Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Death Toll Passes 1,100

Death Toll Passes 1,100

Plus: Amazon goes to space, striking autoworkers win concessions, and more…


Massacre in Israel: Over the weekend, the Palestinian militant group Hamas fired thousands of rockets at Israel and breached the border wall, catching Israeli forces off guard on a holiday.

Video has circulated on social media of atrocities committed by the invaders, including several of Hamas going door-to-door in southern Israel, entering people’s homes, and slaughtering innocent people, including children, as family members are forced to watch. One viral video shows a 25-year-old Israeli woman, Noa Argamani, who was kidnapped by Hamas while attending a music festival.

At that same music festival—Nova, at Kibbutz Re’im in southern Israel—rockets began appearing in the sky around 6:30 a.m., prompting a mass evacuation. But then “four pickup trucks filled with armed militants and gunmen on motorcycles encircled the road leading out of the event venue, which was bottlenecked with cars attempting to flee the area,” per The New Yorker‘s Ruth Margalit. “These were executions,” one source who was in attendance told Margalit. “We were like ducks in a firing range.”

More than 260 people were killed at the music festival massacre, with many more abducted, according to ZAKA, an Israeli organization conducting search and rescue. One man, named Shoam Gueta, said he escaped the festival “with a group of 20 people and hid in the bushes for nearly six hours as the onslaught unfolded around them,” per NBC. “He used his mandatory military training experience to stay camouflaged and urged everyone in the group to remain silent and not to run away even when militants came within several feet.” (More eyewitness accounts here.)

More than 700 Israelis have died so far. Israel has responded by striking Gaza—including hospitals, and residential buildings that the military claims are occupied by members of Hamas—killing almost 500 Palestinians. (Background on Gaza here.)

“We are at war,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an address, declaring that the army would be mobilized and reservists called up. Schools will close, and most international airlines that service Tel Aviv have ceased operations there for now.

“The Pentagon on Sunday announced it was sending additional munitions to Israel and moving more Navy warships, including an aircraft carrier, and combat aircraft closer to Israel in a show of support,” according to The New York Times.
The invasion started on Simchat Torah, a normally joyful Jewish holiday that follows Sukkot and marks the end of a cycle of Torah readings. It also happened 50 years and one day after the Yom Kippur War of 1973, another conflict in which Israel was attacked on a holiday.

One likely reason for the attack: the negotiations between the U.S., Israel, and Saudi Arabia, which had been getting close to “full diplomatic normalization of Israeli-Saudi diplomatic relations,” writes Responsible Statecraft‘s Paul R. Pillar.

“From the general Palestinian perspective, any such three-way diplomatic deal would be a step backwards for Palestinian self-determination, because an Israeli objective is to enjoy such fruit without making peace with the Palestinians,” notes Pillar. “From Hamas’s perspective, it sees the rival Palestinian Authority taking a remarkably complacent posture toward the prospect of upgraded Saudi-Israeli ties, seemingly content to remain in its role of an auxiliary to the Israeli occupation. That leaves it to Hamas to actively oppose this backward step.”

Another possible reason: The ongoing expansion of the Israeli settlements, marked by “vigilante” attacks on Palestinians, has led many observers to fear another intifada would soon break out in the West Bank. Hamas, which has long been at odds with other Palestinian factions, may have wanted to seize the initiative, thus positioning itself in front of the movement.

While much of the reaction to this weekend’s violence has been thoughtful and informative, there have also been two other categories. Extremely Online insanity…

 …and vapid warmongering:
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Iran helped plot the attacks, though this has sparked some skepticism; we’ll see what more comes out. Eli Lake asks whether “the bulldozer that Hamas used to demolish a border fence between Israel and Gaza” was “paid for in part with U.S. development aid” here. The Associated Press offers photos that “show fear, death and destruction in battle scenes from Israel and the Gaza Strip” here. Michael Eisenberg has a Twitter thread discussing the on-the-ground organizing in Israel that’s happening outside of government.

Scenes from New York:


  • Though still on strike, the “United Auto Workers won a landmark concession from General Motors Co. to bring battery plant workers into the union’s fold,” which sets the stage for unionized electric vehicle plants.
  • Watch Reason‘s Matt Welch on Real Time with Bill Maher if you know what’s good for you.
  • Pivot to…LinkedIn?
  • Fascinating voter demographic changes:
  • Against safetyism, tech edition:
  • Such a dumb strain of anti-AI sentiment (of course image generators can be used to make things you find offensive):
  • Amazon goes to space
  • “Any retaliation against Tehran—amid reports that it helped to plan the [Hamas] attacks—could endanger the passage of vessels through the Strait of Hormuz, a vital conduit that transports much of the world’s crude [oil] and which the Iranian government previously has threatened to close,” reports Bloomberg. “Iran denied on Monday that it was involved in the assault.”
  • How does the Iron Dome work?
Liz Wolfe is an associate editor at Reason covering tech, free speech, and China and co-host of the Reason Livestream. She has interviewed sex workerstattoo artistsventure capitaliststech CEOscrypto hype men, and the occasional restaurateur. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and son.


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