“What kind of a national movement unleashes 13-year-olds to do its dirty work?” (& A letter to The Guardian)

October 22, 2015

The cover of Le Petit Journal from 1929 reads “Trouble in Palestine: fanatic Arabs massacre Jews in the districts of Jerusalem.” Today, as then, Muslim religious leaders are inciting the murder of Jews on religious grounds, this time with the full blessing (and sometimes with salaries from) the EU-funded Palestinian Authority.


* The left-wing former president of the Union for Reform Judaism, writing in Haaretz: “The Palestinian national movement is one of the most stupid, murderous and bloodthirsty national liberation movements in all of human history… What kind of a national movement unleashes 13-year-olds to do its dirty work? How does a child sacrifice, or at the very least an after-the-fact justification of child sacrifice, bring honor to the Palestinian cause? Once again, the leaders of Palestinian nationalism have led their people down the long, cruel path of violence, suffering and death.”


* “In September of 1928, a group of Jewish residents of Jerusalem placed a bench in front of the Western Wall of the Temple Mount, for the comfort of elderly worshipers. Jerusalem’s Muslim leaders treated the introduction of furniture into the alleyway in front of the Wall as part of a Jewish conspiracy to slowly take control of the entire Temple Mount… The spiritual leader of Palestine’s Muslims, the mufti of Jerusalem, Amin al-Husseini, incited Arabs in Palestine against their Jewish neighbors by arguing that Islam itself was under threat. (Husseini would later become one of Hitler’s most important Muslim allies.) … Arab rioters took the lives of 133 Jews that summer… In Hebron, a devastating pogrom was launched against the city’s ancient Jewish community after Muslim officials distributed fabricated photographs of a damaged Dome of the Rock… The current ‘stabbing Intifada’ now taking place in Israel is prompted in good part by the same set of manipulated emotions that sparked the anti-Jewish riots of the 1920s.”


* Please “like” these dispatches on Facebook here www.facebook.com/TomGrossMedia, where you can also find other items that are not in these dispatches.



1. A letter to The Guardian
2. “Inside the Head of Israel/Palestine” (By Maajid Nawaz, Daily Beast, Oct. 18, 2015)
3. “The Paranoid, Supremacist Roots of the Stabbing Intifada” (By Jeffrey Goldberg, The Atlantic, Oct. 16, 2015)
4. “Child sacrifice brings no honor to the Palestinian cause” (By Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, Haaretz, Oct. 16, 2015)


[Note by Tom Gross]

I attach three pieces below. The first is by Maajid Nawaz, a former British jihadist turned moderate. Nawaz is a founder of the Quilliam think tank in London and of the pro-democracy Khudi movement in Pakistan. In his innovative piece, he debates with himself, playing the role of both Israeli and Palestinian inside his head. “Please don’t tell Hamas we spoke,” the Palestinian says at the end, fearing for his life.

Nawaz is also a signatory of a group letter (which I played a small part in helping to organize and have also signed) which has just gone online and will appear in tomorrow’s print edition of the British paper The Guardian. The letter opposes cultural boycotts of Israel and supports engagement and dialogue with Israelis and Palestinians.

The letter is a reply to a group letter from British artists announcing their intention to boycott Israel, which was published by The Guardian earlier this year.

The signatories of the new letter state: “We do not believe cultural boycotts are acceptable or that the letter you published accurately represents opinion in the cultural world in the UK.”

It has been signed by a wide range of people in the arts, politics and media in Britain, including Harry Potter author JK Rowling, bestselling novelist Hilary Mantel, leading British TV arts journalist Melvyn Bragg, concert pianist Evgeny Kissin, historians Niall Ferguson, Simon Schama, Andrew Roberts and Simon Sebag Montefiore, the Chief Executive of the Royal Academy, Charles Robert Saumarez Smith, the outgoing Director of BBC Television Danny Cohen, and Michael Grade, the former chairman of the BBC.

The letter is here: Israel needs cultural bridges, not boycotts

The Guardian’s article about the letter is here: Star authors call for Israeli-Palestinian dialogue rather than boycotts


For more on Evgeny Kissin, see “I do not want to be spared of the troubles which Israeli musicians encounter…”

For more on Danny Cohen, who is in charge of BBC TV but not of the BBC’s news and current affairs division of the BBC, see here: BBC boss Danny Cohen says rise in anti-Semitic hate places future of Jews in UK in doubt.



Inside the Head of Israel/Palestine
By Maajid Nawaz
The Daily Beast
October 18, 2015

London – Once again the world watches as, once again, Israel/Palestine explodes. The conflicts there sometimes are forgotten, but they never go away, and, of course, there are many explanations for what’s happening. Perhaps too many.

As somebody who used to be an Islamist, once rejecting Israel’s right to exist and wanting to fight against it, what follows is a conversation I have had in my own head over many years. This will be an uncomfortable conversation for many to read. For that I apologise, but welcome to my head:

I am a Palestinian. This will be uncomfortable for you. Allow me to explain to you why we are so angry.

I am an Israeli. This will make you angry. Allow me to explain to you why we are so uncomfortable with you.

You usurped our ancestral land of Palestine. You imported foreigners from Europe to take our villages. In your wake you left millions of us homeless and stateless. You have ignored multiple UN resolutions that specifically categorize you as an occupying power, and that recognize our right to nationhood. You took 60 percent more than the UN originally promised you in 1948, and still now occupy many areas beyond the so-called 1967 green line. As an occupying power you have no legitimacy in our lands. We do not recognize you.

Before the 20th century, there was no such identity as “Palestinian.” You were Arabs living in the Levant. We gained UN backing to declare the state of Israel in 1948. Arab states declared war against a UN-backed Israel in 1948, and lost. Jordan and Egypt then took control of the West Bank and Gaza Strip respectively. Why didn’t they grant you citizenship then, or declare a Palestinian state for you when they had control? Instead they declared war against us in 1967, and again in 1973, trying again to take our UN-backed state from us. They lost, every single time, and we took the West bank and Gaza instead. This was war. Put simply, we won – thrice – against all Arab states put together. We do not deny your right to statehood now, but till this day you deny ours. We cannot negotiate on those terms.

Yes, to this I agree, Arab monarchs and dictators have repeatedly let us down. They have used our cause to stifle any internal dissent by labelling it a Zionist conspiracy, and refused us dual citizenship in the process. But if it was simply a matter of recognising your right to exist, why do you continue to support the building of illegal settlements deep into the West Bank?

We are prepared to swap lands with you in Judea and Samaria – like for like – in order to contain most of those settlements, but we need you to recognize our right to exist for us to do that, so that the final peace deal is not legally disputed. How can we trust you not to turn Jerusalem into a bloodbath when 64 percent of that city’s inhabitants are Jews. Then there are the Jews in Judea and Samaria. Arab citizens live relatively well in Israel, but we do not trust you with the welfare of Jews in Judea and Samaria.

Judea and Samaria? You even change the names of our lands. It’s called the West Bank. Palestine’s issue is not with Jews, but with your occupation. If the illegal Jewish settlers in the West Bank were prepared to accept the authority of our government, we could easily grant them Palestinian citizenship just as you have done with Israeli Arabs. The reason you cannot “trust us” with them is because they refuse to accept the legal writ of the Palestinian Authority. They are religiously driven fanatics who believe in Greater Israel. How would you feel if Israeli Arab Muslim fanatics refused to accept your writ deep inside Israel? Of course there would be tension. Instead, those Arabs have integrated relatively well there, though with room for improvement.

Yes, Israeli Arabs have integrated relatively well. Though I suspect that’s as much to do with us as it is them. Both sides deserve credit for that, don’t you think? I should return later to your statement that Palestinians don’t have a problem with Jews per se. But on the intransigence of these settlers you may have a point. They can be incredibly stubborn. But if you ask those settlers to accept your writ, why do you continue to not recognize Israel? It’s the same UN you refer to that grants you, and us, this same right to exist. You cannot have it both ways. Look, Egypt struck a deal with us and we returned the Sinai. We have been at peace ever since.

Occupiers get to make no demands, why don’t you just withdraw, and we’ll recognize you?

But we tried that in Gaza in 2007, and you kept firing rockets at our villages, deliberately trying to kill our civilians. Withdrawal from the West Bank is even more dangerous because in Jerusalem we live side by side.

Withdrawal from Gaza? You “withdrew” from Gaza yet failed to recognize our democratically elected government there. Then you imposed a blockade around our sea, and controlled what our population has access to via land. Gaza is nothing more than an incredibly dense prison camp. What choice do the people of Gaza have but to continue the resistance?

What democracy in Gaza? Palestinians haven’t held elections in Gaza since the 2007 civil-war, in which Fatah and Hamas began to kill each other. This left 260 Fatah and 176 Hamas Palestinians dead. Hamas is in charge now in Gaza. But Hamas is nothing but a jihadist terrorist group that encourages the killing of civilians as legitimate targets. How can we trust any Palestinian self-governance in the West Bank, if Gaza has become nothing but an Islamist dictatorship?

And you don’t kill civilians? How many did you kill during your bombardments of Gaza in 2008, 2012 and 2014 respectively, targeting hospitals and schools?

We only strike military targets, and we define those as those places from where Hamas military operations against us are launched. We do not have a state policy of deliberately aiming at your civilians and children, killing them because we think it’s inherently good to kill Palestinian civilians. Hamas has this policy against Israelis. How do you justify this?

Justify this? You have killed far more civilians in Gaza than those Hamas rockets have killed in Israel. By your own figures, Operation Cast Lead in 2008 caused 295 Palestinian civilian deaths, and three Israeli ones; Pillar of Defense in 2012 led to 57 Palestinian civilians dead, compared to your four and for Operation Protective Edge in 2014 you agree that of the 2,125 Gazans that you say were killed, 50 percent were civilians. [Tom Gross: The proportion of civilians among those killed, according to impartial accurate sources who have carefully identified each and every casualty, was much lower than 50 percent.]

On this scale, there really is no use saying you did not target our 2,000 dead, while we targeted your three, and so you are morally better. A dead person is a dead person.

Ok, so I can see how the scale of those figures would not be comforting to you, and why you would be angry. Of course you must feel the pain of those dead no less acutely than we feel the pain of our lost ones. But I ask you to consider that the only reason you even know those figures is because we are a democracy. We publish our mistakes and try our hardest to avoid killing civilians. We are transparent. Even our former prime minister, Ehud Olmert, has been tried and convicted for corruption by an Israeli Supreme Court panel headed by an Arab judge named Salim Joubran. You see? An Arab judge indicted a former Israeli PM. We govern by the rule of law. However, Hamas knows no such thing. It deliberately selects schools and hospitals from which to strike at our civilians. They have no respect for life and no rule of law. Look to 2012 when Hamas summarily executed eight Palestinians they accused of being collaborators, dragging their bodies in the streets with motorcycles, and look to 2014 when Hamas executed 23 Gazans. I know it must be painful for you, but please understand that we are not trying to kill your civilians, we are trying to stop Hamas killing ours.

But you too have your terrorists. Last July Mohamed Abu Khdeir, the Palestinian teenager who was kidnapped and murdered in a suspected revenge killing by Israeli extremists, was burned alive.

That’s burned alive, just as ISIS does.

Then, two Palestinian homes were set ablaze in Duma, Occupied West Bank. The arsonist left graffiti on the walls reading “revenge” in Hebrew. This attack killed most of the Dawabsheh family, including an 18-month old baby boy called Ali . According to the UN, at least 120 attacks by Israeli settlers have been documented in the occupied West Bank since the start of 2015. And a recent report by Yesh Din, a human rights organization in your own country, showed that more than 92.6 percent of complaints Palestinians lodge with the Israeli police go without charges being filed. In fact, wasn’t it an Israeli terrorist who killed your former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin?

Yes, we too have our terrorists. And for those civilian deaths, and others, I am terribly sorry. I can only express the utter disgust with which many of us view these killings. In fact, we all protested the murder of that baby. But our law hunts our terrorists down, arrests them and convicts them. Our Prime Minster, media and politicians condemn them. We do not celebrate these terrorists. I just wish sometimes we’d see protests in Palestine against your own terrorists, too. In fact, in the wider world, we see far fewer protests against massacres by Arab and Muslim groups, or states. Why this incessant obsession with Israel alone? Instead, in Palestinian society what we see is widespread anti-Semitism and a celebration of murder and suicide operations. This month, when two Israeli settlers, a husband and wife, were shot dead in their car in front of their children we didn’t see any Palestinian protests. What we saw instead were sermons by preachers like Muhammad Sallah “Abu Rajab” at the Al-Abrar Mosque in Rafah, inciting further violence against “the Jews” with impunity, while perversely wielding a knife and flaying his arms madly during what was meant to be a religious sermon in a mosque. “Oh men of the West Bank, next time cut them into body parts,” he said. “Some should restrain the victim, while others attack him with axes and butcher knives.”

Yes, perhaps we Palestinians should be louder in our public protest against these fanatics, and we do tend to overly generalize about “the Jews.” Our terrorists tarnish our national identity just as Jewish terrorists tarnish yours. And I do concede that we should protest our terrorism as loudly and publicly as Israelis have been seen to protest theirs. Better leadership would help here. The internationalization of the Palestine problem, especially its hijacking by jihadists, has made it harder for a rational conversation to be had. Selective outrage is a real challenge for our communities. But similarly, your society does not protest the mass killing I referred to above of our people, by your military machine.

We understand that our military can make mistakes, and it scrutinises itself regularly. But you must admit that our society does not generally glorify and revel in your death. Where this happens it is frowned upon. Not celebrated. We regularly treat Palestinians who are sick. Look at the case of this woman who brought her son to our hospital for treatment. After Israelis treated and saved her son Muhammad, a journalist asked her if she would still like to fight Israel, she replied, “Life is valuable (for you) but not for us. Life is zero. That is why we have suicide bombers, they are not afraid (of death)… All of us, even our children are not afraid of death. It is natural for us.” He then asked, “Would you want your son to be a martyr?” and to his shock she replied, “Of course… if it’s for Jerusalem, no problem.” And you wonder why we cannot trust you? We just saved her son’s life in our own hospital, yet this is how she talks about us while being interviewed immediately afterwards?

Yes, this is somewhat demotivating for you, I see. And allow me to personally thank your many humanitarian doctors and medical staff who work tirelessly to save human life. But please do not humiliate us with your benevolence. We are a people with nothing. What we had in Gaza has now been bombed to oblivion. Can you not see that this is what happens to a society that has given up hope? Occupation is by definition a military operation. And military operations brutalize society. Ours are a people who have known nothing but the yoke of an army boot since 1948. Your illegal settlers are ensuring that the facts on the ground swing in favour of a Greater Israeli. We feel we have nothing left to do but to fight. We have given up, and many of us believe that a two-state solution is no longer even viable.

But a one state solution would mean a return to Jews as a minority inside their own state.

That’s secular democracy for you. One man, one vote.

No, it’s not. No nation, not even the most mature European secular democracies, would accept an overnight influx of immigrants to such an extent that they immediately become a majority. Can’t you see the problems the immigration debate is causing in Europe and America now?

So you’re arguing for a two-tier state in Israel, one in which Israelis control and Palestinians serve, an apartheid? This is why the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is gaining ground.

Absolutely not. Look to those Israeli Arabs, Muslim or not, who by your own admission are relatively well integrated. Albeit with lots of room for improvement, Arab Israeli Muslims like Lucy Aharish serve as TV anchors, and supreme-court judges like Salim Joubran, and government ministers like Raleb Majadele, even some of our most vocal international critics like Arab-Muslim Rula Jebreal carry Israeli citizenship. But Israel was founded after the Holocaust as the last safe haven for Jews in the world. We still have actual Holocaust survivors. We can never again place these survivors into a minority context and expect them to trust wider society as they trusted Germany. It’s incredibly traumatic for our collective psyche. Our issue is not with Palestinians, but with Palestinian immigration (or as you would phrase it, the Right to Return). We have mosques inside Israel. A vast majority of Arabs, when surveyed, would prefer Israeli citizenship to living under the Palestinian Authority. There is no Apartheid. The BDS movement rests on a flawed analogy with South Africa and promotes nothing but the further breakdown of mutual trust.

I do admit that I feel incredibly uncomfortable when BDS is used to boycott Israeli artists, film-makers and academics, especially when they are often the critical, centre-left, voices – Arab and Jewish – from inside Israel. But then why, if you are still keen on a two-state solution, does Netanyahu not stop these illegal settlers turning the West bank into a colony of Greater Israel?

Yes, I agree, something needs to be done about that. These settlers must withdraw, I concede, and Palestinian statehood is a right I’ve already accepted. But just like you, we seem beholden to the public opinion of a traumatized people. And our religious-right preys on this, just as yours preys on Palestinian fears. Our society has completely stopped trusting anything you have to say. And democracies are especially vulnerable to public trauma in this way.

Yet… you and I seem to have gone from mutual mistrust and anger to...

…a general agreement that bold leadership is needed on both sides to turn our respective societies away from victimhood and self-pity and towards a path of dialogue and reconciliation.

Yes, it seems so. You seem to have many facts at your disposal. Forgive me, I haven’t had access to the English language, international standards in schooling, nor the outside world. All my life, I have been stuck in Gaza. But for now I must go. Please don’t tell Hamas we spoke. They’ll string me up as a traitor. And please don’t tell the IDF that my husband is a member of Hamas, they may “accidentally” bomb my family.



The Paranoid, Supremacist Roots of the Stabbing Intifada
Knife attacks on Jews in Jerusalem and elsewhere are not based on Palestinian frustration over settlements, but on something deeper.
By Jeffrey Goldberg
The Atlantic
October 16, 2015

In September of 1928, a group of Jewish residents of Jerusalem placed a bench in front of the Western Wall of the Temple Mount, for the comfort of elderly worshipers. They also brought with them a wooden partition, to separate the sexes during prayer. Jerusalem’s Muslim leaders treated the introduction of furniture into the alleyway in front of the Wall as a provocation, part of a Jewish conspiracy to slowly take control of the entire Temple Mount.

Many of the leaders of Palestine’s Muslims believed – or claimed to believe – that Jews had manufactured a set of historical and theological connections to the Western Wall and to the Mount, the site of the al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock, in order to advance the Zionist project. This belief defied Muslim history – the Dome of the Rock was built by Jerusalem’s Arab conquerors on the site of the Second Jewish Temple in order to venerate its memory (the site had previously been defiled by Jerusalem’s Christian rulers as a kind of rebuke to Judaism, the despised mother religion of Christianity). Jews themselves consider the Mount itself to be the holiest site in their faith. The Western Wall, a large retaining wall from the Second Temple period, is sacred only by proxy.

The spiritual leader of Palestine’s Muslims, the mufti of Jerusalem, Amin al-Husseini, incited Arabs in Palestine against their Jewish neighbors by arguing that Islam itself was under threat. (Husseini would later become one of Hitler’s most important Muslim allies.) Jews in British-occupied Palestine responded to Muslim invective by demanding more access to the Wall, sometimes holding demonstrations at the holy site. By the next year, violence directed against Jews by their neighbors had become more common: Arab rioters took the lives of 133 Jews that summer; British forces killed 116 Arabs in their attempt to subdue the riots. In Hebron, a devastating pogrom was launched against the city’s ancient Jewish community after Muslim officials distributed fabricated photographs of a damaged Dome of the Rock, and spread the rumor that Jews had attacked the shrine.

The current “stabbing Intifada” now taking place in Israel – a quasi-uprising in which young Palestinians have been trying, and occasionally succeeding, to kill Jews with knives – is prompted in good part by the same set of manipulated emotions that sparked the anti-Jewish riots of the 1920s: a deeply felt desire on the part of Palestinians to “protect” the Temple Mount from Jews.

When Israel captured the Old City of Jerusalem in June of 1967 in response to a Jordanian attack, the first impulse of some Israelis was to assert Jewish rights atop the Mount. Between 1948, the year Israel achieved independence, and 1967, Jordan, then the occupying power in Jerusalem, banned Jews not only from the 35-acre Mount – which is known to Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif, the noble sanctuary – but also from the Western Wall below. When paratroopers took the Old City, they raised the Israeli flag atop the Dome of the Rock, but the Israeli defense minister, Moshe Dayan, ordered it taken down, and soon after promised leaders of the Muslim Waqf, the trust that controlled the mosque and the shrine, that Israel would not interfere in its activities. Since then, successive Israeli governments have maintained the status quo established by Dayan.

There is another status quo associated with the Temple Mount, however, that has been showing signs of weakening. This is a religious status quo. The mainstream rabbinical view for many years has been that Jews should not walk atop the Mount for fear of treading on the Holy of Holies, the inner sanctum of the Temple that, according to tradition, housed the Ark of the Covenant. The Holy of Holies is the room in which the Jewish high priest spoke the Tetragrammaton, the ineffable name of God, on Yom Kippur.

The exact location of the Holy of Holies is not known, and Muslim authorities have prevented archeologists from conducting any excavations on the Mount, in part out of fear that such explorations will uncover further evidence of a pre-Islamic Jewish presence. This mainstream rabbinical view concerning the Mount – that it should be the direction of Jewish prayer, rather than a place of Jewish prayer – has made the lives of Jerusalem’s temporal authorities easier, by keeping Muslim and Jewish worshippers separated.

In recent years, however, small groups of radical religious innovators who oppose the mainstream rabbinical view have sought to make the Mount, once again, a site of Jewish prayer. These activists have gained sympathizers among some far-right political figures in Israel, though the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not altered the separation-of-religions status quo.

Convincing Palestinians that the Israeli government is not trying to alter the status quo on the Mount has been difficult because many of today’s Palestinian leaders, in the manner of the Palestinian leadership of the 1920s, actively market rumors that the Israeli government is seeking to establish atop the Mount a permanent Jewish presence.

The comments of the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas – by general consensus the most moderate leader in the brief history of the Palestinian national movement – have been particularly harsh. Though Abbas has authorized Palestinian security services to work with their Israeli counterparts to combat extremist violence, his rhetoric has inflamed tensions. “Every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem is pure, every martyr will reach paradise, and every injured person will be rewarded by God,” he said last month, as rumors about the Temple Mount swirled. He went on to say that Jews “have no right to desecrate the mosque with their dirty feet.” Taleb Abu Arrar, an Israeli Arab member of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, argued publicly that Jews “desecrate” the Temple Mount by their presence. (Fourteen years ago, Yasser Arafat, then the leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization, told me that “Jewish authorities are forging history by saying the Temple stood on the Haram al-Sharif. Their temple was somewhere else.”)

These sorts of comments, combined with the violence of the past two weeks – including the sacking and burning of a Jewish shrine outside Nablus – suggest a tragic continuity between the 1920s and today. For those who believe not only in the necessity, but in the practical possibility, of an equitable two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – and in particular, for those who believe that the post-1967 settlement project is the root cause of the conflict – recent events have been sobering.

One of the tragedies of the settlement movement is that it obscures what might be the actual root cause of the Middle East conflict: the unwillingness of many Muslim Palestinians to accept the notion that Jews are a people who are indigenous to the land Palestinians believe to be exclusively their own, and that the third-holiest site in Islam is also the holiest site of another religion, one whose adherents reject the notion of Muslim supersessionism. The status quo on the Temple Mount is prudent and must remain in place. It saves lives, lives fundamentalist Jewish radicals would risk in order to advance their millennial dreams. But it is the byproduct of the intolerance of Jerusalem’s Muslim leadership.

When violence against Jews occurs inside Israel, or on the West Bank, a consensus tends to be reached quickly by outside analysts and political leaders, one that holds that such violence represents the inevitable consequence of Israel’s occupation and settlement of Palestinian territory. John Kerry, the U.S. secretary of state, said in an appearance earlier this week at Harvard that, “What’s happening is that unless we get going, a two-state solution could conceivably be stolen from everybody. And there’s been a massive increase in settlements over the course of the last years.” He went on to say, “Now you have this violence because there’s a frustration that is growing, and a frustration among Israelis who don’t see any movement.”

(On Friday morning, speaking with NPR’s Steve Inskeep, Kerry revised and extended his comments, criticizing Abbas – in a passive way – for the violence: “There’s no excuse for the violence. … And the Palestinians need to understand, and President Abbas has been committed to nonviolence. He needs to be condemning this, loudly and clearly. And he needs to not engage in some of the incitement that his voice has sometimes been heard to encourage.”)

It is sometimes difficult for policymakers such as Kerry, who has devoted so much time and energy to the search for a solution to the Israeli-Arab impasse, to acknowledge the power of a particular Palestinian narrative, one that obviates the possibility of a solution that allows Jews national and religious equality. Writing in Haaretz, the left-center political scientist Shlomo Avineri describes an important disconnect that often goes unnoticed, even in times like these: Many Palestinians believe that “this is not a conflict between two national movements but a conflict between one national movement (the Palestinian) and a colonial and imperialistic entity (Israel).” He goes on to write, “According to this view, Israel will end like all colonial phenomena – it will perish and disappear. Moreover, according to the Palestinian view, the Jews are not a nation but a religious community, and as such not entitled to national self-determination which is, after all, a universal imperative.”

Avineri, like most sensible analysts, understands the many and variegated reasons for the continued failure of the peace process:

[M]utual distrust between the two populations, internal pressures from the rejectionists on both sides, Yasser Arafat’s repeated deceptions, the murder of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, the electoral victories of Likud in Israeli elections, Palestinian terrorism, continuing Israeli settlement activities in the territories, the bloody rift between Fatah and Hamas, American presidents who did too little (George W. Bush) or too much and in a wrong way (Barack Obama), the political weakness of Mahmoud Abbas, governments headed by Netanyahu that did everything possible to undermine effective negotiations. All this is true, and everyone picks and chooses what fits their views and interests – but beyond all these lies a fundamental difference in the terms in which each side views the conflict, a difference many tend or choose to overlook.

The violence of the past two weeks, encouraged by purveyors of rumors who now have both Israeli and Palestinian blood on their hands, is rooted not in Israeli settlement policy, but in a worldview that dismisses the national and religious rights of Jews. There will not be peace between Israelis and Palestinians so long as parties on both sides of the conflict continue to deny the national and religious rights of the other.



Child sacrifice brings no honor to the Palestinian cause
By Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie
Oct. 16, 2015

The Palestinian national movement is one of the most stupid, murderous and bloodthirsty national liberation movements in all of human history. With those harsh words to the leaders of the Reform movement, spoken in June 2001, I expressed my profound regret that Palestinian voices of reason and moderation had not appeared in response to the peacemaking efforts of Prime Minister Ehud Barak in 2000 and 2001.

Those words came back to me this week as I watched videos of Palestinians – including children in their early teens – racing through the streets of Jerusalem, looking for Jews to kill. They came back to me as I viewed the tapes of the Hamas maniacs storming the gates of Gaza. They came back to me as I read the words of Muslim religious fanatics, speaking about dastardly, non-existent Jewish plots to destroy their sacred religious sites.

My words were right in 2001, and regrettably, they are no less right day.

What kind of a national movement unleashes 13-year-olds to do its dirty work? How does a child sacrifice, or at the very least an after-the-fact justification of child sacrifice, bring honor to the Palestinian cause? Once again, the leaders of Palestinian nationalism have led their people down the long, cruel path of violence, suffering and death.

In what is, even for them, an act of truly monumental chutzpah, Palestinian diplomats and politicians have proclaimed that Israeli security forces are to blame when they shoot at Palestinian killers and would-be assassins who are engaged in murder and mayhem. They do not say that Palestinian parents should keep their children at home. They do not urge Palestinian children to fight the occupation in peaceful ways. Whenever a Palestinian child dies, of course, it is a tragedy, and God weeps. But it is immoral and cowardly for teenagers to be the shock troops for the forces of terror.

The events of recent weeks cannot be justified or explained away – not by diplomats and not by well-meaning Jews. To excuse the Palestinians from normal standards of moral judgment is to patronize them and to separate them from humanity.

None of this is to say that Israel’s hands are clean. Occupation involves acts of degradation and cruelty, and Israel’s occupation has been no different. Immediately after 1967, the occupation was more or less benevolent, but no occupation is benevolent long-term. Nonetheless, Palestinians marauding through the streets of Jerusalem with knife and gun in hand is not an acceptable response, now or ever.

I am not a great fan of Israel’s current government, but I believe that the prime minister has been generally responsible in dealing with the violence. And I know that more force will probably be necessary to bring quiet. That is unfortunate, but there is no alternative. My friends in Israel are afraid to let their children out of the house. As far as they are concerned, there is an intifada, whether the politicians call it that or not. And Israelis will not tolerate such a situation: the whole point of the Jewish state was to create a place on this earth where Jews do not have to fear attacks from hoodlums and killers when they walk down the street.

The bigger political question raised by the violence is what happens after it stops. There is a case to be made that Oslo is dead; it was an agreement intended to facilitate a political settlement that now seems more distant than ever. There is also a case to be made that now is the time for some kind of unilateral disengagement, along the lines of what Ariel Sharon was thinking of before he suffered a stroke. One way or another, the Jewish State must be separated from the Palestinian territories, and the Netanyahu government, unfortunately and incredibly, has no long-term plan to make that happen.

But all decisions regarding a long-term solution must wait until there is calm and quiet on the streets of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, Afula and Raanana. When terror reigns, thinking stops and fanaticism thrives. The terror must end, and Israel must do what is necessary to end it.

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.