Al-Shifa Hospital and the crisis of the West

Why are so many in the West buying into Hamas’s lies about al-Shifa?

Brendan O'Neill

Brendan O'Neill
chief political writer

Topics Politics World

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‘Let Hamas use hospitals to plot its murderous assaults on the Jewish State.’ Few people outside of Hamas’s own inner circle would say something like this out loud. Few people would give voice to such a pro-war-crime position. No one who wants to be thought of as a moral person, a halfway decent person, would so cavalierly engage in Hamas apologism. And yet this, in essence, is what the West’s activist class is saying when it rages against Israel over its incursions into al-Shifa Hospital. They’re saying Israel should back off and let the people who are already in the hospital – Hamas – do their thing. It’s a pro-terror stance masquerading as peace activism.

It is now indisputable that Hamas, and Islamic Jihad, have been regrouping in and around al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. You don’t even have to take Israel’s word for it if you don’t want to. The very fact that there have been ‘gun battles’ and ‘fierce fighting’ and ‘intense clashes’ in the vicinity of the hospital is proof that the Islamist terror bloc is there. Even the most hardened Israelophobe will surely admit that it takes two to have a gunfight. So when the woke West’s anti-Israel agitators demand that Israel get the hell out of al-Shifa, what they’re really saying is: ‘Leave it to the terrorists.’ Their Israelophobia, to paraphrase Orwell, is objectively pro-Hamas.

The Battle of al-Shifa Hospital has been raging for the past two weeks. There were clashes there in November last year, too, after intelligence showed that Hamas had used the hospital as a base and had even taken some of the 7 October hostages there. Sure enough, the bodies of two hostages were discovered in the vicinity of the hospital. The latest battle at the hospital erupted following reports that Hamas and Islamic Jihad had snuck back in. That the clashes in recent days have involved some of the ‘most intense fighting [Gaza] has seen in months’ is the clearest proof you could ask for that this is true. The IDF isn’t fighting ghosts.

Yet much of the media has given an entirely skewed view of the al-Shifa battle. They’ve virtually invisibilised Hamas, giving the impression that Israel laid waste to a hospital for fun or something. Alex Crawford of Sky News tweeted earlier this week about ‘the utter destruction’ of al-Shifa following a ‘two-week long Israeli bombardment’. That’s it? No mention of the army of anti-Semites that was the object of this Israeli ‘bombardment’? No reference to the other party in what eye-witnesses describe as ‘fierce fighting’? If you only got your news from X, as far too many do, you could be forgiven for thinking Israel ‘destroyed’ this hospital because it is that evil.

The media framing has continually downplayed the presence of terrorists. ‘Gaza’s al-Shifa hospital in ruins after two-week Israeli raid’, says a BBC headline. Actually, it’s in ruins after a two-week clash between racist terrorists and the IDF, but why let facts get in the way of retweets? It isn’t until paragraph three of the BBC report that the terrorists are mentioned, and even then the word terrorist is put in scare quotes, because while the Beeb is perfectly happy to refer to a rapist with a cock as ‘she’, it’s a bit cagier about referring to radical Islamists who murder Jews as ‘terrorists’. CNN put up a video of the scenes of destruction and invited us to take ‘a look’ at ‘what’s left of al-Shifa complex after Israeli siege’. After terrorists turned a medical facility into a frontline in a war, you mean?

The lies of omission have been even more flagrant in activist circles. ‘Israel ends siege on al-Shifa Hospital after killing more than 400 Palestinians’, said Democracy Now!. That a huge number of these Palestinians were violent extremists devoted to waging cosmic war on the Jewish State matters not one jot to the activist class. They will permit no truth, no pesky fact, to interfere with their holy belief that Israel is a uniquely murderous entity. On social media the chatter about al-Shifa has been positively unhinged. The IDF is clearly a ‘death squad’ that’s ‘high on drugs’ and intent on a ‘long orgy of death’, said one ‘anti-Zionist’ commentator on X. Thousands of people shared this morally illiterate drivel.

The whitewashing of Hamas’s involvement in the al-Shifa battle is a crime against truth. It is a thoroughly documented fact that these violent anti-Semites have used al-Shifa for torture, execution, arms storage and hostage-taking. Years ago Amnesty International reported on Hamas’s use of the hospital, ‘including the outpatients’ clinic area’, to ‘detain, interrogate, torture and otherwise ill-treat suspects’. More recently, we’ve seen CCTV footage of men with meat cleavers spiriting Israeli hostages into the hospital. We’ve seen the weapons that were found there. We’ve seen the tunnels that were uncovered. And we’ve seen the ‘intense clashes’ as Hamas-in-the-hospital has tried to fight off the IDF.

Those still denying that Hamas uses al-Shifa as a terror base, those depicting the events of the past fortnight as just a genocidal siege by Israel, are, to be blunt, lying. This is not scepticism of ‘Israeli propaganda’. Scepticism is a noble philosophical pursuit where one awaits further evidence before deciding what the truth is. The swirling Israelophobia of Western influencers openly discounts and denies evidence on the basis that we don’t need anything as trifling as facts because the truth has already been revealed to us: Israel is evil. It is cult-like delirium dressed up as anti-war activism.

Even worse than the misinformation is the moral cover these activists provide to Hamas. Their post-truth depiction of the Battle of al-Shifa as a demented Israeli onslaught absolves Hamas of responsibility for these calamitous events. It allows Hamas to pose as the aggrieved party when in truth it was Hamas’s homicidal use of a hospital for the purposes of terror that gave rise to the battle in the first place. Hamas is now calling on the International Criminal Court to investigate Israel’s ‘crimes’ at al-Shifa. I’m struggling to think of anything more repellent than a terror group that commits the war crime of using a hospital as a military base accusing others of war crimes. It is thanks to the wide-eyed, craven apologism of so many in the West that Hamas can get away with such antics.

The Battle of al-Shifa confirms an uncomfortable truth about many Western observers and agitators – they’re in the pockets of Hamas. Wittingly or otherwise, they’re doing the bidding of violent bigots. For if it is widely known that Hamas and the IDF are fighting in al-Shifa, and if you only demand the expulsion of the IDF, then what you’re saying is: give Hamas free rein. This isn’t opposition to Israeli ‘war crimes’ – it is support for Hamas war crimes. It isn’t a principled objection to the use of hospitals for war-like violence – it is an implicit acceptance of Hamas’s right, and Hamas’s right alone, to use hospitals for this purpose. The Israelophobia of Western influencers directly benefits the pogromists of Hamas. It adds a veneer of anti-war radicalism to their anti-Semitic hysteria.

The Battle of al-Shifa is a clarifying moment. Not only for Israel in its war with Hamas, but also for us in the West. For it confirms that many of our young in particular are siding with the forces of darkness, with the violent anti-humanism of a group like Hamas. There’s a backstory to their sympathy for Hamas, their harebrained acceptance of the idea that Israel is solely responsible for the al-Shifa disaster. Namely, their inculcation with anti-Western views. Their exposure to the regressive ideology that says everything ‘white’ and Western is bad, while everything non-white and non-Western is deserving of compassion.

The end result is that even in a clash between a virulently racist movement that uses a hospital to plot war and murder and the army of a democratic state that is hunting down the terrorists that committed a pogrom against its people, they side with the former. It isn’t only al-Shifa that lies in ruins – so do the West’s own future prospects if we fail to have a serious reckoning with the Hamas apologism infecting our youth, our activists and our institutions. That so many of our fellow citizens have sided with barbarism over civilisation demands our urgent and undivided attention.

Brendan O’Neill is spiked’s chief political writer and host of the spiked podcast, The Brendan O’Neill Show. Subscribe to the podcast here. His new book – A Heretic’s Manifesto: Essays on the Unsayable – is available to order on Amazon UK and Amazon US now. And find Brendan on Instagram: @burntoakboy

Picture by: YouTube.

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Topics Politics World


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