Here is Andrew Sullivan at his sleazy, underhanded worst. He is undoubtedly a fine writer, and long ago he was also a fine thinker. But he is now a caricature of his former self, plays fast and loose with the facts, and is a curious bigot to boot.
In this risible essay he holds Hamas to a perfunctory standard of behavior, but holds Israel to an impossible standard…one that no nation in history has ever attempted, much less achieved. And to buttress that anti-Semitic double standard (yes, Andrew Sullivan is an anti-Semite), he simply ignores the facts of history and military necessity.
And he lies. A quick reading of his essay will yield omissions, but also flagrant deceptions. Israel, according to Excitable Andi, uses 2,000 pound bombs! Apparently in Sullivan’s world that is a war crime. But he fails to point out that those bombs are designed to penetrate the earth and destroy tunnels with minimal death and destruction above ground. They are not used indiscriminately…they are used to destroy the unbelievable subterranean network that Hamas uses to conduct their terror operations.
Israel says they’re necessary to destroy Hamas’s tunnel network, which is, quite obviously, a completely legitimate war aim. But still. Hundreds of massive, indiscriminate bombs in such a tiny, crammed place all but guarantee mass death of innocents. It is simply too easy to put all the blame on Hamas for this. CNN reported last month, “Nearly half of the [29,000] air-to-ground munitions that Israel has used in Gaza in its war with Hamas since October 7 have been unguided, otherwise known as ‘dumb bombs.'” This may not be genocide, but it sure pushes right up to the boundary of any legal or moral combat.
Ah…that lovely Sullivanism: “But still.” What? Does Sullivan’s expertise extend to complex military challenges? Is he an expert in warfare against a terrorist organization that specifically uses a dense urban setting as a shield? Or is it that he wants more Israeli soldiers to die? Because his nonsensical fixation on the inherent unfairness of Israel’s war on Hamas suggests that if only many more Israelis were dying it would be more palatable.
And his tepid “this may not be genocide” is followed soon after with the charge of infanticide!
When more than 15 percent of the population are toddlers, any full-scale war ineluctably becomes a mass, intense infanticide. And that is what is in front of our noses right now: thousands of dead children.
At least he didn’t suggest that the children of Gaza are being harvested to make matzoh.
But back to the numbers…the unfairness of the war!
Because Hamas is not a nation-state capable of mounting a comparable counterattack, we are also witnessing an inherently lopsided fight, where civilian losses among the Gazans are stratospherically higher than Israeli casualties. It’s not a war like the Allies and the Nazis, where two forces matched; it’s a war in which one party already controls the entire ground of the other, has vastly superior air and land power, and can pound its enemy with relative impunity. It therefore looks and feels like a relentless massacre. This is in part, of course, because Hamas deliberately uses civilians as fodder and human shields, and cynically maximizes civilian deaths for propaganda purposes. This too is different than other kinds of war, and it makes it close to impossible to defeat Hamas without massive civilian loss. Hamas bears ultimate responsibility for the carnage. The question is how much care Israel has been taking to minimize the collateral horror, in a population dominated by the young.
This is stupidity on a grand scale. In Sullivan’s world the Allies should have stopped bombing Germany and Japan once their air forces had been destroyed. The fight against the Axis became lopsided; because WE WERE WINNING! That’s how war works. It isn’t a couple of pugilists in a ring with a referee and rules and a couple of pints afterward. It is the destruction of the enemy’s capacity to make war and, even more important, his will to make war.
After Israel withdrew from Gaza the prevailing tone among the elites was that a certain number of attacks was inevitable and acceptable to keep the larger “peace.” Clearly that appeasement did not work, and Israel is now operating under a new paradigm…one that should have been ingrained in them from the beginning, but was lost for reasons that are rooted in the assumption that Gaza and the West Bank can be moderated by prosperity and relative freedom.
Sullivan doesn’t like that new paradigm. He would prefer the world of Rabin and Peres…one of constant appeasement and concession. His solution to the intractable Jew-Hate of the Arabs in Gaza and the West Bank is…what exactly is his answer? Conduct a ground war that does not kill children? That is impossible. Conduct a war with only “smart” bombs that kill only terrorists? That is impossible. Go house to house using ground troops and no air power to avoid collateral damage? Sure…that would mean thousands of dead Israeli soldiers, and while Sullivan probably likes that idea, the people of Israel do not.
Sullivan holds Gaza and Hamas to a minimal standard of behavior…just enough for cover from the charge of being a Hamas supporter. He rightly criticizes the barbarity of the attacks, but then charges Israel with an overreaction. Even his first essay after the October 7th pogrom was seeded with his equivocation. Hamas is evil…But But But! Left unsaid is that he doesn’t expect them to behave in a civilized manner, and he doesn’t particularly care. The bigotry of low expectations! All he wants is for those pesky Jews in Israel to be paragons of enlightened behavior, and rise above petty tribalism and oh-so-uncomfortable ideas like love of country, love of culture, and love of religion.
Did I say “equivocation?” Actually, in that essay, Sullivan suggests that the creation of the modern state of Israel wasn’t such a good idea, because nothing was done for the Arabs. Of course that is arrant nonsense, and exposes one of two things; either Andrew Sullivan is far dumber than many of us thought, or he really is an unrepentant Jew-hating snob.
My money is on the Jew-hate.