The Israel-Hamas Conflict Understanding the Moral Stakes

EVENT TRANSCRIPT: The Israel-Hamas Conflict Understanding the Moral Stakes

DATE: 13 March, 3:00-4:00pm

VENUE: Henry Jackson Society and Online

SPEAKER: Dr Yaron Brook

EVENT CHAIR: Marc Sidwell



Marc Sidwell 0:03

Well, good afternoon, everyone. I’m Mark Sidwell. I’m the Director of Research here at the Henry Jackson society. I’m really pleased to see everyone here in the room with us and everyone who’s watching online. Thank you so much for being here. This event on the Israel Hamas conflict, understanding the moral stakes. You know, the Henry Jackson society stands for defending the free society at home and abroad. And often a lot of the time. That takes us into the real details of what’s happening on the ground. But this afternoon’s event as a chance to perhaps stand back a bit and take a wider more philosophical perspective on how we should understand the moral stakes in the current conflict between Israel and Hamas, which began with the atrocities on October the seventh. Particularly as Israel faces increasing criticism from Laura Cameron in the UK, who has been accused of sniping at Israel, and suddenly from senior figures in the Biden administration as well. But at the same time, the US and the UK are still offering their official support for Israel’s war of self-defence. How should we think about the moral stakes here? Well, I’m delighted that joining us to give us his perspective is Dr Yaron Brook, who was the executive director at the iron Rand Institute for 17 years and continues as the chairman of the board there. Dr Brook was born and raised in Israel. He served as a First Sergeant in Israeli military intelligence and earned his BSc in civil engineering in Haifa before He then moved in the 1980s to the United States, where he received his MBA and PhD in finance at the University of Texas in Austin and became an American citizen in 2003. He has authored many, many books, the most recent of which I think, was free market revolution. And he’s currently also the host of the Yaron Brook Show podcast where you can find him discussing other matters. But more importantly, he is very passionate on this issue. And he’s very thoughtful, man. And I’m really delighted to have a chance to hear from him on this, this vital topic today. So, without further ado, Jaron, I’ll hand over to you now.



Dr Yaron Brook 2:15

Thank you, Mark. And thank you all for being here. And for joining us today. October the 7th was obviously a horrific day. I’m not going to detail all the horrors of that day, the barbarism, the complete disrespect for human life and human dignity that Hamas exhibited towards Israeli civilians. It really was an expression of you get a sense from the videos that we saw that they were taping, of a sense of nihilism and of real hatred. The intent of Hamas was clearly genocidal. They can’t actually do it; they can’t manifest the genocide. But that is their intent. Whether it’s October the 7th, and what we saw on the ground, or whether it’s a statement like that we see here in the streets of London and New York and everywhere, from the river to the sea. I mean, what is from the river to the sea mean? It basically means no Israel; it means Israel must be replaced. And what happens to the Jews who live in Israel? We, you know, you might ask. Well, they can’t say that. That’s very clear. They need to, in the words of some protesters, go back home. And we could ask where that is. I wonder if the Rockies in Baghdad would take the 100,000 Iraqis who were kicked out of you off to come to Israel or the Moroccans will take 600 Jews back, or the Egyptians, the 10s of 1000s? Where exactly are the poles for that matter? Where exactly are they going to go? They can’t go, they won’t go. So, the alternative course is killing. And that’s really what the river to the sea means. It means the slaughter of Israelis; it means the killing of the Jews between the river and the sea. And the seventh wasn’t like a one-off thing that they did, succeeded and went back. I mean, senior people come out have said: our plan is to repeat this as often as we can, if we have capabilities, there will be a second, a third, a fourth October 7. The bottom line is Hamas not hiding their intent. Hamas is explicit about the fact that their intent is to destroy Israel. What they want to do is the complete and utter destruction of Israel and the elimination of the Jewish population in Israel. It’s in their charter and in every single one of the speeches of their senior officials. We also need to think about what alternative Hamas offers to the Palestinians, whether in Gaza or in this new state that they want to create. Hamas is not exactly a, you know, Democratic or a freedom fighting organisation. Freedom is not their concern, freedom, in a sense that I think is important, is the freedom of individuals to pursue their lives, the freedom of individuals to live their lives as they see it. You know, freedom is a tricky word, right? Everybody simply Braveheart. I’ve seen the movie Braveheart. Remember when the Scots you know, they have “freedom” and they run into battle. What do they mean by freedom?

They don’t mean freedom voice. They mean they want to be ruled by Scottish King, not an English king, but they still want to be ruled. So, freedom is not freedom, as I think we mean it is in a modern sense of the Freedom individuals to live their lives based on their own choices. They want values, their own conclusions in pursuit of their own values, ultimately, in the pursuit of their own happiness. That is not a concept that they were talking about in Braveheart. And it’s certainly not a concept of Hamas is talking about it. We must remember Hamas is an Islamist organisation. Hamas is dedicated to Islamism, not just Islam, which is just a religion, but a particular interpretation of Islam. Number two, interpretation of Islam which says that a state must be ruled by Sharia law. A status is temporary because the goal ultimately is world domination. It sounds ridiculous to us world domination. That’s absurd. But they take it seriously. They are the offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood. They used to be the Muslim Brotherhood of Palestine. They are part of a global network of Islamist organisations that includes ISIS and Al Qaeda. And yes, they all hate each other and all fight with one another. And that’s to our benefit that largely saves us from having more terrorist attacks against us than we otherwise would. But they go is ultimately the destruction not just of Israel, but the destruction of the West and the Islamization of the world. And what about the status of the Palestinian people? The Palestinians, at least in Gaza, elected from us, indeed, in Gaza, and the West Bank voted for Hamas in an election that Bush, the President Bush forced to Israel it to allow in the Palestinian territories, Israel did not want commas to run to allow them to run. They do not have us as a legitimate political party, given the commerce is dedicated to destruction of Israel. The Bush administration insists that Hamas be allowed to run and commerce unsurprising to many of us one, a significant portion, a majority of Palestinians voted for it. It engaged in a civil war with the Palestinian Authority took over the Gaza Strip, but the Gaza Strip has had the Hamas has had in the Gaza Strip the support of its population, they’ve not been uprisings against it, they’ve not been demonstrations against the Hamas. There’s been very, very little opposition to Hamas war, in spite of the fact that Gaza has suffered from no freedoms, and a very, very weak economy, people that are, you know, significantly poor, with the exception of Hamas leadership, that seems to be quite wealthy, and lives quite well. So, what happened on October the 7th, was not just from us. What happened on October the 7th, was Gazans you know, so that from us, combatants after they were in Israel came back to Gaza and told people “Go, go, go”, now’s your opportunity to kill Jews, now’s the opportunity to go and steal stuff and get stuff. And Palestinians did. They left their homes and across the border. You saw some of the pictures of the wild celebrations as the hummus as how much brought back hostages, we victims, bodies of dead girls. Those are the people those are not all caught carrying members of Hamas that can be easily identified. So, one has to say that the problem here and the problem that Israel faces is not with Hamas. I think Israel has made a strategic mistake. And the West generally has made a strategic mistake, but the West is hopeless when it comes to these things. In calling this a war against commerce, we didn’t fight the Nazis we fought Germany. We didn’t fight Japanese He’s I don’t know, whatever the name of the fascist political party that ruled Japan, we fought Japan. The war going on in Gaza is against the Palestinians. And we refuse to acknowledge that it means we will win, we will not win, or Israel will not win cannot win. I mean, the same thing happened after 9/11. What was the war we launched after 9/11 about? Who did we fight against? Terrorism. We fight against the equivalent of kamikaze pilots. You can’t fight a war against a tactic. Terrorism is a tactic. We refuse to name the enemy. In the declared Islam, a religion of peace and Bush invited to celebrate the Ramadan at the White House in October, a month after 9/11. And we want to fight Saddam Hussein, who had nothing to do with the enemy, and occupied Afghanistan for 20 years in an attempt to bring them I don’t know democracy, again, without considering who the enemy is and who needs to be defeated and what our goals actually are. So, the West has been hopeless since 9/11and well before that in defining the enemy and fighting the enemy, and therefore we did not win the Iraq war, we did not win the Afghan war. You can see that in the establishment of Al Qaeda and other terrorist organisations within Afghanistan, the Taliban is back to exactly the same behaviour it was engaged in before the war. And of course, he walked today is just a satellite in a sense of Yuan, as is Syria, as is Lebanon. So, if anything, all our battles in the Middle East, all Americans battles in the Middle East basically led to much more power for the Iranians and a lot less influence for us. The West is weaker in the Middle East, not stronger in the Middle East. So, let’s talk a little bit about how one evaluates people and countries from a moral perspective. Because it’s tricky to evaluate even individuals from our perspective, but I’m going to suggest that one has to, and one can, one should know who the good guys are and who the bad guys are. Generally, you want to associate in life with the good guys and stay away from the bad guys. The opposite strategy will lead to fairly destructive life. What is the standard of good and evil? What is the standard of moral goodness and model evil? Well, in my view, is the opportunity for individual human flourishing. That which is good for human life, that which is good for human flourishing, that would support human life is good. That which is destructive to human life. That which destroys the capacity of individuals to flourish in their lives is bad. Its why individual freedom is good. It’s why democracy broadly understood is a good thing. Generally, democracies protect the rights of individuals to live freely. And authoritarianism is bad because authoritarianism generally restricts the ability of individuals to live with authoritarianism, evil, political freedom good. By that standard, how does one evaluate Israel? And how does one evaluate Gaza? Well, Gaza is clearly Gaza, Hamas, but even the Palestinian Authority are clearly anti life. They have no respect for the individual. The Hamas is the type of theocracy. The Palestinian Authority is just a type of thuggish authoritarianism. It is a society, Gaza, but the West Bank as well as society is dominated by violence, suppression of any debate. There’s no concept of free speech. There is no concept of freedom of religion. It is an authoritarian, tribal, centrally planned in terms of the economy and violence towards your own people. You dissent, you killed your gay, you get thrown off ability. women, women don’t have full rights. They are treated as whatever the husband wants honour killings. Okay. You know, no big deal. The Hamas government, and it is a government got billions and billions and billions of dollars of aid from the United Nations for the United States and the European Union. from Qatar from Yuan from Saudi Arabia, billions and billions and billions. That money did not go to building infrastructure. It did not go to build the hotels of some of the most beautiful beaches in the in the entire Mediterranean. It did not go to building industrial infrastructure. It went to buying weapons and building tunnels and establishing an infrastructure for war. War is what they care about war is what they exist for.

Indeed, one of the one of the original stories, which I think illustrates this really well is, you know, when Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on at the time, decided that withdraw separation would be is the right strategy. Let them have in a sense their own state. And then if they do something against Israel, Israel can, you know, legitimately defend itself by attacking them? It hasn’t worked out quite that way in terms of international legitimacy. But because at the time, that was the default, our second Intifada, Palestinians were blowing up buses. They were blowing up restaurants. 1000s of Israelis were being killed. Hundreds were being killed on a regular basis over the period, 1000s were killed. So, the idea was to disengage. Israel left Gaza, but Israel has settlements in Gaza. They were thriving settlements in Gaza, where Jews lived. And where there was agriculture, there was industry. And when they left and they were forced out, they had to be literally dragged from their homes by the Israeli military, to get them out of there, taken on buses, and moved out of Gaza. But they left behind an amazing infrastructure, small factories, greenhouses, things that the Palestinians could have taken and used to build their own economy. What the Palestinians do? Well, the day after the Jews had left, they went in and smashed everything and destroyed everything. This, again, is nihilism self-destructive and anti-life mentality. And therefore, anti-moral mentality. On the other hand, Israel, and Israel is, you know, dramatically a flawed country (and in other times, I will do a talk on all the problems with Israel and why it’s a real problematic country) but overall, you can do that same talk about the UK in the same talk about in the United States and simply talk about any Western country, and it is a Western country. It’s basically a society that values freedom. It values the individual, it values production and wealth, creation, and economic liberty. It values the bate, disagreement and values the rights of the people who live in it, including Muslims, Christians, and Jews. They have, under the Israeli Law, Israel doesn’t have a constitution, equal rights to Jews. They are not treated differently. Indeed, Arabs serve in the Knesset in Israeli parliament, they have served in the government. Some of them serve in the military, those who choose, they have the privilege of choosing whether it’s serving the military, the Jews in Israel do not they have a conscription. To me it is clear when comparing those two in terms of what they have done, what they stand for, what they strive for, who the good guys are, and who the bad guys. So, I want to I want to quickly deal with maybe two issues, and I’ll try to keep it to about a half an hour and then I’ll take your questions. Israel is being accused this war. Maybe it’s a good country within this wards committee genocide. It is killing indiscriminately. According to the Hamas, 31,000, I think the latest number is, of Palestinians have been killed. This is bizarre and absurd. First of all, to keep a log of how many people are killed. There’s a war going on. Israel needs to win this war. The enemy is hiding behind civilians. What’s it supposed to do? Ask for them to release the hostages. Ask them us to surrender how much it’s going to surrender tomorrow; no civilians will die. But heart will not surrender. Israel to defend itself must destroy the organisation, the political organisation military organisation that made October 7 possible and it must do whatever is necessary to do that. Israelis have exhibited I consider a ridiculous level a self-sacrificial level of care in terms of fighting this war. This is Urban combat, urban combat – the likes we’ve probably never seen in the West. I can’t I don’t know of the last war in which such urban combat this is not even Caballo to Mosul with the Americans went in, it’s not comparable to any battle in modern history that we’re familiar with. We’re talking about a very small piece of land. One of the most densely populated places on the planet, 2 million people live here, close to half of them under the age of 18. Hamas knew all this right they live there, they control the territory, they decided to launch a war farm such a territory and to incite the Israelis Israel has killed fewer civilians per pound of explosive dropped and probably in any war in history. About a significant proportion of Israeli casualties are the result of either friendly fire, that is other Israelis killing them, or the result of being overly cautious in dealing with the so-called civilians. By the way, Hamas is all dressed in civilian clothes – they already violating Geneva Convention and the fact that they are fighting not wearing uniforms. How are you supposed to identify them, who you supposed to shoot? Remember, they shot their own hostages because they were afraid, they were being fooled by somebody speaking Hebrew, pretending to be a hostage and could be a suicide bomber, could be a Hamas. Israel is doing it partially because that’s how it thinks about war. That’s how its’s really think about war but partially because of intense international pressure is overly concerned with civilian casualties. And, you know, this is the cause for why Israel is going so slowly. Why haven’t they been waving to captured Rafah yet?  Rafah is the city in the south of Gaza. They haven’t gone there yet. Partially, again, international pressure concerned with not wanting to kill civilians. And it makes the claim that Israel is involved in genocide, laughable, laughable. Israel could wipe out the Gaza Strip in three days if they really wanted to, and kill everybody that wouldn’t take that much, and could probably find excuse to do it. They’re doing the exact opposite. They’re sacrificing their own kids in order to prevent the death of Palestinians, something which I think is wrong, and I think they will pay a heavy price for as we move into the future.

But finally, I just want to say a little bit about what explains the support from the West that Hamas has received. I mean, it’s stunning. I didn’t see it coming. I mean, this is the thing that stunned me with October the 7th, I couldn’t believe I know enough about Hamas and intelligence failures. This is not the first intelligence failure Israel is committed. And as somebody who’s been in intelligence, you only know a fraction of the intelligent failures that Israel does, or any intelligence and because these are probably better than most, well, maybe better than everyone, but it’s still not perfect. What really shocked me was the extent of the hatred that came out the day after. It was the 35 Harvard clubs in the day after October the 7th that already issued a statement supporting Hamas and attacking Israel. The demonstrations, the fact the faculty members celebrating October the 7th, literally saying how good that day felt when they heard the news. Something is rotten and sick in Western culture. If a significant number of our people express this and this isn’t just Middle East immigrants, this isn’t just Muslims. This is across the board. Most of the people demonstrating in America, all Americans and how many generations? You know, maybe Tucker could find out. But so, what explains this? And really, this is a consequence of the modern left agenda, and the modern left’s teaching at our universities. This is what has me taught in universities for 20 years, the intersectionality the anti-colonialism, or the post colonialism, the whole mentality of oppressor oppressed and dividing the world into oppressor oppressed, the whole philosophy of equity, the whole philosophy of equity, the idea that the moral ideal is, equality of outcome, equality of outcome and if there is no equality of outcome, if somehow some people had more than others, then they must have exploited, they must have oppressed.

So, you divide all of humanity into oppressors and oppressed, based on not even your individual success rate, but your groups’ success rate. If you happen to be white, you’re generally richer than Hispanics or blacks in America. And therefore, you must be oppressing Hispanics and blacks. And given that there is a history, a true history of oppression, there’s some basis for this, then what we need is to oppress now the whites so that Hispanics and blacks have the opportunity to rise up, because the only way these things move these groups can move is through oppression. One group oppressing the other. It’s the only way. They don’t understand economics, markets don’t mean anything to them. So, the only way some people have some people haven’t – it’s all a zero-sum world, because some people took from the others. And Israel is, from their perspective, weight, although it’s not particularly weight. From their perspective, its weight. But what it is, clearly, it is successful. It’s rich. It’s, you know, people have a good life in Israel, it is Western culture, which is quite successful, and therefore they must be the oppressor. Now, Palestine is a poor, suffering, struggling, they must be oppressed. And automatically, that gives you a moral coding for who the good guys are, who the bad guys are. The oppressors are bad, the oppressed are the good. And you don’t even need to know the details. Anything the oppressed do is justified. Anything the oppressor does is bad. We saw this a little bit, not to this extreme, with BLM. You could have riots where they burned down people’s homes, people’s businesses. And that’s okay because they’re the oppressed and they can express themselves in this way. And everybody else is the oppressor. Anybody successful is the oppressor, and it’s okay for them to suffer. When the Chicago Sunday riot broke into Louis Vuitton stores and other luxury stores along the Miracle Mile in in Chicago, and took luxury goods, the mayor of Chicago came out and said, it’s a little bit of redistribution of wealth, so what? But of course, this is all false. Israel did not become Israel, because it oppressed. Israel became Israel because of the freedom it allows it citizens, it became successful, it shows to be successful. It’s not predetermined to be successful. Indeed, when I lived in Israel, Israel was fairly poor. Gaza is the way it is now because it has to be the way it is not because there’s some oppression, not because there’s some conspiracy. It is the way it is because they’ve chosen to be this. They’ve chosen a path that has led to their poverty, and it’s led to their failure. Freedom leads to prosperity. Oppression leads to poverty. And that is what is manifested within Israel Palestinian conflict. Okay, just a word on peace and I’ll take your question. So, is peace possible? Well, not today. Who would you have peace with? I mean, this whole idea of a ceasefire and negotiating – who you negotiating with? People who want to kill you. We don’t negotiate with people who want to kill us, who are committed to killing us. You think the West have learned by now that people who say, no, no, no, we want to take your territory, we want to control the world, and not people you negotiate with, not people you sit down and have a chat with the not people who you compromise with? The only path to peace is really victory. It’s the conviction among the Palestinians that they cannot defeat Israel, that Israel will not disappear, and therefore complete change in the mindset of the Palestinians. Unfortunately, I don’t believe that will happen, not the kind of victory Israel will not win the kind of victory that will do that to the Palestinians. What we need today is a fundamental shift in the Palestinian culture. We need a shift that allows the Palestinians to recognise the existence of Israel and appreciation of the values that Israel represents the values of civilization, a focus on individual liberty, and a focus on human flourishing. When the Palestinians are ready to embrace those pieces of easy to state solution, one state solution, it won’t matter that much anymore. But until that happens, peace, sadly, is impossible. Thank you.


Marc Sidwell 29:51

Thank you very much Yaron, a very sort of bold and comprehensive take on the whole situation. We’re going to have some time for Questions now, I’ll just take advantage of being chair to ask myself that question of the sort of shift in culture. So, you talked earlier about a good example being who’s who, who Israel really fighting. The wars against Germany and Japan against Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan. And of course, when we look at both of those countries, which at the time seemed appallingly repressive, and, you know, sort of global monsters, they’re now extremely successful, greatly liberalised. You were saying that there wasn’t much hope until as the shifting culture? Do you think that is, the path to that shift will have to come through military victories, that is the only way?


Dr Yaron Brook 30:44

I think that’s the only way. I mean, it could come through military victory, occupation, and re-education. I just don’t think the Israelis have the will or the or the international community, the willingness to allow Israel to do that, or for the international community to do that. The reality is, why did Japan shift? Why is Japan today America’s best friend? Why are they so liberal and so freedom loving? Not because anything happened, you know, kind of intellectually within Japan, it’s not like Somalia rose a liberal. It’s because they were thoroughly defeated, without Hiroshima, Nagasaki. And I know people are horrified by this. But without dropping the bombs on Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Japan would not be as great of a place as it is today. It just wouldn’t. What that did was it convinced the Japanese unequivocally that they had lost and that they had no chance of ever winning. And as a consequence, when General MacArthur who is the, basically the military commander of Japan after the war, wrote a constitution, he and his aide basically sat in the room and wrote a constitution for Japan, took it to the Emperor and said “this is your new constitution” – he didn’t ask for a vote, then ask for their input. He handed them a constitution. And because of the position America was having, that will lead defeated the Japanese. The Japanese were in a position to say, okay, we screwed up, we need something different. Maybe this is the right path. And they were accepting of it. And, you know, they were so that happened in Japan, the same thing happened in Germany. I mean, Churchill was, I know today is vilified for this, but was very smart in flattening Dresden. It wasn’t maybe militarily essential at the time. But it is essential for the defeat of Germany, the thorough unequivocal defeat. I mean, my interpretation of World War One is and this goes against most people’s interpretation is that the problem with World War One is the Germany was not humiliated. He was not defeated. Germany came out of World War One thing he we could have won a few things different, and we could have won. And it was it was ready to try again. Coming out of German coming out of World War Two, who has no question they will ever going to win, right, that was done, they will demolish destroyed. And as a consequence, they accepted that defeat and changed course. And this time, they own leadership gear for Germany ultimately had much more of a liberal history than Japan does. So, they had some intellectual resources in which to draw in order to do that. But they exited that war, knowing that the path they’d been on was wrong. It was evil, it was bad. And they would have to do it differently in the future. And until the Palestinians that happens to Palestinians, I don’t I don’t see. And the boys don’t negotiate every time, every single time the West says ceasefire. If Hamas and the Palestinians go, then, we can win this. You know, we’ve got a chance. Every time the West goes after Israel, the Palestinians think, okay, they’re going to fold. They’re going to vote we can still make it. And there’s just no sense of defeat among the Palestinians. There’s no sense that this is the question. Now we’re building them now. We’re building them a port to provide them with more aid. What have they done exactly to deserve Western aid? I know this is horrible because people or people don’t have food. But what have they done? I mean, again, if Hamas surrenders tomorrow, the war is over. It’s very easy. And as long as we prop them up with aid, if we prop them up with talk of ceasefire, the law the wall will go longer, more people will die. It gets extended. The words already taken too long. Israel took too long to start; it’s taking too long to finish it. And it’s going to go on for months, months and months and months because of the Biden administration and because of the west. America always seems to be supporting Israel, and always undermines it in the background, this happened, this has happened. When you go back to 1973 war with the US flew huge quantities of supply stay Israel and help them out and at the same time, put massive pressure on them to stop and to compromise and to sell it. And America does that constantly gives with one hand and take to the other. And the taking with the other is unbelievably destructive because it emboldens the other side.


Marc Sidwell 35:31

And just one more thing, if we come to question, so there are obviously a lot of people who are very well mean it, and you know, are looking at what’s happening in Gaza and see the scale of the death and the suffering and the hunger and simply want it all to stop. And I was wondering what your best argument for would be them?


Dr Yaron Brook 35:58

I tell you, it’s easy to stop it again. If those people were honest, then what would make the headlines everywhere is “Hamas you need to surrender”, “Egypt put pressure on Hamas to surrender”. Egypt could take Rafah, Egypt could help Israel, Egypt is right there on the border. The way to stop the humanitarian crisis is for Hamas to go away. And for its hostages to be released. It’s simple. But you know, telling Israel to stop means that this will be longer. But then what happens next? Do we fight this war again in five years, in 10 years or 20 years? When do we fight it again? I mean, I’ve been saying in 1994, I think I was living in the United States already. I called my parents up when the Oslo Agreement was signed. And I said – a lot of blood is going to be spilled down. You basically signed the agreement that will spill 1000s of lives, Israeli and Palestinian. And it’s exactly what happened, as soon as Jessa offered came back to the West Bank, terrorism spiked. Every time Israel negotiated with him, terrorism increased. Every time Israel got tough with him, terrorism declined. And the ultimate “why’s he got offered almost everything he wanted” by Ehud Barak in Camp David, in 1999. He turned it down, went back home, and a second intifada started, which was unbelievably bloody. And, you know, at some point, we got to learn and then every time we went to Gaza, in the past, you go into Gaza for a few days, vomit, do a few things, kill a few people come back and go back in and then come back. And every time you know that you’re not making any difference, you know, they just postponing. And that’s what led to October the 7th. If Israel had not done for the last 20 years, they would have not been October 7th, Israel showed weakness. Israel continued to accept the idea that rockets could fly into its civilian population. Because I mean, in some sense, it’s horrible to say, but I think it’s true. The worst thing for Israel was the fact that it has a handle. Because it pretended that it was safe. That dome gave it a sense of security. So yes, they fly hundreds of rockets into Israel, they knock down 99% of them. Big deal. We can live with that. Really? I mean, you’re willing to live with somebody flying, let’s say London, rockets are just flying into London, and you just you could knock most of them down. Okay, so you’re living to live that way running to air raid shelters, every few months. It has to end, and Israel can continue to allow this to happen. And the only way it ends is finishing this. So, if anything those people should want to talk about surrender to they should encourage Israel to speed it up.


Marc Sidwell 38:59

Let’s take some questions in the end, either. And then this lady here will take those two and then we’ll come back.


Speaker 1 39:05

Just a question about the thorough defeat of Hamas, because when Germany was defeated, it was defeated throughout Europe. So how is Hamas defeated? And the second question that goes with that is that the Constitution was imposed on Western Germany and was imposed for some time by an external pressure by the winning power. Also, Gaza and West Bank is surrounded by Arab states, Muslim states, you know, hundreds of millions of Muslims. The acceptance of it would be so much pressure for that not to be accepted. Even if there was a thorough defeat of Hamas in a way that I can’t see being practical, where would you see influence from the Arab world or in Islamic thinking that can actually give a different vision of a prosperous society that is accepted as Palestinian? Thank you.


Dr Yaron Brook 40:08

You’re right. So, in the long run, there will be no peace in the Middle East for anybody, as long as he wanders around, or as long as this regime in Iran is around. This has been true for 40 years. And we in the West have been delaying it for 40 years in 1979. You undeclared war in the United States by taking its embassy hostage, that’s a declaration of war. And the United States did nothing. They negotiated arms for hostages. That was Ronald Reagan. You on, you know, you won was created the Fifth of July in Lebanon, in the early 1980s. They managed to kill 244 Marines in the barracks in Beirut, on a mission that Ronald Reagan sent into, to basically protect GSO effort and allow him to leave Lebanon and to go to Tunisia. Basically, Ronald Reagan gave us or offered his personal guarantee of safety out of Beirut to me, you know, you can go on and on and on. I mean, every single crisis, the end of the day is, is Iran and American appeasement. And those are the combinations, and until the United States figures out that they need to take out the Iranians, I don’t think Israel can (it might be able to but I don’t think so) – the world would go apoplectic if you tried. It has to do with the United States has to do it, or at least Israel has to have the United States support to do it. And until it does it, we’re not going to get any kind of settlement anywhere in the Middle East. And, and it’s just, you know, regime change is now an evil word. But this alternative, and beauty of Yuan, and I know this was said about Iraq, but this is actually true about Iran. The beauty of you on different from you are different than any other Middle Eastern country is that Iran has a population that doesn’t that wants to be free. It has a significant percentage of the population. You saw this last year. What is it now a year and a half ago with the revolution? Right? I mean, I thought one of those moving things that I’ve seen in many, many years, and something that didn’t get enough press in the West, and no American, no European leader talked about, but these girls going out and demonstrating against the regime. I mean, the coverage that they had – goosebumps. I mean, it’s it was truly inspiring. And again, very little support from the West, which, again, reflects our complete moral bankruptcy. So yes, nothing will happen without taking anyone. And maybe Iran is a model. Right. Saudi Arabia will never support a truly free Palestinian Authority. No other Middle Eastern country. Well, why? Because it’ll be a direct threat to them. They won’t people might demand the same. I mean, as much as what’s his name. MBS! MBS pretends to be westernising influence and a civilising influence. He wants to roll he wants to be king when his uncle dies, and he intends to be king, and he attends Saudi Arabia to be a kingdom. And yes, he wants it to be diversified and rich, but he has no interest in liberty and freedom and free speech. If you’re an atheist in Saudi Arabia, you go to jail for the rest of your life, if you can maintain your life. If you criticise the regime, you get flogged and sent to jail. There is no liberty in Saudi Arabia and we again in the West pretend, you know Donald Trump could go dancing with them and Obama can bow to them. And Biden can say a few nasty words about them, but then he wants to be grovelling to them. We pretend because we’re cowards. We literally cowards, because there’s nothing, they have on us. United States study produces oil in Saudi Arabia by a longshot, and, but what how it’s so we won’t fund them. And the same is true of the rest of it’s like the Gulf states. We all you know; a lot of Westerners go to Dubai and sit and have a good time and everything. These are not countries that represent liberal democracy. They’re not countries that represent freedom or individualism or any of these things. And they are not interested at the end of the day in a model Arab state, let’s say in palette, a Palestine that is free and democratic and liberal, because that will be an affront to their own regimes to the lawn to their own thing. So, it’s going to be very, very, very difficult. But what’s the alternative? The alternative is Israel occupying these territories with a strong hand. Nobody wants that. Certainly not Israel. The alternative is to kick out the population and send it elsewhere. Nobody will let Israel do that and it most Israelis don’t want that. We’re stuck in this is why it’s very, very, very hard to be optimistic about the long-term prospects for the region.



Speaker 2 45:10

Slightly different question started about the West. I’d like to ask you if you were surprised, which I wasn’t, of the enormous amount of antisemitism in the West, to me, Jewish girl woman. I was not surprised. And I was warned by my Israeli friends. Do you agree that this was done in a given moment, but because of October the 7th, it gave the West the opportunity to come up and blame Israel?


Dr Yaron Brook 46:18

I think antisemitism is always there in the background, it always has been, it has been since the birth of Christianity, it’s always in the background, it ebbs and flows. It has ups and downs. Over the years, I do think that it was it was not a major force up until the last decade or so certainly in the United States, and I know more about the United States, because that’s where I live then. But, you know, I’ve experienced a little bit of antisemitism in the US, but not a lot, nothing dramatic or significant. And I don’t think it was in most of it. Most of it came from the right, not from the left, most of it was the white supremacists and, and just people are ignorant, just, you know, people who just don’t know any better, and it ignorant that sometimes occupy the American right. What I think was surprising was the extent of it on the left. And I think that is a direct consequence of what the left has been teaching for the last 20 to 30 years. And of course, when we really think about it, how much difference is there in the modern terms between left and right? You know, they seem at the extremes to become one. But the whole identity politics that the left has embraced the whole idea that you’re bad, because you’re white, and you have to, you know, white fragility, you have to, you have to be you feel guilty because your ancestors enslaved, and by the very nature of the skin colour, you’re somehow flawed and a bad person and so on. And you should, you should blame yourself for the bad in the world. That mentality that ideology is easy to apply to Jews, Jews in America successful, I mean, ridiculously successful. If you think about the size of the population, and how much they represented and Nobel Prizes in Wall Street in academia, everyone, it’s absurd. Something must be they must be a conspiracy. Right? I mean, how could they? How could they be so well represented? And, and so it’s, it opens it up to well, they must be oppressed, they must be the oppressor, and who of the oppressed? And you know, it’s the minorities and in the fact that Jews are minority and the fact that Jews were killed not that long ago and holocaust. That’s ancient history, look how well they’ve done since they must have captured the power since then. But it’s all this power dynamics of the modern left, if you remember that, that drives this point where the poorer you are, the more suffering you are, the more virtuous you are. There’s a whole theory of this intersectionality, it’s called intersectionality, where you don’t just take one aspect, you say, okay, if you’re black, you’re oppressed. But if you’re black women, you even more oppressed and if you’re black woman and gay, or even more virtuous is a black woman who is, you know, doesn’t have a defined gender. That is the ultimate virtue, right? So ultimately, because it’s the most oppressed, you equate virtue with depression, which has origins in, I don’t know if you could argue, in Christian thought, but this is a modern twist. It’s very original, very, very, very, very powerful. And that’s why they were so quick. They knew it. They knew the Jews had to be the bad guys because the Jews were the successful ones.


Marc Sidwell 49:57

We have a lot of questions and we’re better with about 10 minutes or so that we might be able to stretch a little bit get not too much. I’m going to give you one from online, but just hold your thought. And I’ll also get another question from the room. At the back there, with the glasses, but I’m just going to do the online question first. So, someone from online is asking about how much Hamas sort of bore in mind Israel’s reaction when it planned October the seventh, and perhaps whether they have been surprised by what Israel has done. Let’s just get the other question as well.


Speaker 3 50:29

So, it’s really related to the overestimation. I think it’s one of the concepts that was developed in Tel Aviv University in terms of mathematics. Do you think it’s a bit naive to believe that you can easily remote the head of state, like in the case of Hamas from Palestine, and then be able to let Palestinians decide what to do next? Because they’ve been indoctrinated for almost 32 years? It’s kind of overestimation of the power scope. But Israeli military, because I remember you speaking about them, it gives us Gaza strip can be easily wiped out in minutes, but is this true? It’s about airstrikes. And so, because Israel is trying to conduct operations in a very new instrumental way, they’re trying to preserve people’s lives. And it has never been seen in Dresden or Japan or anywhere else. It must be given the credit. And I think, you know, when you mentioned Japan, and specifically Dresden, I don’t think it could be compared, because it’s not what Israel is doing, going above and beyond. So, could you please make a comment on this naivety of kind of removing the state without casualties?


Dr Yaron Brook 51:48

Well, I think it is naive. I think the knocking and Israel’s effort is self-destructive. I don’t think that going to this extent, to preserve civilian casualties is something that helps Israel in the long run, I think it holds it. I think it shows a weakness. It shows a caring for the Palestinian civilians over Israeli soldiers, which I think is a mistake. No army has ever won a war over the long run, right, real victory by caring more about the civilians of the enemy state than about its own soldiers. No country. And I think that’s why the capacity of addressing and Hiroshima Nagasaki is relevant, that we didn’t care when we won, and we won the peace. We didn’t just win the war. In terms of capturing or killing the leadership of Hamas. I think all that is possible. And I wouldn’t be surprised if the leaders in Qatar ultimately are eliminated. I certainly hope they are. But you’re right. That is not enough. What is required is a is a re indoctrination and re-education of the Palestinian people. That will take a generation. That takes a long time, but who’s going to have the will to do it? Who’s going to do it? So no, I just don’t see an optimistic path here unless Israel is dedicated to occupying. You know, Anwar is the one responsible for the education institutions and the way they’re teaching genocide. So, is Israel willing to kick out Anwar and replace them in the schools with teachers that are approved by Israel?  Will the world tolerate that? Will anybody tolerate that? And no, the answer’s no. The fact is that we are in the West, are committing ourselves to endless war. And that’s what we want for it appears until I guess we die out until we commit suicide. I mean, it really does appear that we’ve got a death wish.

What was the other question?


Marc Sidwell 53:46

About Hamas sort of planning October 7th.


Dr Yaron Brook 53:50

I think they I think they underestimated Israel’s response. I really do think they were surprised by it. I also think they underestimated their own success. I thought they would, they thought they’d kill a few people. And they’d come back. They did not know the music festival was going on, they encountered that by chance. So, they didn’t know in advance, so that that gives them opportunity to kill a lot of people, rape and do the horrible things that they did. And then they walked into some of the settlements with no resistance, because, you know, the Israelis were not armed. Historically, Israelis were always armed, particularly those who lived by the border. And over the last few years, Israelis have been disarmed. The weapons have been taken away from them locked up in, in places that are hard to get. And this is the consequence of disarming Israeli population, particularly next to a border. So, the success of Hamas was a surprise to Hamas. And the response of Israel was a surprise to us.


Marc Sidwell 54:48

I think we’ve got time for three more. Lady there on the right, and this gentleman here.


Speaker 4 54:57

I just wanted to ask about your observations on the psychology of Israelis. If we listen to the BBC, the impression given is that there’s a much bigger resistance against the actions of Israeli government. And I’m hearing across any of the alternative media, which would suggest that there’s a lot of concern for months, and yet there seems to me to be a potential weakness, which is around the understandable concern for hostages. If Hamas did give back all the hostages tomorrow, what would the thinking be in terms of how long this will continue?


Dr Yaron Brook 55:36

I mean, I think that would really create a split within Israel. I do think there is a split. I read, I often read how it’s very of the left newspaper in Israel, but it’s considered the most intellectual of the Israeli newspapers, it’s the New York Times of Israel. And it’s definitely on the side. This has gone on too long. And this has been a failure, and we need to negotiate, we need to find something else. They don’t have solutions. But they have a lot of doubts that they place in the current strategy. That represents some Israelis resolve, but I think overall, Israelis are committed to seeing this through it for the most part, and yes, there’s some leftists who oppose this in most of the intellectuals. But think about all those settlements along the border, where a lot of the murder and rape and horrors happened. Those settlements were all, you know, the residents were all really leftist peaceniks – so people are committed to peace with the Palestinians. And so, the left has been shaken dramatically in Israel and even in the left and Israel, you now see a commitment to fight, but despite all that I still think Israel’s overall result is pretty weak.


Speaker 4 56:58

There is a specific point that I want to address – I wonder whether there has been a change at all?


Dr Yaron Brook 57:06

I think it was accepted that this was a ridiculous trade – 1000s for one soldier, and it against setup, I think October 7th, but there is this view that Israel will do anything for the hostages and will sacrifice anything for the hostages. I said from day one, I said Israel must fight this war as if the hostages are dead. Otherwise, you can’t win. And it’s turned out that way. They’ve compromised, they’ve slowed down. They’ve cut deals all because they care about the hostages, you can’t do that, and half of them are probably dead. Sadly.


Speaker 5 57:46

Your account of the Gaza war very clear and determined, and if I understand it correctly, it’s a kind of descendant Jabotinsky, famous Iron Walls. These people who want the land, we want to learn they’re going to hate us. That’s to be expected. So, we need an iron wall, which we will advance as necessary. And at the end, they’ll get tired of dashing muscles against it. So, it’s this idea of refinement, which has been tried for some decades. And I think it’s a clear and educational prospect. But is it working? Is it possible that in Gaza now, if you’ve got a population which is inextricable, partly because of its emotions, which will have been heightened by racist wrong. And because of underlying religious antagonisms, because of indoctrination, and intimidation. So, if all these are operating, do you really have any grounds to think that these Palestinians are going to give up? And isn’t it likely that they are also looking at this strategy and say “well, provocative escalation strategy worked pretty well, in places like Algeria in the past, this has been going well for us for the past 100 years or so” – are they showing that they are going to win, and you are not?


Dr Yaron Brook 59:09

I wish I was sure that I was going to win. And then partially because I think I’m not sure my site is committed. And I think the site is, in a way that we are not. But you know, at the end of the day, this can’t be Algeria, for the simple reason that in Algeria, the French had some way home to go, in a sense, you’re somewhere where you home someone to accept you. Nobody’s taking 8 million Jews. You know, out of Israel, they either die there, or valve and they’ll probably fight in order to keep themselves there. But this is not the solution, Algeria is not the solution. But look, I’m not optimistic as I’ve said, I think you’re right. In terms of some of this been tried, I think it’s been tried poorly. You know, I don’t think Israel has done a good job in US setting up the iron wall, as you’d call it. I don’t think it’s been good at unequivocally showing the Palestinians that they cannot win. I mean, it’s so many examples of this second intifada show and says in the troops, they surround our fights home, they’re about to enter and kill him. And just like Ronald Reagan, a decade or so earlier, this time, George Bush calls out and says you can’t kill. You just can’t. Well, okay, so we’re weak, right? So, there’s no iron wall. We’re bashing our heads against the wall. By what model or political military standard you keep the enemy alive and you keep them functioning? This is the reality that the West is committed to and Israel is part of that is committed to suicide. And they be acting as if they that white ready for it, so they keep prolonging it, but we don’t want to win.


Barak Seener 1:01:32

Thank you very much for the speech, the strategic objectives that Israel formulates is going to be a product of the norms that it inhabits and its resources that it has available. And its national law conventions have evolved significantly since World War Two. So, when you say that Israel’s big strategic mistake is that it said that it was seeking to dismantle Hamas, and not that it was going towards the Palestinians – are you advocating that Israel committed Dresden in Gaza? What would be something feasible that Israel could do because it doesn’t operate in a vacuum?


Dr Yaron Brook 1:02:18

So, it’s very challenging because it doesn’t operate in a vacuum. And because international norms in the West, not anywhere else, as the Russian military, if they abide by these principles in the West international norms have evolved to now winning the West is committed to one thing, not winning, not defeating our enemy.

To the extent that Israel is insisting on playing by the norms of the Western world, the modern Western world, it’s committed to not winning. It must abandon those norms if it it’s going to win. Now, what does that look like? I don’t think it has to look like Dresden. But it has to look like more that it’s done. It should have been faster, more devastating. It should have used more airpower to protect the troops on the ground. But they needed to move fast. They did it for about two weeks. Maybe the plans weren’t drawn up. I don’t know, that would be shocking, if they didn’t have plans to invade Gaza until October 7th. But maybe, who knows, given the given the failures of Israel of Israeli military, they should have moved fast, devastating, enormous firepower. And they should have said, this is not Hamas as the government. Hamas is the government of the Palestinians. It’s not some terrorist organisation within the Palestinians. It’s the governing body of the Palestinians. This war is with the Palestinians, the Palestinians have to be brought to the knees and the government needs to surrender. And we demand just like Churchill did – an unconditional surrender of the Palestinian government called Hamas. What was necessary. Now, I don’t know. Does that mean 30,000 would have died? Maybe less? Maybe if he’d done it fast and brutal at the beginning, maybe if he killed? You know, it’s hard to even say these things. But maybe if he got 30,000 in the first two weeks, you don’t kill anybody afterwards, because it’s all over? Well, maybe it means more. I don’t know what those numbers look like. And I’m not sure anybody knows what those numbers look like.


Barak Seener 1:04:25

And what is it that Israel does in order to shift away from that Western defeatist mentality?


Dr Yaron Brook 1:04:32

I think it shifted a little bit after October 7th. But you know, Biden didn’t go to Tel Aviv, didn’t go to Israel to show support for Israel. Biden went to Israel to tell Netanyahu to behave himself and to get a good photo because he’s running for president. But you know, the west from the beginning said, we’re going to support you, but you must show restraint. There was an opportunity in Israel to see that shift, but the world didn’t let it. And I don’t know how you break out of that; it requires a real philosophical change and real courage, which nobody in the west today seems to inhabit. I mean, if 9/11 didn’t wake us up, if the bombings here in London would not wake you up, you know, then what is what what’s it going to take, if London taken over every Saturday or Sunday by hundreds of 1000s of protesters who are unruly, what is it? What is it going to take? I’m not sure what it’s going to take. But it is hard to, you know, the only reason to be optimistic, right? The only reason really to be optimistic, is not because we’re any good, not because we know what we’re doing. And not because we have any strategy or there’s anybody on the rise and politically, who is going to make any changes. The only reason to be optimistic is that our enemy is very weak. Our enemy is poor, weak, unsophisticated, and generally dumb. Iran might fix itself, when Khamenei dies, there is a chance, might be a small chance, but there’s a chance that he gets replaced with somebody modernising and that it starts moving towards secularisation. There’s, you know, all these Islamist groups, they hate each other, they all work together, they’d be a real force, they hate each other, the West will probably survive because at the end of the day, we do a decent job of stimulating people. And they in the end, don’t want to commit suicide. They don’t want to die. The immigrants, they want to just become westerns, they want to take care of their family, they want to they want to do all this stuff. They might go out in the street and demonstrate but they’re not actually going to take up arms. So, we’ll survive because our enemy is weak, not because we are strong. And that assumes that China leaves us alone, right?


Marc Sidwell 1:06:55

On that small note of optimism, we are very much out of time. I know there are more questions. But thank you all so much for being here. Thank you.


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