Ugly lessons of 10/7

Eugene Kontorovich is a professor at the George Mason University Scalia Law School and the director of its Center on the Middle East and International Law. He is also the head of the international law department at the Kohelet Policy Forum, a think tank in Jerusalem. His X stream offers a stream of commentary and links on matters related to the Hamas/Israel war.

His current Tablet column considers “The ugly lessons of October 7.” Here is the opening:

Hamas’ grisly terror raid on Oct. 7 has proved to be the single most stunningly successful act in gaining support for the Palestinian cause—not among Israeli or American voters, of course, but among top Democratic policymakers, and their counterparts across the Western world. One might think that a campaign of unrepentant killing, torture, rape, and hostage-taking would be disqualifying for a national independence movement. But in Washington, Hamas’ ongoing crimes have resulted in much of the weight of the U.S. government being brought to bear on advancing the cause of Palestinian statehood, and its correlate, the punishment and demonization of the Jewish state.

Months of U.S. backing for the Palestinian national cause have produced glorious results for Palestinian diplomacy. Whereas less than two years ago, at a meeting with President Mahmoud Abbas, President Biden had declared that “the ground is not ripe” for renewing negotiations between Ramallah and Jerusalem, the Oct. 7 massacres made Biden change his mind—and make the establishment of a Palestinian state with all deliberate speed a central priority of U.S. Middle East policy. Since Oct. 7, four countries have recognized the “State of Palestine,” with three European states indicating their intent to do so in May. That is more recognition than the PA has won in the entire past decade (notably, only one country moved to recognize Palestinian statehood during the Trump administration).

International institutions, seeing that Israel’s protection by the U.S. has been lifted, have also showered gifts on the perpetrators of Oct. 7. In recent weeks, the U.N. General Assembly voted to upgrade the Palestinians’ status, giving them privileges reserved for member states. On Monday, the International Criminal Court charged Israel’s prime minister and defense minister with committing war crimes, placing them on a par with the terrorist leader of Hamas, Yahya Sinwar—a huge diplomatic coup for the terrorist group that creates a moral equivalence between it and Israel. Had Oct. 7 only managed to revive the trial of Jews for killing babies, it would have still been a triumph.

Here is his assessment of “the heart of the matter”:

It bears noting here that the attraction of Western progressives to medieval violence is quite specific. The ISIS or al-Qaida variety, for instance, did not lead to calls among progressive elites to champion their political agendas or recognize their pseudo-states. Rather, this enthusiasm is reserved for specific perpetrators: Iran and the Palestinians.

The lesson for aspiring ethno-religious terrorist groups, then, is not that they would be assured recognition if they can only match the gruesomeness of Oct. 7. Uighurs and Kurds: Don’t try this at home. If you’re not the IRGC, an Iranian proxy, or a Palestinian group, don’t bother applying.

The flip side of this equation is even more obscene. Washington rewards Iranian and Palestinian terrorism under the moniker of “de-escalation.” That is to say, Iran and the Palestinians get to have their cake and eat it too: Their barbarism advances their agenda, and any attempted retaliation against them is condemned and constrained.

Which leads us to the heart of the matter, namely what Iran, Hezbollah, and Palestinian terror groups all have in common with each other and not with ISIS. By itself, the specific identity of the perpetrators of gruesome violence does not account for Western advocacy on their behalf. That is explained only by the specific identity of the victims: Jews. This is the common thread that ties together support for Palestinian barbarism abroad and for antisemitic mobs at home.

As this column rotates off our Picks, I wanted to bring it to the attention of readers — whole thing here.

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