there should be freed from the corrupt tyranny of their own bad leadership. Palestinian leaders actually interested in improving the life of their people would treat Israel as a partner, not an enemy.

Douglas J. Feith, a senior fellow at Hudson Institute, served as a deputy assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration and as under secretary of defense for policy in the George W. Bush administration. This article was originally published at National Review.

The post How Hamas Uses Words and Manipulation as Weapons first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Biden Administration Urges Israel to Tone Down Response to Hezbollah Aggression in Bid to Avert Wider Conflict

Mourners carry a coffin during the funeral of Wissam Tawil, a commander of Hezbollah’s elite Radwan forces who according to Lebanese security sources was killed during an Israeli strike on south Lebanon, in Khirbet Selm, Lebanon, Jan. 9, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Aziz Taher

The Biden administration has been pushing the Israeli government to de-escalate hostilities with Hezbollah to prevent a full-scale war from breaking out along Israel’s northern border with Lebanon, where the powerful Iran-backed terrorist group wields significant political and military influence.

In Israel’s north, Hezbollah terrorists have been firing rockets at Israel daily from southern Lebanon since Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre, leading Israeli forces to strike back. Tensions have been escalating between both sides, fueling concerns that the conflict in Gaza — the Palestinian enclave ruled by Hamas, another Iran-backed Islamist terrorist group, to Israel’s south — could escalate into a regional conflict.

More than 80,000 Israelis evacuated Israel’s north in October and have since been unable to return to their homes. The majority of those spent the past eight months residing in hotels in safer areas of the country. The mass displacement has ramped up pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to find a swift resolution to the situation.

The ongoing conflict between both sides escalated on Tuesday when senior Hezbollah commander Taleb Sami Abdullah was killed in an Israeli strike in southern Lebanon. Hezbollah responded by launching over 200 missiles into northern Israel. 

During Abdullah’s funeral, senior Hezbollah official Hachem Saffieddine vowed that the terrorist group would intensify its strikes on Israel. 

“Our response after the martyrdom of Abu Taleb will be to intensify our operations in severity, strength, quantity and quality,” Saffieddine said. “Let the enemy wait for us in the battlefield.”

In Israel, meanwhile, officials have said they prefer a diplomatic solution to the current crisis but are prepared to escalate military action to push Hezbollah back from the border in order to allow internally displaced Israelis to return home. Polling has shown that the majority of the Israeli public wants the military to engage in expanded actions against the Lebanese terrorist group, which is committed to Israel’s destruction.

The Biden administration has been advising Netanyahu against pursuing the idea of a “limited war” against Hezbollah, arguing that it could spark a regional war throughout the Middle East. According to multiple reports, US officials have warned Israel that Iran could dispatch militants from Syria, Iraq, and Yemen into Lebanon to bolster Hezbollah’s effort.

The White House has also expressed concern  that Israeli officials do not have a clear strategy on how to keep the war contained to solely Lebanon. Fear of a broader regional war has intensified the Biden administration’s urgency to finalize a ceasefire deal between Israel and Hamas, which launched the ongoing war in Gaza by slaughtering over 1,200 people throughout southern Israel and kidnapping more than 250 others on Oct. 7.

“We are concerned about an increase in activity in the north. We don’t want this to escalate to a broad regional conflict and we urge de-escalation,” a Pentagon spokesperson told reporters this week.

The Pentagon also released a statement saying that Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and his US counterpart Lloyd Austin discussed efforts to “de-escalate tensions along the Israel-Lebanon border in the wake of Lebanese Hezbollah’s increased aggression.”

According to multiple reports, Amos Hochstein, a senior adviser to US President Joe Biden for energy and investment, will head to Israel on Monday in an effort to temper tensions between the Jewish state and Hezbollah. Hochstein will meet with Netanyahu and Gallant with the goal of swaying them against green-lighting a “limited ground invasion” in Lebanon. Hochstein will reportedly also journey to Beirut to conduct discussions with Lebanese officials.

“There was a lot of work, diplomatic work done behind the scenes by several folks in the US administration, working with regional powers and our allies to try and tamp this down,” Hochstein has said regarding the prospect of a regional war erupting in the Middle East.

Hochstein argued that preventing a large-scale war between Israel and Lebanon requires “active engagement” with both parties and for the public of both countries to “understand the risks” of further escalation. He added that “despite the bravado talk” coming from government officials, Lebanese people do not to go to war with Israel.

“The bottom line is a lot of civilians will die,” Hochstein said.

Despite chest-thumping by Hezbollah leaders, experts believe that the elimination of Abdullah might cause Hezbollah to exercise caution in engaging further with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). 

The powerful elimination worries Hezbollah members. They now understand that the IDF knows much more about them than we do,” Professor Amatzia Baram told The Jerusalem Post. “Additionally, the operation indicates that Hezbollah’s field security is not airtight and that the organization’s intelligence system has been penetrated to such an extent that we were able to eliminate such an important sector commander. The IDF managed to infiltrate their networks and systems and identify the right people for elimination.”

The post Biden Administration Urges Israel to Tone Down Response to Hezbollah Aggression in Bid to Avert Wider Conflict first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Iranian Court Sentences Woman to 18 Years in Prison for Supporting Israel

Iranian protesters carry a portrait of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and a Yemeni flag as they burn an Israeli flag during an anti-US and anti-British protest in front of the British embassy in downtown Tehran, Iran, Jan. 12, 2024. Photo: Morteza Nikoubazl/NurPhoto via Reuters Connect

Fatemeh Sepehri, a prominent Iranian dissident and political prisoner, has been sentenced to an additional 18 and a half years in prison after she publicly expressed support for Israel.

The harsh prison sentence appeared to be at least partly in response to a video clip released on Oct. 16 from Ghaem Hospital in the northeastern Iranian city of Mashhad in which Sepehri, who suffers from a heart ailment, condemned Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel. Hamas is backed by the Iranian regime, which provides the Palestinian terror group in Gaza with funding, weapons, and training.

“I emphatically declare that the Iranian nation stands in solidarity with the people of Israel,” she said. “I hope [Hamas’ Oct. 7 attacks] closes the Islamic Republic’s chapter in history.”

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For 45 years, Iranian women have tirelessly battled for their rights, freedom, and advancement. Among them, Fatemeh Sepehri has boldly challenged the ideals of the Islamic Republic. NUFDI proudly awards her the 2024 Humanitarian Award.
pic.twitter.com/ccSnhXVQ9e

— سه خط طلا (@misanthropgirl) March 19, 2024

Although Fatimeh’s court records are unavailable to the public, her brother Asghar Sepehri tweeted details about the sentence. According to her sibling, Fatimeh was sentenced earlier this month by a judge of the Islamic Revolutionary Court of Mashhad to seven years for supporting Israel, another seven years for conspiring against internal security, three years for insulting Iran’s so-called “supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and one year and six months for propaganda against the Islamist regime.

Iran’s rulers regularly call for the destruction of Israel, often referring to the Jewish state as a “cancerous tumor” or “the Zionist entity.”

Sepehri was originally arrested in Sept. 2022 following the killing of Mahsa Amini, a young woman whose death at the hands of Iran’s morality police sparked nationwide protests against the ruling Islamist regime on an unprecedented scale.

Sepehri’s pro-Israel video was posted after she was temporary released from prison to undergo open-heart surgery. According to her family, Sepehri has been subjected to intense “psychological torture” while in prison. Her brothers, Mohammad-Hossein and Hossein, have also received severe sentences for similar charges: eight years and two years and 11 months, respectively.

In the past, Sepehri has been an outspoken critic of Khamenei and the Islamic Republic more broadly. The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) reported in 2021 that Sepehri said on video that she hoped to see the day when Khamenei would be dragged through the streets and killed like Libya’s late ruler Muammar Gaddafi.

Days after Sepehri received her sentence, Iran released political prisoner Louis Arnaud, a French citizen, on Thursday. Arnaud was arrested in Sept. 2022 as anti-government protests were erupting across Iran. French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted shortly after Arnaud’s release, “Louis Arnaud is free. Tomorrow he will be in France after a long incarceration in Iran.”

Louis Arnaut is greeted by Foreign Minister Stéphane Séjourné at Paris’ Le Bourget Airport following his release from Iran. Photo: Screenshot

Three French nationals remain imprisoned in Iran as political prisoners. French Foreign Minister Stéphane Séjourné posted on social media that securing their release remains a top priority.

The post Iranian Court Sentences Woman to 18 Years in Prison for Supporting Israel first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Former ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ Star Patricia Heaton: Every Human Being Should Be Against Antisemitism

One of the billboards erected in partnership between JewBelong and O7C. Photo: Instagram

Emmy Award-winning actress Patricia Heaton said this week that following the deadly Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel, it should be a “natural” reaction among all humans to want to combat antisemitism, as well as support the Jewish people and Israel’s right to exist.

The “Everybody Loves Raymond” and “The Middle” star, who is a devout Catholic, made the comments during her guest appearance on the NewsNation show “CUOMO,” where she also advocated for Christians to voice solidarity with Jews and Israel after Hamas terrorists murdered 1,200 people and took 250 hostages during their Oct. 7 onslaught. Heaton began by telling host Chris Cuomo that after the Oct. 7 atrocities, she was “confused by the lack of outcry from the churches.”

“I even posted on Instagram, ‘Did you ever have that thought that if you were in Germany during World War II, you hoped that you would be that good German that helped to hide your Jewish neighbors? Well, today you have that opportunity,’” she added.

Following the Oct. 7 attacks, Heaton founded a nonprofit called the Oct. 7 Coalition (O7C) to urge Christians to be visibly outspoken against antisemitism, and in support of Jews and Israel’s right to exist. Heaton’s O7C has since teamed up with the nonprofit JewBelong to launch a nationwide billboard campaign to raise awareness about antisemitism in the US.

Talking about why she wanted to get involved in rallying support for Israel and Jewish communities facing a rise in antisemitism in the US since the Oct. 7 attacks, Heaton said, “I think if you’re a human being, that should be your natural response to what we saw.” When asked about how people in the entertainment industry have reacted to her avid pro-Israel stance, she said Jewish friends in the business have called her “brave and courageous.”

“[But] I just think this is just a normal human reaction,” she said. “I have heard ‘We have projects we have to promote. We don’t want to bring politics into it.’ I guess if someone spent 50 or 100 million on a movie, they don’t want to introduce this subject matter and I guess you can understand that. But generally speaking I think Hollywood could do more to support our Jewish community.”

The post Former ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ Star Patricia Heaton: Every Human Being Should Be Against Antisemitism first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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