Mosab Hassan Yousef is the son of a founding Hamas leader. In response to the October 7 atrocities, he told a reporter: “I was born at the heart of Hamas leadership . . . and I know them very well. They don’t care for the Palestinian people. They do not regard the human life.”
He explained: “Hamas is not a national movement. Hamas is a religious movement with a goal to establish an Islamic state.” In his view, “Hamas does not serve the Palestinian people. Hamas serves Iran. . . . They are using Palestinian people as a human shield.”
Why, then, are so many “pro-Palestinian” advocates in the West supporting them? Why is such support likely to escalate as Israel escalates its response to Hamas’s atrocities?
A swastika alongside the Israeli flag
Yesterday, journalists were shown horrific footage from Hamas’s October 7 massacre, including scenes of murder, decapitation, and torture. Some of the two hundred in attendance burst into tears as they viewed the images. While Hamas released two more hostages yesterday, it is holding more than two hundred, one of them a seventeen-year-old girl in a wheelchair. Israel has found Hamas files with instructions for making a cyanide-based weapon.
Nonetheless, world opinion is inexorably turning against Israel and the Jewish people, blaming them for the atrocities committed against them.
A United Nations official likened Israel’s response to Nazi actions in the Holocaust. A doctor in the UK posted a picture of a swastika alongside the Israeli flag on her official Instagram page. Organizations funded by the European Union praised Hamas terrorists for acting with “courage and sacrifice.”
This while antisemitism continues to rise in Canada, Germany, across Europe, and in America, where Jews are rushing to buy guns to protect themselves. A rally supporting Israel planned for downtown Chicago had to be relocated after threats from a pro-Hamas group were reported.
A Wall Street Journal opinion writer noted that this pattern is tragically not unusual: “The worst demonization of the Jewish state has typically followed the worst atrocities against it.” He explains this pattern with an insight I found very valuable: “This behavior is an example of cognitive-dissonance reduction, the process by which people reconcile new information that contradicts their firmly held priors. The result is an ostensibly coherent system of thought.”
In other words, to continue supporting those who attack Israel, advocates must find ways to dehumanize and demonize the Jewish people and blame them for their sufferings. We can expect this to escalate as the war escalates.
The irony behind anti-Israel bigotry
What is the reasoning behind what one writer calls the “sickening” anti-Israel bias by so many in the West?
First, Israel is accused of being “colonizers” by those who claim that they stole their land from its rightful Palestinian owners. However, the Palestinians are descended from Arab Muslims who invaded the area in the seventh century, displacing many of the Jews and Christians who had been there for centuries. They were in turn displaced by the Crusaders, who were displaced by Egyptian Muslims, who were displaced by Ottoman Turks. And the Jews under Joshua conquered the land from the Canaanites, whose genealogical descendants now reside in Lebanon.
If the “colonizers” are supposed to return the land to its original owners, to whom should it be returned?
Second, Israel is seen by many critics through the prism of “critical theory.” In this view, they are the majority oppressors of the minority oppressed. However, Jews in Israel comprise less than half the population of Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank, and the global Jewish population comprises 0.2 percent of the global population.
We should also note the ironic fact that many of Israel’s military enemies are the ideological enemies of their ideological supporters. Islamic jihadists subjugate women and persecute LGBTQ people, while Israel empowers women and welcomes people of all genders and sexual orientations.
Nonetheless, the ideological bigotry Israel is facing has enormous implications for the future of the Jewish people.
“Judgments that are true and make for peace”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who is Jewish, visited Israel after the October 7 invasion, where he met with families of hostages. He recalled his own family’s horrific experiences during the Holocaust and said, “If we don’t prevent the threat from Hamas from occurring, it’ll happen again, and again, and again.”
I am writing today to explain the rising hatred against Israel so we can use our personal and cultural influence to defend the Jewish people from their ideological enemies in our society. This is vital for the Palestinian people as well: as Mosab Hassan Yousef noted, Hamas uses them as “human shields” in its quest to eradicate the Jews. Support for Hamas only endangers their Palestinian victims in Gaza and elsewhere.
As we speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), let’s remember that this is a spiritual conflict with “the father of lies” (John 8:44). Then let’s ask God’s Spirit to empower us (Ephesians 5:18) to “speak the truth to one another” and thus “render in [our] gates judgments that are true and make for peace” (Zechariah 8:16).
Billy Graham was right: “Because truth is unpopular does not mean that it should not be proclaimed.” The more people reject it, the more they need it.
And let’s continue to pray for a spiritual awakening in the Middle East that would transform hatred into love and end millennia of conflict. Abraham Lincoln asked, “Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?”
How will you “pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Psalm 122:6) and then help answer your prayer today?
NOTE: For more on the war in Israel, please visit this collection of resources from Denison Ministries.