Shadi and Matt were really struggling to articulate what they meant, so let me try to help:

1. Matt is uncomfortable with the Palestinian cause because he learned when visiting with the Palestinians that they *really* do want to kill or expel all the Jews from Israel and replace it with Palestine. What Palestinians mean when they talk about a “peaceful” resolution to the conflict is an imaginary process where the Jews are persuaded to just leave on their own without having to be slaughtered. The Palestinians have no other cause or goals. They do not want two states, they do not want a binational state with equal rights. Matt called it “maximalist.” What he meant is that the Palestinian cause is fucking awful and he thinks no one should support it. He’a right.

2. Israelis and most Jews already know about (1) and have for a long time now. That is why - as Matt struggled to say - Peter Beinart is no longer considered a “Jew in good standing.” Whatever Beinart says, Jews who advocate for people who want to kill Jews are not Jews anymore, and it is not their Judaism that is motivating them, it is other political commitments.

(3) Shadi really struggled to understand why American Jews seem to have a lack of sympathy for Palestinian deaths in this conflict, i.e., “why can’t we just agree you shouldn’t kill Palestinians.” It’s because of (1). Palestinians are the *enemies* of the Israelis and the Jews. They kill Israelis and Jews all the time, and we don’t like it, and we are not willing or able to take an open minded position on our own murders. It is weird to expect Israelis and Jews to have more sympathy for the Palestinians than the Palestinians have for the Jews - which is *zero.* Shadi should not have such a hard time with this concept, yet he seems not to grasp it.

(4) Shadi said at the outset some interesting stuff about Arabs (in Egypt) feeling shame and a sense of loss because Arabic culture no longer dominates the world, asked again “why do we suck,” and connected this feeling in a loose way to how he feels about the Palestinian cause.

Keep pulling this thread Shadi, I want to know where it takes you. Because it is truly awful. Palestinians should not have to kill Jews to make Egyptians feel better about themselves. Palestinians should not have to die for the sake of other Arabs’ psychological proxy war against history. The entire Arab world needs to find a way to feel good about itself again that doesn’t require defeating Israel in a war. Please.

Expand full comment
May 11·edited May 11

Here's the thing: it's NOT about justice, and it is about power. That is absolutely correct, but that is exactly what the Palestinians understand and Matt seems not to. First, and I mean this in the absolutely real and substantive sense, there is power in discourse. In the simple fact of refusing to concede that point, the Palestinians have allowed it to continue to shape politics and therefore power in the region. Indeed, the Palestinian vision has arguably been one of the most powerful ideational forces politically in the region's modern history. That is not nothing - if Mexico can get its entire population, and indeed most of Latin America, to support it in its resistance of American occupation INDEFINITELY, for generations, suddenly the prospect of American occupation becomes much more costly, and what it means for America to maintain that occupation changes dramatically. Suddenly, the prospect of American concessions becomes much more realistic.

Why? Because what is discussed on the negotiating table isn't "what is the most practical" or "who is the most powerful"?

It is "what am I willing to lose"?

This is frankly a very obvious lesson from history.

If one side's position is that "no, I am not willing to lose more than this, and that is final" then the other side has only one alternative - occupation, displacement, domination, extermination (or all of the above).

Now, you can call it impractical or unreasonable, but it is a not uncommon position. It's a choice that has been made before, by many peoples throughout history. And herein lies the irony - that is what I think Matt finds upsetting about it, that even in the face of incomparably prevailing power, the Palestinians refuse to concede. It's not "fair", they're not playing by the rules of your game, you've beaten them and crippled them and demonstrated your so much stronger and yet still they won't bend the knee on their vision. That's why they're "unreasonable."

The Palestinians know that in the face of their stubbornness your only choice is to enact ever more violence against them, and have bet on it. They accept that fate, of occupation and domination, because they believe it to be unsustainable - that it ultimately underwrites Israel. In other words, the longer they hold to that vision, the more unsustainable Israel becomes.

And, so far, they have proven entirely correct* - Israel's occupation of the territories has done nothing but slowly entrench a political regime the rest of the world finds increasingly unpalatable. Israel today is far more insecure, isolated, and domestically unstable than it has been since 1948.

That is not to say that the Palestinians don't understand the importance of violence as politics, and therefore expressions of power. But that power isn't limited to the ability to kill and to take/hold land. It has much more far reaching effects.

Sinwar obviously does understand this. I put an * above, because until Oct 7th, that reality had largely been ignored, masked, or otherwise not shown to the world, and actually it seemed the Palestinians were not correct in their gamble. The bipartisan American position had hardened across two administrations, the Arab regimes were openly abandoning the Palestinian vision described above, unprecedented expansions of settlements, etc. Dying with a whimper, not a bang.

So, an injection of violence. What purpose does it serve? Obviously not to "defeat" Israel militarily. Sinwar didn't think he would reoccupy historic Palestine. What Oct 7th did, from the Palestinian perspective, was illicit a predictable response that would (re-)expose the violence inherent in the Israeli of system 'occupation, displacement, domination, extermination (or all of the above)' to the rest of the world. I think Damir's explained this well in the past.

Expand full comment

Why has only the West upheld the Ukraine cause with great fervency? Is it because Ukrainians are White? Would most Americans stand by if Russian troops had slaughtered 6,000 Ukrainian children. No, conservative Blacks and Filipinos, evangelical Whites and Latinos, progressive Latinos and Whites, Silicon Valley executives, Adam Silver, Nancy Pelosi, Randi Weingarten, and Mike Johnson would immediately sanction a total war against Russia. In contrast, most of these groups have not registered a protest for the death of 6,000 Palestinian children. To put it crassly, images of soot ridden, mud caked, and dishevelled Palestinian brown kinders do not have the purchasing power of soot ridden, mud caked, and dishevelled Blonde Ukrainian children. Witness how Madeleine Albright casually diminished the death of 500,000 Iraqi women and children in an interview with Leslie Stahl on 60 minutes.

Expand full comment

I really liked this as per usual and the last twenty minutes or so were especially powerful. I do think Shadi was right when he said the woke and anti woke crowd essentially have the same problem in applying that frame to issues. I do find it odd that people do lack empathy with the kinds of actions we're seeing in Israel and Palestine and the devastating cost of this war.

Yet, Matt also raised a fair point I think. The unrealistic expectations of some is clearly a problem. I have experienced this when discussing solutions with pro palestine activists. Clearly a less ambitious goal to begin with are the necessary building blocks to something better. There is also obviously a governance problem in the future which needs to be resolved too.

Expand full comment

Gentle people, its really simple: If you worship war criminal gods, then expect forever wars. Intellectual leaders should repudiate the following, not “contextualize” them.

• "Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known a man by lying with him. But all the women children that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves” (Moses, Numbers, 31.17/18).

• “thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth” (Moses, Deuteronomy 20.16).

• “And thou shalt do to Ai and her king as thou didst unto Jericho and her King” (God to Joshua Joshua. 8 :2).

A commander issuing such orders would have been hanged at Nuremberg. For the Christians:

• “If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch...men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned “(Jesus, John 15;6).

The Koran is much worse,

• “We renounce you: enmity and hate shall reign between us until you believe in Allah only” (Koran 60:2)

• "when the sacred months are over slay the idolaters wherever you find them" (Koran 9:5)

• “If any one thinks that Allah will not give victory to His apostle in this world and in the world to come, let him tie a rope to the ceiling of his house and hang himself” (Koran 22:11).

• "make war upon them until idolatry shall cease and God's religion shall reign supreme." (Koran 8:40),

• “Idolatry is worse than carnage” (Koran 2:191)

Read that one twice, idolatry is worse than carnage, it’s a war crime, big time. And there is much much much more, as Im sure you know.

Oct 7 is Putin’s birthday, Gaza is Putin’s birthday party. Now everyone talks about Gaza and not Ukraine and Putin’s war crimes. Both parties are being played. You know you’re being played when some one tells you ‘here’s what god wants you to do’. Netanyahu has to appease the ortho’s to stay out of jail, Palestinians just do what ‘god wants them to do’. A Gandhi, a Nelson Mandela, a Martin Luther King, will not arise from this soil.

The US should NOT say to Israel “if you do that we’ll stop the arms”. The US should say “We’re cutting arms and stopping the underwriting, until you do this”.

My prophet is John Lennon, Just Imagine. Just imagine what the ME could be if they could shrug their religions and secularize.

Expand full comment

I get that Matt's goal is managing the center-left political coalition, but it makes for rather odd political commentary on how the main obstacle to the left preventing Israeli weapon sales is the military industrial complex as opposed to the deep tradition of Christian Zionism in the United States.

Expand full comment

What a waste of time

Expand full comment

Well the palestine issue being brought to the forefront of the elites attention is a big deal. at the end of the day it doessnt matter if voters say the economy is their most important issue they dont actually vote that way. So matty and damir are being a tad bit optimistic I think.

I am glad about this and am going to be doing what I can to spread more anti Israel hatred in whatever capacity I can. This is a lifelong issue for me. I don't care how long it takes I'm not going to die thinking I didn't do everything I could to fight genociders.

Expand full comment

I think Pro-Palestine movement can only benefit by trying to be more broadly appealing and being more specific in their demands, but I think Pro-Israel ppl struggling with the youth can also do better. I would recommend centering welfare of Ethiopian Jews who no one wants to send back to conflict-ridden Africa, rather than making morality of Zionism dependent on whether u believe Bret Stephen’s kid might need 2nd homeland in future.

IMO youth would accept 2-state-soln for practical reasons, but wouldn’t morally validate idea of Zionism, as they believe it’s condoning anti-PAL racism, since they believe manifesting Zionism inevitably entailed ethnic cleansing of Pals.

Regarding this war, unfortunately, I do think it’s viewed through a racial lens. Youth ask “Would you be willing to drop 2000 pound bomb if there were 300 innocent Jewish civilians to kill 1 Hamas member.” The willing to tolerate 1000 more civilian casualties of PAL children to protect Jewish children is why leftists view this as an act of racism. Personally, I think this is incomplete analysis. Upon being prodded about Jewish Israeli safety, I hear from leftists, “Why are u more concerned about hypothetical safety of a group currently enjoying political supremacy, than a stateless and disenfranchised group lacking basic legal or political rights?” The worst thing u want to do is pit not even Israeli vs Pal sympathy, and instead make it about a stateless Palestinian vs. Bari Weiss. Center Israelis experiencing rocket attacks, not Jewish Americans needing a place to flee bc of campus protests.

I wasn’t satisfied with Matt’s answer in trying to explain why Jewish Americans are over-represented in Pro-Palestine protests, even if most Jews don’t agree with them. From Tony Judt to Peter Beinart to Glenn Greenwald, it makes the arg relating to identity a lil more complicated.

Expand full comment