The savage attack Hamas launched on October 7 against Israel, like Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, was an attack on Western civilization itself. Perhaps even more shocking than the attack on Israel has been the response of cultural elites. Across the West, arbiters and gatekeepers of the culture, including many at elite institutions—universities, media outlets, activist organizations and NGOs—celebrated the barbarism that Hamas put on display. This while the Israelis were still sifting through the ruins trying to identify all those who were murdered by Hamas.
Predictably enough, there is now a call—by the same crowd—for a “pause” in Israel’s military action designed to root out and destroy Hamas. All for humanitarian reasons, of course. But—we have to ask—where is the call for Hamas or Hezbollah or Islamic Jihad or any of Iran’s other proxies to stop launching attacks on perfectly innocent civilians? The silence is deafening.
As for the shortage of supplies in Gaza, Hamas is not experiencing a shortage of food, water, medicine or for that matter—ammunition. The humanitarian crisis in Gaza is the handiwork of Hamas, which blocked civilians from leaving by way of safe corridors. Hamas also continues to make a habit of building its launch sites and command and control centers in or underneath schools and hospitals. Hamas seeks to maximize civilian casualties for propaganda purposes.
But you probably knew all that. The question is the significance of the event. And here it becomes apparent that this is not simply another skirmish in a long-standing territorial dispute. It is a fight for survival for both Israel and the West. Israel is an outpost of Western civilization; it is the proverbial canary in the coal mine. The fight will not be won by tanks and guns alone, although they are important elements. The war is a war of ideas and it is a war we must win.
The war of ideas is one that has been raging for a very long time. Over the last 20 years or so, what were once thought to be relatively harmless academic fads have seeped into the mainstream. And these ideas, e.g. post colonialism, deconstructionism, post modernism are anything but harmless. They may be as incoherent as ever, but they are fervently believed by many and are promulgated by our most prestigious institutions. They must be resisted and challenged at every step of the way.
Bari Weiss, cofounder of The Free Press, gave the annual Barbara K. Olsen Memorial Lecture at the Federalist Society on this topic. It can be, and should be seen (available on You Tube) by anyone who considers himself to be educated in world affairs. It can be seen below.