After Hamas's widescale attack on Israel on October 7, 2023, some Arab intellectuals have taken to social media platforms to strongly condemn it. They are asserting that the attack is aligned with Iran's regional agendas, hinders peace efforts and initiatives, and intensifies the suffering of the Palestinian people. They emphasized that the distressing videos showing the brutality of the attack, the abuse of Israeli civilians, and the abduction of elderly people have had a catastrophic impact on communities worldwide that are sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, particularly in the Western world.
Furthermore, these intellectuals, mostly Gulf Arabs, have also countered the arguments put forth by Hamas supporters on social media calling for Arab unity against Israel.
This report will highlight Arab intellectuals' reactions to the attack, and will analyze their assessments of its short-term and long-term consequences for the region and for the Palestinian population, as well as their rebuttals to the arguments made by Hamas supporters on social media.
Assessing the long-term catastrophic impact of the Hamas attack, Saudi writer and social media influencer Dr. Mohamad Bin Hamud Al-Hadla (@ drmohamadalhdla) argued that the Hamas attack, which he called "foolish," will not help liberate Palestine. He stressed that it has benefited only the Iranian regime.
On October 9, 2023, he wrote on his X (formerly Twitter) account to his more than 82,000 followers: "Illusory and false victories do not liberate a homeland. Hamas's foolish and ill-conceived actions did not serve the Palestinian cause or the Palestinian people. The international sympathy that the Palestinian people were anticipating have been in vain. The only one benefiting from Hamas's crime is Iran, which thwarted Saudi efforts to resolve the crisis. Another beneficiary is Israel, which gained significant international sympathy after Hamas killed innocent men, women, and children and displayed it to the world. This will cause long-term damage to the Palestinian cause and its just demands, and on the ground, the price will be destruction and devastation, increasing the suffering of Palestinians for decades."
In an October 8, 2023 post on his X account, where he has over 24,000 followers, Saudi researcher and author Dr. Turki Al-Raj'an accused Hamas of forming alliances and taking orders from international forces and terrorist organizations, in order to protect their mutual interests at the expense of the Palestinian people. He wrote: "Hamas and other factions in Palestine engage in thuggery in all its forms in the region, forming alliances with other international forces and terrorist parties. They take orders from them in pursuit of mutual interests. The result is international conflicts against nations, all of which undermine peace efforts in the region. The ones paying the price for this thuggery are the Palestinian people."
In another post, Al-Raj'an called for the ousting of the terrorists from Gaza and urged those who support them and endorse their attacks to go live in Palestine. On October 8, 2023, he published a post titled "Remove the terrorists from Gaza" in which he stated: "Who benefits from the chaos caused by the terrorists, Hamas, and their henchmen? What is the fault of the civilian Palestinians who are killed alongside these terrorists and troublemakers? Who loses in these events? Who empowers these factions? Unfortunately, there is support for Hamas and the factions from countries in the region, and others who pretend to be on your side, but in reality, it's in spite of the efforts made in the region for stability.”
"A message to Arabs and Muslims who applaud the actions of Hamas and the factions in Palestine: These issues are not about favoring one side over the other. I call upon you, those who applaud terrorist acts, to go to Palestine if you are honorable. But you lack honor. The truth is that you are no different from the Muslim Brotherhood, who used to encourage youth to go to conflict zones while they enjoyed the comfort of others' suffering. Palestine will not be liberated by empty slogans."
Saudi journalist Saleh Al-Fahid, who has nearly 17,000 followers on X, has gone so far as to urge Israel to completely eradicate Hamas, capitalizing on the global support it has received. He argued that if Israel doesn't take this opportunity, the group is likely to launch another attack, sooner or later, "depending on the urgency or demands of its Iranian sponsors."
On October 11, 2023, he wrote on X: "If Israel doesn't capitalize on international solidarity and support at this time to completely eliminate Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and to free Gaza from their control, it will miss an opportunity that may never come again. Any end to the current conflict that doesn't achieve this outcome means we are destined to face another one sooner or later, depending on the needs and interests of their Iranian puppeteers. The Palestinian people do not deserve to have their cause manipulated by organizations and factions that have become mere tools and proxies for the Iranians."
Jasser Al-Madhi, another Saudi social media influencer with over 320,000 followers on X, emphasized the stark reality that Hamas leaders and their families would not suffer the consequences of the October 7, 2023 attack, as they don't reside in Gaza – but that it is the Palestinian people who will bear the brunt of the bombings and displacement.
In an October 10,. 2023 post, he stated: "Well, dear activist, who pays the price for the orders of Hamas leaders who reside in five-star hotels more than 3,000 kilometers away from the conflict zone? Do these reckless actions soothe your conscience, regardless of the number of casualties, the loss of land, the creation of new refugee camps, and other losses? What victory is being achieved now, or what desired benefit? If a thousand Israelis killed, tens of thousands of Gazans are buried under the rubble, some already deceased, while others cry out, awaiting death! It's an unequal battle, with leaders outside the borders; countries that claim to support you have abandoned you, and only Saudi Arabia remains active in trying to stop this hemorrhage. The electronic flies attack anyone who resorts to wisdom and rejects escalation; their voices fill social media platforms. Meanwhile, the Palestinians, who are living a hellish nightmare, have no voice because they are drowning in blood, darkness, and complete isolation from the outside world."
In post directed to his more than 80,000 followers on October 11, 2023, Egyptian artist and filmmaker Sherif Gaber predicted that Israel would seize control of Gaza. He asserted that such an action would be considered "a very typical response from a nation possessing nuclear capabilities when faced with embarrassment caused by individuals riding motorcycles."
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On October 9, 2023, Saudi political researcher Abdulhameed Al-Hakeem expressed his views on what he considers the most significant consequence of the October 7, 2023, Hamas attack. He wrote: "The rules of the game in the conflict between Israel and Gaza have changed. Netanyahu's political demise, the failure of the Abraham Accords, and Saudi Arabia's heightened demands on the peace negotiation table, playing a challenging mediator role between Hamas and Israel, isolating Gaza from Iran through the art of diplomacy."
Some have argued that the Hamas attack was poorly calculated, pointing to the disparity in power between Hamas and Israel. Some have even gone as far as comparing it to the September 11, 2001 attacks, suggesting that it will be the impoverished who bear the brunt of its consequences.
On October 7, 2023, retired Saudi officer Mohammad Al-Awdah Al-Dakhil wrote on his X account: "Rash and ill-considered operations, not much different from the September 11 attacks, might be concealed conspiracies influenced by the political interests of other nations. If you are not on par with your opponent (Cease your actions and turn to prayer...), it is the common people who will bear the burden of hardship and bitterness... and it is to God that we turn for assistance."
Emirati social media influencer "Khalifa" blamed Hamas for the destruction and loss of lives in Gaza, and accused the group of using religion to brainwash the people there. He stated in an October 9, 2023 post on his X account: "All the destruction and loss of life and property in Gaza is caused by the foolishness, ignorance, and idiocy of the rogue terrorist organizations that govern Gaza and brainwash people, exploiting the religion of Islam and the negotiation charade. The blood of innocent victims is on the hands of these terrorist organizations that rule Gaza. These organizations have spared no effort to engage in an exceptionally losing war, serving personal agendas and interests, primarily the enrichment and filling of their pockets with aid money."
In an October 9, 2023 Facebook post, Iraqi blogger Wassim Sezev expressed his concern for the Palestinians who will suffer and face hunger due to the Hamas attack. He went on to lay the blame for this on the Arab discourse emanating from Qatar's Al-Jazeera channel, which, he said, has given rise to "herds of fools and parrots." He stated: "The world will not hear the voices of thousands of Palestinian victims because of Hamas terrorism. Throughout their history, the Arabs have been remarkably naive in their dealings with the world and in conveying the injustices they endure. The Arab world remains captive to the speeches aired on Sawt Al-Arab radio station in the past and Al Jazeera channel today, and these platforms have consistently produced and continue to produce flocks of gullible individuals. My heart aches for the people of Gaza as they await death and hunger, impending upon them through air, sea, and land. All of this is a consequence of Hamas terrorism and their reprehensible attacks on civilians in Israel."
The Egyptian-born U.S.-based reformist author and researcher Hussein Aboubakr Mansour delved deeply into addressing the root causes of the brutality witnessed in the Hamas attack and the spread of antisemitism among Arab and Muslim societies and communities, as well as the role of Western-educated Arab intellectuals in effecting change.
In a lengthy October 8, 2023 post on his X account, which has garnered over 1.7 million views, he wrote: "I'm not asking you to love Israel. If you are critical of Israel and believe there should be a Palestine, please continue to do so. What I'm asking for is courage, to not pretend that the murder, the abuse of women, and the kidnappings we all witnessed are not an accurate representation of a morally catastrophic system that we all know is unfortunately all too common and in need of honest conversations and serious attention. Stop deceiving yourself, and let's engage in a dialogue about how to bring about change."
In addition to condemning and exposing Hamas, these intellectuals have also engaged with Hamas supporters on social media and refuted their arguments. For instance, on October 11, 2023, Omani Bein Sport soccer commentator Khalil Al-Balushi, on his X account, urged the Arab nations to adopt a unified stance beyond merely condemning Israel's attacks on Gaza.
In response to Al-Balushi's post, which garnered over three million views, Emirati social media influencer Khaled Bin Thani wrote: "There is significant interest in tweets that appeal to emotions but lack reason and logic. Are Arab citizens prepared for their countries to be at risk in terms of stability, security, and the economy, as they become involved in a destructive war? Some nations have handed over leadership to extremist groups under the pretext of fighting Israel and regressed in various areas. This, however, reflects naivety."
In another post, on October 9, 2023, Bin Thani called those who support Hamas on social media platforms "bedroom warriors" who do not care about the deaths of innocent people and accuse those who do of treason. He wrote: "Bedroom warriors aim for interaction and retweets, even if it leads to escalating the situation and shedding the blood of innocents. Bedroom warriors write in their rooms and then switch to Netflix to watch a comedy movie. They insult those vigilant in protecting the blood of innocents, accusing them of betrayal and treachery. They are cowardly and indecent, showing no fear of God."
Describing an interaction with a Hamas supporter on social media regarding the ongoing Gaza attack, Saudi social media influencer Loay Al-Shareef posted the following dialogue and cartoon on his X account on October 11, 2023:
“Hamas uses civilians as human shields”
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