ANDREW NEIL: In what moral universe can the hard Left’s poster boy justify watching the Hamas massacre video – then sowing seeds of doubt about its horrors?
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Even battle-hardened war correspondents have winced and shed tears — I certainly did — watching the harrowing 43-minute video documenting the barbarism of Hamas on October 7.

It was spliced together by the Israel Defence Force (IDF) from Hamas’s own bodycam, dashboard and mobile-phone footage, as they proudly recorded their atrocities.

Now there’s a new video on YouTube about that day which, in a very different way, is also difficult to watch, though in this case it’s more likely to make you retch than cry.

It’s a 25-minute monologue (though it seems much longer than that) by Owen Jones, a prominent voice of the Guardian bourgeois hard Left and on-off Corbynista, which addresses the contents of the IDF’s video.

While accepting — several times — that Hamas did indeed commit war crimes on that terrible first Saturday of October, Jones nevertheless proceeds to nitpick, undermine, question and sow seeds of suspicion about the veracity of parts of the video. It is a worrying, disturbing, chilling, often irrational performance which descends into incoherence as it reaches its weary end.

While accepting ¿ several times ¿ that Hamas did indeed commit war crimes on that terrible first Saturday of October, Jones nevertheless proceeds to nitpick, undermine, question and sow seeds of suspicion about the veracity of parts of the video, writes ANDREW NEIL

While accepting — several times — that Hamas did indeed commit war crimes on that terrible first Saturday of October, Jones nevertheless proceeds to nitpick, undermine, question and sow seeds of suspicion about the veracity of parts of the video, writes ANDREW NEIL

Hamas was globally condemned after its attack on southern Israel on October 7. Pictured: A destroyed home riddled with bullets, following the deadly October 7 attack

Hamas was globally condemned after its attack on southern Israel on October 7. Pictured: A destroyed home riddled with bullets, following the deadly October 7 attack

Israel's iron dome intercepts rockets from the Gaza Strip after a humanitarian pause came to an end this week

Israel’s iron dome intercepts rockets from the Gaza Strip after a humanitarian pause came to an end this week

Israeli flares light the sky above Khan Yunis, southern Gaza on December 1 as fighting resumed following the seven-day truce

Israeli flares light the sky above Khan Yunis, southern Gaza on December 1 as fighting resumed following the seven-day truce

Israeli soldiers look at photos of people killed and taken captive by Hamas militants

Israeli soldiers look at photos of people killed and taken captive by Hamas militants

Jones regards the IDF video as Israeli propaganda designed to justify the death and suffering that it has since rained down on northern Gaza in retaliation for October 7.

If that is its purpose, then it has clearly failed. As the death toll of civilians, including thousands of women and children, mounted while much of Gaza City was reduced to rubble, public opinion across the globe has turned against Israel, as it always does when it responds to some terrorist atrocity.

Even America, the only ally that matters to Israel, is insisting that — with hostilities breaking out again now hostage swaps are over — the IDF must be more careful, considered and proportionate in its efforts to wipe out Hamas.

Israel has indicated it is listening and will behave differently in the next phase of its war on Hamas. But Jones is wrong. The real purpose of the video was not to pave the way for Israel’s invasion of Gaza. It was to show the world exactly what Israel is up against.

How can you negotiate with people capable of such barbarism? What is the point when the Hamas leadership has already pledged to launch more October 7s the moment it has re-established the capacity to do so.

Its aim is not to force Israel to the bargaining table but to wipe it off the map. It revels in killing Jews simply because they are Jews. Exactly what kind of ‘peace deal’ can you do with people committed to your extermination?

Throughout his long ramble, oddly cold and calculating, Jones fails to confront or respond to any of these points. Instead, he concentrates — curiously, perhaps even immorally — on trying to establish that, though Hamas are indeed evil, perhaps they are not quite as evil as the Israelis are making out . . . and anyway there are lots of evil Israelis too.

It has long been an outrageous conceit of the British hard Left — and proof positive of its moral bankruptcy — that Hamas, a bloodthirsty terrorist group, and the IDF, the military arm of a thriving, disputatious democracy under constant threat, are two sides of the same coin.

Jones is certainly keen to give Hamas the benefit of the doubt and cut its killers the sort of slack he would never grant the IDF. He accepts that Israeli women and children were massacred but is strangely keen to point out that the IDF video provides no ‘conclusive evidence’ that babies were beheaded, women raped and children killed ‘intentionally’. What kind of bizarre mindset, what sort of moral vacuum leads anybody to posit such crazy caveats?

‘If there was rape and sexual violence committed,’ he asserts, ‘we don’t see this on the footage.’ It doesn’t seem to have crossed his mind that even Hamas might be a bit wary of recording rape or sexual assault.

Or that the IDF, if it has such footage, would be reluctant to show it, given the intense anguish it would cause families already suffering the incalculable pain of bereavement.

Nor does he confront the fact that there is plenty of other testimony that such attacks took place. It’s hard not to conclude that no normal person would think this way.

Throughout his long ramble, oddly cold and calculating, Jones fails to confront or respond to questions as to how Israel is able to negotiate with its barbaric attackers

Throughout his long ramble, oddly cold and calculating, Jones fails to confront or respond to questions as to how Israel is able to negotiate with its barbaric attackers

Pictured: Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Pictured: Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Residents and personnel conduct search and rescue works continue in the rubble of the destroyed building after the end of the week-long 'humanitarian pause' in Rafah, Gaza

Residents and personnel conduct search and rescue works continue in the rubble of the destroyed building after the end of the week-long ‘humanitarian pause’ in Rafah, Gaza

What is the point of claiming that, though many children died on October 7, the video doesn’t always make it clear if it was the result of reckless firing or deliberate targeting?

That just because we see a young woman’s burnt corpse with no underwear and a pool of blood, it doesn’t mean she was raped? I’m sure that’s a great comfort to her family. It is true some Israelis were sadly killed by the IDF as it rushed to defend its citizens from Hamas, the sort of collateral damage that often tragically happens in the chaos of war. But why does that in any way exculpate Hamas? They wouldn’t be dead if Hamas had not attacked.

Jones is not indifferent to the suffering and carnage of October 7. He admits to being ‘ashen-faced, horrified, disgusted’ when he left the IDF screening.

He details one of the video’s worst scenes — a father in his underpants trying to escape Hamas with his two young boys. They make it to their security shelter but, before they can close the door, one of their attackers lobs in a grenade. The father is killed. The boys emerge injured and bloodied. One has lost an eye. Hamas doesn’t kill them, Jones points out.

Is he trying to imply they are not quite the child-killers Israel would have us believe. If so, it is a contemptible position.

Jones is not averse to propaganda of his own.

He twice knocks down the idea that 40 babies were beheaded by Hamas. But I’m not aware of any official claims in that regard.

I have seen estimates that 40 children were killed on October 7 and some babies might have been beheaded.

But why waste time and effort knocking down claims no credible person is making. Are we meant to look more kindly on Hamas because, though they undoubtedly killed toddlers, maybe they didn’t behead them?

The video covers two beheadings. There is footage of an Israeli soldier with no head. Jones also mentions footage of an ‘unsuccessful attempt’ to behead a ‘dying Thai migrant worker’.

Rather than pausing to take in the hellish enormity of these pictures, Jones ruminates that we can’t be sure in either case that beheading was the cause of death or claim that this proves beyond doubt that Hamas used beheading as a ‘form of execution’.

I am too baffled to understand in what possible moral universe this matters. Unless, of course, you are trying to establish that Hamas does not equal Isis.

Smoke rises from buildings due to Israeli airstrikes after the humanitarian pause ended on December 01, 2023 in Rafah, Gaza

Smoke rises from buildings due to Israeli airstrikes after the humanitarian pause ended on December 01, 2023 in Rafah, Gaza

An injured Palestinian child is taken to the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital to receive treatment after Israeli attacks in Deir al-Balah, Gaza

An injured Palestinian child is taken to the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital to receive treatment after Israeli attacks in Deir al-Balah, Gaza

Jones certainly doesn’t like Hamas being compared to Nazis. He states that explicitly — and unconvincingly. After all, what happened on October 7 was a carbon copy of Nazi pogroms of the Jews, when Jewish communities were slaughtered simply for the sin of being Jewish — which is, of course, exactly the modus operandi of Hamas, now proudly responsible for the single biggest slaughter of Jews since the Nazis were consigned to dust.

Jones ends up a tad deranged as his video comes to its conclusion. In his determination to undermine the impact of the IDF video he drags in, confusingly, the behaviour of Bosnian Serbs in the 1990s and loudmouthed Israelis today (quickly slapped down) calling for Hamas to be nuked — everything, bar the kitchen sink.

He claims that atrocities can be carried out by ordinary people — just like us — oblivious to the fact that Hamas rears its people on a relentless diet of anti-Semitic hatred from an early age and it is that indoctrination which gave us the horror of October 7.

It is fair to say Jones has experienced some pushback for his video nasty. He is threatening legal action against unspecified critics, claiming they have unleashed a new wave of threats of death and violence on him.

That is a disgrace and he deserves the full protection of the law, though when once, in a TV studio, I commended him on his fortitude against thuggish detractors my reward was to be accused by him of promulgating Right-wing views which I did not commission, publish or support.

The fact is, Jones, the hard-Left’s poster boy, is too obsessive to be conciliatory and too ideological to build bridges.



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