U.S. cities and campuses are seeing rising tension.
I’m Isaac Saul, and this is Tangle: an independent, nonpartisan, subscriber-supported politics newsletter that summarizes the best arguments from across the political spectrum on the news of the day — then “my take.”
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- Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) defeated Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA) in a 124-81 vote for Speaker of the House. Jordan will now face a floor vote where he'll need 217 votes to become Speaker. (The votes)
- Following the attacks in Israel, the Biden administration says Iran will no longer be able to access the $6 billion it had planned to unfreeze. (The freeze)
- Attorney General Jeff Landry (R) won a jungle primary to become Louisiana's governor, surprising pollsters who thought there would be a runoff. He will replace outgoing Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards. (The race)
- President Biden's campaign raised over $70 million in the latest fundraising quarter, outpacing current GOP contenders but falling short of the fundraising haul former President Trump had at this time in 2019. (The numbers)
- Lebanese Hezbollah fighters launched attacks on army posts in northern Israel. Israel retaliated with strikes in Lebanon. Iran, who has been accused of helping organize the Hamas attacks, has sent a message to Israel calling for de-escalation and warning that it will intervene if Israel's bombardment of Gaza continues. (The updates)
The protests in the United States. All across the U.S., pro-Israel and pro-Palestine protests have been roiling college campuses and cities, with high tension leading to political fallout and occasional violence.
In Times Square in Manhattan, throngs of protesters demanded Palestinian independence. In Los Angeles, pro-Palestine and pro-Israel protesters clashed. At Columbia University, hundreds of pro-Israel and pro-Palestine protesters faced off in demonstrations. Student groups across the country have been releasing competing messages as well, including at Ivy League institutions like Harvard, where public fury erupted after a collection of student groups blamed Israel for Hamas’s attack.
Similar statements and protests have been documented at the University of Arizona, University of California Los Angeles, Georgetown University, and a collection of colleges in Philadelphia. Pro-Palestine marches took place in Atlanta, Los Angeles, Chicago, Denver, San Diego, and Washington, D.C. Online posts stating support of Hamas or Palestinians are costing some people their jobs, including a Philadelphia 76ers basketball reporter, an Air Canada pilot, and a New York University law student who had been hired to join a firm after college. Even former adult film star Mia Khalifa, a Lebanese American, was dropped from a partnership with Playboy after celebrating the attacks.
The demonstrations have ratcheted up concern in Jewish communities, where synagogues beefed up security over the weekend. In some instances, tensions broke into actual violence. Protests in Los Angeles devolved into shoving matches and volleys of pepper spray. In Illinois, a 71-year-old man was charged Sunday with a hate crime after fatally stabbing a young boy and wounding a woman because they were Muslim, according to authorities on the case.
Tensions are also flaring in Europe and Asia. In Germany and France, police have banned pro-Palestinian protests. In the United Kingdom, flying a Palestine flag may not be considered a legitimate expression of speech. In some predominantly Muslim countries like Turkey, crowds have gathered to salute Hamas and condemn Israel's response.
Meanwhile, war on the ground rages on. Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he intends to completely dismantle Hamas, suggesting a full-scale invasion of the Gaza Strip. Hamas is confirmed to have killed more than 1,400 Israelis in their attack, as well as 30 U.S. citizens. 13 more U.S. citizens are still missing and presumed to either be dead or among the estimated 199 hostages — which includes babies and the elderly — being held by Hamas. The Gaza Health Ministry said 2,670 Palestinians have been killed so far in retaliatory airstrikes by Israel. At least 10 journalists, including nine Palestinian reporters, have already been killed in the attacks.
Israel, which controls roughly one-third of Gaza’s drinking water, has partially restored that water in the south. It continues to cut off the flow of electricity and food into Gaza, and has ordered 1.1 million people to evacuate the northern part of the territory as air raids continue and some ground campaigns begin. United Nations workers say shelters in Gaza are now running out of water and hospitals are overwhelmed. Egypt continues to refuse to admit Palestinian refugees or open a corridor for safe passage out of Gaza.
Today, we're going to take a look at some reactions to the protests in the U.S. from the left and the right, as well as the latest developments on the war. Then my take.
What the right is saying.
- The right is outraged by the campus protests, saying they implicitly or explicitly support the actions of Hamas.
- Some say it is acceptable to deny jobs and other opportunities to students who participate in these protests and sign on to denunciations of Israel.
- Others say conservatives need to maintain a consistent stance on free speech and criticize the protestors without attempting to silence them.
In The Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf wrote about how “activist groups have already changed campus politics in America” by excusing the actions of Hamas.
“Campus politics in America irrevocably changed this week when student groups that champion the noble goal of justice for Palestinians endorsed the evil means of war crimes in pursuit of it,” Friedersdorf said. “Across America, millions of people with wildly diverse opinions on the longstanding conflict between Israel and Palestine denounced those atrocities, because it is always wrong to deliberately target and slaughter civilians and it is always wrong to abduct, let alone kill, children… Then this week, on dozens of campuses, student groups reacted to the attacks by attempting to absolve the murderers and child abductors of all responsibility.”
“I understand various reasons why advocates for the Palestinian cause might keep quiet — as many supporters of Israel have done after abuses of Palestinians. I understand why, thinking of loved ones in Gaza, they might skip right to anticipating and preemptively denouncing retaliatory attacks, hoping to avert the deaths of still more innocent people,” Friedersdorf said. “What I cannot understand is endorsing, validating, or standing in solidarity with war crimes. That so many student organizations did so is stunning. It commits them to positions anathema not only to the conservatives they often tangle with but to left-leaning liberals and progressives.”
In Newsweek, Mark R. Weaver condemned the student protestors and argued “it’s not cancel culture when people supporting mass murder get fired.”
Students who signed on to statements blaming Israel for Hamas’ attack are now having job offers revoked and facing other consequences. “A few cranks will claim this is the latest example of cancel culture. But that's like calling a consumer's brand preference a boycott,” Weaver said. “Publicly praising the beheading of infants and rape and murder of innocents isn't a quibble about a costume or a poorly worded Facebook post. It's a resignation letter from civil society. It's legal to send that letter and it's appropriate for society to accept it.
“Those of us who are paying attention to modern trends aren't surprised that this folly arose from a university setting. All too often, campus debates look less like an American townhall and more like a Roman Coliseum. Attendees are drawn to the events not for love for dialogue and discernment but a lust for anger and agitation,” Weaver wrote. Students have “a First Amendment right to express their views publicly, yet this right exists side by side with moral considerations about their own—and society's—obligations. Just as one has the right to speak out, others have the right to associate or dissociate based on the expressed views.”
In Washington Examiner, Tom Rogan said “shame, do not silence, Hamas supporters for their speech.”
It is “the right of students at the nation's nominally most prestigious institutions to beclown themselves by pro-Hamas protests. There is an intellectual and performative idiocy to these protesters, who beclothe themselves in face masks (the imperial eagle of left-wing identity politics) and keffiyehs. Still, the way to respond to those who support genocide against Jews is not to silence them by force of law. The best response, as John Hasson shows, is to ensure the protesters are held to the public record,” Rogan wrote.
“The problem with banning pro-Hamas protests, as France has now done, or prosecuting those who wave Palestinian flags (a la the United Kingdom) is that this approach destroys the sacred right of people to speak freely on matters that concern them. This restrictive speech stance further restrains and chills the public interest in debates on those subjects that matter most…It encourages martyrdom complexes on the part of those who are restricted, fueling extremism. It denies the public ignominy due of genocide support.”
What the left is saying.
- Many on the left are concerned by the pro-Palestinian protests but think even offensive activists should be protected from harassment.
- Some argue that progressives across the U.S. are doing irreparable damage to their credibility by excusing Hamas’s actions.
- Others say the protests are a justified response to Palestinian suffering at the hands of Israel.
In Forward, Harvard student Maya Bodnick called for “safety, not harassment” for her pro-Palestinian classmates.
“I was shocked and appalled that [Harvard’s Palestine Solidarity Committee] statement failed to condemn Hamas’ slaughter of 1,300 Israelis, most of whom were civilians. But even though I strongly disagree with the PSC statement, I still believe that all students have the right to freedom of speech and — more importantly — to feel safe on campus. In recent days, powerful right-wing figures and organizations (led by hedge fund billionaire Bill Ackman and the ironically named Accuracy in Media newsgroup) have whipped up a hateful mob against hundreds of Harvard students in a series of vicious doxxing attacks,” Bodnick wrote. “Some of the students listed online as members of these organizations have never even attended a club meeting, much less personally endorsed this statement.”
“ I’ve felt deeply hurt that some of my peers signed a statement justifying this violence. I was also disappointed by the Harvard administration’s tepid initial response to the attacks on Oct. 9. Yet I still feel that free speech matters because it is a fundamental pillar of our American democracy — the first right granted to us in the Bill of Rights,” Bodnick said. “The violence in Israel has been immensely divisive on campus, especially between the Muslim and Jewish communities. But while we may be deeply politically divided, I would urge my Harvard classmates to find that we can agree on one thing: All students deserve to feel safe.”
In New York Magazine, Eric Levitz said many on the left are betraying their “most fundamental values” by celebrating the attack on Israel.
“It is not hyperbole to say that many left-wing supporters of Palestine celebrated Hamas’s atrocities. The national leadership of Students for Justice in Palestine declared the weekend’s events a ‘historic win for the Palestinian resistance,’ touting Hamas’s success in ‘catching the enemy completely by surprise.’ The Connecticut chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America applauded the Palestinian resistance’s ‘unprecedented anti-colonial struggle,’ pledged its solidarity to that struggle, and vowed, ‘No peace on stolen land!’”
“All this is morally sick and intellectually bankrupt. From my vantage, it looks as though a few leftists were eager to demonstrate their superlative moral clarity by fighting with liberals about the legitimacy of a Palestinian uprising aimed squarely at the IDF and conducted in the name of democratic equality; so eager that they would not be deterred by the fact that the weekend’s events bore scant resemblance to that scenario,” Levitz said. “It is a moral imperative for progressives to condemn Hamas’s atrocities, affirm the human rights of Jewish Israelis, and reject the ethno-nationalist claim that Palestinians have a unique right to reside in the region.”
In CounterPunch, Gary Leupp, a professor at Tufts University, defended his campus’s pro-Palestinian protestors and described their support as a “spirited rally and march.”
“On Tuesday I attended a solemn candlelight vigil on the Tufts campus, sponsored by Students for Justice in Palestine. On campuses around the country, Palestinian students and their allies rallied, once again, in defense of the resistance movement, the Intifada, the movement to ‘shake off’ the oppressive settler-state built on their suffering,” Leupp wrote. “What would these talking heads, experts, ex-government officials, house academics, consultants etc., have the Palestinian people do?... They have no solution other than to insist that a ‘two-state solution’ is possible.”
“So about 300 of us Monday marched around Cambridge, chanting Long Live the Intifada! Intifada! Intifada!, to Central Square where an Israeli arms firm has its offices… How can you say this now, you ask, when Hamas terrorists have reportedly beheaded babies and murdered grandmothers, posting images on Facebook? Because the world did not begin just now. There is such a thing as history. You can’t choose the history you want,,” Leupp said. “There is every reason to seethe with indignation at this human suffering and those inflicting it. It has to be shaken off. That’s why we chant Intifada! Intifada!”
- On the one hand, I find some of the protests pretty disturbing.
- On the other hand, I really struggle to think they are that important — especially compared to where the real power is.
- What we should now focus on is not making the same kinds of mistakes we did after 9/11.
On the one hand, I find the whole thing pretty disturbing.
If you are someone who wants to both criticize Israel and condemn the genocidal slaughter of citizens, it is pretty easy to do. There are some high-profile, "pro-Palestine" Jewish voices doing it right now (see Jonathan Katz, here and here). This shouldn't be hard. Many Western leftists have simply lost the plot.
In case this point isn't clear enough, it is worth reminding everyone that the attack on Israel included the murder and kidnapping of infants, the elderly, and other civilians. Worse yet, many of the people killed in the attack were peacemakers who had lived and worked alongside Gazans — which is common among those who live in Kibbutzim near Gaza. It is also common among the kinds of Israelis you'd find at a late-night rave called the Festival of Peace and Love.
Civilians — Israeli or Gazan — do not fully bear the responsibility of their leaders' actions. Of course they don’t. Americans wouldn't (and shouldn't) try to excuse an Iraqi militant killing a six-year-old American because of George W. Bush's war in Iraq. For the same reason, we shouldn't excuse Hamas killing Israeli citizens in objection to their government, nor justify the death of Palestinian children in response to those actions.
And yet, most people seem only capable of condemning unthinkable violence when it's against “their side.” This conflict can break people's brains.
Here’s an analogy. As many of you who regularly read this newsletter know, one of my most extreme political views is that I'm very critical of incarceration in the United States. But if there were a major, coordinated prison outbreak where a bunch of inmates murdered prison guards, then their wives and their children, I wouldn't go to the "rally against incarceration" the next day. I’d feel deeply troubled, and not at all gladdened by the news. And yet, there are numerous instances of students or protesters stating unambiguous support and glee for what Hamas has done.
On the other hand, I can't help but wonder: how much I should care about the statement from Black Lives Matter Chicago on this conflict. Or, say, "Students for Justice in Palestine at the University of Chicago," with its less than 100 followers on Twitter. Should these groups really be making national news? Support for Israel in the United States is still overwhelming (see today's "Numbers" section, and the takes from the left and right above), and the "pro-what-Hamas-did" position is miniscule. And, importantly, pro-Palestine protests are not at all synonymous with pro-Hamas sentiment.
To me, Hamas-condoning student organizations are not the power centers that actually matter.
I'm far more concerned about a sitting U.S. senator going on the most-watched cable news network in America and saying we are in a holy war before calling to "level the place" while talking about Gaza, where 2.3 million people live. I'm more worried about the collective swell of support for Hamas across the Arab world after the attacks. I'm more worried about Israel's president denying the concept of innocent civilians on the eve of a major military offensive. I'm more worried about Arab leaders, like those in Egypt, who are doing absolutely nothing to help the Palestinian people. I'm more worried about the former leaders of Hamas, who successfully rallied tens of thousands of people into the streets in Iraq, Iran, and Yemen with a global day of rage.
And while I'm sure many of the protests here in America include Palestinian-Americans whose voices I genuinely think we should hear, I'm much more concerned about what is happening in those power centers than the en massed voices of — in many cases — a bunch of college students and young liberals westernizing this conflict and hitting the streets in support of Hamas's actions.
But while we're here, let me also say I am glad these protests can happen in our country. Although Mark Weaver (under "What the right is saying") makes a cogent argument that a letter supporting Hamas is "a resignation letter from civil society," there are documented cases of people being fired for far less, which is very concerning.
I’m actually thankful that — unlike in France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, where police are breaking up pro-Palestine protests — these demonstrations have gone on here mostly uninhibited. As much as I abhor some of the things I am seeing or hearing at those rallies, any attempt to shut them down is both a violation of civil liberties and antithetical to the American spirit.
A lot of people have called this Israel's 9/11. I typically think these kinds of historical metaphors are overblown, but in this case it is a pretty fair comparison. Accordingly, we should remember all the mistakes we made after 9/11 right now. We should expect the “with-us-or-against-us” mentality, the bigotry, the blind lust for revenge; and we should be watchful of their recurrence.
Israel could be on the brink of similar mistakes. There are already thousands of civilians being killed in Gaza in response to the thousands of Israelis killed by Hamas. And now signals are blaring that this battle may set off a larger, regional war that could include Iran, Lebanon, and potentially even the United States and lord knows who else. Potential allies on both sides of this conflict should understand how bad that would be for the region and the entire world, and should understand that avoiding it will require necessary restraint. Otherwise, we’re just headed for more dead innocents.
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Your questions, answered.
Q: Why is it that the Democrats in the House don't use their voting power to influence which Republican gets elected as Speaker of the House? I can imagine they are holding out for some concessions and don't want to support someone with untenable (to them) records. However, it seems to me that knowing Hakeem Jefferies will not be elected speaker, they could team up with moderate Republicans and use their numbers to support what is for them the least bad option. It seems like a missed opportunity to me... what am I missing?
— Joe from McFarland, Wisconsin
Tangle: First off, Democrats are warming to a kind of half-measure here: They are thinking about empowering the interim speaker — Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) — to pass some critical legislation. That would get them some of what they want without having to say they voted for a permanent Republican speaker.
But it’s a great question to consider moving forward, and when you game it out you can see the catch-22 Democrats are in. Remember, Republicans can’t agree as a party who to align with for House Speaker. No Republican consensus means that anyone who wins the speakership has to win some Democratic votes. But Republicans would never vote for someone that Democrats would vote for.
What if they split into blocks and support different candidates? If the Republicans are doing the same, that means no one will get a majority. Alright, what if just ten Democrats in the Problem Solvers Caucus say, “we’ll support a moderate Republican”? Well, see above — it poisons the well, Republicans won’t nominate that person, and they’re left with nothing. So… horse trade with a mainstream Republican? Well, any such deal would be 1) a deal Democrats won’t (and maybe can’t) trust and 2) terrible optics for their bases.
Then there are the reasons to want to stay aligned and continue to nominate Hakeem Jeffries (NY). They lose no political capital voting for a Democrat and letting the Republicans look bad. And, on the absolute off-chance a few Republicans throw a vote behind Jeffries, they could end up winning.
That’s the benefit of their strategy: Looking good to their bases and a hail mary shot at a Jeffries speakership with almost no cost. The alternative: A tenuous deal with a person they can’t trust that is logically unlikely to succeed, which results in a leadership position for a lower chamber whose dysfunction they would then share political responsibility for.
As much as I’d love a bipartisan Speaker, I understand the calculation Democrats are making: Do next to nothing, and win a little; or attempt the impossible, and probably lose.
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Under the radar.
In the last 10 days, Israel has said that its Iron Dome missile defense system has intercepted over 5,000 rockets and missiles launched from Gaza. The "all-weather mobile system" works through a combination of radar, batteries that launch interceptor missiles, and communication systems to track data on incoming projectiles. Axios has a story explaining how the missile defense system works.
- 71%. The percentage of Americans who say Israel's military response to Hamas is somewhat or fully justified, according to a new CNN poll.
- 50%. The percentage of Americans who say Israel's military response to Hamas is fully justified, according to a new CNN poll.
- 8%. The percentage of Americans who say Israel's military response to Hamas is not justified at all, according to a new CNN poll.
- 96%. The percentage of Americans who say they have "a lot" or "some" sympathy for the Israeli people in the current situation.
- 87%. The percentage of Americans who say they have "a lot" or "some" sympathy for the Palestinian people in the current situation.
- 46%. The percentage of Americans who think the U.S. has a responsibility to ensure peace in the Middle East, according to a new Ipsos poll.
- 50%. The percentage of Americans who do not think the U.S. has a responsibility to ensure peace in the Middle East, according to a new Ipsos poll.
- One year ago today we didn't have a newsletter, but we'd just published a piece about Herschel Walker's past.
- The most clicked link in Thursday's newsletter was our video on Hamas's initial attack.
- Lesser of 3 evils: 1,217 Tangle readers responded to our poll asking who they would support in a hypothetical three-way race between Joe Biden, Donald Trump, and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. with 56% saying Biden. 24% said Kennedy and 21% said Trump. "Lesser of 3 evils," one respondent said.
- Nothing to do with politics: Saturday's "ring of fire" eclipse in photos.
- Take the poll. What do you think of the recent pro-Hamas protests? Let us know!
Have a nice day.
When he went to prison, Keith Corbin already had a deep connection to food. His grandmother grew tomatoes and collard greens in their yard, and would wake up at 5 a.m. to start cooking for people in her community. After spending 10 years in prison, Corbin learned how to make good food out of anything — like making peanut butter cups by baking syrup-soaked processed peanuts and melting a Hershey’s bar overtop. After his release, he brought that ingenuity to his Los Angeles restaurant, Alta Adams, where he has become a successful entrepreneur and 2-time James Beard Award winner. Corbin and two other formerly incarcerated people were recently profiled for their success in the culinary arts. The Guardian has that story.
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