Israel's current military campaign to destroy Hamas in the Gaza Strip exhibits "blood lust," stated Mouin Rabbani, coeditor of the Arab Studies Institute's (ASI) Islamist webzine Jadaliyya, during a recent Georgetown University presentation. Sponsored by Georgetown's Saudi-established Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding (ACMCU), "Israel-Gaza War: A Conversation with Mouin Rabbani" presented Rabbani's Gaza ravings as fact.
As was visible in the event video, Rabbani addressed an audience in the conference room of Georgetown's Center for Contemporary Arab Studies (CCAS), another event sponsor with faculty that share his anti-Israel views. ACMCU's new director, Rabbani's fellow Israel-conspiracy-monger Nader Hashemi, moderated. The Qatari-affiliated Democracy in the Arab World Now (DAWN) think tank, where Hashemi is listed as an expert, also sponsored Rabbani's talk.
Rabbani described as pure revenge killings Israel's rooting out of Hamas jihadists from their urban, largely underground hideouts following Hamas's October 7 atrocities in Israel. "Israeli public opinion was so outraged" that "Israeli leadership is kind of trying to make good on this by ensuring that many more Palestinians are killed than Israelis were killed on October 7," he stated. "Flattening entire neighborhoods" is not "in any way significantly degrading actual military capabilities," he added, as if Israel could avoid harming civilians whom Hamas deliberately exploits as human shields. Israel, he said, is committing "systematic war crimes and crimes against humanity."
Palestinians suffering under Israel's self-defense actions, not the Jewish and other Israeli citizens butchered by Hamas's October 7 onslaught, were to Rabbani as the real victims. He bemoaned the "demonization and delegitimization and dehumanization and outright repression of pro-Palestinian sentiment." He complained of "selective outrage" when comparing Palestinian civilian deaths in combat, which Israel strives hard to avoid, with the Israelis mercilessly targeted by Hamas terror.
"When Palestinians are killed, we take an analytical approach; when Israelis are killed, the criteria is morality," Rabbani stated. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby "broke down on TV like a baby" after having examined images of Hamas's ravaged victims, Rabbani callously noted; "a blubbering baby, for God's sake." Yet when Kirby later answered questions about civilian casualties from Israeli military operations, "all of a sudden he's a tough guy, war is hell, civilians die, get over it. Ok, are you Jekyll or Hyde?" Rabbani sneered.
Similarly, President Joe Biden during a recent Israel visit "shed enough tears in Israel to replenish the aquifers in Gaza for an entire year," mocked Rabbani. Yet Biden's later responded when "asked about Palestinian casualties – they're exaggerating," he said.
"Don't get on CNN and start crying like a baby when it's the civilians you like who are getting killed," concluded Rabbani. Between Israelis and Palestinians, "one group are treated as humans and the other as sub-humans. I think that's indisputable." Juxtaposing concern for innocent life and support for Israel, he wondered, "are you supporting a principle or are you supporting a state?"
Yet Rabbani downplayed Hamas's murderous rampage through Israel, presenting this brutal aggression more as a military operation than terrorist attack. "A lot of focus has been devoted to Israeli non-combatant casualties, to what appears to have been a massacre at a rave party just outside the Gaza Strip. That's all well and good," he said. After paying lip service to terrorism victims, he proceeded to gush over Hamas military prowess.
"On October 7, the Israeli military collapsed like a house of cards," Rabbani claimed of Hamas's surprise attack upon Israel's weakly-manned perimeter around Gaza. Hamas was "taking over one military base after another, almost effortlessly, carting off huge amounts of information, computer intelligence and so on," he stated without evidence. Thus, Hamas was "for the first time since 1948 occupying, however briefly, a territory within Israel . . . that is actually larger than the Gaza Strip itself."
Playing military analyst, Rabbani unconvincingly surmised, based on Hamas's brief success, that "Israeli ground forces are just not that impressive" according to "general recognition." Historically "American officials are generally in awe of Israel," he declared, but now "there has been a collapse in U.S. confidence in the Israeli leadership" and "Israeli military and intelligence capabilities." "This is going to have long-term consequences for U.S.-Israel relations. Israel can ill afford its loss of prestige," he argued regarding an Israeli military renowned around the world.
Israeli officers are now "having to be babysat by U.S. officers," Rabbani claimed, again without offering evidence. "There is a real American effort to either participate in or take control of Israeli decision making because they do not want an additional fiasco imposed on them by the Israelis," he asserted. Israel "is not in a position to make good on its rhetorical points of achieving the objectives of either eradicating Hamas" or "launching a comprehensive ground offensive against the Gaza Strip," he claimed as Israeli forces continue to push into Gaza. This latter option "would result in a prolonged physical direct reoccupation of that entire territory," although he left unexplained what other choice Israel has given Hamas's blood lust.
By contrast, Rabbani expressed unshakable confidence in Gazans, notwithstanding Hamas's rise to power among them. "Never underestimate the resourcefulness of the population of the Gaza Strip," he said, for "they seem to have a solution to every challenge." "These were people who during the blockade were using cooking oil to make cars run," he said. Perhaps their next accomplishment should be learning to govern themselves as a civilized people.
Whatever the outcome in Gaza, Rabbani and his fellow terrorism apologists know that Georgetown and its peers have their back. The outpouring of academic support for Hamas and corresponding hatred for Israel and Jews has shocked a public heretofore unprepared for such vile bigotry. Now is the time to root out systemic antisemitism on campuses nationwide, beginning with the politicized field of Middle East studies.
Andrew E. Harrod, a Middle East Forum Campus Watch Fellow, freelance researcher, and writer, is a fellow with the Lawfare Project. Follow him on Twitter: @AEHarrod.