Meet the flack: Steve Hunegs
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Steve Hunegs’ formal title is the Executive Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council. What he really is though is the district manager and head flack for the state of Israel in Minnesota and the Dakotas. In that capacity, he was recently tasked by Israel’s Consul General, the regional manager for Israel in Chicago, to show a film in his home (“Oct. 7 denial is dangerous to decency, truth,” Star Tribune, December 22nd paper edition), apparently entirely produced by Israel, without any confirmation by independent media or anybody else, about the Hamas incursion and attack in Israel on October 7th. [I fixed the broken link; sorry.]
To my knowledge, there was no independent reporting or investigation in the immediate aftermath of those attacks. We must rely entirely on the credibility of Israel and its IDF. If you read the story on Chris Hedges’ Substack at the link, you’ll understand why it’s dodgy to rely on that credibility. (“Israel’s Culture of Deceit”)
Hamas admits – well, boasts – that it carried out an attack that day; it obviously happened, but we are left to wonder about its dimensions: the actual number killed, how many were soldiers vs. civilians, how many Hamas fighters were counted among the dead, the number of hostages taken, etc. We’ll agree, though, that it was terrorism.
Hamas obviously didn’t think it was going to topple the Israeli regime that day. If its purpose was to startle Israel and its citizens out of the belief it could manage the Palestinians with its regime (there’s that word again) of apartheid, violence, and genocide on the installment plan, it was a spectacular success. Nobody in Israel believes anymore that the Palestinians and Hamas are going to go gentle into that good night.
Terrorism is the tool of the weak. Why don’t they come out and fight like men? to paraphrase our bilious Secretary of State, Tony Blinken. Because they don’t have tanks, armored vehicles and airplanes equipped with 2,000 pound bombs? Yeah, that’s probably it.
A favorite scene of mine in the movie, The Battle of Algiers, about the revolution to rid Algeria of French colonialism, goes like this:
At the height of the street fighting in Algiers, the French stage a press conference for a captured FLN leader. “Tell me, general,” a Parisian journalist asks the revolutionary, “do you not consider it cowardly to send your women carrying bombs in their handbags, to blow up civilians?” The rebel replies in a flat tone of voice: “And do you not think it cowardly to bomb our people with napalm [substitute 2,000 bombs]?” A pause. “Give us your airplanes and we will give you our women and their handbags.”
The sneering Tony Blinken reminds me of the sneering French journalist. You will recall who won the war in Algeria in the end.
(As an aside, I cannot recommend The Battle of Algiers enough. It is very intense; don’t watch it with your kids. But watch it. You can stream it for a couple of bucks.)
Sometimes, terrorism works. Without it, Algeria would still be a French colony. Black people in South Africa would still be suffering under the repressive apartheid regime if it wasn’t for the activities – including terrorism – of the African National Congress and Nelson Mandela. Mandela won the Nobel Peace Prize, if you’ve forgotten.
As did Menachem Begin and Yassir Arafat. Begin, a member of the Stern Gang in the years leading up to the founding of Israel, was part of the group that blew up the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, with a bunch of British soldiers in it, which encouraged Britain to abandon the Protectorate of Palestine, created after the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire at the end of the First World War. Israel exists partly, maybe mostly, because of the terrorist activities of Begin and the Stern gang.
Perhaps everybody ought to get off their high horses about terrorism here and recognize that if the Palestinians, and the Gazans especially, have a beef – and they do – they’re just using the only tools available to them. Which brings us back to District Manager Hunegs.
Hunegs, in the op-ed linked above, wails that people have forgotten about the events of October 7th, preferring to focus on the astonishing violence, disproportionate response, and collective punishment visited on the population of Gaza; well, he doesn’t call it that, but never mind. Many people, not killed by the 2,000 pound bombs, will die from hunger or thirst, or their wounds and disease. Among the things destroyed by Israel is the health care system in Gaza, virtually lock, stock, and barrel. People die conveniently faster if they don’t have access to food and water, sanitation, or medical care.
Most of the residents of Gaza, the ones who remain alive anyway, no longer have a home to return to.
These are all features of the flogging of Gaza, not bugs. Never doubt it. Hunegs says, though, we’re all losing the tree of Israel in the genocidal forest of Gaza, and it’s so unfair. His complaint is bitterly laughable.
I do wonder if District Manager Hunegs and his bosses back in Israel recognize that Israel has lost the public relations war – and lost it badly – in the diaspora and generally around the world. This will clearly affect Israel’s future prospects and will label it a pariah in many quarters. (And menacing for the Biden administration, the public relations war has been especially lost among young people: the cohort that gave Joe Biden the highest percentage of their votes in 2020.) It’s the best explanation I have for Hunegs’ self-pitying diatribe.
I haven’t even mentioned Hunegs and the JCRC’s efforts to suppress dissent and urge the punishment of those who do dissent from the genocide of Israel and the United States’ enabling of it. That’s for another day.
Update 12/27: The JCRC’s mission of suppression of pro-Palestinian sentiment is to make sure Zionists don’t feel bad.
Update 1/2/24: Here’s a coda to the remarks about Israel’s propaganda war after October 7th:
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