Israel’s October 7 Massacre Hit Kibbutzniks, Not Settlers

October 7’s Hamas massacre in south Israel would not have happened against West Bank settlers. Settlers are armed. The kibbutzniks in Israel’s south were not well-armed. They were left-wing peaceniks and they were not prepared to do battle with people who wanted to slaughter them.

Editor David Remnick writes for Nov. 6, 2023 edition of The New Yorker:

The victims of the Hamas attack—the dead, the survivors, the kidnapped—were not settlers or fanatics; they were, in the main, the liberals of Israel, a breed that still speaks (with caveats and shades of difference) about peace and two states for two peoples. They tend to loathe Netanyahu for his hubris and corruption, his disdain for the Palestinians, his attempt to diminish the Supreme Court, and his alliance with such lurid reactionaries as his national-security minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, and his finance minister, Bezalel Smotrich. Some of the survivors were not especially political; some had come to the previous Kaplan Street demonstrations. They joined groups like Achim Laneshek, or Brothers in Arms, reservists who marched against Netanyahu. After October 7th, they put aside protest for rescue work.

Killers and other predators prefer soft targets to hard targets.

Sep. 8, 2023, political scientist John J. Mearsheimer said to Glenn Loury: “A lot of people argue that this [Russian invasion of Ukraine] of Feb. 4, 2022 violated just war theory or violated international law. That’s correct. Just war theory [and international law] rule out preventive war. This was a preventive war. The war was illegal and unjust but if you are a state and you are faced with what you think is an existential threat, and there’s no doubt that Russia saw Ukraine in NATO as an existential threat, and you launch a war to eliminate that mortal threat, no leader, nor his people, is going to consider that unjust.”

Israel sees Hamas as an existential threat to its existence and thus is determined to wipe out Hamas, no matter the cost.

David Remnick writes:

During the [1995] campaign, he [Bibi] made sure to be overheard when he told a spiritual leader of the Sephardim, Rabbi Yitzhak Kaduri, “Leftists have forgotten what it is to be Jewish. They think they will put security in the hands of the Arabs—that Arabs will look out for us.” He won the election, and though he has spent occasional periods in the wilderness, he has now been Prime Minister for a total of sixteen years, longer even than David Ben-Gurion.

A few people care about out-groups, but these are not the sentiments to bet on, because overwhelmingly, people don’t care about out-groups. Americans, for example, do not care when Americans commit atrocities against non-Americans. The 1968 My Lai massacre in Vietnam took the lives of about 400 dead civilians, and the man who directed it, Lieutenant William Calley Jr., got four years of house arrest.

According to Wikipedia, Allied bombing in WWII killed 790,509 – 1,693,374 people. Few Americans cried over these civilian deaths.

I grew up in Australia. The overwhelming sentiment I noticed around my fellow Aussies was that anyone who wasn’t an Aussie was worthless.

David Remnick writes:

As the Israeli right solidified its hold on power, some in the country came to view its draconian anti-Palestinian policies with repugnance. Yair Golan is a retired Army general in his early sixties; he is graying yet as trim as a blade. He was an infantry commander during the second intifada, and then led the Judea and Samaria division, in the West Bank. But he grew increasingly disgusted with the military’s treatment of Palestinians, and he did not keep his views to himself. A speech that he delivered seven years ago at a Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony at Kibbutz Tel Yitzhak caused a furor. Golan, who was then the deputy chief of staff of the I.D.F., warned that Israeli society had grown callous to “the other,” and said, “If there is something that frightens me in the memory of the Holocaust, it is identifying horrifying processes that occurred in Europe, particularly in Germany, seventy, eighty, and ninety years ago, and finding evidence of their existence here in our midst today, in 2016.” He referred to an incident in Hebron in which an I.D.F. sergeant was filmed shooting a Palestinian who had stabbed an Israeli soldier but had already been subdued and was prostrate. “There is nothing easier and simpler,” Golan said, “than behaving like a beast, becoming morally corrupt, and sanctimonious.”

No group graduates from the harsh reality of in-group vs out-group thinking. A few intellectuals here and there may overcome it for a time, but it is not possible for the masses to overcome it because it is not usually adaptive to do so. In-groups who lack a fierce commitment to their own survival don’t survive. With few exceptions, everybody is callous to the other, and that this reality frightens and terrifies Yair Golan simply shows he’s out of touch with how people work. He sought acclaim from the intellectual class by proclaiming precious feelings that are inaccessible to normal people living under threat.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
This entry was posted in Israel. Bookmark the permalink.