I Pray To God This Isn't World War III
To me, I don't see people fighting for causes; I see broken individuals incapable of being at peace with their sense of self, which to me is where true calm, respect for others, and peace comes from.
If there's one takeaway I have from witnessing the discourse over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it's that nuance is an absolute necessity when discussing it, yet nobody seems able to exercise even a modicum of nuance while doing so.
Because the issue is complex, polarizing, and demands reasoned thought, I'd like to start off my piece today by offering a sentiment that hopefully everyone can agree on: I pray to God that this isn't the start of World War III.
However, as the days over the last several weeks have gone by, I find there's less and less to be optimistic about — and I’m not talking about as it relates to the stock market, I’m talking about as it relates to humanity.
Like all problems stemming from deep threaded conflict and a necessity for complex, intellectual reasoning and compromise, I fear this one will only worsen until it reaches some type of point of no return.
The scenes on Sunday of a mob at an airport in Dagestan, surrounding an airplane and reportedly searching for Jewish people arriving on a flight from Tel Aviv, were a new type of horrifying. It appears as simply a modern day pogrom.
Putting aside the fact that many on social media just wrote off Dagestan as a fourth- or fifth-world country, thereby backhandedly justifying the behavior, the backdrop of a modern-looking airport stocked with state of the art commercial jets is enough to elicit comparisons to many airports we've all traveled through.
And to me, the mob mentality taking place among those storming the airport, and eventually accosting passengers accused of being Jewish, seems like only a small step from the mob mentality we saw in U.S. cities during the protests and riots of 2020: there was no reason, there was no civility, and there were no dissenting voices.
How many people have brushed off this occurrence, or other similar occurrences, thinking it could never happen in the United States or Europe? To me, it feels like we are on a hairpin trigger for exactly this type of senseless mob rule.
There are millions of supporters of Palestine who only seek out peace, have only ever sought out peace, and want an end to all war. These are things I am always going to get behind. Absolutely nobody wants to see innocent civilians killed, and hopefully everybody knows that war is hell.
But sadly, there is also a constituency of uneducated, virtue-signaling reactionaries, coupled with actual extremists, that have commingled with protesters seeking out peace and sullied much of the noble cause for many of those who support peace.
Of course, as these fools will argue, Hamas “had their reasons” for carrying out the atrocious act of killing more than 1,000 Israelis, including innocent people at a music festival. The question isn't whether or not they thought they were justified; the question is whether it is a morally sound undertaking to, before Israel even gets a chance to respond, tacitly bless Hamas's actions by overlooking them and immediately protesting in support of Palestine.
Other than the logical fallacy that people were protesting retaliation that hadn't even happened yet, it's also just tasteless. While the Middle East is one of the most polarizing conflicts in the world, think about why anybody would cheer on the death of innocents, anywhere. Maybe I'm just old fashioned, but I don't even wish death upon my worst enemies.
Next, think about the mindset of somebody living in the United States and tearing down photographs of kidnapped Israelis that have been plastered in public.
Sure, one could make the argument that these posters, located 5,000 miles away from Israel, do little. Put that aside. How askew does one's moral compass need to be to walk by and tear these photographs down? If, like many suggest, they do nothing, then leave them be. I already hear some 20 year old dorky white “activist” kid from the Villanova suburbs argue: “The mindset of those tearing down the flyers is that of people who feel as though they have a legitimate grudge!”
Uh, yeah. And hey, Hamas also thinks they have a legitimate grudge. And so does Israel. But when are we going to realize that at some point this endless jihad joyride is going to have to end and we're going to have to choose peace? And when are we going to realize that it’s easier to choose peace after years of no major conflict and not the day after over 1,000 innocent people are murdered?
When are we going to realize that no matter how big of a grudge you think you have, the systematic targeting and killing of members of any ethnic group simply isn't the answer?
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What worries me most is that there is a massive absence of nuance when discussing the situation. On Sunday, I commented on Twitter that the footage of the Dagestan airport mob was "horrifying."
Someone promptly responded by saying:
“Interesting you haven’t said the same of the 4,000+ kids in Gaza who were murdered by F-35 fighter jets. Unsubscribed from your shitty podcast.”
This is a perfect example of the thoughtless, reactionary, borderline-esque reasoning that causes conflicts like these to perpetuate. That Tweet is the reason I decided to write this piece: I knew such a complex issue couldn’t be discussed in 280 character quips.
And of course I am not blessing the death of 4,000 kids in Gaza by calling the situation in Dagestan horrifying. Most people with basic reasoning skills would understand that. But that isn't how the dialogue regarding this conflict is taking place, as this response shows. You are either for one side or the other, and there's no in-between. This type of thoughtless polarization is only going to lead to more chaos, not resolution.
For many “intellectuals” who have lived silver spoon lives in the very same Western world that Hamas hates (without ever experiencing the slightest inclination of discomfort or loss of security, let alone rocket attacks or a massacre of family members), the horrors of Hamas’s actions are completely justified.
The self appointed “scholars who are committed to robust inquiry about the most challenging matters of our time” (vom) at Columbia University said over the weekend:
“In our view, the student statement aims to recontextualize the events of October 7, 2023, pointing out that military operations and state violence did not begin that day, but rather it represented a military response by a people who had endured crushing and unrelenting state violence from an occupying power over many years.”
A statement that was then beautifully summed up by my friend Nathan Anderson:
“Columbia faculty saying Hamas’ October 7th rape and massacre of families and festival-goers represented a ‘military response’ to an occupation of Gaza that hasn’t existed since 2005.
Has the value of an Ivy League education ever plummeted so quickly as it has this past month?”
Elsewhere in the “Ivy League”, on a Cornell online forum late Sunday, there were calls to slit the throats of Jewish people, resulting in a lockdown on campus.
To me, it’s simple: at some point, when both states go to their respective corners and there are years of peace, blame can be assigned regardless of history to the state that restarts the conflict in the meaningful way that Hamas just did. If Hamas hadn’t engaged in terrorism this month, we wouldn’t be talking about this conflict right now. End of story.
Even more worrisome is that Russia has failed to condemn Hamas’s actions in any meaningful way.
And to me, I can't help but get the feeling that the entire world is once again dividing the way it did during World War II. On one side, you have the United States, Ukraine, Israel, and Europe - the West, and on the other, you have Russia, China, India, and most of the rest of the Middle East. The entire world feels more divided than it has in recent memory.
Several years ago, this was a trend that I only noticed taking place economically. Now, the rubber has met the road, and it feels as though it is starting to take place militarily. With two major conflicts now taking place on the global stage, I feel as though we are one catalyst—perhaps China trying to take Taiwan—away from a Third World War. Let's hope to God that I'm wrong, and that I'm simply paranoid.
Amidst this global volatility and confusion, the United States feels as though it is still struggling to maintain its economic and financial gravitas on a global stage. We continue to run what can only be described as abusive fiscal and monetary policy. The nations opposite us are openly challenging the U.S. dollar — and U.S. policy — while hoarding gold.
Our own country seems more divided and confused than ever. Ivy League universities have been turning out students who have openly and actively made attempts to justify Hamas's recent actions. The institutions that were supposed to ensure that students had a bedrock of reason and morality have instead been instilling an entire generation with entitlement and what can only be described as a warped sense of reality.
As Bret Weinstein said in 2019, universities and students have lost their way because ideas that would have never cut the mustard 20 or 30 years ago at U.S. colleges and institutions have been given an affirmative action of sorts, all because people in the United States are afraid to, for lack of better words, call out bullshit when they see it, as we don't want to hurt anybody's feelings. Weinstein makes the point perfectly here:
And so not only do we have an increasingly bifurcated world, with multiple conflicts that all require critical thinking and nuance that we are no longer capable of deploying, we have an entire generation of people in the United States that are so entitled, confused, and narcissistic that they are literally exercising zero reason in choosing the causes they support.
For example, there's a large constituency of the LGBTQ community (or whatever it’s called today) that is coming out and throwing their support behind Palestine and Hamas. You'll notice, however, that none of these supporters are buying plane tickets and making their way to the Middle East to show support, because, of course, their interest is strictly in feigning support for causes that would result in their death, but not actually succumbing to risking their lives. Odd how that works.
We have angry far left 20-something-year-old college students in the United States, in between unknowingly serving their corporate overlords on trips to their local Starbucks and making TikTok videos on their iPhones assembled with slave labor, publicly calling for the killing of Jewish people. Ironically, they are partaking in these protests because the United States allows for free speech and the freedom to live their life however they choose. I think everybody that wants to wave a Hamas flag in the United States (yes, they waving Hamas flags at some protests, and not Palestine ones) should be required to go and live in the Middle East for a couple of weeks and see exactly how their lifestyle compares to the lifestyle that they are “fighting” for.
There's definitely a moral equivalency when it comes to senseless killing. I stand with all the people who do not want to see innocent civilians killed, no matter where they are around the globe. I don't subscribe to the notion that an eye for an eye makes sense. Rather, as the old adage goes, I believe that the whole world will wind up blind. But after years of relative peace, when one group murders over 1,000 innocent civilians of another group, jumping up in arms about the victim retaliating before it ever even takes place is an ugly look.
Sadly, it appears to me that many people in the United States protesting in support of Palestine, in the days after Hamas committed these atrocities, are part and parcel with a larger group of people who simply deem themselves activists and don’t realize there is not a moral equivalency in how both sides see the world. These “activists” pride themselves on fighting for any cause, regardless of how much sense it actually makes.
It is the same lack of logic and flawed thinking that has me worried that the Middle Eastern conflict will continue to spread, not just among the governments of other countries, but among the citizens in other countries as well. Watching the Dagestan airport video, I understand that it is unlikely something like that would happen in the United States. But bearing that in mind, I think there has never been a time in recent history where the conditions have been ripe enough for it to actually take place.
While it's no secret that the right side of the aisle in the United States has had their fair share of disagreement and confusion over the last month, I simply have no idea how any Democrats believe that they're going to be able to retain the support of the Jewish community heading into the next election. Even The Nation has had enough.
The breeding ground for the horrifically flawed and extremely troubling "woke" ideology, which is actively justifying the actions of Hamas while condemning any response from Israel, all sprang from the fertile ground of the far left. This is not a political rant, but I simply can't imagine any Jewish person voting for the party that chose to stand with Palestine after the massacre of 1,200+ innocent people and well before Israel ever even had a chance to retaliate.
I’m not the biggest Sam Harris fan, but he nails the nuance here in this 13 minute video (and here is another version that’s similar, but not as up to date):
It is, of course, true that we in the West have been on the wrong side of these dichotomies in the past. Most Western armies, including Israel's, have at one time or another been guilty of war crimes. And if you go back far enough, all of human conflict was just a litany of war crimes. You don't have to go back all that far, in fact, to find large pockets of Western culture that were morally indistinguishable from what we now see in much of the Muslim world.
If you have any doubt about this, study the photos of white mobs celebrating the lynchings that occurred in the American South in the first half of the 20th century. Here, seemingly whole towns—thousands of men, women, and children—turned out as though for a carnival to watch some young man or woman be tortured to death and then strung up on a tree or lamppost for all to see…
…The point, of course, is that if we recognize the monstrosities of the past, we should recognize the monstrosities of the present and acknowledge that at this moment in human history, not every group has the same ethical norms governing its use of violence, for whatever reason.
When I step outside and walk the streets of Philadelphia, I see many of these confused people protesting for both sides. To me, I don't see people fighting for causes; I see broken individuals incapable of being at peace with their sense of self, which, to me, is where true calm, respect for others, and peace comes from.
I also look around and see tons of level-headed, rational-minded individuals who I know are, in fact, capable of critical thinking about the issue and genuinely do seek peace. But it's not these people I'm worried about. It is the radicalization of a small group of people that can set off a chain of events like we are seeing now: one reactionary decision after another, which spirals endlessly until one large, decisive end.
Domestically, ask yourself: which group is more likely to do that, Jews or Jihadists?
Regardless, in this case, the only thing I hope and pray for is that the terminus this conflict is eventually heading for doesn't wind up being World War III.
Can we at least all agree on that?
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