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Israel’s Reichman University Continues Despite War, Making Gaza Conflict Part of the Curriculum

Israeli soldiers drape their country’s flag over an IDF tank near the border with Gaza. Photo: Reuters/Ronen Zvulun

Despite the ongoing war in Gaza, the Raphael Recanati International School at Reichman University, in Herzliya, Israel, has been welcoming hundreds of international students for the new academic year. According to the school, 850 new students have begun studying since the Israel-Hamas war started.

The biggest international school in Israel, where studies are conducted in English, they have 2,500 students, 30 percent of whom come from a total of 86 countries around the world.

To incorporate the current war into the curriculum for students, the school established a new set of courses with the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism and the Institute for Policy and Strategy, both parts of the university. They offer students learning opportunities on the conflict in Gaza, particularly from the “framework of international relations and diplomacy studies.”

Reichman considers itself to be a strong Zionist university, boasting that roughly 70 percent of its international students end up moving to Israel. According to the school, some of the new war-related initiatives have focused on combating anti-Israel rhetoric online as well as boosting Israel’s image in international circles, an idea known as hasbara in Hebrew.

“These days the students of the international school are active on campus and most of them are in Israel, and that is why we are proud that they are here despite the war,” said Jonathan Davis, head of the university’s international school and vice president for external relations.

Davis added that the school is even helping farmers with their harvests — a volunteer activity that has become popular in Israel since the war, as many farms are heavily understaffed due to the lack of Palestinian or international workers since Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre.

“The war gave them values ​​of Zionism, unity, responsibility, and independence that they never dreamed of,” Davis said of the students. “They explain that it is equivalent to another degree. I am especially proud these days of the hundreds of lone soldiers who are students at the international school who are recruited into the reserves and defend the country.”

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The New York Times Shares Anti-Israel Conspiracy Theory About Boars

The headquarters of The New York Times. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

In a recent profile of the Israeli settlement of Homesh and the tensions between its Jewish residents and their Palestinian neighbors, The New York Times’ Steven Erlanger uncritically echoes the claim that some settlers are using boars to uproot local Palestinian agriculture.

Partway through the piece, Erlanger writes, “They [settlers] chop down olive trees, roll flaming tires down the hills to burn crops and even send boars to dig up Palestinian seedlings and fruit trees, the locals say.”

In the next paragraph, he expands on this claim, relating how a local Palestinian man has bought dogs to keep these boars away from his land.

This is not the first time that Israelis have been accused of setting wild boars loose in order to attack Palestinians and destroy their property.

However, in the more than 15 years that this libel has made the rounds of both Palestinian and foreign media outlets, it has proven to be only an incendiary cudgel used against the Jewish residents of the West Bank — not a legitimate news story.

Why would @nytimes legitimize the utterly ridiculous charge that Israeli settlers are “send[ing] boars to dig up Palestinian seedlings and fruit trees?”

It’s all just a load of porky pies.

— HonestReporting (@HonestReporting) February 26, 2024

As far back as February 2007, the Elder of Ziyon blog reported on the Palestinian claim that Israeli settlers were using trained wild boars to terrorize local Palestinian communities and to tear up their agricultural fields.

This claim was repeated in April and June 2007, as well as February and May 2008.

However, the claim that Israelis were using trained wild boars against local Palestinian communities really gained steam in 2012, when it was reported that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas had previously stated that Israelis were training wild boars to uproot Palestinian trees and to “spread corruption on the face of the earth.”

In 2014, Abbas reiterated this baseless claim at a conference in Ramallah.

Since then, this libel has routinely popped up in Palestinian publications as well as news outlets aimed at foreign audiences.

As the blog Israellycool has previously noted, when it comes to blaming Israelis for wild boar attacks in Palestinian areas, there are a wide variety of conspiracies about how Israel is to blame.

These contradictory conspiracies include the allegations that Israelis are setting these pigs against Palestinian communities; that Israeli security fences are protecting Jewish communities while allowing for Palestinian areas to be ravaged; that Israelis are allowed to shoot wild boars while Palestinians are not; and that Israeli construction has forced these animals to venture into Palestinians towns and cities.

If this claim about Israel-trained fighter pigs seems fantastical, it’s because it is.

As HonestReporting noted last year (when we critiqued a UK education magazine for publishing similar absurd claims), there is no evidence that wild boar attacks in Palestinian areas of the West Bank are attributable to a nefarious Israeli plot.

In recent years, due to a variety of factors, there has been an uptick in boar sightings in both Jewish and Palestinian communities in the West Bank, as well as parts of pre-1967 Israel. In fact, the rise in boar appearances inspired a 2021 New York Times profile on the boars of Haifa.

Parallel to the rise in boar sightings has been the rise in boar attacks, with both Jewish Israelis and Palestinians falling victim to the pigs’ aggression and viciousness.

Even Yesh Din and B’Tselem, two Israeli organizations that focus on alleged human rights abuses in the West Bank, have found there to be “no evidence” of any boar attacks in Palestinian communities being attributable to a Jewish conspiracy.

This boar conspiracy is yet another point in a long line of Israel-related animal conspiracy theories.

While they might seem ridiculous, some of the theories include:

The claim that Israel trained dolphins to serve as spies or assassins.
The claim that a vulture was trained by the Mossad to conduct reconnaissance.
The claim that Israel was using rats to drive out Palestinians from their eastern Jerusalem homes.
The claim that the Mossad was responsible for a slew of shark attacks in the Red Sea off the coast of the Sinai Desert.

Much like these other conspiracies, the claim that boar attacks in the West Bank are attributable to an Israeli plot is hogwash, and should not be spread by The New York Times or other reputable news organizations.

The author is a contributor to HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias — where a version of this article first appeared.

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The True Motivation of Terror — Hamas Terrorists Don’t Want a State

Yahya Sinwar, head of the Palestinian terror group Hamas in Gaza, in Gaza City on April 14, 2023. Photo: Yousef Masoud / SOPA Images/Sipa USA via Reuters Connect

What really drives terror against Israel? To begin a proper answer, we must first understand the universal human need “to belong.” This primal need can be expressed harmlessly, as in sports fandom or rock concerts, or perniciously, as in jihadist terror-violence.

In matters of terrorism, widely alleged political motivations (e.g., sovereignty, “self-determination,” and statehood) are actually secondary or reflective. In the case of any proposed “two-state solution,” Palestinian sovereignty is never anything other than political manipulation or subterfuge. Not only would a Palestinian state fail to stop Palestinian terrorism, it would render such terrorism increasingly likely and even more injurious.

In ancient times, Aristotle already understood that “man is a social animal.” Typically, the seminal philosopher recognized, even a “normal” individual can feel empty and insignificant apart from any tangible membership in the “mass.” Inter alia, that mass is the State. Sometimes, however, it is the Tribe. Sometimes the Faith (always, of course, the “one true faith”). Sometimes it is “The Liberation” movement or simply “the Revolution.”

Details aside, whatever the mass claims of any particular moment, it is an unquenchable craving for belonging that threatens to produce catastrophic downfalls of individual responsibility and variously correlative triumphs of collective wrongdoing. Today, in jihadist-centered parts of the Middle East, unless millions can finally learn how to temper the overwhelming human desire to belong at all costs, all military, legal, and political schemes to control war and terrorism will fail.

It’s time for more serious explanations. To more genuinely understand what lies behind Palestinian terrorism against Israel, science-based analysts must first learn to look more deeply behind the news. In the final analysis, such “molecular” looks could helpfully explain jihadist fusions of susceptible individuals into murder-centered terror gangs. Prima facie, in the jihadist Middle East, war and terrorism would never take place in the absence of such inherently barbarous collective identifications.

Earlier, relevant core concepts were clarified by Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. Whenever individuals crowd together and form a mass, both recognized, the exterminatory dynamics of a mob can quickly be unleashed. More precisely, they discovered, these dynamics could lower each single person’s moral and intellectual level to a point where even anonymous mass killing would be widely welcomed and encouraged. This is precisely what happened with Hamas’ October 7, 2023, attack upon vulnerable Israeli civilians.

In today’s jihad-oriented Middle East, Islamic faith has been placed in the witting service of war and terror. Hamas terror against Israel is fueled by effectively unchallengeable evocations of “divine will.” Ironically, the net result of any such perfidious summoning is to drown out any authentic hints of sacredness or godliness.

Doctrinally, once empathy and compassion are extended outside the terrorizing jihadist mass,they must go unrewarded. In the case of Jews, moreover, humane sentiments must also be actively punished. Here, as generalizable virtues, empathy and compassion become extraneous and presumptively self-destructive.

There are pertinent details. In the name of allegedly divine commandment, jihadist/Hamas terror-criminality offers the wider world neither salvation nor holiness, but only conspicuously lethal “groupthink.” Among other things, the dissembling rhythms of this annihilating ethos make it futile for Israel to advance even the most honest efforts at peaceful coexistence.

This fundamental dilemma can never be solved by pundits, political leaders or self-declared “experts.” True solutions will require the concentrated intellectual efforts of uncommonly gifted thinkers. For Israel, it would emerge, any purported two-state solution could be a “final solution.” Here, the ironies would be both insufferable and unconscionable.

To undertake increasingly urgent investigations of Hamas terror-criminality, capable scholars and policy makers should look much more closely at the complex determinants of human meaning. Before we can slow-down terror-violence against Israeli and various other noncombatants, Hamas and kindred groups will first have to be shorn of their inclination to bestow celebratory status upon murderers. To affect those mass-directed individuals who turn to terrorism (i.e., ritualistic murder) for affirmations of personal worth, capable thinkers should first identify more benign but still comparably attractive sources of belonging.

In the very deepest analytic sense, Hamas terror-violence represents the result of cumulative individual failures to draw personal meaning “from within.” In Gaza and other mass-directed Palestinian areas, “redemption” requires “the faithful” to present tangible and perpetual proof of belonging. In any such presentation, evidence of participation in violence against Israeli men, women, and children is self-evidently gainful.

At its heart, Palestinian terror-violence against Israel is a problem of displaced human centeredness. Ever anxious about drawing meaning from their own “inwardness,” Hamas adherents draw ever closer to mass-based defilements. In all too many cases, a blood-soaked voice of anti-reason makes even the most gratuitous forms of terror-killing seem glorious.

There is more. When it is correctly understood as a form of religious sacrifice, Hamas terrorism confers the greatest possible form of power. This is the power of “martyrdom,” or power over death. At that stage, it is not merely belief or belonging that is being offered to jihadist murderers. It is also immortality. Lest anyone forget, the heroic death that the Palestinian “martyr” expects to endure is nothing more than a transient inconvenience on the path to a life everlasting. In essence, therefore, the Palestinian shahid “kills himself” (or herself) in order not to die.

At birth, each person contains the possibility of becoming fully human, an opportunity that could reduce potentially destructive loyalties to any murderous mass. Indeed, it is only by nurturing this indispensable possibility that we humans can seek serious remedies to war and terrorism. In principle, at least, Israel’s long-term struggle against Hamas and other jihadists should be to encourage potential terror-killers to discover the way back to themselves as empathetic human beings. But that’s hardly a realistic suggestion.

It’s a time for a summation. Israel should never misunderstand or misrepresent the core causes of Palestinian terror. To wit, Hamas killers are not most genuinely interested in sovereignty, “self-determination,” or statehood, but rather in evidence of belonging, pretended heroism, and a faith-reinforcing immortality.

For the immediate future, Israel will need to continue its life-saving military response to jihadist terrorism, especially when Hamas leaders remain determined to sacrifice Palestinian civilian populations for narrowly cynical and self-serving reasons. If Hamas leaders really believe in their own “sacred” promises of life everlasting to Palestinian “martyrs,” why are they unwilling to “sacrifice” themselves or their families? Only when this core question is raised and candidly answered could Israelis finally understand why well-intentioned concessions to Palestinian statehood would be misconceived and self-destructive.

Louis René Beres, Emeritus Professor of International Law at Purdue, is the author of many books and articles dealing with nuclear strategy and nuclear war, including Apocalypse: Nuclear Catastrophe in World Politics (University of Chicago Press, 1980) and Security or Armageddon: Israel’s Nuclear Strategy (D.C. Heath/Lexington, 1986). His twelfth book, Surviving Amid Chaos: Israel’s Nuclear Strategy, was published by Rowman and Littlefield in 2016. A version of this article was originally published by Jewish Business News.

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Is Gaza Really the Biggest Case of Arab Suffering?

FILE PHOTO: Sudanese refugees who fled the violence in Sudan’s Darfur region and newly arrived ride their donkeys looking for space to temporarily settle, near the border between Sudan and Chad in Goungour, Chad May 8, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra/File Photo

What would a Sudanese person watching that country’s renewed civil war — which has  killed 14,000, displaced eight million, and threatens 17 million with famine in less than a year — think when they this CBS headline: “Gaza faces unprecedented desperation.”

Sudan has a population of 46 million, Gaza only has two million.

Between 2004 and 2009, the Sudanese regime killed 400,000 people in Sudan. Millions were displaced and still live today in camps suffering acute hunger and the spread of cholera. Since then, the Sudanese regime has disintegrated into its components: its the army and its militias. Since April, the two sides have been engaged in a civil war, causing even more Sudanese deaths, displacement, and agony.

A child in Sudan is dying every hour, according to Medecins Sans Frontier. The International Rescue Committee lists the war in Sudan as the top concern of its 2024 Emergency Watchlist.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) reported that 25 million Sudanese are in need of assistance. Close to 18 million of them face acute hunger, 4.9 million on emergency levels. Of the $2.7 billion needed for Sudan in 2024, UN agencies have received $96.7 million, amounting to only four percent.

Yet, the Sudanese tragedy never seems to attract as much attention as the newer and much smaller conflict in Gaza. UN Secretary General Secretary General António Guterres said about Gaza: “We are witnessing a killing of civilians that is unparalleled and unprecedented in any conflict since I have been Secretary-General.”

But Guterres is wrong.

When the number of deaths in Gaza stood at a reported 29,000 — if we were to believe local Gazan sources — Hamas claimed that it had lost 6,000 of its fighters. Israel alleged that Hamas had lost double that number. Even assuming nearly 30,000 people have died (something we have no way to verify), if we split the difference, the ratio of combatants to non-combatants killed in war in Gaza would be roughly 1:2, lower than the 1:3 (or 1:4) ratio of a similar Middle Eastern asymmetric war when US forces eradicated ISIS in Mosul.

While the death of a single civilian in war is regrettable, it is unlikely that Guterres will ever walk back his claim and admit that the number of non-combatants killed in Gaza is below war average. Guterres’ statement will linger for a long time, and feed the misinformation mill of anti-Israel hatred.

Similarly, a World Health Organization’s spokesperson said that the “war in Gaza has resulted in unprecedented levels of destruction.” Notwithstanding that almost any war in the Middle East — including in Sudan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Lebanon — has caused comparable destruction, the WHO will unlikely qualify its statement or correct itself.

In fact, even when proven false, the global media has rarely retracted erroneous reporting. On October 17, the world media claimed that Israel had committed an “unprecedented” attack on a Gaza hospital that killed 500 Palestinians. It turned out that errant Palestinian fire had killed tens of Palestinians who were camped in the yard of that hospital. Yet the original report is still available today on Reuters‘ website, without any update or errata notice.

For non-Palestinian Arabs who have been suffering from war, there is a sense of unfairness that Palestinians have been monopolizing global headlines for the past century.

Palestinians even get their own UN agencies, such as UNRWA, dedicated exclusively to the affairs of 5.9 million Palestinian “refugees” — when 12 million displaced Syrians, 8.1 million Sudanese, 4.5 million Yemenis, and 1.1 million Iraqis are all tucked under UNHCR and receive a fraction of the global resources and attention.

In fact, the majority of Palestinian refugees today were not themselves displaced, but are the descendants of Palestinians displaced in the 1948 and 1967 Arab-Israelis wars. Millions of displaced Palestinians from these wars resettled and were naturalized in countries around the world, yet are still registered as UNRWA “refugees.”

Even claims that the rate and scale of Israel’s fighting in Gaza “is unlike any war in recent memory” are false.

Unless humanity has the memory of a goldfish, most of us remember (and this writer witnessed) Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon to eject Yasser Arafat and his Palestine Liberation Organization militias. In 12 weeks, Lebanon estimated its losses at 18,000, with many more thousands of Palestinians fighters unaccounted for. Even Israel suffered heavier losses in 1982 Lebanon, 350 troops in 88 days, compared to 230 in 140 days in 2024 Gaza.

Until 2003, Iraqis suffered 24 years of brutal Saddam Hussein tyranny, including his usage of sarin gas on his own people. Kuwaitis suffered Saddam’s invasion and burning of their oilfields. Similarly, Syria’s Assad used chemical weapons in crushing a revolution, between 2011 and 2018, killing along the way at least 300,000 and displacing 12 million.

In Lebanon, a UN Tribunal found that Hezbollah assassinated Prime Minister Rafic Hariri and a dozen other politicians, journalists, and activists after him. The World Food Program (WFP) has been working to prevent a famine by feeding 400,000 “vulnerable Lebanese families.”

And yet, in their rallies and in the statements of their leadership — whether the Palestinian Authority or Hamas — Palestinians have praised Hussein, Assad and Nasrallah, and have shown disinterest in the tragedy of other Arabs, claiming exclusive victimhood.

Despite their agony, ongoing displacement and hunger, the Lebanese, Syrians, Iraqis, Yemenis, and Sudanese people are expected to focus on Gaza as their “central cause.” In fact, the UNRWA’s budget per capita is multi-folds that of non-Palestinian Arabs. These Arab people would raise their voice, but social shaming and physical harassment that threatens them — both at home and in their Western diaspora — keeps them silently weeping and prevents the world from understanding these tragedies that are happening in the Arab world.

Hussain Abdul-Hussain is a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), a Washington, DC-based, nonpartisan research institute focusing on national security and foreign policy. Follow Hussain on X @hahussain

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