Dialogue with the deaf and hungry*

“Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds while they only recover their senses slowly, one by one.” - Charles MacKay, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds

Dialogue with the deaf and hungry*
The hand you are dealt

* Andrzej Koraszewski, 17 May 2024

1. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The ruler of the Islamic Republic of Iran. He assures the world that cries “Death to America, death to Israel” is not just a slogan but a policy.2. Sheik A-Azhar, Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, the highest ranking cleric of Sunni Islam, refused to recognise ISIS as an organisation acting contrary to the precepts of Islam, refused as well to condemn the barbarity of Hamas.

A friend from Warsaw visited us. We are talking about Jews, and more specifically about those good people who happily jump into the shoes of their grandparents and great-grandparents and look for confirmation that something is wrong with these Jews. No, of course, God forbid, they are not antisemites at all, not at all, quite the opposite. But this killing of children, genocide, starvation of the civilian population... In the conversations, authorities of the UN, Amnesty International, the International Court of Justice and god knows who pops up. No, they are not antisemites, but newspapers, radio and television, and finally the crowning proof that something is wrong with this Israel, because the Jews themselves write how terrible Israel is.

Is it possible to break the absolute certainty of good people who will be outraged by the simple statement that they are repeating Hamas propaganda given to them by "reliable" sources, honestly repeating news that is not only inaccurate, but based on the careful avoidance of anything that might undermine their certainty?

Is there a chance to overcome the defensive attitude of the interlocutors who are convinced that they are well informed? People who, like a well-known activist for a good cause, answer that you don't have to be an expert in the history of the Middle East to condemn the murder of Palestinian children.

I knew that I did not have good advice, because how could I know how to break through a wall as solid as ramparts of a medieval castle? Thinking out loud, I came up with the idea of a deck of cards that would at least help start a conversation about those specifics they don't want to talk about.

A friend became enthusiastic, but the enthusiasm quickly died out, because neither of us is a  computer graphic designer, so the idea crashed due to lack of skill.

After he left, I was tormented by the question of what such a tool for breaking down the wall of unshakable certainty could look like.

Start with aces – I thought as I went to bed, and I was left with my head on the pillow and no chance of falling asleep.

We should start with Presidents Xi, Putin, Kim and Khamenei. Three nuclear powers and Iran, which is about to have nuclear weapons, three powers dreaming of greatness. What they have in common is their hatred of the West and democracy, the desire to destroy America, and the awareness that the easiest way to mobilise good people to fight capitalism, imperialism and racism is to awaken what sits deepest in good people.

For Xi and Putin, Iran is a skirmisher who will prepare the field for a general battle. Maybe it is worth starting with the aces that will lead to Palestine faster? I decide on Khamenei and the Sheikh of Al-Azhar – the two most important clerics of the Islamic world, and the heads of two denominations of Islam that have been at odds for 1400 years, hating each other and competing with each other to see who hates Jews more.

They both want the same thing – a world caliphate, the capital of which, according to one, should be Tehran and to the other Cairo. True, without knowing the ambitions of these two, it is difficult to understand the Palestinians. The ace in this game is also the president of Turkey, who dreams of a great Turkey, like Putin dreams of a great Russia, and would also like a world caliphate, but based in Ankara. There is also the Emir of Qatar, the main financier of the Muslim Brotherhood in Arab countries, the host and protector of Al Jazeera.

The dreams of these aces help us to understand a little better why Hamas dreams of a world caliphate with Jerusalem (purged of Jews) as its capital.

Today, everyone looks at Hamas, some with undisguised sympathy, others with compassion, and still others with uncertainty, but without any particular curiosity as to what their founding charter is and what their intentions are.

The two main leaders of Hamas live in Qatar, the one in Gaza is in trouble, which seriously worries good people, but they do not really know how to put it into words, so they remain outraged by the information that Jews kill Muslim children and starve adults, as reported by the Hamas Ministry of Health. How to depict the four kings?

1. Leader of Hamas, Khaled Mashaal. He lives in Cairo. He owns about 5 billion dollars (stolen from aid for Palestinians).2. Ismail Haniyeh. He owns about 4 billion dollars stolen from Palestinians. He lives in Qatar.3. Yahya Sinwar, current leader of Hamas in Gaza. He lives in terrorist tunnels. He is the mastermind behind the operation Al-Aqsa Flood.4. Mahmoud Abbas, “President”, Palestinian leader. His estimated wealth is half a billion dollars. He pays rewards for killing Jews, he refuses to condemn Hamas.

Do these rulers of Gaza and this "President" of the state of "Palestine" care about the fate of the Palestinian people? Would they have been elected in free elections? Or would the Palestinians have chosen someone even more radical? What seems certain on the basis of their statements, the statutes of their organisations, their diplomatic efforts, and their daily decisions is that they consider the inhabitants of the territories they rule to be cannon fodder and only allow prosperity to those who are loyal. They are not worried about unemployment or lack of housing, they are not interested in the possibility of turning Gaza into a Mediterranean Singapore, or the Palestinian Authority into a start-up country. There is no shortage of millionaires in their estates, shantytowns are important because they are the main source of income from international aid, a source of recruitment of warriors and excellent images for propaganda. Kings are accused by their own societies of nepotism and corruption. Less often for bringing misery to the people of Gaza and the PA, but such allegations can cost lives, or at best the loss of jobs.

Palestinian women are also very important. They give life and educate, fight and conduct diplomacy in the international arena. Which Palestinian women should we show to a person who has strong opinions? On reflection, I come to the conclusion that it is necessary to show a mother rejoicing over the death of her son as a suicide terrorist, a female terrorist who is a role model for girls shown in school textbooks, a female terrorist who is welcomed by Western universities, a "refugee" who represents "Palestine" in the American Congress.

 What ideology is hidden behind Hamas, and maybe not only behind Hamas, maybe also behind the PLO (although here we see stronger Soviet influence), and is shown by the symbolism of Hamas and Fatah fighters, the same symbolism used by Hezbollah and Houthi fighters?

1. Hamas fighters show their commitment to Nazi symbols, they also know that this sight is worrying to Jews.2. Fatah is regarded as the most moderate faction of Palestinians but it remains faithful to the tradition of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem.3. Hezbollah fighters show Nazi salute more often and with greater enthusiasm than fighters of Fatah.4. Houthi are followers of Shia Islam and, like Hezbollah, they do not hide their ties with Nazism.

Many (including Arab authors) call it Islamonazism. Historians point to the links between the Palestinian national movement and German Nazism since the 1930s. The Muslim Brotherhood, born in Egypt, developed in close symbiosis with German Nazism from the very beginning. Egypt and Syria were the refuge for hundreds of SS officers in the immediate aftermath of World War II, who helped build up the Egyptian and Syrian armed forces. Over time, Soviet advisors suggested silencing the open admiration of Nazism and suggested instead accusing Jews of fascism or Nazism, because it is well received in the West. The Arab denial of the Holocaust began, with simultaneous assurances that it is they who will carry out the second one. Mein Kampf was printed in gigantic editions, successive generations were brought up on Nazi literature in combination with Soviet anti-Zionist literature.

How deep was the mark that the upbringing of the Hitler Youth left on people? And yet it did not last long. One generation of Germans was affected by this plague. What happens to children raised to militarism from the cradle?

1. A proud father takes a picture of his baby with a Hamas headband. The son will become a martyr.2. Happy childhood under the rule of Hamas.

As the child grows up, he receives more and more knowledge, the theoretical one about the joy of dying for Allah and the practical one about how to kill infidels. The exercises start with throwing stones. In general, these stones are only a demonstration, only sometimes it is possible to kill someone when you hit a car window accurately, or when a stone shot from a slingshot hits a Jew in the head. This sport with stones begins around the age of eight or nine. I don't know why this reminds me of the petition (from late 19th century) of Yemeni Jews to the Turkish caliph asking him to forbid the breaking of windows by stones thrown at Jewish homes. The Turkish authorities even reacted, but received a response from Sana'a that it was an old custom and there was nothing that could be done about it. Palestinian children also respect the sacred tradition, and parents usually don't mind. However, the real preparation for life begins only when the child goes to school and participates in summer camps during the holidays.

1. Holidays under the loving care of adults.2. Children learn how to handle guns at the summer camps.3. Summer camps teach children fitness and discipline.4. Children learn the correct method of killing with a knife at the summer camps.

We can read in the media - extremely rarely - that Palestinian textbooks incite hatred and glorify terrorism.

Mostly such criticism deals with textbooks developed with UN money, used in schools run by the UN and financed by the international community. Are the textbooks recommended by the Ministry of Education of Hamas or the Palestinian Authority better? No, but criticism of the UNRWA, a special agency (only for Palestinians), sometimes reaches even the mainstream media, while criticism of Hamas or PLO school programs is only internal and dangerous.

Complaining parents can pay dearly for such criticism. Parents who do not want their children to be brought up to be sadistic murderers, do what parents did in the USSR or in the Stalinist times in Poland. They try to discreetly influence the child at home, instructing him or her that what is said at home must not be talked about either at school or to friends.

A Palestinian child. Amer Abu Zeitoin. Fighter of the military wing of Fatah. He died in a shootout with IDF.

All this does not change the fact that Palestinian children are tragically killed. They die as accidental victims of war, they die when they are used as human shields, they die when terrorists are targets, but the shooters have no idea that there are also children in the car or in the apartment. This is the tragedy of every war. The statistics of children killed by the Israeli army include juvenile fighters of Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Fatah and other groups considered terrorists. These children are killed during an exchange of fire or during terrorist attacks carried out by them. How many? What proportion of Palestinian children killed by the Israeli army are children dying with weapons in their hands? We learn from the media about the killing of a child, researchers find an obituary on social media announcing the death of a fighter. Getting to this information requires the painstaking work of people who speak Arabic, following Arab social media and postings on niche sites, because the mainstream media are not only not interested in it, but also believe that providing such information is Islamophobic. What's more, posts with such information are often challenged on social media and are either taken down or have limited visibility. Statistics of children killed in Gaza invariably come from Hamas's Ministry of Health or the Hamas Press Office. Most readers never question them, and those who have doubts do not really know where to look for more reliable sources.

 It is worth noting that the statistics of Palestinian children killed never include the number of children killed by Palestinian rockets. Sometimes I ask a stupid question: How many rockets have been fired from Gaza into Israeli towns and villages since 2005? The best answer underestimated the number of these missiles by a factor of ten. More than 20,000 Palestinian rockets were fired at Israel, and each of these rockets was deliberately and with premeditation aimed at Israeli children. If the number of people killed by these missiles is relatively small, it is only thanks to the phenomenal (but extremely expensive) missile defence, thanks to an extremely efficient warning system, thanks to an extremely expensive system of shelters and houses with special safe rooms. At the same time, these missiles are often home-made, and 15 to 20 percent never reach their targets, falling into the densely populated areas of Gaza, sowing death and destruction.

Did the Palestinians kill more Palestinian children than Israeli children by shelling Israeli homes?

This is more than likely. However, since the Western media eagerly credit Israel for these crimes, it is pure profit for Hamas, and it is easy to silence the protesting families.

In Palestinian propaganda the death of every child counts as success even when the child is killed by a malfunctioning Palestinian rocket.

Perhaps the most famous case of a Palestinian child killed by a Palestinian rocket was 11-month-old Omar al-Mishravi, the son of Palestinian BBC journalist Jihad al-Mishravi. The very next day, it was obvious that the death of this child and several others had been caused by a malfunctioning Hamas rocket. But the media wanted to believe in Israel's guilt. This guilt was assumed by the BBC and the father of the killed child himself. It was only a year later, in March 2013, that the UN admitted that the cause of death was "most likely" a Palestinian rocket. This, however, did not arouse as much interest as the original "reliable" information about the Jewish crime of infanticide.

(Another "most likely" Palestinian-caused death of a Palestinian child was the death of Mohammad al-Durrah on September 30, 2000, the coverage of which by the French media caused, if not an explosion, then an unprecedented amplification of the Second Intifada, resulting in hundreds of deaths. French television has long defended itself in court against making available the full video footage of this incident.)

Showing in a set of cards the tunnels of terror, the construction of which was not noticed by UNRWA employees or Western journalists, hospitals where weapons were hidden among medical equipment, the "Hitler" company store where young wealthy members of Hamas stocked up on fashionable combat equipment, or finally the stunning hotels where Western journalists wrote their reports from the Gaza "concentration camp", may be an interesting experiment.

Such a deck of cards is not suitable for a meeting with a crowd, but it could be helpful during meetings with another person who is ready to talk and we face the difficulty of reducing such a conversation to specific facts that raise our doubts about the quality of fare provided by the media. You can then take such a deck out of your pocket and say: choose a card.

I stopped my attempt with full awareness of my own clumsiness and the fact that this idea would probably not arouse anyone's interest. (I did not find anyone willing to help me do it professionally.)


Translation: Małgorzata Koraszewska and Sarah Lawson


On 19 May 2024 at 23:02, Ben Dor A. wrote:

Dear Anjuli Pandavar 

Thank you for uploading this essay.

Actually, how do you deal with ignorance, hate and stupidity?
Best Regards 

Ben Dor A.