Self-Loathing and the Israel-Hamas War

Gabe Zichermann
8 min readNov 13, 2023
Alan Denney cc

It seems everyone hates themselves these days.

After decades of Oprah, Gwyneth and Lizzo (pre cancellation), it turns out that we hate ourselves more than we even knew. And it took the Israel-Hamas conflict to bring this into sharp relief.

Here’s my pitch, TV executives: it’s a version of America’s Got Talent, except we’re competing to see who has the lowest self-esteem. Let’s take a look at some of the contenders in our first season:

LGBTQ Supporters of Hamas

Many straight people seem perplexed by how LGBTQ folks can support Hamas. At the same time, many gay people believe their support of the Palestinians is divorced from Hamas and radical forms of Islam.

As a gay person myself, I know never to underestimate LGBTQ self-loathing or self-delusion as a possible answer. After all, we invented the twink and twink death (it’s the circle of gay life).

The muslim world is dangerously homophobic. Sure, all extreme religions are rough on gay folks, but of the 10 countries in the world where being gay is punishable by death, all 10 are muslim. Of the remaining 60+ countries where being gay is merely illegal and punishable by imprisonment, more than half are muslim-ruled or largely muslim, including Gaza itself. And to be clear, as evidenced recently in the Palestinian Territories, just because being gay is merely illegal doesn’t mean you won’t be extrajudicially killed by beheading (and your killers not pursued).

Supporting folks that don’t believe you have a right to exist is the height of privilege. Inherently, it means that you think their toxic beliefs don’t pose a risk to you. But of course they do, because the spread of their belief system is fundamentally antithetical to you and your family’s existence.

And because LGBTQ folks have made so much progress in my lifetime, younger gays think that the real battleground is pronouns and bathrooms, when for most non-straight people in the world, life is still dangerous and deadly. They think they can comfortably support a homicidal belief system because they are safe where they are. They can espouse universal human rights and walk shoulder to shoulder with people who’d like to kill them because that is a risk-free…



Gabe Zichermann

Author and Public Speaker on Gamification, The 4th Industrial Revolution, the Future of Work and Failure. More about me: