Maybe the cruelty is the point

Maybe the cruelty is the point

We understand that people see the war in Gaza through their own lenses, and no two lenses are exactly the same.

Although we cannot understand how any human being could possibly see the terrorist attacks of October 7 as anything other than butchery, acts of pure evil, and we do not understand how any human being could fail to understand the brutal misogyny that the rape and torture and parading of dead women betray, we do understand that there is more than one way to see the war in Gaza.

We at this paper strongly believe that Israel has no choice but to destroy Hamas, and that Hamas’s inhumanity in hiding its fighters under schools and hospitals, making it necessary for Israelis to kill innocents and therefore allow themselves to appear brutal, is yet another indication of that group’s inherent evil. We also know that the death of even one innocent is the destruction of an entire world. We weep for the deaths of innocent Gazans, and we wish that their own leaders had not plotted their destruction.

We know that there are good-faith objections to the way Israel is carrying out the war, just as we know that there are some objections that are based simply on ignorance and kneejerk antisemitism. We respect the first objections even as we disagree with them; we react with disgust to the second group.

But we are slack-jawed at some of the demonstrations that the pro-Palestinians have chosen to mount.

The point of demonstrations is to gain attention, yes, but also to garner sympathy. Perhaps shutting down bridges and tunnels as people try to visit their families over the holidays achieves those aims, but it does seem unlikely. People tend not to like being stuck in hours of traffic, and they tend not to like protesters who purposely cause traffic delays.

Protesting to try to snarl the Thanksgiving parade? Really? That’s just weird.

But on Monday, the demonstrations reached a new low.

Protestors paraded and picketed in front of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, saying that the center promoted genocide.

MSK is a place where people who have cancer go to be diagnosed, cured, or at least be made comfortable.

Someone I love was treated for breast cancer there, and is fine now, years later. Someone else I loved was treated for brain cancer there, and despite the doctors’ best efforts died there, because brain cancer is a terrible disease. The young daughter of a good friend also died of cancer there, again despite her doctors’ valiant efforts.

It is a place of hope and fear and pain and love and death.

It is not a place where patients and relatives and health-care providers should have to listen to screaming protesters. They have to hear enough screams and sobs.

“MSK, shame on you, you support genocide too,” the protesters howled as they walked by the hospital. That’s because MSK has accepted money from Ken Griffin, a non-Jewish billionaire who has donated to his alma mater, Harvard, and publicly objected to the Harvard students who blamed Israel for the Hamas massacre.

Griffin, remember, has given money to MSK, a place that is both a scientific institution that conducts research to fight cancer, and a hospital that treats cancer patients.

Some of those patients are children, like my friend’s daughter; some of those children were photographed staring out the windows at the protesters.

The organization that led the protest, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, is called Within Our Lifetime; it’s a group that has endorsed Hamas’s attacks on Israel.

That raises some questions.

Who thinks it’s acceptable to picket a hospital full of cancer patients because the protesters don’t like one of its donors?

And on a more practical level, who thinks it’s politically expedient to mount such a parade? Who thinks it’s likely to woo anyone who is undecided to their side? Who thinks that a show of callous cruelty will win hearts and minds?

Who thinks that’s as good a policy as enraging commuters — itself a politically unlikely action?

Is the cruelty the point?


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