Who knew that a terrorist offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood would be so inclusive? After slaughtering over a thousand innocent Israeli civilians in a coordinated terrorist attack, Hamas enjoys support from nearly all corners of the Left. On college campuses and city streets, all varieties of Leftist activists in the West have pledged their support for Hamas, utterly ignoring their atrocities and somehow seeing their own struggles reflected in the Palestinian cause.
On the surface, their argument seems the same as ever. The Left loves its losers, even those that commit the worst crimes imaginable. They will repeat the usual slogans: the Israelis are colonizers, Israel is an apartheid state, Palestinians are the victims of systemic oppression, etc. And in good postmodern fashion, all of these arguments are completely abstracted from moral reality (i.e., the means, however bloody, always justifies the ends) and heavily tinged with Marxist ideals (i.e., constant revolution against the oppressor).
Nevertheless, there seems to be something lurking beneath these arguments, something much more primal and inexplicable. At its heart, this is tribalism. One group hates another group and acts accordingly. None of it is rational, but it’s supremely powerful. The hatred of tribalism can justify every horrible act imaginable and turn otherwise peaceful individuals into bloodthirsty psychopaths.
That’s why the only comparison one can make with the Hamas attack on October 7th is the carnage that happened in places like Rwanda, Sri Lanka, or Bosnia. To merely call this a “conflict” or even a “war” doesn’t really capture the unbridled cruelty involved.
The Origins of Tribalism
Jens Heyck gives a more extended treatment of these kinds of collective conflagrations (along with some important points on immigration policy, as I discuss here) in his recent book Out of the Melting Pot, Into the Fire. He argues that ethnic tensions and identity politics can easily erupt into violence when societies directly or indirectly pit different identity groups against one another. Rather, diverse societies only succeed when they adopt a melting pot model that fuses different groups into a shared identity.
To prove his thesis, Heyck examines a wide range of civilizations from different parts of the world from different times in history. He demonstrates that, no matter what the context might be, human beings instinctually align themselves with a group and take an antagonistic approach to rival groups. This is also shown in the Robbers Cave Experiment, cited at the beginning of the book, in which “boys with identical socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds” were divided randomly into two groups. After participating in a series of team-building activities, the two groups “developed strong group cohesion and a sense of shared identity, spontaneously naming themselves ‘Eagles’ and ‘Rattlers.’” Eventually, each group grew to hate the other, often picking fights, burning clothes, and routinely trashing the other’s camps.
While it’s important to acknowledge the history, politics, philosophy, religion, and other dimensions that underlie the problems in the Middle East, Heyck’s review of history and social science strongly suggest that sometimes hate is just hate, and that collective violence is guaranteed to occur when certain groups fail to integrate with a majority culture.
Tribalism and the Future of Israel
In the October 7th massacre, it’s unlikely that most of the Hamas terrorists had any coherent rationale for the raping, kidnaping, torturing, mutilating, and murdering of innocent civilians. They simply viewed themselves as one group (the good guys) and saw the Israelis as an opposing group (the bad guys) and wanted to exterminate them. And no matter how many concessions Israel grants, how much aid other nations give, or how squalid their living conditions become, this tribal hate will remain.
Unfortunately, as scholar and columnist Victor Davis Hanson has noted in recent essay, many modern American leftists have adopted this same mindset, and this is why they loudly support Hamas. Raised on the toxic tenets of multiculturalism (as it was called in prior decades) and wokeism (as it’s called today), many Americans have refused to identify as Americans and chosen to group themselves with their particular tribe. Even if they share most things in common with their neighbors (language, culture, civic life, etc.), they are told to unite behind some accidental quality, be it their race, ethnicity, gender identity, or sexual orientation. And, just as Hamas has developed its own dark mythology of Jewish people, these leftist tribes have developed a dark mythology about the American system which continues to marginalize them in some way.
History indicates that there are three ways to address such fractionalization. The first and worst way is to destroy these minorities through systematic genocide (as Hamas hopes to do to Israel), which is unspeakably evil and usually ineffective anyway. The second way is to pacify minorities through affirmative action programs, which is popular in today’s world but also counterproductive. The third and best way is to minimize distinctions between people and figuratively melt minority groups into the cultural and political pot.
The reason this last approach isn’t more common is because it requires the most time, effort, and largeness of heart and mind. In order to create a coherent unified identity with a diverse population, all members of society must have equal access to social services, immigration must be managed, and incentives must be offered to those joining the predominating culture. Instead of rewarding minorities who cling to their group identity, governments and their citizens should reward them for adding to the majority and working together in harmony.
In the case of Israel, all this would suggest that the only true victory would be the one that not only eliminates Hamas, but also dissolves the Palestinian states. Instead of remaining permanent refugees, Palestinians either need to be assimilated into the state of Israel or forcibly driven out of the country. This would mean following Israeli laws, conforming to the Israeli system, and giving up their minority status. In return, they could enjoy a life in the freest, fairest, and most developed country in the region.
In the short term, this seems like an impossibility (for some mysterious reason, no one seems interested in taking in Palestinian refugees). Because of the endless funding and ubiquitous propaganda, many Palestinians are too forgone to consider peaceful coexistence with Israeli Jews. But, this could change if that funding was cut, the propaganda was censored, and a transitional period of reconciliation and integration was established. Similar to countries like Botswana or even Rwanda in the last decade, Israel could become a safe and peaceful state that serves as a model for its neighbors. Moreover, it could remind leftist Americans about the virtues of being a melting pot and hopefully encourage them to give up their hate and and join their fellow countrymen in the pursuit of a better future.
Photo Credit: news.sky. com