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Philosophical Currents: The war between Israel and Hamas


Ashley Thornberg: This is Main Street on Prairie Public I'm Ashley Thornberg and today on the show we are going to talk about the war between Hamas and Israel. Once a month on Main Street we have a segment called a Philosophical Currents and it is when we have a philosopher in to take a deeper dive into major news headlines and give a philosophical viewpoint.

Dr. Jack Russell Weinstein is a Chester Fritz distinguished professor of philosophy at the University of North Dakota. You might be able to tell by that last name that he is Jewish, but the point of this segment is to go beyond the headlines. Today Weinstein is talking about how it's not about religious beliefs. It's about how the media portrayal impacts our ability to care about these people as human beings regardless of what side of the political or religious spectrum you fall on. We will also stress that Prairie Public is looking to hear I'm a Palestinian voice in the coming days so please stay tuned to Main Street and check out all of NPR's programming for the full spectrum of voices on this story.

Jack, thanks so much for joining us

Jack Russell Weinstein: I'd like to say I'm happy to be here, but this is a stressful one. This is a rough topic. It's very hard for us to look at this the way that the news wants us to look at this, which is there's a good guy and a bad guy. There's a right and a wrong. It's an endless cycle.

And actually, the way that I want everyone to think about it to start understanding it is that really what's happening is that these are two groups of people, Jews and Palestinians who no one likes, who no one wants to live with. And the world has made them fight for their table scraps. And if they fight against each other, and make each other enemies, then the world gets to play politics and the world gets to have these folks battle each other out and not have to deal with the reality, which is these are groups of human beings who suffer and who have a right to live in peace.

Ashley Thornberg: I'm really intrigued by you saying a phrase like how the news wants us to look at this, because there's so much to talk about, in this

but I think I'm not alone in saying that it's really hard to even know how to talk about a topic like this, and at risk of calling this Israel Palestine 101, I think we need a little bit of background here.

Jack Russell Weinstein: Absolutely. And I think that like many 101s, there's as much unlearning as there is learning to do. Because often what you hear is that this is a 2000 year old conflict. And the same battle has been taking place, throughout all of history. And that's actually not true. This is about 150 years old and it's not really about religion.

It's about land and it's about. Power and the way to start to understand this is to really talk about World War One. We spent a lot of time talking about World War Two in schools and in the media, but World War One is actually a lot more important because it changed the nature of the globe before World War One.

There weren't nation states in the same way that we think about it now. We didn't think about the world simply in terms of this country or that country. There were empires. There was the Ottoman Empire. There was the Austro Hungarian Empire. There was the Russian Empire. There was the German Empire. And after World War I, these empires broke up in particular the Ottoman Empire, which was run by, which was governed by the Turks.

And the Ottoman Empire controlled this region, which we call the Middle East. And as a way of making up for them being on the wrong side, them being losers, the victors. Cut up the Middle East into a bunch of different countries that didn't necessarily align with culture and religion and people. And they were artificial boundaries.

And this included this area that was called Palestine, which had a mixture of Arabs and Jews. The word Palestinian wasn't really used at this point. That's a newer term. And in the 19th century, there were more Jews than Arabs there. And then there were more Arabs and Jews. And all of a sudden you had this jockeying for position in this jockeying for national identity.

At the same time, there was this movement called Zionism across the world because the Jews were being killed all over the place and the Jews were being kicked out of countries all over the place, and this has been happening for 1500 years. There were 300 years when Jews were not allowed to be in England, which is actually particularly important to the discussion.

And so these young Jewish intellectuals all over the world decided that they needed a country for their own. And they, then they looked at Palestine. And they looked at this area where Jews and Arabs were living together. And they said that given the biblical history and given the fact that Israel is 3-4,000 years old, they started to move into, slowly, and sometimes violently into this area called Palestine and that led to skirmishes. It led to violence. It led to Arabs being kicked out of their homes. It led to all sorts of horrible things for lots of people. And then world war two happened in the Holocaust happened and you had all of these refugees and you'd all these survivors of the Holocaust and nobody wanted them particularly Britain.

So at this point, Britain is is in control of this area and says, okay, we are going to give this area to the Jewish refugees. And in 1940, starting in 1945 until 1948, when Israel was established, all of these refugees went to Israel. And that meant that 750, 000Arabs were moved out of the area and their land was confiscated.

And they are incredibly resentful of that, which is perfectly understandable. And the state of Israel was formed. And so what this is about is this little tiny piece of land that. 750, 000 people were moved out of There are now 5 million Palestinians. There are 3 million in the West Bank and there are 2 million in the Gaza Strip.

And instead of building a new society and instead of, trying to create and work with Israel to create a two state solution, the government of the Palestinian people has made it their entire reason for being to go back in time and get that land back and that traps the Palestinian people in a horrible cycle.

It traps the Israeli people in a horrible cycle, and that's where we are now. We are 150 years later when a terrorist organization runs the Gaza Strip. And they are exploiting the innocent Palestinian people to try to take land back And that puts everybody in a terrible position.

Ashley Thornberg: Lots of threads to pick apart in, in just that first answer, but I want to focus in on what you're saying here. It sounds like to me is that they have been sort of locked in this, you did this, so I'm going to do this. it was more than a thousand people killed just during that October 7th.

Okay. Okay. Attack, but Hamas is saying that was revenge for an Israeli attack on a holy site to people of the Islamic faith. it seems to me that it is just going back and forth. You did this. So I'm going to do this. Is that an egregious oversimplification?

Jack Russell Weinstein: It's not an egregious oversimplification.

It's the rhetoric that people use when they're talking to the press, but it's not accurate. A lot of information is coming out now to suggest that this attack on Israel, which killed 1300 people, including women and children, and now finally confirmation of at least one baby who was beheaded, burnt and beheaded.

And it's really awful and horrible to talk about that. This has been planned for either one to two years in, in cooperation with Iran. and the goal of this particular action was to just simply kill as many Israelis as possible. And is it revenge?I guess we have to distinguish philosophically between reasons and justifications, right?

There are reasons for everything. And there's an explanation, a historical explanation, a social, political, a cultural explanation for all that's happening, but that the fact that there's a reason doesn't mean that there's a justification. And I think it's important from a moral point of view that we just take a minute and say, Nothing in the universe could justify killing 1300 civilians for the sake of just killing them, torturing them, taking now 199 hostages, obviously raping and torturing them.

What? Some of the hostages are said to be as little as nine months old. There's nothing in the world that justifies that. Full stop. And if you, if there are people who, for political reasons, wants to say that's justified, then I think they're monsters. At the same time, this traps Israel into making a response that may very well not be justified either.

To ask a million people to leave their homes, into a place where there's no water, where there's no food, where they're subject to being bombed, where there's at least reputed to use weapons such as white phosphorus, which is against, international law. There's no justification for that either, at least morally and to say that there is, is, also to be monstrous and that's the tit for tat, that's the back and forth because each position, each side is pushing the other side into doing things that's monstrous to the people who aren't making the decisions.

The Gazans who live there now, over 50 percent of palestinians in Gaza are under 18, which means that they didn't vote for Hamas. They're there, because 16 years ago, Hamas was quasi democratically elected, and then there was a civil war and Hamas took power. So how much can you hold the Palestinian citizens responsible for decisions that they didn't make when they have basically a fascist government who's exploiting them for their own interests at the same time?

You have Israelis who are mourning, who are suffering. Israel is a country of just under 10 -million people. And if you adjust the number of people who were killed to compare it to the United States, it would be the equivalent of an attack where about 30, 000 people were killed. and everyone in Israel knows someone who was killed.

Everyone in Israel is in the army. so. What you're asking the Israelis to do when you ask them to restrain themselves in this period of grief and anger and horror is you're asking the Israelis to care about the Palestinians more than the Palestinian government cares about the Palestinians.

You're asking the Israeli government to show restraint when Hamas doesn't show restraint against their own people. Hamas has told the Palestinians to not evacuate to, to, to that, that the fact that Israel is going to bomb them as a lie and at psychological warfare, there's reports now that Hamas is trying to blockade the evacuation.

And so you're asking both parties to Do something that may be morally impossible. You're asking the Gazans to understand why they're being bombed and killed. And you're asking the Gazans to leave their homes and to a place where there are no resources. And part of that is Egypt's fault because Egypt refuses to open the border.

And so what you're asking are human beings to do something that may be fundamentally beyond human capabilities, which is to sacrifice their own lives and their own countries for people who they have been raised to think is the enemy when in fact they should be raised to think of each other as partners.

Ashley Thornberg: It almost sounds like, again, this will be oversimplifying, but the argument that morals supersede laws.

Jack Russell Weinstein: that's the great question, right? you have laws of war, you have the right to defend yourself, you have all these things. But, my family is Jewish and that's very important because Some people are going to listen to that fact if they don't know it already, and they're just going to dismiss everything I say.

They're going to say, Oh, he's a Jew. He's aligned with Israel. he's got nothing of importance to say, or, he's a Jew and he's sympathetic to people in Gaza. And therefore he's a traitor to Israel and we're not going to listen to him. and the fact of the matter is that Jews.

Are not all identical that we don't share all the same. we're not interchangeable and there's a huge peace movement in Israel. There, the Netanyahu government is terrible. And for the last six months, half of Israel has been protesting against the Netanyahu government and Jews all around the world and sympathizers with Israel all around the world are horrified by what is about to happen at the same time.

Palestinians are not all identical and Palestinians are not all interchangeable. And some of them are tremendously sympathetic to the loss of life and had nothing to do with Hamas and had nothing to do with the killing of the babies. And For anyone to think of the Palestinians as simply interchangeable and therefore Europe, you're a Palestinian.

Therefore, your opinion doesn't count. That is equally, destructive to the human experience. And so the first moral question that we face is how much do we treat The people involved in this conflict as individual people with individual agency and individual consequences, every death as a tragedy, every murder, every attack, every, piece of suffering.

Every injustice is a great human tragedy. And how do we ask people to. Do we fall back on international law? Do we feel fall back on platitudes like Israel has a right to defend itself, or do we ask deeper, bigger moral questions? And the fact of the matter is that As it's constructed right now, there is no moral answer as it's constructed right now, nothing is going to fix this problem other than resetting the whole system.

And to do that, you have to involve Iran and get them to change their positions. You have to rethink the entire structure of the Arab world because of course, I don't know how to say this in a way that, that, that is, is acceptable. The Arab world does not think highly of the Palestinians.

The Egyptians could absorb Saudi Arabia, could absorb Iran, could absorb. All of these places could absorb the, and could have at any time absorbed the Palestinian refugees, but they don't want them there. They want them in on the edges of Israel, creating instability.

And they want them as a tool to destabilize Israel so that eventually Israel will cease to exist. Hamas is the worst. of these agents, because Hamas is supposed to represent the people of the Gaza Strip. And what they do is exploit them for fodder. And so to blame Israel solely for what's happening is to ignore the fact that this is a global problem that could be solved.

If you reset the system, but none of the players want to reset the system because none of the players want the Palestinians. The Palestinians want their old land back. And Israel isn't going to give that land back. Just like the United States. Isn't going to give native Americans their land back. Canada.

Isn't going to give first nations their land back. Australia, just Australia just had a referendum to see if the indigenous population, if the aborigines could have a, a voice in their parliament, just an advisory voice and they lost. In Finland, the Sami people are not going to get their land back everywhere in the world.

The indigenous people are screwed and the Palestinians got screwed in 1948 and 1945 And so, the way you started off very, I think, importantly by talking about, my point that the media wants us to look at it. The media wants us to look at this as Israel fighting Palestine and one person is good and one person is bad.

And if Israel would only go away, the Middle East would be free. And if the Palestinians would only lay down their weapons, then Israel and both Palestine would be free. And from a certain point of view, the Israelis and the Palestinians have the least agency in this because the Arab world, the Muslim world, the Persian world, even America could take some of these refugees and try to solve this problem.

Ashley Thornberg: What is a two state solution?

Jack Russell Weinstein: That's a great question. So if you look at the map of Israel. what you get are two divide, you get Israel as a whole, and then you have a strip called the West Bank and on the other side of Israel, you have Gaza and Palestinians live in both of these areas and Gaza is one of the most densely populated places in the world and, Over the period, that Hamas has governed the 16 years that Hamas has governed, they have consistently, tried to invade Israel.

They have dropped missiles over Israel. And so Israel has over the 16 years built walls around Gaza, which is why you'll sometimes hear that it's called an open air prison. And it is an open air prison. In that it is trying to contain, Hamas and, the goal is to give, to unify the two areas of Palestine, the West Bank and Gaza, and have them self govern and have them create their own nation.

That is completely distinct from Israel. And so then you have Israel that exists and Palestine that exists and everyone in theory then goes about their business.

and a two state solution in theory would let the Palestinians govern themselves and then cultivate a peaceful existence.

But what you need then is a democratic, Pluralistic government that cares about the rights of individuals in the Palestinians have never had that.

Ashley Thornberg: We're visiting today with political philosopher, Dr. Jack Russell Weinstein about the Israeli Palestinian war about the latest development in the Israeli Palestinian war. Jack, throughout the first half of this conversation, you talked about international response to this war and some countries recognize Israel as a country and some Either don't or do so with some severe hesitation and Hamas has very much said that they don't recognize Israel.

What does it mean to be pro Israel? Israel. And then later, what does it mean to be anti Israel?

Jack Russell Weinstein: So we talk in shorthand just because it makes life easier. And one of the things that happens when you talk in shorthand is that you destroy nuance. you are saying things simplistically for efficiency, but then you lose the subtlety.

So on the most. Basic level pro Israel means that you believe that Israel has a right to exist and that if Israel has a right to exist and continue existence and that the Israelis have the right to, to, stay in the land and to keep the land that they have, been in since 1948.

Now that's important because part of the Hamas charter is the destruction of Israel, that they want Palestine to have all of the land and that they will not rest until, the entire area is Palestinian and there are no Jews left in Israel now. As a footnote, there are a lot of Palestinian Israelis, there are a lot of Arab Israelis, there are a lot of Christian Israelis.

it isn't just a homogenous, state. it's a very pluralistic, diverse state. So when you say you're pro Israel, what you're saying is that Israel has a right to exist and that you're opposed to the idea that someone can come along, whether it's Hamas or whether it's Iran or whether it's Lebanon and Hezbollah and wipe Israel off the face of the earth.

What it doesn't mean is that Israel has the right to do anything in the world to secure its position. It doesn't mean that Israel is absolved of war crimes. It doesn't mean that Israel is. always right. And it certainly doesn't mean that you agree with the Israeli government, as I pointed out earlier, the Netanyahu government is under unbelievable criticism.

And after all of this is over, the Netanyahu is, is, is, going to face a reckoning because a lot of this was his fault in being incompetent and corrupt and things like that. be pro Israel is to say on some level that Israel has the right to exist, that it has the right to defend itself and that the people in Israel have the right to stay in Israel just like any other country has the right to stay where they are.

To be anti-Israel is on the face of it to say that Israel doesn't have the right to exist, that Israel is a colonizer, that Israel, is occupying these, Palestinian areas, and that the only solution is for Israel and to lead to, to just get up and leave and all the Israelis to either, be moved out or by some extremists, attitudes,to be killed.

And that is again, this simplistic notion that there's a winner and a loser here. And so much of the world is pro Israel in some sense. But they're not happy with the way that Israel has defended itself. Now, that leads to all sorts of complications because you will get criticisms and there's, they're fair to a certain extent that anytime Israel defends itself, people are going to criticize it.

And so these terms end up being shorthands that are more about advertising to your friends what you think than they are about actually taking a position on,actually helping people.

Ashley Thornberg: At the risk of sounding overly flippant in this next question, Jack, when you say that this is a little bit virtue signaling, to your friends. There is this show, on many years ago called Portlandia and it was a sketch comedy show. And they had this sketch once about how to sound smarter than you are.

And it was any time foreign policy got brought up in a conversation, you would just say, yeah. what about Venezuela? And then the next person would just nod and go, well, and you never had to know anything more about Venezuela. Is something similar happening when you are just saying being pro or anti on one side or the other, in, in this conflict that you just are virtue signaling without having to back up what you're talking about.

Jack Russell Weinstein: I think that's absolutely right. And I think that what ends up happening is that people will take a single fact or a single ideological position and shout it over and over again. And the fact of the matter is that as someone who has cared about this and read about this and obviously is in a position to talk about it in the radio, every time I read something, I learn something new.

The level of detail, the level of complexity, the level of. historical nuance and geopolitical nuance and moral nuance involved in this is so completely overwhelming that the average person, even the average person with a position really has no idea what they're talking about. And one of the reasons why they have no idea why they're talking about is that neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians get to speak for themselves.

The voices of Israel are dismissed by anti Israeli positions, the voices of Palestine are dismissed by pro Israel positions, and it just becomes a shouting match, and so then you get things like the march in Sydney, Australia, where a bunch of pro Palestinian protesters were marching, screaming, Gas the Jews and F the Jews, right?

those people are just morons and I understand why people are offended by that and I understand why it scares certain people, but I just dismiss those people because they're idiots and at the same time, the person who holds the position that Israel has the right to do carte blanche, anything it needs in order to fight its war and who Consider all Palestinians animals and every Palestinian is culpable for what's doing in in Hamas.

I think that, that those people have to be disregarded as well. My fundamental , and this is Jack speaking here. You know me as a person. My fundamental position on, on, on all this stuff is that the fundamental problem is that a fanatic is a fanatic. Is a fanatic. I have much more in common with a liberal Muslim or a secular Muslim than I have with a religious Orthodox Jew. I believe in enlightenment principles, I believe that women and men have equal rights, that a woman should be allowed to wear what she wants and participate in governments and that gays and lesbians and people of all stripes are allowed to live freely and express themselves.

And many Muslims around the world agree with me. Just like many Christians do, but there are many extremist Jews and extremist Muslims and extremist Christians who don't believe in these Enlightenment principles and Hamas is one of those groups that doesn't believe in these Enlightenment principles.

principles. Iran doesn't believe in these enlightened principles. And the very, very right wing Israeli government doesn't believe in these principles. And so I think that we would all be better off instead of thinking of this conflict as. Israelis versus Palestinians or Jews versus Muslims. I think if we can think of this as another battle between the extremists and the reasonable people that we would have a better sense of understanding the humanity and solving the problem.

One of the many great tragedies is that a lot of the people who were killed in the Hamas attack in Israel were peace activists, were people who volunteered and went into the Palestinian territories and would drive, Palestinian folks, would volunteer to drive Palestinians folks to the hospital and to other things that the very people that Hamas killed were the people who were the Israelis who were the most sympathetic to the Palestinian plight.

Why? Because Hamas sees all Israelis and certainly all Jews as completely interchangeable and it doesn't matter if they're nine months and it doesn't matter if they're a right winger or if it doesn't matter if they're a left winger. They're all interchangeable and Hamas just wants to kill them all. And when Israelis are faced with that, then they are going to act in an extreme fashion as well because no one is going to solve this problem.

And Israel has toget rid of Hamas. They can't live next to Hamas anymore because Hamas has become ISIS. Hamas has become inhumane and the most egregious, horrendous level. And so if there was just some way, and I don't know, I don't have an answer to how this is, but if there was just some way.

To create partnerships between the moderate, peace loving Israelis and the moderate, peace loving Palestinians, then what we could do is we could outnumber and out, I don't know, argue, out vote, the extremist elements that have no consideration for the humanity of individuals.

Ashley Thornberg: Jack, that answer harkens back to something that you mentioned earlier in that this boundary for these nations as they were created was they were instituted without regard to the people groups that were there and you see this even in Chimamanda Adichie's novels that Nigeria is not the same as the Igbo and the Yoruba people and this legacy of colonization and creating nations and political boundaries,that don't take into account the people groups that are, that long predate the concept of a nation state here.

And you're saying that, but also you have said, these are people who just want to go back to pre the creation of Israel and things would be fine. But I wonder, is it helpful to look at this in that sort of backwards age that if colonization had never happened, all world problems would be fine.

Jack Russell Weinstein: There's an old Yiddish expression,'if my grandmother had wheels, she'd be a bus.' Hypothetically, if we could rewrite time, then The victors in World War One would have been infinitely more sympathetic to the nuances of culture. They wouldn't have looked at all Arabs as identical. They would have made better decisions about borders.

They would have made better decisions about national identity. They would have involved the Arabs. In the discussion, as opposed to doing it, just themselves. So absolutely the root of all of this or one of the two roots of all of this is colonization and the violence and the horrendousness of the decolonization process.

With that said, there is a longer, bigger and more intractable problem. And that's the problem of antisemitism. The Jews would still have needed a place to go. Because nobody wanted the Jews and because people would kill the Jews. And one of the things that is motivating Israel and the Israelis right now is that this slaughter of 1300 Israelis is the largest, massacre since the Holocaust.

And there's an expression that I heard someone say that, that was, Israel doesn't exist because the Holocaust, the Holocaust happened because Israel didn't exist. In all of human history, there has been one Jewish state, and that's Israel and its existence since 1948. it depends on how you interpret the Bible and King David and stuff,but excluding biblical stories, there's been one Jewish state.

And this is it. And it's the only place where Jews are 100 percent free to be Jews, even in the United States. It's hard to be a Jew. It's hard to be a Jew in North Dakota. and that's a conversation for another time. And the largest population of Jews outside of Israel live in the United States.

So there would still have been the problem of where did the Jews go when nobody wanted the Jews. Now, could the United States have given Montana to the Jews? Could Poland have given all of Poland to the Jews? No one's going to do that. There's a wonderful book by Michael Chabon called the, the Yiddish Policeman's Union that has an alternative history where Alaska was given to the Jews after World War II.

And it's a wonderful book. And the problem of anti Semitism, other than misogyny, other than sexism is the oldest prejudice in the world. And as long as the Jews don't have a state where they can be safe and they can be Jews, there is always going to be a problem. And Jews are always going to be the minority.

If you look, I think that, I think the number of. percentage of Jews in the United States is 0. 02%. I may be making that number up, but it's not like that. There, there are 13 million Jews in the world. out of what, 7 billion people now, maybe it's up to 16 million, but I think it's 13 million.

The Jews have to have a place where people aren't killing them, where people aren't harassing them in the street in the United States. Now, we spent a lot of time talking about Islamophobia, but the largest group of religious hate crimes is against Jews.

It's not against Muslims in the United States. And that number has been increasing drastically over the years. You and I have talked about this on philosophical currents. And so even if you overlook colonization even if the powers in world war one, and world war two had done everything right, there still would be this fundamental question that, and I'm speaking in extremes here, but I have to say it this way and we can follow up if you want.

Nobody likes the Jews and nobody wants the Jews in their backyard. And so where do you put the Jews when every piece of land is occupied? And at the time Britain decided, the Zionists decided, the world community decided that the best place to put them was the place that had biblical roots because they are indigenous peoples, just like the Arabs are indigenous peoples.

And there were already a large concentration of Jews there and the Ottoman Empire had broken up and then World War II had happened and colonization is a tremendously, the colonialism is a horrendous history. And has is cause of horrendous violence and conflict in the world. and it should have been resolved better, but that doesn't change the fact that you still have this problem of where do the Jews get to live?

And if the only place they get to live free to be Jews is under constant attack under siege by all of the Arabs that surround them constantly being bartered by missiles. Then what you're going to get is a people who are raised to defend their own existence at all cost. And while that often supersedes morality, and while I personally, and many Jews don't agree with the extremes that Israel will go to, as human beings, I think we all have to understand that there is a certain naturalness to that extreme reaction, because Every fight that Israel has fought since 1948 has been for its own existence.

That doesn't change the fact that there are very similar problems in Palestine and that the Palestinians are trapped in a, in poverty and unemployment. And poor education system and fascist propaganda,

And that if you're raised in that culture, that's what you're raised to,to believe. And so I don't know, if the UN was to step in and control Gaza and the West Bank for a while until there was a stable democratic society. The first thing that they would have to do was revamp the Palestinian education system so that there could be empathy for the Israelis, just like Israel needs to have empathy for the Palestinians. So again, colonialization is a horrendous problem and a root cause, but so is antisemitism. And until the Jews are given freedom to live as Jews, This is always going to be a problem.

I want to thank you for taking on this topic because it's scary. And I just, I know that whatever I say, it's going to be wrong in the eyes of some people.

And I just want to remind folks that as a philosopher, my job is to recognize the humanity of all people, first and foremost, and international politics and international relations, Is both a pragmatic, reality and the tension in philosophy is the tension between the world that should be in the world that is, and we have to live with the world that is, and try to do our best with it.

And that's what I tried to do in this interview.

Ashley Thornberg: Do you think that you did that fairly? And I'm thinking back to your answer where you called people who were vehemently, anti. Semantic as idiots. And then you said, but Israelis who are going after Palestines should be disregarded. That's not the same level, of language there.

Jack Russell Weinstein: I, you know that, that's fair.

A lot of people overreact because they want attention and a lot of people overreact because they don't know better. And I would much rather call those people idiots because I don't think that they're acting in good faith.

I think the extremist folks in Israel are acting in good faith. I just think that what they call good faith is fundamentally, profoundly immoral by my standards. And so, I think, in almost all instances, the most extreme positions need to be disregarded. I don't have any objection to people yelling and screaming.

Yell and scream all you want. Don't kill people. Don't throw rocks at people. Don't bomb people. Don't starve people. The vast majority of Israelis want peace, and the vast majority of Israelis want a two state solution with peaceful, good intentioned neighbors, and I the vast And it destroys me that Israel as a whole and that Jews as a whole are equated with the most extreme hawkish Israel, Israelis, and it tears me apart that Hamas has put Israel in a corner and that Israel May have no choice, but to do what they're doing.

And that's where the limits of my expertise falls apart because understand war strategy. I don't understand the details of tactics. I can't see the future. I just know that Hamas has done what all terrorist organizations have to do, which is Take their targets and force their targets to act in the most extreme and most violent manner in order to garner sympathy for the terrorists.

And I don't think anyone should have sympathy for Hamas. And I don't think anyone should have sympathy for anyone who murders innocent people and who killed people. Babies and shoot them and rape hostages. I don't think anyone should have sympathy for those people. But I do think people should have sympathy for the civilians and the Palestinians who are trapped in a system where they have no voice and Hamas is acting in their name when given their choices, they would want to live free and in peace as well.

Ashley Thornberg: Philosopher Dr. Jack Russell Weinstein, a Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the University of North Dakota. Thanks for joining us today.

Jack Russell Weinstein: Thank you.

Ashley Thornberg: And a reminder that we are efforting hearing from someone who would represent a Palestinian point of view while again stressing that the points of the philosophical currents a segment is about how to look at this from a more human and moral perspective and the fact that Weinstein is Jewish is coincidental.

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