The left’s sickening betrayal of Israeli women

Hamas’s mass rape of Jewish women is being cruelly erased from history.

Batya Ungar-Sargon

Topics Politics World

As the images started to float in on social media last October of the beautiful dancers at the Nova Dance Fest, captured enjoying themselves moments before they were brutally massacred by Hamas, I remember thinking that surely this would be a turning point in how the left views Israel. The images of these innocent, peace-loving, dancing youths – gorgeous and lithe with their long, flowing hair and barely there festival outfits – appeared to me like a modern-day advert for the Zionist state.

The scenes from the festival before the terror radiated love and kindness. There was that 10-second clip of 22-year-old Shani Louk dancing. Then, there was the image of Louk on the back of that truck, and the one of her being dragged through the streets of Gaza, as thousands cheered and ran after her. Can you even imagine a starker contrast of good vs evil? It was joy, love and life vs violence, rape and death.

Surely, I thought in my naivete, Western leftists would see themselves reflected in these music-loving young people, who looked like they had stepped out of Haight-Ashbury in the 1970s. Surely, the sight of 26-year-old Noa Argamani, begging for her life as the butchers ride off with her, would inspire in the left a sense of identification with these Israelis, and a corresponding fear of Hamas. How could it not?

It did not. Leftist women found nothing in their hearts to say about it. For months. There was a total failure of the international feminist community to stand up for the Israeli women who had been sexually brutalised by Hamas. Despite the preponderance of evidence for mass rapes, there was a code of silence from the usual suspects. Some even began to deny these atrocities. YouTube personalities formed what I like to call the ‘Our Hamas Would Never’ brigade to defend the butchers and rapists from the evidence of their crimes, insisting that it was all Zionist propaganda.

This would be bad enough. But you have to remember who these women, these publications, these YouTube personalities are. They aren’t people who generally feel there should be a high standard of evidence before accepting an accusation of rape. On the contrary, these are the same people who demanded that all standards around evidence for accusations of sexual assault be suspended. These are the people who demanded that a standard of ‘affirmative consent’ be deployed to judge whether a woman has consented to sex, and without that affirmation, any sexual encounter be deemed as a rape. These are people who recoded bad sex as rape, regretted sex as rape, flirtation as harassment, regrettable kissing as assault.

Then, they turned around and said: well, does shooting nails into a woman’s vagina truly count as rape? Does chopping off their breasts really count as a sexual war crime? Would our Hamas, who are very religious and pious, ever rape anyone anyway?

Never mind that Hamas terrorists filmed themselves committing these atrocities, bragged about them and sent the images to these women’s families. Never mind that Hamas allegedly had little booklets with helpfully translated phrases, like ‘take off your pants’.

To all this, the left was silent. The #MeToo feminists were AWOL. How could this possibly be? The same women and organisations who turned unwanted flirting at the office into the civil-rights issue of our time, when presented with evidence of the mass rape of Jewish women, immediately began to say: ‘We need more context. We need more evidence. Remember the plight of the true victims here.’ By which they actually meant the perpetrators. They took their standard of ‘believe all women’ and turned it on a dime to ‘don’t believe the bragging of rapists if their victims are Jews’.

This isn’t just a hard-left fringe, either. Elsewhere on the left, there is a determination to downplay these crimes or, at the very least, change the subject. On CNN, Dana Bash asked Democratic congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, the head of the Congressional Progressive Caucus: ‘I have seen a lot of progressive women, generally speaking, that are quick to defend women’s rights and speak out against using rape as a weapon of war, but downright silent on what we saw on 7 October and what might be happening inside Gaza right now to these hostages. Why is that?’

To which Jayapal replied:

‘I think that rape is horrific. Sexual assault is horrific. I think that it happens in war situations. Terrorist organisations like Hamas obviously are using these as tools. However, I think we have to be balanced about bringing in the outrages against Palestinians. Fifteen-thousand Palestinians have been killed in Israeli airstrikes, three-quarters of whom are women and children.’

In what other context would you need to be more ‘balanced’ about sexual war crimes?

Meanwhile, the New York Times, which had already published an extensive article outlining Hamas’s mass rapes, then shelved an episode about the rapes on its popular podcast, The Daily, due to internal pressure from its leftist newsroom. The New York Times refused to stand by its own reporting when its sociopathic woke employees revolted. How is this happening?

It would be easy to say that ‘this is just anti-Semitism’. And of course, much of it is deeply anti-Semitic.

The true core of this, however, is the identitarian ideology the left has now adopted. Whether you want to call it critical race theory, social justice or wokeness, this is a worldview that doesn’t distinguish between right and wrong. Instead, it says the world is built on the binary of powerful vs powerless. The woke ascribe inherent virtue to those they see as powerless and evil to those they see as powerful. On what side of the binary you fall depends on your race, gender, sexuality, national origin or religion – rendering, for example, all people of colour powerless and oppressed, and thus virtuous, and all white people powerful oppressors who are inherently compromised.

This woke worldview absolutely dominates the left, which means it also dominates the cultural and intellectual output of the United States these days. Leftists were once eager to offend the powers-that-be with their art, their scholarship or their journalism. Now they will conform at all costs. And the thing they conform to is the view that people of colour are inherently virtuous no matter what they do. Because people of colour supposedly have no agency and are oppressed and marginalised. Meanwhile, white people are seen as inherently evil, the root of everything bad and responsible for any ills that befall the world.

This is the source of 21st-century leftist anti-Semitism. Every Jew is coded as white, thus they are bad. And every Palestinian is coded as a ‘person of colour’, thus they are inherently virtuous. And this includes Hamas.

Every Palestinian outranks every Jew on the oppression scale and so any Palestinian in conflict with any Jew is the one the left must side with. The Jew has all the agency and the Palestinian has none. Anything bad that happens between them cannot be the Palestinian’s fault, because you cannot blame someone with no agency for anything. They are innocent, like a child. To the woke, the less powerful have no responsibility to act ethically because their rank on the oppression scale means they cannot act at all – and they are already inherently imbued with virtue, no matter what they do. And that goes for the terrorists among them, too.

To the woke, when a so-called person of colour commits a heinous act against a so-called white person, the agency of their actions – and the evil inherent in them – must be reassigned to their victims. What this means is that when a Palestinian rapes a Jewish woman, the agency was hers, not his. She remains the oppressor. His act was her fault, and her suffering does not release her from the burden of her status as oppressor, even in death.

That’s why leftist feminists can’t side with raped Israeli women. To do so would betray everything they believe. They see the Israeli women as deserving of everything that happened to them – as having brought it on themselves. Like the conservatives of yore who blamed rape on the miniskirt worn by the victim, the left today blames the fact that Israel has more power than Hamas for Hamas’s brutalisation of Israeli women. They simply can’t think their way out of seeing Hamas as virtuous. Because to do so would be to admit that their entire worldview is not only wrong, but also morally depraved.

Why didn’t the images from the Nova festival move the left? Because the left has moved on from things like peace, love, dancing, eros, joy, beauty, truth and goodness. It has replaced these with an embrace of ugliness, hatred, resistance ‘by any means necessary’ and a rejection of the kind of joyous sexuality one finds at a music festival. That’s why the images that I assumed would draw sympathy only further served to cast the Israelis as worthy of condemnation.

The Israelis dancing at that festival didn’t know they were ‘evil oppressors’. They didn’t know that any calamity that might befall them would be ‘deserved’, instigated even by their joyous existence. Their agency itself was a crime.

At the end of the day, 7 October revealed how little of the left’s ideology is about values, and how much of it is about power – specifically, about using a person or a group’s supposedly abject status as a method of wielding power. That is the leftist playbook now. Masquerade as powerless so as to grab power. Bray about being marginalised as a way of silencing dissent. Screech about being oppressed as a way of firing your boss and getting their job, or casting your political opponents as unworthy of the franchise.

And that’s why the woke just can’t quit Hamas. They recognise their own game when they see it, even when it shows up as a raping Hamas butcher.

Batya Ungar-Sargon is deputy opinion editor at Newsweek and author of Bad News: How Woke Media is Undermining Democracy.

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