Victor Davis Hanson on the Israel-Hamas War

Victor Davis Hanson on the Israel-Hamas War
Victor Davis Hanson, classicist, military historian, and author of "The Dying Citizen," in Visalia, Calif. on Feb. 7, 2023.(York Du/The Epoch Times)
Jan Jekielek
Jeff Minick
In a recent episode of “American Thought Leaders,” host Jan Jekielek speaks with classicist and military historian Victor Davis Hanson about the Israel-Hamas war, its effects on global politics, and the exposure of anti-Semitism, especially in American universities. Mr. Hanson is a bestselling author whose upcoming book is titled “The End of Everything: How Wars Descend into Annihilation.”
Jan Jekielek: Victor, I want to do a primer here on what’s happening in the Middle East and with the Israel-Hamas War, and how you view this.
Victor Davis Hanson: Israel has reached a zenith in terms of affluence and leisure. Anybody who goes to Haifa would be astounded. I was just there, and it made San Francisco look pathetic in comparison. It was clean, crime-free, and prosperous. People were out walking at midnight.

They had the Accords with the Saudis, the resurrected Abraham Accords, and they were exuberant. Israelis in government and commerce would say, “In the last two years we have 20,000 Gazans working for us. We haven’t had any trouble. We’re teaching them methods of sophisticated agriculture. We’re going to be friends with the Saudis.”

After the Biden administration stopped all the sanctions, Iran had $50 to $70 billion in additional oil revenues. We were giving them sanction relief. Obama had done that, but Trump had stopped it. The Israelis knew abstractly how much Hamas was getting in money, rockets, weapons, but they didn’t conceptualize that as threats to the IDF. That gave an opening for Hamas.

And so Hamas thought, “We’re going to attack during the holiday early in the morning when they’re not expecting it, and we’re going to be brutal in a way no one’s ever imagined before. We’re going to decapitate, desecrate, rape, and mutilate. We’re going to be so pre-civilizational that we’ll shock them into terror.” That was their mentality.

They also realized that they have a whole expatriate community of Middle Eastern people throughout Europe and the United States. They thought they could get away with this because the universities and institutions of Western society are pretty much controlled by the pro-Palestinian Left.

They were right in all those assumptions. They only made one mistake—they miscalculated the Israeli response, which is what we’re watching today. Hamas is going to be destroyed.

Mr. Jekielek: I’ve read some compelling analysis about how the U.S. empowerment of Iran may have played a significant role in this.
Mr. Hanson: When the sanctions were relieved, Iran had the disposable income to arm Hamas and Hezbollah to levels that no one had ever imagined possible. At this juncture, Iran is also thinking, “We have new allies in the Chinese and the Russians. The Obama idea of a Shia Crescent of Tehran, Damascus, Beirut, and Gaza is actuated, and the U.S. government has a non-compos mentis president.” So just as Hamas misjudged the geo-strategic landscape and the mentality in Israel, so has Iran.
Mr. Jekielek: Let’s look at the domestic situation for a moment. It seems odd that Palestinian Islamists would be on the same side as the far-Left.
Mr. Hanson: It’s perplexing. If a trans American student went over there with a ring in his nose and purple hair, he would be shot. Meanwhile, if somebody leaves the Middle East on a student visa or a green card, they come to the West, where they can be secure, prosperous, and free. No sooner do they get here, and they’re cheering those same governments they left.

More than a thousand people were mutilated and butchered before the IDF responded. Yet that ignited these people on the campus to root for the people who were murdering and beheading. Their instinct, training, and ideology was so perverted that this was their natural Pavlovian response.

The students don’t know anything. If you gave them a map of the Middle East, they wouldn’t know the difference between Oman and Tel Aviv. Yet they’re espousing these ideas. It’s going to get worse as this war goes on, and they have no idea what the public thinks of them.

Mr. Jekielek: What does a ground offensive mean?
Mr. Hanson: I think the Israeli IDF is trying to make Hamas and Hezbollah think they’re going to come in with block-by-block Stalingrad-type fighting. But I think they’re going to occupy an area, blow up the tunnels, dispose of the Hamas apparatus, and then move somewhere else. On any given day, the Hamas defenders will have no idea which neighborhood or tunnel of Gaza City is going to be targeted. It will be much more sophisticated than everybody is suggesting.
Mr. Jekielek: A lot of anti-Semitism has come out of the woodwork. Was it just there waiting, or is this a new thing?
Mr. Hanson: There has always been anti-Semitism, but this time around, it’s on the Left, and the institutions are not the watchdogs; they’re promoting it. So The New York Times and The Washington Post print the false story about the hospital bombing in Gaza.

More insidiously, it’s coming from people under our new Obama-Biden progressive paradigm of DEI with its binary ideology. The whole world, particularly the United States, is bifurcated into oppressors/oppressed, victimizers/victims, and colonialist/subject. In that breakdown, Israel is constructed as white, capitalist, successful, and Western. The Palestinians are the victims, non-white, poor, and exploited. There’s no nuance.

The university with its Left-wing dogma is the Dr. Frankenstein that helped create this monster. That monster is now devouring them, as you can see by the feeble reactions of college presidents.

What would it take for one of them to say, “On my campus, you’re not going to separate students by race, or you will be fired immediately. On my campus, you’re not going to call Jews pigs and excrement.”

The lunatics are running the asylum on campus, and the administrators are terrified of them.

This interview was edited for clarity and brevity.
Jan Jekielek is a senior editor with The Epoch Times, host of the show “American Thought Leaders” and co-host of “FALLOUT” with Dr. Robert Malone and “Kash’s Corner” with Kash Patel. Jan’s career has spanned academia, international human rights work, and now for almost two decades, media. He has interviewed nearly a thousand thought leaders on camera, and specializes in long-form discussions challenging the grand narratives of our time. He’s also an award-winning documentary filmmaker, producing “The Unseen Crisis: Vaccine Stories You Were Never Told,” “DeSantis: Florida vs. Lockdowns,” and “Finding Manny.”
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