The War Machine Wants You to Condemn Hamas

The act of condemnation has been cynically weaponised, writes Jonathan Cook. The aim is not to show solidarity with Israelis. It’s to fan the flames of hatred to rationalise crimes against Palestinians.

Crowd progressing slowly towards the Erez Crossing, the main Israel-Gaza checkpoint,  holding flags and signs and calling “End the Closure,” Jan. 26, 2008. (Orrling, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0)

By Jonathan Cook

However counter-intuitive it may sound, there are three good grounds — ethical ones, at that — for refusing to join in the chorus of condemnation of Hamas’ actions on Oct. 7.

That isn’t the same as condoning what Hamas did. It is clear the group carried out war crimes that day — not least by attacking civilians and taking them as hostages.

But there is an important distinction to be made between recognising that crimes were committed and colluding in an act of condemnation that has been openly politicised, and continues to be politicised, to justify harming Palestinian civilians.

How so?

1. Those demanding condemnation are chiefly interested in imposing a consensus, and a dangerous one, that insists the atrocity clock started on Oct 7.

Such people want to wipe from the scorecard decades of atrocities by Israel towards Palestinians: ethnic cleansing, massacres, colonisation, siege, violent dispossession.

[Related: AS`AD AbuKHALIL: Do You Condemn Israel?]

And they can achieve their goal because of a stark narrative power imbalance on Israel-Palestine. In Western societies, pro-Israel sentiment is baked in, articulated constantly by our politicians and media. Anyone who condemns Hamas has no control whatsoever over the ends to which their condemnation will be put.

In short, condemnation of the kind demanded of everyone about Oct. 7 is not cost-free. It has been weaponised to drive out context; erase Palestinian suffering and Israeli oppression; and to simplify and distort history.

Police  at Nakba Day demonstrations in Ramallah, Palestine, 2012. (Heinrich Böll Foundation Palestine, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

2. Those demanding condemnation want the condemnation not so the world can be made a better, safer place, but so their rationalisations for the continuing bombing campaign against Palestinian civilians in Gaza sound more plausible.

If Hamas’ actions need to be singled out for special condemnation (while Israel’s decades of crimes do not), then Hamas’ actions must be an order of magnitude worse than anything Israel has ever done.

Hamas can then be considered a special kind of depraved, inhuman, barbarous enemy. Which means, in turn, that there is both an especial urgency to eradicating Hamas and special conditions that justify Israel using especial cruelty to achieve that end.

In these circumstances, colluding in what amounts to a politicised act of condemnation is beyond unwise. It is not an act of solidarity with Israelis. It is not an expression of shared humanity. It is a tool for fanning the flames of hatred, for justifying ethnic cleansing and genocide against Palestinians.

3. Implicit in the demand for condemnation is an intention to strip Palestinians of the right to any kind of resistance to brutal military occupation by Israel.

IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv. (Justin LaBerge, Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

International law is clear on this point, even if Western politicians and the media are not. Palestinians have a right to resist.

[Related: Craig Murray: Condemnation]

There are plenty of things Hamas did on Oct. 7 that were legitimate under international law, such as attacking Israeli military bases that have been enforcing the siege of Gaza for 16 years. That is the main reason why such large numbers of Israeli soldiers died that day.

But the demand for condemnation intentionally seeks to blur the distinction between what Hamas had every legal right to do — attack the Israeli army — and what it did not have a right to do, which is kill civilians and take them hostage. Instead, all of the day’s events are painted as illegitimate, all of the day’s events are blended into one giant atrocity.

If that isn’t clear, watch the BBC and Sky News’ highly sympathetic reports about soldiers injured in Hamas’ attack.

The BBC’s Reeta Chakrabarti, for example, spent time with one soldier who chose to avenge his dead comrades by taking part in the invasion of Gaza. The report accorded him near-hero status. But the truth is that he and his comrades were stationed next to Gaza because they were helping to enforce the collective punishment of 2.3 million Palestinian civilians through a 16-year siege — a war crime.

Those actions made him and his comrades an entirely legitimate target for Hamas’ attack. But to point that out, to support international law, has been made taboo by Western politicians and media.

In all these ways, the demand for condemnation is designed to implant the idea that Palestinians must accept their fate: to be permanently enslaved by Israel’s settler-colonial project, to be permanently subjected to Israel’s apartheid rule, to be under a permanent siege that counts the minimum calories needed for survival, and to be bombed whenever the mood takes Israel.

Condemnation of Oct. 7 is what the West’s war machine wants from you. It is what ensures Palestinian children keep being killed, and that Palestinians never get their freedom or dignity.

Condemn if you wish, but understand that Palestinians will pay a heavy price for your words.

Jonathan Cook is an award-winning British journalist. He was based in Nazareth, Israel, for 20 years. He returned to the U.K. in 2021.He is the author of three books on the Israel-Palestine conflict: Blood and Religion: The Unmasking of the Jewish State (2006), Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (2008) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair (2008). If you appreciate his articles, please consider subscribing to his Substack page or offering your financial support

This article is from the author’s blog Jonathan

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

34 comments for “The War Machine Wants You to Condemn Hamas

  1. Carolyn Zaremba
    November 18, 2023 at 22:41

    Hamas was not attacking civilians. All Israel is must serve in the military. They are all armed. There are active IDF in all kibbutzes. Hamas were attacking their enemy in a legitimate military raid. I do not like Hamas, but neither do I like Zionists. Sow the wind; reap the whirlwind. I’m with Scott Ritter on this.

  2. Share
    November 18, 2023 at 17:52

    My introduction to the conflict was reading about Rachel Corrie, who was mowed down and killed the day before my birthday. She was many years younger than me. Then there was the “his camera LOOKED like a gun” and so a dead photojournalist. The flotilla, and recently Ms Shireen. The list is endless and ever-growing. I know which side I think is disgusting, revolting, and soulless. It is not the Palestinians.

  3. robert e williamson jr
    November 18, 2023 at 17:03

    My strongest issue with this demand that I agree with Israel’s condemnation is a demand that I engage in the misapplication of my condemnation to the elimination of considering the total sum of all evidence that exists with respect to the Israel’s participation in the constant suppression, harassment and murder of the Palestinian people.

    I do not, I will not and neither should anyone excuse the Israeli governments over reach, demanding everyone agree with them. This is simply not the way the world works. Maybe in Israel, but Israel’s own admission they should be shown special treatment in every scenario belies their attempt to garner public approval for their actions.

    Jonathan has masterfully crafted the actual purpose of Israels demands. Demands as usual, pitifully void on any compassion for anyone other than itself.

    Nice job Mr. Cook – thanks CN

  4. harry law
    November 18, 2023 at 16:34

    Here is United Nations resolution 3246 November 29th [1974]
    Affirms the legitimacy of armed resistance by oppressed peoples in pursuit of the right to self determination, and condemns governments which do not support that right.

  5. Joseph Tracy
    November 18, 2023 at 14:29

    I have never accepted this language or concept that says that humans can meaningfully condemn a group, or action or statement. Are we in charge of the fires of hell? When did damnation become part of the human repertoire? This is humans wanting to own or control an imaginary power of an imaginary being, and it is childish and pathetic. Can’t we simply refuse this entire category of group mental manipulation?

    It is particularly unhinged for Israel to demand this nonsensical application of a meaningless word to an action that so exactly mimics actions they as Zionists have engaged in for 75 years, and in numbers of dead and dispossessed that are between 7 and 10 times anything they have endured.

    Are we allowed to ask larger questions? What good has the Abrahamic War God with his endless celebration of death and dispossession among his ardent self righteous priests from 3 of the most violent world religions given to the humans of this planet?Does this have anything at all to do with an actual human named Abraham, so lost to the mists of legend and imagination? Shall we continue in this juvenile summoning of superheroes, or do we retch up this vile poison, weep in remorse over the selfish dreams that have led us so far from our common humanity and initiate a revolution toward peace?

  6. Britton Kerin
    November 18, 2023 at 14:15

    Nah the right way is to obligingly condemn Hamas (they are awful, as the recent CN article discussing their strategist’s charming thought about how many more casualties his people could absorb clearly shows) but in a mocking way that makes it clear their idiots for asking.

  7. Carl Zaisser
    November 18, 2023 at 14:11

    Thanks…again…Jonathan Cook

  8. Ace Thelin
    November 18, 2023 at 13:22

    Thanks for this article. It is such an important point. Before any condemnation of Hamas a person must condemn the 75+ year history of colonization, ethnic cleansing, hostage taking, lies and aparteid system of Zionist domination. People are learning and Palestine will be free.

  9. Curmudgeon
    November 18, 2023 at 13:20

    “But the demand for condemnation intentionally seeks to blur the distinction between what Hamas had every legal right to do — attack the Israeli army — and what it did not have a right to do, which is kill civilians and take them hostage. Instead, all of the day’s events are painted as illegitimate, all of the day’s events are blended into one giant atrocity.”
    As JDD posted, “What actually happened on October 7 is not clear.” What is not known, is how many of the “civilians” are reservists. Scott Ritter has pointed out that the kibbutzes attacked were built for reservists. As I understand it, all adult Israelis are reservists, regardless of age.
    Killing people whether “legally” or “illegally” is bad. There are no good guys in wars. The real issue here is that Israel rejects UN Security Council Resolution 242 in its entirety. The PLO and even Hamas has, but Hamas rejects recognizing the Zionist government It refuses to acknowledge Palestinians have a right to any territory, and refuses to declare its borders. The effing spineless politicians being pushed to answer whether support Israel or the Palestinians could blow the whole thing up by stating “I support UN Security Council Resolution 242 in its entirety”, then suggest they ask Bibi the Nutty -yahoo if he supports it in its entirety.

  10. lidia
    November 18, 2023 at 13:08

    Zionist colonizers are NOT civilians. They live on land stolen from Palestinians!

      November 19, 2023 at 14:41

      As American civilians live on land stolen from Native Americans.

  11. L Garou
    November 18, 2023 at 11:06

    Why would I support much less defend any nation or religion that deplores me?
    And yes I’m talking about both sides.

  12. Judith Dyer
    November 18, 2023 at 03:28

    43 days of bombing plus no food water medical supplies. Homes, hospitals, schools, everything destroyed! Soon we will be hearing of people dying from diseases and normally avoidable causes. This is extreme inhumane treatment.
    Israel has won this “war”, but they keep plugging away with the approval and support of the Western leaders and media.

    What is wrong with them? Anyone have a clue? Because this is an educated privileged society. Why are they behaving like complete savages? Depriving an entire locked in population of essentials for life. How the hell longer will this go on?

  13. firstpersoninfinite
    November 18, 2023 at 01:34

    To the people of America: the Zionist movement was never a Christian movement. It never was, and never shall be. How stupid do you have to be to believe that Zionism and Armageddon are related? Either give up your belief in Millennialism, or else give up the belief in Zionism as your only path to the fever-dream of Armageddon. And by the way, like all Christians, you will never be allowed entry into the Heaven of Judaism. You are not allowed. Jesus is another religion altogether. And is also a path only to be taken with a grain of salt.

  14. anon
    November 17, 2023 at 22:43

    On 7 Oct., Hamas carried out a large scale attack primarily against Zionist military bases and occupation para military police.
    It took over a number of these facilities, including an army base that contained 20 tanks. Police stations were destroyed in the fighting.
    307 Zionist troops and 56 occupation police were killed in the fighting.
    Hamas casualties are unknown but were probably high.
    What occurred had the quality of a protracted stand up fight between two opposing armed groups.
    It was claimed that 1,400 civilians had been killed, but a few days later, a list of 681 was drawn up, of whom 363, over half , were troops and police.
    There were the inevitable lurid and fanciful hasbara claims of 40 beheaded babies, babies cooked in ovens, mass rapes, and much else – as if people engaged in a heavy firefight are going to take time off to engage in such activities. These claims are about as credible as Herzog’s claims to have found chemical weapons and copies of Mein Kampf left by Hamas.
    Zionist forces responded to the incursion with indiscriminate fire from tanks, artillery, and helicopter gunships, completely disregarding the presence of Israeli civilians. It is likely that many, maybe most of the (318?) Israeli civilians killed were killed by their own army.

  15. Marie-France Germain
    November 17, 2023 at 19:34

    Please Consortium readers! You must read the Geneva Conventions and become aware of what is legal according to International Laws as regards occupations and the rights of the occupied and the responsibilities of the Occupier, in this case, Israel. # (Don’t copy the hashtags but here is the Geneva Conventions as PDF from the International Red Cross and is a safe site.)

    First, Palestine is a land and was a whole nation until 1917 when a Brit who hated Jewish people and wanted them out of England and Europe in general decided, post WWI that the Jewish population should be “given” a land that the British didn’t own but had “won” as a mandate when the Middle East was being carved up by the Europeans for oil. True, oily greed mixed with racism. The takers were mostly the Zionists who were seldom religious or practicing Judaism but were closer to a bunch of football hooligans who had no compunction to subsume the whole of the Palestinian Mandate. History and Colonialism tell the tale over and over again once the Europeans were seabound and acquisitive with a desire to own the world and its resources and peoples. We are now in the twenty-first century and it is time we stand up against these cruel and barbaric practices of stealing others’ lands and resources. Let’s start now.

    Our Canadian Cabinet members (including Trudeau and Joli, our Foreign Minister) have been refered to the Criminal Courts today for complicity in war crimes and Crimes Against Humanity. This is good news, and hopefully, more actions will catch on and we will finally see the end of the genocidal and criminal Israeli government and their army (the most moral army indeed) and the Palestinians have their lands restored. And no, Israel has no claim to any of the lands they stole. Do courts award a thief the stolen goods after being caught? No. So, the colonial settlers must leave or become Palestinian should they choose to remain on the “settlements” and be disarmed as a form of goodwill and willingness to live in peace with their Palestinian neighbours. If not, they will be obliged to be removed to Israel as it was after their war of 1967 with no concessions that would leave Palestine a bantustan like the Apartheid state of South Africa before the 1990s when Mandela and the ANC finally wrested the human rights for Black Africans in SA away from the racist Boers.

  16. Dan A Goldstein
    November 17, 2023 at 18:53

    I’m just a bit ashamed that being SIXTY years old and still damned naive, I condemned “Hamas’ brutal Oct. attack,” a couple times in writing… early on. But never again will I fall for this, probably the most insidious line of all in the arsenal of Israel’s weaponized phrases. The extreme Zionist narrative has notably crumbled since then, under quite a substantial number of revelatory articles, including those published right here at Consortium News. Even Joe Biden had to walk back at least one false assertion re: Hamas’ supposed atrocities.

    And one simply can’t fail to contrast Hamas’ assault rifles and hang gliders vs. the MEGATONS of US/Israeli bombs dropped; the thousands of artillery shells fired; the endless Israeli fusillades aimed at an almost completely defenseless Palestinian population. Really, all one has to do is compare the respective death tolls. But don’t stop there. Take stock of the fact Hamas has no air force, while Israel possesses and uses one of the worlds biggest with genocidal intent AND effect. Hamas has no Navy, while Israeli naval vessels blockade the Gaza Coast. Palestinian boatmen are prevented by said navy from even fishing the Mediterranean, in accordance with Israel’s increasingly horrifying starvation campaign. Hamas isn’t using white phosphorus ammo against Israelis because it has none, and on and on ad nauseum.

    Now, even the PBS News hour is reporting on the dying patients at Gaza hospitals. Now even the Los Angeles Times’ editorial board has called for one of the corporate media’s unutterable taboos, a CEASEFIRE NOW. Along with 68% of Americans polled by Reuters.

    These days, it’s pretty damn obvious, pretty damn undeniable which side is committing unspeakable war crimes, including ethic cleansing: USA/Israel. So I agree, don’t make knee-jerk condemnations of Hamas, any more than you would condemn the Jewish resistance to the Nazis in the Warsaw Ghetto back during WW2.

  17. JDD
    November 17, 2023 at 17:07

    What actually happened on Ovt. 7 is not clear, as it has come only from Israeli govrernment sources. There is already considerable evidence that most of the civilians who lost their lives that day were killed by accidental or deliberate crossfire resulting from the IDF counterattack, using tanks, and helicopters, enraged by its earlier defeat.

    • Carolyn Zaremba
      November 18, 2023 at 22:43

      I agree.

    • Rafael
      November 19, 2023 at 01:10

      yes! give the full truth a chance to come out, as it has started to do. For starters, the Israeli sources can be dismissed as the proven liars they are.

  18. November 17, 2023 at 16:23

    As the UN General Secretary said; the Hamas attack on Oct 6th did not happen in a Vacuum. Gaza is surrounded by Razor Wire, Guard Towers with Automated Surveillance Sensors, IDF Snipers, overflown by Drones 24 hours a day : demonstrators are Shot up to 100 metres of the Border Fence. On Oct. 6th , the IDF went on leave for 7 Hours. Kibbutzim waited in Safe Rooms for up to 7 Hours , before the IDF appeared. HAMAS drove a Bulldozer through the Fence, Flew over it
    in Micro-Lights . Superyid Netanyahu is Doomed.

  19. Caroline Fisher
    November 17, 2023 at 16:20

    ‘If Hamas’ actions need to be singled out for special condemnation (while Israel’s decades of crimes do not), then Hamas’ actions must be an order of magnitude worse than anything Israel has ever done.’ Which they are not. This is surely the start of any conversation.

  20. ray Peterson
    November 17, 2023 at 16:16

    So totalitarian is the corporate controlled mainstream media: BBC,
    WaPo, New York Times, CNN imbedded with the Israeli military,
    that US/Israeli genocide is forgotten and the West’s propaganda accepted.
    But there is a right and wrong: US-Biden/ Israeli genocide is mass
    murder, Hamas’ local killing resistance fighting.
    This judgment I make from your “Blood and Religion: The Unmasking
    of the Jewish and Democratic State” (2006).

    • michael888
      November 18, 2023 at 06:26

      “corporate controlled mainstream media”? As the Twitter Files have shown, social media is largely controlled by the federal government, ie. State Media. Since the abolition of anti-domestic propaganda law in 2013/14 (allowing Genocide Joe to push Israeli propaganda such as the 40 beheaded Israeli babies and Hamas hiding under every hospital in Gaza) and the 2016 Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act (Russiagate) the legacy mainstream media have become federal government controlled. Corporations may fund much of the government’s domestic propaganda, but like academia and think tanks, federal funding and anti-trust law ensure State Media, as in any Authoritarian State.

      It is only a matter of time before Independent alternative media are silenced; enjoy CN’s dissent while we can.

  21. November 17, 2023 at 15:55

    Zionist Israel is an illegitimate and criminal state and its policies are simply Nazism, updated as to equipment. Israel is the villain in the Israel/Palestine story and the conscious world knows it. It has stolen Palestinian land and abused, imprisoned, and murdered Palestinians for going on eight decades to suppress the fact that it has no legal right to even exist.

    • Dr. Hujjathullah M.H.B. Sahib
      November 18, 2023 at 12:38

      I couldn’t agree more with you, kudos to you for calling a spade a spade !

  22. November 17, 2023 at 15:52

    It is easy to condemn Hamas from a position of comfort and safety, when one has not suffered what the people in Gaza are suffering continually every day. When one has not come close to “walking a mile in their shoes”.

    Even if one condemns what Israel is doing, it seems that one has to get in a word condemning Hamas: Oh yes, what Hamas did was terrible and an atrocity. It seems that one has been conditioned to feel obligated to condemn Hamas, or does so without thinking.

    The news feed on one web site condemns Israel for its slaughter of Palestinian civilians, including children. However the web site news feed gets in a condemnation of the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel as foolish and vile; Hamas should only have attacked the Israeli military and Israeli politicians, not civilians. So easy to say from one’s armchair when one is not living in desperate circumstances.

    • michael888
      November 18, 2023 at 06:41

      All military age Israelis (except the Booker Boys) serve in the military, a fact of which they are proud. As in Ukraine, giving weapons to civilians makes them acceptable targets in war. Should Hamas only attack UNIFORMED military? Will Israel be held to the same standard as the Occupied? As thegrayzone and Scott Ritter have pointed out repeatedly, most Israeli civilians were almost surely killed by the IDF on October 7th.

      Hamas should be condemned for their atrocities, just as Israel must be. But study the history of Hamas and remember Arafat’s words; “Hamas is a creature of Israel”. Netanyahu bragged about funding and controlling Hamas, Israel’s collaborators and snitches in Gaza. Two thirds of the IDF was moved away before the Hamas attack. Egypt knew the attack was imminent and told Israel, but Israel surely knew already. Most likely Netanyahu greenlit the attack and capture of hostages for a prisoner exchange. But Netanyahu betrayed Hamas (and the hostages) turning October 7 into his 9/11, an excuse to slaughter Palestinians (wonder if he will kill any of his Hamas higher ups?) And possibly saved his re-election bid?

  23. November 17, 2023 at 15:50

    @ Jonathan Cook ?
    Your thoughtful exposure of the propagandist’s conflating the use of the term “condemnation” will hopefully awaken the comprehension of those in the Western public being fed a poisonous diet of revisionist history and serial deceit.
    Thank you Good Sir for sharing your informed Truths ?.
    As Usual,

  24. November 17, 2023 at 15:35

    Excellent read, thank-you. It’s important for us in the West to understand that any occupying power, has no right to self defense.

  25. Vera Gottlieb
    November 17, 2023 at 15:05

    Why should I support these ZIONAZIS??? Not on your life…

  26. mgr
    November 17, 2023 at 15:02

    We should also keep in mind that the Palestinians in Gaza and in the West Bank are living on their own land. It is Palestinian land, not Israeli. That is why they are called the “occupied territories.” And the Palestinians are defending it however they can. Israel wants to take and occupy these lands for itself as part of a “greater Israel.” For all the rhetoric, this ongoing conflict (for many decades) really comes down to a colonial power stealing lands from its indigenous people. This land grab, of course, has been ongoing since Israel’s founding resulting in the death and imprisonment of thousands of Palestinians at Israeli hands every year since. The difference now is that the Likud party in Israel has taken control and is pushing it hard, and no longer tries to mask its colonial ambitions. Israel has no moral high ground whatsoever.

    • Annie MCSTRAVICK
      November 18, 2023 at 14:12

      ?Quite so.

      The lengthy UN Resolution 37/43 of 3 December 1982 states:

      “2. Reaffirms the legitimacy of the struggle of peoples
      for independence, territorial integrity, national unity and
      liberation from colonial and foreign domination and foreign
      occupation by all available means, including armed struggle;

      3. Reaffirms the inalienable right of the Namibian people, the Palestinian
      people and all peoples under foreign and colonial domination to
      self-determination, national independence, territorial integrity,
      national unity and sovereignty without outside interference; “

    • Carolyn Zaremba
      November 18, 2023 at 22:45

      Thank you. That is the truth.

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