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Sinwar Agonistes

Yahya al-Sinwar, head of the Palestinian Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip, attends a meeting with people at a hall on the seashore in Gaza City.

JNS.orgHamas leader Yahya Sinwar, mastermind behind the Oct. 7 invasion of Israel and the worst single-day slaughter of Jews since the Holocaust, is believed to be lurking within the subterranean labyrinth that lies beneath Gaza.

With funds provided by the “international donor community,” Hamas constructed more than 300 miles of tunnels—a network more extensive than the London Underground.

We may assume that Sinwar is somewhere below the southern Gazan cities of Khan Yunis or Rafah, and that he is surrounded by hostages abducted from Israel and barely clinging to life. On the streets above, Gazans serve as his human shields—some voluntarily, some not.

I’d wager that Sinwar is pondering four options.

Option 1: He can wait, betting that President Biden will pressure the Israelis to accept a “ceasefire,” a deal that would allow him to rise, praise Allah for victory, resume ruling Gaza and prepare for the next round of atrocities.

Sinwar was surely encouraged to learn that Biden last week said that Israel’s “conduct of the response in Gaza has been over the top.”

That charge is entirely unfounded. In truth, despite Hamas’s human shields strategy, the ratio of civilian-to-combatant casualties is unprecedentedly low for urban warfare, as historian Andrew Roberts last week explained to Britain’s House of Lords, and as John Spencer of the Modern War Institute has attested.

War is always hell, but Israelis have done more than any other nation ever to spare civilians—despite the fact that they are fighting a genocidal enemy backed by Iran’s rulers. The battle against Hamas is not one the Israelis can afford to lose or even end in stalemate.

Option 2: The Israelis let Sinwar go into exile, say in Algeria, in return for his release of hostages he hasn’t yet murdered. He may be giving serious thought to that way out.

Option 3: “Martyrdom in the way of Allah.” To jihadis everywhere, Sinwar would be a hero and an inspiration.

I’ll come to the fourth option in a moment.

Though Sinwar has plenty of food and fuel—stolen from the aid that’s been pouring in for Gazan non-combatants—life in the tunnels cannot be pleasant.

But he may derive occasional amusement hearing Western leaders and U.N. apparatchiks solemnly pronounce their support for “territorial compromise,” “land-for-peace negotiations” and a “two-state solution.”

Last week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken went further, calling for “a concrete, time-bound and irreversible path” to a Palestinian state.

Note that Blinken is not saying that the leaders of such a state would forswear terrorism and peacefully coexist alongside the Jewish state. Nor is he guaranteeing that such a state will not become a vassal of Tehran.

All he’s said is that Israelis will have “security assurances.”

Like the security assurances Israelis received from the U.N. Security Council after they withdrew from Lebanon?

Like the security assurances Ukrainians received from the United States when they gave up their nuclear weapons?

Like the security assurances Hong Kong received when the British turned the territory over to China’s Communists?

Sinwar is not fighting for a Palestinian state. He is fighting for the extermination of the Jewish state and its replacement—“from the river to the sea”—by an Islamic emirate, a jewel in the crown of the mightier-than-ever caliphate that is to come.

For Sinwar a “two-state solution” would solve nothing—unless it provided an improved platform from which to launch Oct. 7-style attacks.

Also, for all intents and purposes, was there not a Palestinian state on Oct. 6? What attributes of statehood has Gaza lacked since Hamas took power in 2007 after forcibly expelling the Palestinian Authority?

What expressions of sovereignty do Luxembourg, Liechtenstein and Malta possess that Gaza under Hamas did not? A vote in the U.N. General Assembly? Oh, big whoop.

I know you’ve heard that, despite Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, the territory continued to be “occupied.” That charge was based on the claim that Israelis had “hermetically sealed” Gaza, turning it into the “world’s largest open-air prison.”

You were misinformed.

Yahya R. Sarraj, the Hamas-appointed mayor of Gaza City, recently expressed his distress over the destruction of his municipality’s theater, library, zoo, cultural center, parks, seaside promenade, restaurants and recreation areas.

We now know that senior Hamas officials lived in luxurious villas by the sea. Fighters went to Lebanon and Iran for training.

There were poor people in Gaza, to be sure, but they were provided welfare and social services by U.N. agencies, in particular UNRWA, the U.N. Relief and Works Agency.

UNRWA employees include Hamas members, Hamas sympathizers and the beneficiaries of Hamas patronage. They turned a blind eye to the terror tunnels, even those built right under their headquarters. Some participated in the atrocities of Oct. 7.

The Israeli “blockade” was nothing more than an attempt to prevent Hamas from receiving tons of weapons and ammunition, mostly from Iran. We now know that this mission failed. Gaza’s border with Egypt appears to have been porous.

Hamas amassed an enormous arsenal which is why, four months after Oct. 7, Sinwar’s fighters are still firing missiles and shooting Israelis.

Israeli forces are now battling a Hamas brigade in Khan Yunis, and have begun “pinpoint raids” in Rafah, where four battalions reportedly remain. On Sunday night, Israeli commandos rescued two hostages in Rafah.

Which brings us to Sinwar’s fourth option. He could emerge from the depths, surviving hostages in tow, and order his troops to cease firing.

That would save the lives of many Gazans, both his comrades-in-arms and those serving as Hamas pawns.

But that option, I’d wager, is the one Sinwar is least likely to choose.

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Iran’s ‘Supreme Leader’ Welcomes Anti-Israel Campus Protesters to ‘Resistance Front’

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers a televised speech in Tehran, Iran. Photo: Official Khamenei Website/Handout via REUTERS

Iran’s so-called “supreme leader,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, applauded the anti-Israel protesters who have thrown university campuses across the US into chaos over the past several weeks, declaring them part of a new “branch of the Resistance Front” against the Jewish state.

“Dear university students in the United States of America, this message is an expression of our empathy and solidarity with you,” Khamenei wrote in an open letter published on Thursday. “As the page of history is turning, you are standing on the right side of it.”

Rehashing antisemitic conspiracies of Jewish control, he derided “the global Zionist elite” for speaking against the campus demonstrations.

“The global Zionist elite — who owns most US and European media corporations or influences them through funding and bribery — has labeled this courageous, humane resistance movement as ‘terrorism,’” Khamenei wrote. “You have now formed a branch of the Resistance Front and have begun an honorable struggle in the face of your government’s ruthless pressure — a government which openly supports the usurper and brutal Zionist regime.”

Khamenei also praised students in other countries who have launched anti-Israel demonstrations on campuses, noting the leading role that faculty have played in fostering and supporting the unrest.

“Besides you students from dozens of American universities, there have also been uprisings in others countries among academics and the general public,” he wrote. “The support and solidarity of your professors is a significant and consequential development. This can offer some measure of comfort in the face of your government’s police brutality and the pressures it is exerting on you. I too am among those who empathize with you young people, and value your perseverance.”

Khamenei’s letter came amid an outpouring of praise for the anti-Zionist students by Islamist terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda.

“While we support the assassination of the infidel Zionists and the beheading of them, we also appreciate and value the movement of Western demonstrators and sit-in students from Western universities, who through their sit-ins and protests expressed their rejection of the genocide taking place in Gaza,” al-Qaeda leadership wrote in a recent communique

Hamas and Hezbollah, both backed by Iran, have also cheered the protests.

“Today’s students are the leaders of the future, and their suppression today means an expensive electoral bill that the Biden administration will pay sooner or later,” Hamas official Izzat Al-Risheq said in a statement last month.

Naim Qassem, the deputy head of Hezbollah, also praised the protesters during an interview with Al-Manar TV earlier this month.

“We appreciate and value this very much. Perhaps in the future, there will be cooperation among the youth of the world — in America, France, Britain, Germany, and all the activists,” he said. “The [campus protests] are important, especially because they will have an impact on US elections. They will have an impact on the American position.”

Earlier this month, when some universities suspended students who had occupied sections of campus and refused to leave unless school officials agreed to condemn and boycott Israel, the Iran-backed Houthi militia, a terrorist organization that has repeatedly violated freedom of the seas by attacking international shipping vessels passing through the Red Sea, offered to admit the disciplined students as transfers to Sanaa University, an institution it administers.

Some anti-Zionist student groups have reciprocated the admiration.

Last week, Columbia University’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) endorsed Hamas, the latest sign of its growing extremism and willingness to embrace Islamic extremism and antisemitism.

“The Palestinian resistance is the only force materially fighting back against isr*el [sic],” the group said in a series of posts shared by Documenting Jew Hatred on Campus, a social media account which exposes antisemitism on college campuses. “There is no way to eliminate the resistance without ending the occupation. When you see a video of a young palestinian [sic] boy traumatized in a hospital talking about how iof [the Israel Defense Forces, or IDF] shot his pregnant mother in cold blood in front of his own eyes, do not question how he chooses to resist years later.”

Campus Reform, a higher education watchdog which first reported Documenting Jew Hatred on Campus’ posts, noted that Columbia SJP has added an “inverted red triangle” to its social media biography, further indicating its support for Hamas. The Palestinian terrorist group has used an inverted red triangle in its propaganda videos to indicate an Israeli target about to be attacked, and anti-Israel protesters on university campuses have been using the symbol in their demonstrations.

Columbia SJP, a group that has re-formed under multiple names since being suspended by school administrators during the fall semester, was central in staging a slew of riotous demonstrations in which anti-Zionist activists verbally assaulted Jewish students with antisemitic epithets, clamorously expressed support for terrorism and Hamas, and caused thousands of dollars in damages to school property.

The anti-Zionist student movement’s support for terrorism and anti-American ideologies has been expressed before.

Footage of the protests which erupted on college campuses at the end of spring semester showed demonstrators chanting in support of Hamas and calling for the destruction of Israel. In many cases, they lambasted the US and Western civilization more broadly.

“Yes, we’re all Hamas, pig!” one protester was filmed screaming during the fracas at Columbia University, which saw some verbal skirmishes between pro-Zionist and anti-Zionist partisans. “Long live Hamas!” said others who filmed themselves dancing and praising the al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Hamas terrorist organization. “Kill another solider!”

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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Advocacy Group Attempts to Shore Up Support for Israel Among US Democrats

US President Joe Biden addresses rising levels of antisemitism, during a speech at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Annual Days of Remembrance ceremony, at the US Capitol building in Washington, DC, US, May 7, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

A pro-Israel advocacy group is attempting to quell fears among US Democratic politicians that expressing support for the Jewish state amid the ongoing war in Gaza will lead to electoral defeat in November. 

Democratic Majority for Israel (DMFI), a group that advocates for pro-Israel policies within the Democratic Party, circulated a memo this week explaining that the war in Gaza is simply not a top priority for most of the electorate. The memo, first acquired by Axios news website, asserts that “it just isn’t true” that Democratic support for Israel will come at an electoral cost. 

The group argues that a series of misleading polls has caused Democratic elected officials to become more tepid in their support for the Jewish state. 

To bolster its claims, DMFI points to a poll conducted by the New York Times in May which revealed that only 2 percent of voters cite Israel, Palestinians, Hamas, or Gaza as their most important issue. Nonetheless, the Times tried to exaggerate the extent to which voters care about the Israel-Hamas war by highlighting the 5 percent of voters who cite foreign policy as their biggest issue, according to DMFI. However, these 5 percent of voters did not identify if the war in Gaza is their major foreign policy concern.

The group also points out a Harvard-Harris poll from April which showed that Americans overwhelmingly side with Israel in its ongoing war effort. Eighty percent of Americans support Israel and only 20 percent back Hamas, the poll revealed.

DMFI also suggests that Israel’s ongoing military offensive against Hamas has not had a noticeable impact on President Joe Biden’s national standing. According to polling data aggregated by FiveThirtyEight, the president’s approval rating on Oct. 7of last year stood at 39.6 percent, and on April 23 last month, his approval stood at 40 percent. The same poll reveals that presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump’s lead over Joe Biden did not grow over the same time period. 

DMFI president Mark Mellman told Axios that anti-Israel activists represent a small fringe of the American electorate. 

“People sometimes mistake volume for percentage, and the fact that some people are very loud doesn’t make them the majority. … It doesn’t even make them a substantial minority,” Mellman said.

The group’s efforts to reach out to Democrats come on the heels of a high-pressure effort by left-wing groups to force the Democratic establishment to stop supporting Israel. Anti-Israel organizations have organized efforts to encourage voters in Democratic primaries to vote “uncommitted” in lieu of voting for Biden. Moreover, nearly every appearance by Biden in recent months has been marked by the presence of scores of angry anti-Israel protesters

The relationship between Democratic politicians and the Jewish state has significantly soured in the months following Hamas’ Oct. 7 slaughter of over 1,200 people in southern Israel. High-profile Democrats such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (MA) have suggested that Israel is committing “genocide” against Palestinian civilians.

Meanwhile, former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (CA) signed onto a letter urging Biden to pause weapons shipments to Israel. Biden vowed to stop arms deliveries to Israel if the Israeli army attempts to dismantle the remaining Hamas battalions within the city of Rafah in southern Gaza, expressing concern about the prospect of civilian casualties during such an offensive.

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Hate crimes in Toronto are predominantly antisemitic—and the numbers continue to rise: TPS security and intelligence commander

Antisemitic hate crimes continue to account for more than any other category of reported hate crimes in Toronto, according to the head of Toronto police intelligence. Superintendent Katherine Stephenson of Toronto Police Service (TPS) confirmed the ongoing spike in hate occurrences during a presentation at Holy Blossom Temple on May 29, where she addressed 350 […]

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