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Friday, April 19, 2024
The Rohr Chabad House at the University of Wisconsin, photographed Jan. 26.

UW-Madison Chabad lecturer didn’t brag about killing babies in Gaza

Viral posts spread online accused Oz Bin Nun, an Israeli fellow for the Jewish Agency for Israel and IDF special unit commander, of bragging about killing babies in Gaza during a lecture at UW Chabad.

Oz Bin Nun, an Israeli fellow for the Jewish Agency for Israel and an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) special unit commander, sparked viral online reactions after a Feb. 18 lecture at the Rohr Chabad House detailing the Israel-Hamas war.

Students for Justice in Palestine-Madison (SJP) reposted an Instagram story post that Bin Nun said during the lecture “we do, in fact, for the state, kill babies.” The user then asked why UW-Madison hosted a person who is “bragging about killing Palestinian children.”

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“An IOF soldier is seen normalizing the killing of Palestinian babies as a fact of life while also insinuating that the IOF must be protected from labels such as ‘baby killers,’” an SJP-Madison Instagram post said, using IOF — an acronym for “Israeli Occupation Forces” — in place of IDF.

The quote wherein Bin Nun says IDF soldiers kill infants is partially accurate, though Bin Nun does not mention “the state.”

“Everyone seeing our soldiers now in Gaza fighting can’t say words like genocide or baby killers. We do, however, and it’s important to say, kill babies,” Bin Nun said during the lecture.

However, this quote is missing important context.

Contrary to online claims, Bin Nun did not brag about killing infants or children. 

“This is horrible. It’s awful, we never did this on purpose,” Bin Nun added. “We really prefer to stop that.”

Throughout the lecture, Bin Nun said IDF soldiers don’t savor any aspect of war — including the deaths of civilians and children — and take measured steps to minimize civilian deaths. He said any deaths of infants are unintentional.

The event was hosted at the Rohr Chabad House by UW Chabad, an independent organization from UW-Madison, contrary to what some posts said. A UW-Madison spokesperson said in an email Tuesday that the university did not have input in the event and does not endorse the views, activities or outside speakers of off-campus groups.

Bin Nun did say “abolishing” the militant group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip and has been designated a terrorist organization by the United States since 1997, “by any means necessary” must be Israel’s main goal, rather than minimizing civilian casualties.

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“Now we can argue what is the best way, morally, to do it,” Bin Nun said.

Rabbi Mendel Matusof of UW Chabad said over email "it's a shame" that people would deliberately edit or misconstrue Bin Nun's words.

Oz Bin Nun's full remarks were posted to UW Chabad's Instagram account. The full video is linked here.

Editor's Note: This article was updated on Monday, Feb. 26 at 8:17 p.m. to clarify that the Instagram story shared by Students for Justice in Palestine-Madison reposted and not their original words. Additionally, this article was updated at 1:25 p.m. to clarify the statement in question and include additional context about Bin Nun's remarks. The "fact check" label was removed.

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Liam Beran

Liam Beran is the Campus News Editor for The Daily Cardinal and a third-year English major. Throughout his time at the Cardinal, he's written articles for campus, state and in-depth news. Follow him on Twitter at @liampberan.

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