The Palestinian Weaponization of Language

One of the frustrations of “peace processing,” as it has been practiced by various Israeli governments and American administrations, is that there are systematic ambiguities in the way important concepts are understood by the two sides. The Palestinian ideology, like the Marxism of their sometime advocates in the Soviet intelligence services, has a jargon in which words do not mean what they mean to someone outside of the circle. Naturally, this leads to difficulties in negotiation.

This is not a problem for the Israeli Right (where I place myself). We of the Right know that the dispute cannot be “solved” in a manner acceptable to both sides. We understand that the objectives of Zionism and Palestinianism contradict one another: Zionism insists upon a sovereign Jewish state in Eretz Yisrael, while Palestinianism demands that all of the land from the river to the sea be under Arab control. The Right realizes that there can be no common ground, and that the conflict will end only when one people disappears from the land, and the other is fully sovereign.

It is not a problem for most Palestinian Arabs, either. They too understand that there can be no possible accommodation with the Jews. They know what they mean by the terms in question; and if they can make progress toward their goal by allowing their counterparts to misunderstand them, they are not motivated to go out of their way to make themselves better understood.

This is not to say that they try very hard to hide their beliefs, their ideology, and their objective. From the maps that show only “Palestine” from the river to the sea, to the speeches of their leaders, the editorials in their newspapers, even the candid comments of Israeli and Palestinian Arabs, they cleave consistently to their historical narrative, their self-righteous victimhood, their blazing anger and shame, and their aspiration and expectation that some day they will rid the land of Jews.

The linguistic confusions that I refer to become important when “moderate” Israelis and their American patrons begin to try to square the ideological circle and try to negotiate with the Palestinians for an end to the conflict. Although I had hoped that this futile enterprise would not reoccur after the failures of the Obama Administration, it seems to be raising its head again in the age of Biden.

So here are some of the important words and phrases and their special Palestinian meanings.

Term

Usual Meaning

Palestinian Meaning

Occupation

Military control of territory of a belligerent country.

Any Jewish sovereignty between the river and the sea. “The Occupation” began in 1948.

Palestine (political entity)

The political entity that existed between 1920 and 1948 under British mandatory government.

An Arab country, coextensive with Israel, presently occupied by Jewish colonialists.

State of Israel

A country established in 1948 upon the termination of the British Mandate.

An illegitimate entity squatting on Palestinian land. Not a real country.

Settler

An Israeli citizen living in disputed areas.

Any Israeli Jew.

Resistance to occupation

Organized opposition to belligerent occupation.

Organized terrorism against Jews, mostly civilians.

Popular resistance

Ad hoc opposition to belligerent occupation.

Ad hoc terrorism against Jews.

Nonviolent popular resistance

Ad hoc opposition to belligerent occupation that does not include physical violence.

Ad hoc terrorism against Jews with weapons other than guns or explosives (rocks, knives, firebombs, automobiles, etc. are permitted).

Apartheid

A race-based system of separation and discrimination imposed by law that encompasses all political and social interactions between people, such as existed in South Africa before 1993.

Differences in rights enjoyed by Israeli citizens and non-citizen Arabs in the territories, including those under control of the Palestinian Authority or Hamas.

Genocide

Deliberately bringing about the physical destruction of a “national, ethnical [sic], racial or religious group” (1948 convention on genocide).

Israeli restrictions or actions by security forces in response to Palestinian terrorism.

Legitimate rights of the Palestinian people

Human and political rights in accordance with UN charter and applicable international treaties. In particular, there is no “right of return” in international law.

Sovereignty over all the land and ownership of all property therein. “Return” of approximately 5 million descendants of 1948 Arab refugees to the places from which their ancestors came, or compensation.

Two-state solution

Partition of the area administered by Israel between the Jordan and the Mediterranean and establishment of a peaceful Palestinian entity alongside Israel, according to principle of “two states for two peoples.” Both sides give up claims on the other’s territory. End of conflict.

Temporary expedient until “legitimate rights” can be obtained. Areas liberated by Israel in 1967 to be vacated by Jews; right of return or compensation for refugees to be recognized with timetable for implementation; Jerusalem to be divided; sovereign Palestinian state to be established with capital in Jerusalem. Formula of “two states for two peoples” not accepted: Palestinians do not give up their claims for full legitimate rights as defined above.

The ambiguities listed above, and others, make negotiations (or any discourse) with Palestinians or their supporters difficult or impossible. The replacement of substantive discourse by the repetition of ideological cant is deliberate, because the goal of the Palestinian movement is not accommodation or compromise, but the destruction of the Jewish state, the death or dispersion of its Jewish residents, and the establishment of an Arab state from the river to the sea.

Posted in 'Peace' Process, Israel and Palestinian Arabs, US-Israel Relations | 1 Comment

Palestinianism: an Ideology and an Identity

Palestinianism is more than a collection of political beliefs. It is a closed system of memes including a historical narrative, a Cause to which its believers aspire, and an idiosyncratic language in which familiar words have special meanings. In those ways, it is similar to Marxism – which is not surprising, considering its origin. Palestinianism is neutral on the religious-secular axis, although it has adopted elements of Islamic belief where they have proven helpful to advance the Palestinian Cause. Adherents of Palestinianism include those who self-identify as Palestinians, as well as many on the Western Left (especially in academia) who support the Cause.

Origin

Palestinianism had its origin in the 1960s, when it was created by the cognitive warriors of the Soviet KGB. The Soviets had had an interest for some time in opposing US and British influence in the Middle East, which they did by supporting Arab nationalists like Gamal Abdel Nasser. With the decline of pan-Arabism, Palestinianism provided a cause that the Soviets could use to unite all the Arabs of the Middle East against the West. It also provided a reason to oppose Israel. Although Stalin had initially hoped that Israel would join the socialist camp, it became clear to the Soviets by the mid-1950s that Israel was moving more and more in the direction of the West.

Until this time, most of the Arabs of “Palestine,” that area that had been part of the British Mandate, insofar as they had national feelings at all, had generally seen themselves as belonging to “southern Syria” (although a specifically Palestinian nationalism did exist to a small extent in the early part of the 20th century, particularly among Christian Arabs).

This was a time of worldwide decolonization, and the KGB incorporated the idea that the conflict between the Jews and Arabs for sovereignty in Palestine (or Eretz Yisrael, depending on your point of view), was actually a struggle of national liberation by an indigenous Palestinian people against European colonialists (the Jews!), despite the fact that about half of all Israelis came from the Middle Eastern and African diasporas.

The Soviets had always used race as a point of leverage in their psychological warfare against the US, correctly seeing the exacerbation of race-based resentments as highly effective in creating division and strife among the population. During the 1970s, they introduced the racial element into the Arab-Israeli conflict, as exemplified by the passage of the “Zionism Is Racism” resolution at the UN in 1975. The absurdity of this contention – both Jewish Israelis and Palestinian Arabs come in all colors – did not prevent the wide acceptance of the idea that the political and national conflict was basically racial. At the Durban Conference on Racism in 2001, NGOs funded by European governments and left-wing charities promoted the idea that Israel was guilty of apartheid. The fact that it proved necessary to invent a new meaning for the word before it was even possible to argue the question was apparently considered irrelevant for them.

The Palestinian Arabs suffered a severe blow to their honor when they lost the military struggle for sovereignty in 1948. The fact that most of them fled and were not allowed back after the war – a not uncommon result of warfare – was perceived and represented as a tragedy of historic dimensions. But unlike other groups who experienced similar tragedies, the Palestinian Arabs, with the help of the Eastern Bloc and the Arab nations, managed to establish a UN-sanctioned, permanent, steadily growing, reservoir of stateless “refugees.” Permanent institutions were put in place in the UN to ensure the growth of the “refugee” pool, to prevent their resettlement, and to promulgate the Palestinian narrative.

The Narrative

The pivotal event in the Palestinian historical narrative is the loss of the land they suffered in 1948, the Nakba. It is true that some Arabs were expelled from their homes by the IDF, but the majority left of their own accord, encouraged by both Arab and Jewish propaganda, fearing the imminent violence, and following the example of wealthy Arabs, who chose to sit out the destruction of the new Jewish state in their comfortable summer homes. It is also true that most of those that fled were not allowed to return or to claim their property. But what happened to the Arabs of Palestine is common for a losing side in war. After WWII, at least 12 million ethnic Germans fled or were expelled from Central and Eastern Europe. Jordan completely ethnically cleansed Judea, Samaria, and eastern Jerusalem of Jews after 1948. Some 800-900 thousand Jews fled or were expelled from Arab countries at that time as well. Had the Arabs won the war, the Jews of Israel would certainly have faced a similar fate.

But unlike the ethnic Germans or the Jews of the Middle East, the Palestinian Arabs did not accept – or more precisely, their own leaders and the Arab nations did not allow them to accept – resettlement or almost any amelioration of their condition. And so the reversal of the Nakba, the “return to their homes” of the more than 5 million descendants of the original 600,000 refugees became a fundamental part of the Palestinian Cause.

The Palestinian Narrative also extends into the past. It insists that a Palestinian people has inhabited the land for hundreds, possibly thousands of years. Some Palestinians, like the late diplomat Saeb Erekat, claim that they had been in the land from the time of the Canaanites or Philistines. The Jews, on the other hand, are said to be recent European immigrants who displaced them by guile and by force. In reality, while some Arab families have a history in the land of more than several hundred years, most go back no farther than about 1830, when Muhammad Ali invaded what were then Ottoman provinces on behalf of Egypt. And a large number of them only migrated from neighboring countries after the Zionist and British development of the land in the early 20th century made it economically attractive. After the war, Palestinian refugee status was granted to anyone that could show that they had lived in Palestine for as little as two years prior to 1948.

Along with the arrogation of aboriginal status to Arabs, the Narrative denies it to Jews. It denies the historical provenance of Jews in the land, sometimes claiming that there was no Jewish temple in Jerusalem, or that today’s Jews are Khazars that have no connection with the Middle East (an antisemitic canard which is easily refuted by genetic evidence). Palestinian Arabs have destroyed archaeological evidence of ancient Jewish presence in the land, even on the Temple Mount.

The Principles of Palestinianism

To the Palestinians, the Nakba is the most important event in their history, as important as the exodus from Egypt is to the Jews. Palestinians (and Barack Obama) sometimes compare it to the Holocaust. Much is derived from it. It is a wrong that cannot be righted in any way other than by its reversal, that is, the “return” of the “refugees” and the repossession of all of the land. And because the narrative says that the refugees were expelled violently, then violence is justified to reverse it. Palestinian honor cannot be regained by diplomacy or compromise. Palestinianism only accepts the two-state idea as a temporary expedient toward its ultimate objective of reversing the Nakba. And even then, it rejects the idea of “two states for two peoples,” insisting that the “return” of the descendants of the 1948 refugees “to their homes” must accompany the re-partitioning of the land.

Postcolonial ideology has also found its way into Palestinianism, in particular in connection with violence. The doctrine that it is moral, indeed praiseworthy, for a colonized people to resist colonization by any means necessary, is used as a justification for terrorism against Israeli civilians. Indeed, involvement in terrorism and support for it is a sine qua non for success in Palestinian politics. For this reason, Mahmoud Abbas is praised for saying that he will never stop paying imprisoned terrorists and the families of “martyrs,” even if there is no money left for anything else.

Another consequence of the Nakba is that by virtue of their infinite victimization, nothing negative about Palestinian culture, or anything bad that happens to them, can be construed as their fault. So the rampant corruption in the Palestinian Authority is explained as a consequence of Israel’s influence. The prevalence of domestic abuse of Palestinian women is said to be because the men are traumatized by “the occupation.” The collapse of a waste treatment pond in the Gaza strip, which inundated nearby areas with human excrement and resulted in several deaths, was blamed on Israel’s “blockade” of Gaza (rather than the embezzlement of international donations intended for sanitary facilities by Hamas), and so on.

Like Marxists, Palestinianists believe that history is on their side. They point to the various regimes that have controlled the land over the centuries, Romans, Crusaders, Turks, British, and say that it is a matter of time before Israel, too, collapses.

Before the 1960s, the Palestinian Arabs could be described as a mixed population of Arabic-speakers, mostly Muslims, and mostly non-indigenous (although again, some Palestinian Arab families did have long histories in the land). But although it makes me unpopular among my right-wing friends, I would say that since that time, the experience of their struggle with Israel and their self-definition as “Palestinians” has made them a people. It’s extremely important to understand the fundamental role of the conflict in the development of a specifically Palestinian identity. To be Palestinian is to oppose Israel and to resist – by any means necessary – the occupation of “Palestinian land,” from the river to the sea. This has important consequences for the future of the conflict.

The Cult-like Nature of Palestinianism

Palestinianism as an ideology is in a certain way like Marxism or Scientology. When Palestinianists are confronted with clear-cut facts (like the historical and archaeological evidence of the presence of Jews in the land for thousands of years), they nevertheless find it possible to deny or ignore them. Palestinian film director Mohammed Bakri made a documentary about the “Jenin Massacre” in 2002, which accused Israel of destroying buildings that didn’t exist, murdering hundreds of Palestinian civilians (in fact, about 50 Arabs, almost all of them terrorists, were killed), and so on. Bakri was sued for slander by Israeli reservists whom he had accused of war crimes. When confronted with the facts, he claimed that he was an artist and not a historian, and that his film expressed the deeper truth about the events. The narrative always trumps the facts.

Like Marxism, Palestinianism has a special language. For example, in ordinary English one can occupy a house or a country. But in Palestinianism, Israel “occupies the “Palestinian people.” The implication is that Israel can “occupy” Gaza without having a single soldier or settler there. There is the word “resistance,” which has connotations of French partisans blowing up Nazi ammunition trains, but in Palispeak means bombing a pizza restaurant in Jerusalem or a disco in Tel Aviv. Another one is “nonviolent popular resistance” which means murdering random Jews with knives or automobiles rather than guns or bombs.

The Psychological Function of Palestinianism for the Western Left

One can more or less understand why Palestinian Arabs find Palestinianism useful in their struggle against Israel. But what do left-leaning students and academics get out of it? There are several things that I can see. One, especially in Europe, is that it is an outlet for antisemitic impulses that have been repressed when they are directed at individual Jews. It’s tacky to hate Jews, but hating Israel is considered virtuous. Another is the intersectionalist Left’s adoption of “Palestine” as one of its causes. In order to be accepted by the crowd – and in universities especially, the crowd leans left – one must espouse all of its causes, including Palestinianism. It’s easy for an American student, far from the action, to virtue-signal by adopting the Palestinian cause as his or her own.

Conclusion

Palestinianism is an internally consistent system, which is disconnected from both historical and current reality. Originally created by the Soviet KGB as an weapon of cognitive warfare, it has morphed with the times, like the antisemitism to which it is closely related. The objective of Palestinianism, the Palestinian Cause, is the replacement of Israel by an Arab state, the violent expulsion of the Jews, and their replacement by the descendants of the Arab refugees of 1948. The adoption of Palestinianism as an essential part of the identity of the Arabs of Eretz Yisrael, means that there can be no compromise solution to the conflict. It implies that the Palestinian people is the enemy of the Jewish people in the land, making the conflict a zero-sum game. Ultimately, it means that the conflict will continue until one or the other of the two peoples will remain in the land, and the other will disappear.

A version of this article appeared in White Rose Magazine.

Posted in Israel and Palestinian Arabs, Israeli Arabs | 1 Comment

Managing the Unmanageable

In their ongoing struggle to escape reality, Israeli politicians and opinion leaders have settled on a new approach to our never-ending war with the Arabs of Eretz Yisrael: not ending the conflict, but managing it.

After almost thirty years of disillusionment and literally thousands of (Jewish and Arab) deaths, all but a tiny minority of Israelis – found in the halls of Meretz and the columns of Ha’aretz – finally understand that the slogans “land for peace” and “two-state solution” represent delusions, and that the attempts to implement them have been disastrous. Of course these ideas are still popular among European antisemites, liberal US Jews, and much of the American government, to our great regret. But that’s another story.

Unfortunately a new fantasy, espoused by Micha Goodman in his book (English title: Catch-67: The Left, the Right, and the Legacy of the Six-Day War) has taken hold of Israel’s ruling elites; and while it is not quite as pernicious as the previous delusion, it too will not lead us to the promised land of peace. Indeed, it is likely to damage our strategic position for the inevitable war that is ahead. I refer to the idea that while it is impossible to resolve the conflict, it is possible to tamp it down, to moderate it, to ameliorate the violence: to manage it until at some time in the dimly-envisioned future it will be possible to end it.

Goodman argues that both of the solutions proposed by the Left and the Right respectively – partition into two states or imposition of Israeli sovereignty over all of the land – are fatally flawed: partition is impossible for security reasons, and sovereignty for demographic/political ones. Management is seen as suboptimal by both sides; but he thinks there’s no alternative.

Unsurprisingly, the weakest part of Goodman’s argument is his discussion of how the application of appropriate management tools – mostly economic incentives – will ultimately lead to change in Palestinian consciousness, or at least a pragmatic decision by them to accept some form of non-belligerence and even cooperation. Just like the two-staters, Goodman refuses to understand his enemies, because the consequences of doing so are too disturbing.

When the book first came out in Hebrew it was a minor sensation here. Even Bibi Netanyahu, the man the NY Times loved to call “Israel’s hard-line right-wing PM,” was seen carrying it. In any event, the basic idea, if not the details, of managing the conflict seem to have been adopted as policy by the entire political center, including Netanyahu, Bennett, Gantz, Lapid, and others. This approach especially appeals to professional politicians, because almost by definition politicians love short-term, kick-the-can-down-the-road “solutions” to recalcitrant problems. Why take risks when you don’t have to?

According to this approach, everything that can be done to improve the Palestinian economy (as if there is one in any real sense!) should be done, within the constraints of our security. The PA areas will get 4G (someday even 5G) phone/internet service; we continue to sell fuel and electricity to Hamas-ruled Gaza; more work permits are being granted to residents of the territories even as we try to plug the holes in the security fence along the Green Line. Sometimes this policy leads to absurdities. For example, in accordance with the Oslo Accords, Israel collects import taxes on behalf of the PA and transfers the money to it. After the Knesset passed a law to deduct from this a sum equivalent to the amount the PA pays imprisoned terrorists or the families of “martyred” ones, Defense Minister Gantz arranged a “loan” to the PA to offset its loss!

Note that the arguments for and against this policy are not couched in terms of whether it is a good thing for us to help the PA, but rather the security implications of it. So Gantz argues that it is important to support the PA, because if it collapses Hamas will take over in Judea and Samaria, which would be worse for us than the Fatah-dominated PA. The same goes for Gaza: by allowing the Hamas leadership to enrich itself by diverting cash received from Qatar and by providing Gaza with water to drink and electricity to operate rocket factories, we (at least for a while) encourage them not to launch those rockets. But nobody asks about the long-term consequences of in effect paying our enemies to not kill us.

Management involves the judicious use of sticks as well as carrots. There are almost nightly raids in Judea/Samaria to arrest or kill terrorists who are planning attacks. There are periodic warlets with Hamas in which weapons factories and depots are bombed. Just this past week, the IDF cut the head off of a particularly nasty group of terrorists, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (but money will flow from Iran, younger men will step up, and the head will grow back).

The short-term nature of this policy is obvious. The PA/PLO leadership and that of Hamas, as well as the great mass of Palestinian Arabs who share their ideology (whether or not they care for the corrupt and dictatorial leadership) are not made more moderate by this policy. Indeed, it is insulting to them to suggest that! As I have written before, resistance is an essential characteristic of Palestinian identity. Indeed, it is the only truly unique part of specifically Palestinian culture, the part that distinguishes them from other Arabs. It is the reason we can have peace with the UAE, for example, but not Hamas. We cannot buy and beat them into giving up their identity.

In response to the argument that economic improvements and education will ultimately lead to moderation, I point to the Arab citizens of Israel and the Arabs of Jerusalem. In both cases, they have better standards of living, healthcare, educational and occupational opportunities, and more political freedom than Arabs living anywhere else in the Middle East. And yet, in recent decades they have become more radicalized, as illustrated by last May’s riots in Israel’s mixed cities.

Managing the conflict is only a short-term expedient, and a poor one, since it allows our enemies to grow more capable over time, as we have seen with Hamas. After repeated operations to “mow the grass,” we find the grass coming up higher and tougher each time. At some point we will not be able to cut it.

Humans are territorial primates. Modern technology hasn’t changed that, only made it possible for the territories involved to be larger and the wars bloodier. Our conflict is a struggle between peoples for territorial dominance. Although we find it tremendously difficult to face the fact, it is a zero-sum game. One side will win, and the other will disappear from the region. We will not win by underestimating the commitment of our enemies to victory, and even less so by assuming that we can transform them from deadly foes into good neighbors.

Posted in Israel and Palestinian Arabs, Israeli Politics, Terrorism, War | 5 Comments

Facing Reality

Sometimes reality can be difficult, even painful. But resist it as you will, it remains reality. Let me quote Nehemia Shtrasler, a left-wing journalist writing in the left-wing newspaper Ha’aretz:

Humans are tribal creatures by nature. Hundreds of thousands of years ago they lived in tribes that provided them with physical security, food and a sense of belonging. Today the nation-state has replaced the tribe, and its job is to provide the exact same things.

To create loyalty, every nation seeks its own uniqueness reflected in language, culture, history and religion. Therefore, when two peoples are forced to live in a single state, it will end in a civil war in which each nation will try to seize power. It happened in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Cyprus, Northern Ireland and Kurdistan, and that’s a partial list. That’s also the reason for the disintegration of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia into several nation-states.

Therefore, “one state” with two peoples means an all-out war using every available means, including terror and murder, between Jews and Arabs…

Shtrasler has caught a glimpse of the reality facing the State of Israel. It’s a horrifying prediction, as illustrated by the examples he gives. We have seen the disaster that is Lebanon from close by, and we don’t want it to happen here. Shtrasler understands this as well, but he, like the rest of the Israeli left, cannot face the implications, cannot accept what must be done to preserve the Jewish state. And so he moves from reality to fantasy:

The Jews preserved their national identity in exile for 2,000 years until they could return to the land of their ancestors and establish a nation-state. And that’s exactly what the Palestinians want now: an independent nation-state, separate from Israel, where they can express their national aspirations.

Of course this is exactly what they do not want, at least, it is not what any possible Palestinian leadership wants. The reversal of the Nakba has become an essential part of Palestinian identity and Palestinian politics. But Shtrasler and many others, including the American president and State Department, as well as the European Union, find it necessary to adopt some form of this fantasy because they can’t face reality.

Shtrasler correctly sees that one state containing Jews and a significant minority of Arabs will devolve into civil war. But he thinks that dividing the state (and its capital), and giving half of it away to the Arabs will satisfy them. He has not thought far enough ahead to see that the day after the partition of the land into two states, the war will not end. It will simply relocate to whatever part of the land has been (supposedly) left to the Jews, while at the same time the ability of Israel to defend herself against her external enemies will be greatly, even fatally, impaired.

The reality is that there will only be one state. A truncated Israel or, for that matter, a tiny “Palestine” will not be viable as sovereign states in today’s world. And the conflict between peoples in the single state is real, and is going on now. If you doubt that, think about last May’s anti-Jewish pogroms in the mixed cities well within the pre-1967 boundaries. Pay attention to the statistics (Hebrew link) for small- and large-scale terrorism against Jewish civilians by Arabs in the first half of 2022. Think about all the places in Israel – inside and outside the Green Line – that an unarmed Jew cannot safely go.

The question is not between “one or two states.” It is between “one Jewish state or one Arab state,” and if the choice is the latter, then the inhabitants of the Jewish state that survive the struggle will be dispersed yet again in a very unfriendly world.

An Israeli government that wants to preserve the state needs to adopt policies different from those of the recent past. It must acknowledge the conflict between peoples and fight to win it, rather than try to attain the delusional coexistence that we know is impossible. It must act to recover sovereignty in all of Eretz Yisrael, including all of Jerusalem, the Negev, and the Galilee. It must settle Jews throughout the land. And it must expel hostile Arabs (members of Hamas, Fatah, and similar groups). It must encourage Jews in the rest of the world to make aliyah, and encourage non-Jews to leave.

This is a program that could not be more politically incorrect in this age. It’s not particularly “democratic,” as the term is used today. And yet, there is no alternative. The Arabs understand this, as I suspect that their allies in Europe do as well. It’s time Israel’s Jewish leaders did too.

Posted in Israel and Palestinian Arabs, Israeli Arabs, Terrorism, The Future, War | 4 Comments

Why Israel Should Not Talk to the PA

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has let it be known that its 86-year old leader, Mahmoud Abbas, is prepared to talk to Israel’s caretaker Prime Minister, Yair Lapid, about a “diplomatic horizon” for the Palestinians. No doubt this is prompted by the planned visit of US President Joe Biden to Israel and the PA next week.

That would be a terrible idea.

Start with the fact that Abbas is in poor health, and the wolves are already gathering to pick the bones of his fat carcass (the PA is a money machine for those who are “connected.” Yasser Arafat died with a net worth of more than $4 billion, and Abbas is said to have at least $100 million salted away). There is no reason to think that the dictator who follows will have any reason to live up to any promises Abbas makes. Not that the PA has ever kept any of its promises, starting with the ones made by Arafat in 1993, especially the one about “fighting terrorism:” rather than opposing it, Arafat planned, ordered, and paid for it. As far as we know Abbas has only encouraged terrorism, and paid the salaries of the perpetrators after the fact.

But the main problem with talking to the PA is that there is no coincidence of interests between Israel and the PA. If we draw Venn diagrams of the minimum demands made by the PA and the maximum concessions that Israel could afford to make (and vice versa), the intersections will be empty. There is no “creative” way to solve this problem.

For example, consider Israel’s most basic demand: the PA must stop paying the salaries of terrorists. Most Israelis would see this as a reasonable precondition for negotiations. But Abbas has consistently refused, saying that he would pay “every penny” to the prisoners, even if it meant cutting salaries to PA employees.

Any real peace agreement would also have to include the Palestinians dropping their demand for a “right of return” to Israel for the five million Arabs with refugee status. This too would be unthinkable for them, and is why they have always refused to agree that Israel has a right to exist as a Jewish state.

There are other issues, like Jerusalem, that don’t have compromise solutions.

Why is this so? Let’s look deeper.

Perhaps the Jews and Arabs of Eretz Yisrael in 1948 could have reached a compromise, if they had been left alone. But that was prevented by the manipulations of Britain, which wished to retain control of the region, and which encouraged the Arabs – both in Palestine and the surrounding Arab nations – to believe that they could have the whole thing for themselves. The Arabs in the region had also absorbed a vicious antisemitism, from Nazi propaganda during the war as well as from German Nazis who fled to the Middle East to avoid prosecution for war crimes.

In the period after the war, and especially starting in the 1960s, the Arabs of Eretz Yisrael became Palestinians. On the advice of the KGB they adopted the identity of a colonized third-world indigenous people fighting for their freedom against European imperialists (the Jews!). Arabs that had first seen themselves primarily as members of their clans living in “southern Syria,” and later, in the days of Nasser, as members of a larger pan-Arab nation, began to think of themselves as connected to the land of “Palestine,” which just happened to be coextensive with Eretz Yisrael. They developed a “Palestinian” narrative: they were the indigenous owners of the land, which was then stolen from them by the Jews.

They developed a unique culture (cult?) based on their dispossession and their hatred of the Jews that they believed had stolen both their birthright and their honor. Their heroes became those who struck back at the Jews as violently as possible. Their music, art, and literature is about their struggle against Israel. Everything bad that has happened to them is blamed on the original great crime committed against them, the Nakba, while their own behavior, no matter how violent or immoral, is justified by it. This fits in neatly with Western post-colonialism, which holds that a colonized people has a right to resist their colonizers by any means.

The PLO was an amalgam of terrorist organizations, originally a tool of the KGB, which was responsible for countless acts of terrorism directly against Israel or in the international arena. In 1982 its leaders – having been pushed out of Israel, Jordan, and Lebanon – were banished to exile in Tunis. But in 1993, Israel, pushed by an Israeli Left and an American president who were naïve about Arafat and the PLO, committed the greatest strategic error in her history and allowed Arafat to set up the Palestinian Authority, taking control of most of the Arab population of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza (the PA lost Gaza to Hamas in 2007, two years after Israel withdrew). He quickly established an educational and media system to indoctrinate his subjects with the antisemitic Palestinian narrative. This succeeded brilliantly, and today Arab youths from the PA have become capable of slaughtering random Jews because they are Jews. And when this happens, they are lionized by the PA media.

If you understand this, you understand that asking the PA to stop paying terrorists, to accept Israel as the state of the Jewish people – and not as stolen Palestinian Arab property – is to ask them to give up their Palestinian identity. What makes them Palestinians and not just Arabs who happen to be in Eretz Yisrael is their opposition to the Jews that dispossessed them, and their righteous struggle to reverse the Nakba.

Their struggle will not end until they succeed in placing all of Eretz Yisrael under Arab sovereignty. It’s often said that the Arabs illogically turned down several offers of statehood. But all of these offers postulated the continued existence of a Jewish state in part of the land; none of them included the “right of return” for the descendants of 1948 Arab refugees that would guarantee the end of the Jewish state and the reversal of the Nakba. There is nothing illogical about their choosing to continue the struggle rather than to give up their identity.

The State of Israel is and always will be in a permanent state of war with the PLO, Hamas, or any other group that sees itself as a Palestinian standard-bearer. The idea of a “two-state solution” – that an additional partition of Eretz Yisrael and the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state can end the conflict – is absurd, because it is based on a complete misunderstanding of Palestinian aspirations.

Joe Biden, or whoever pulls his strings, believes in the two-state idea, whether out of naïveté or anti-Zionism. American policy since 1967 – with the exception of the Trump Administration – has operated to try to weaken Israeli sovereignty in all the areas outside of pre-1967 Israel, including eastern Jerusalem. While the idea of “land for peace” might have borne fruit when the interlocutors were the Arab nations (although the jury is still out on the stability of the peace between Israel and Egypt), it cannot possibly succeed when the supposed “peace partners” are Palestinians, for the reasons discussed above. It’s also essential to note that, like the Golan Heights, the high ground of Judea and Samaria and the Jordan Valley must remain under Israeli control so that Israel can defend herself against attack.

Biden’s visit will certainly include pressure on Israel to make concessions relating to sovereignty in the territories and Jerusalem. Israel should resist the pressure, and also the idea of negotiations with the PA, unless – as will not happen – the PA agrees to stop paying terrorists and indoctrinating its population with the idea that murdering Jews is the highest form of Palestinian patriotism. Rather, Israel should reemphasize the most basic principle of Zionism – Jewish settlement in all of Eretz Yisrael – and act accordingly.

Posted in 'Peace' Process, Israel and Palestinian Arabs, Terrorism, US-Israel Relations, Zionism | 4 Comments

A “Dear Europe” Letter

Negotiations are underway between Israel and the European Union for Israel to sell natural gas to Europe, which wishes to end its dependence on Russia for fuel. Italy and Germany presently get 40% and 35% of their gas from Russia, respectively. Russia recently informed Finland – which just announced that it would like to join NATO – that it would stop selling it gas. The dispute is officially about a Russian demand to be paid in rubles, and it represents only a small amount of Finland’s energy supply, but the political overtones are unmistakable. The delivery of Israeli gas, via Egypt, could begin as early as this coming winter.

Naturally, I welcome the idea that Israel will be able to help the Europeans in their time of need. It can get very cold in Europe in the winter. So I have prepared a draft of a letter that our government could send to the EU in order to get the ball rolling. It’s warmish now at the end of May, but Berlin, for example, is located at 54.5 north latitude, and temperatures there in January average 1 degree C. So let’s get started!

Dear European Friends and Allies,

We in Israel are excited to hear of your interest in buying some of our natural gas. We’ll be happy to sell it to you. But there are a few small bumps in the road to iron out first. So here they are:

  1. We demand that you reverse your blatantly racist decision to demand that Israeli products from Judea, Samaria, the Golan Heights, and eastern Jerusalem be labeled according to the ethnicity of the producer, and not as products of Israel (see 16 here).
  2. Your subsidizing of illegal construction by Palestinian Arabs in Area C of Judea and Samaria, a zone which by international treaty is supposed to be under full Israeli civil and security control, is an egregious violation of Israeli sovereignty and international law, and must stop immediately.
  3. Your continued financial support, which amounts to millions of Euros annually, to subversive Israeli NGOs, terror-linked organizations in the Palestinian Authority, Gaza, and other locations, and NGOs promoting antisemitic conspiracy theories as well as BDS and lawfare against Israel, constitutes non-military warfare against the Jewish state. We demand a halt to this activity.
  4. Your consistent support for our enemies in the UN in their efforts to deny and obscure the Jewish history of sites such as the Temple Mount, despite the overwhelming archaeological and historical evidence, demonstrates bad faith or cowardice, and is not consistent with a desire for good relations.
  5. Your desire to reach an accommodation with Iran that will allow the regime to have nuclear weapons is not only threatening to Israel, it is dangerous to yourselves, who will soon be in range of Iranian missiles.

We understand that you have strong feelings of guilt for your colonialist past, and for the collaboration of many Europeans with the Nazi effort to liquidate the Jewish people. But it’s absurd, even pathological, to try to ameliorate these feelings by helping the heirs of the Nazis, whose leaders included Hitler’s associate Amin al-Husseini and the Father of Terrorism Yasser Arafat, to continue the Nazis’ genocidal program. We suggest that you apply some of the millions – perhaps billions – that you will save by ending your financial and diplomatic war against Israel to actual humanitarian causes.

We also understand that a growing segment of your population is Muslim, and that the great majority of them are anti-Zionist, even antisemitic. Pandering to these attitudes can be useful for short-term political gain, but you should understand that they are also anti-Western. Appeasing them is much like feeding a crocodile in the hope that he will eat you last (apologies to Winston Churchill).

We are looking forward to working to provide you with a warm winter, just as soon as you reverse your irrational anti-Israel policies!*

Israel

___________________________
* I’m not holding my breath.

Posted in Europe and Israel, Information war, Iran, Terrorism | 11 Comments

Shireen abu Akleh’s Blood is on Palestinian Hands

If the production called “the death of Muhammad al-Dura” is the Gone With the Wind of Pallywood,* then the recent extravaganza starring Shireen abu Akleh is on its way to becoming its Star Wars. Both of these affairs have been huge wins for the Palestinians in the world-wide arena of information warfare.

The image of the frightened 12-year old al-Dura, allegedly under fire by Israeli soldiers, became the inspiration for the violence of the Second Intifada. In the words of journalist Nidra Poller, it

…instantly ignited anti-Israel and anti-Jewish passions all over the world, provoking a wave of violence from the lynching of two Israeli reservists in Ramallah to synagogue burnings in France. In the ensuing years, the story of Muhammad al-Dura has attained near-mythic stature in the Arab and Muslim world. …

That the death of Muhammad al-Dura was the real emotional pretext for the ensuing avalanche of Palestinian violence—and a far more potent trigger than Sharon’s “provocative” visit to the Temple Mount—is attested by the immediate and widespread dissemination of his story and of the pietà-like image of his body lying at his father’s feet. Streets, squares, and schools have since been named for the young Islamic shahid. His death scene has been replicated on murals, posters, and postage stamps, even making an iconic appearance in the video of Daniel Pearl’s beheading.

European TV stations and Aljazeera showed the video of al-Dura – made by Palestinian cameraman Talal Abu Rahmeh – over and over, and the respected French commentator, France 2’s (Jewish) Jerusalem bureau chief, Charles Enderlin, vouched for its authenticity – and provided a heart-rending voice-over.

IDF and Israeli government officials, blindsided, at first stuttered incoherently and even apologized for killing al-Dura, although it shortly became clear that it was impossible that IDF fire could have hit al-Dura and his father. Either Palestinians shot al-Dura or he was not shot at all. The evidence – Poller’s article includes a good summary of it – indicates that the entire scene was faked.

Despite that, neither the Palestinians nor Enderlin ever admitted that the truth was anything other than that brutal IDF soldiers had deliberately and painfully assassinated a Palestinian child, just because they could. And why should they admit anything? Virtually everyone was prepared to believe their lies, except for Israelis and a handful of Zionist bloggers and journalists.

The al-Dura story supported one aspect of Palestinian propaganda that has always been prominent – the accusation that the IDF deliberately targets Palestinian children. This is despite the fact that the truth is precisely the opposite: the IDF tries to avoid harming civilians, especially children; while the Palestinians have carried out numerous attacks whose victims included numerous children: the Bus of Blood (Coastal Road Massacre), the Ma’alot massacre, the attack on Misgav Am, the Dolphinarium and Sbarro Pizza bombings, and more.

Whether it is simply projection – accusing your enemy of the crimes that you commit –  or whether the technique was suggested to them by psychological warfare experts, the Palestinian libels of the IDF have been effective. Perhaps this is because the historical blood libels, in which Jews are accused of kidnapping, torturing, and killing non-Jewish children, still live in in the dark corners of modern minds.

The story of the killing of Shireen abu Akleh is different in one way from Muhammad al-Dura’s: the al-Dura libel required some work to set up, while the gift of abu Akleh just fell into Palestinian hands. The Aljazeera reporter was embedded with terrorists associated with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Jenin, where she was caught in a firefight between them and IDF soldiers. The Palestinians immediately announced that abu Akleh had been deliberately shot – “executed” – by IDF snipers. This was echoed immediately in anti-Israel media, and especially in social media, where self-appointed experts like Susan Sarandon, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib explained that she had been “murdered” in cold blood by Israel.

Abu Akleh was very popular and well-liked in the Arabic-speaking world, and especially among Palestinians. It’s understandable that they are upset and mourning her death. But it would be wrong to accept their verdict of murder against the IDF. At this point it is not known whether the bullet that killed her came from an Israeli or Palestinian gun. Even if the former turns out to be true – and the Palestinians have refused to cooperate in an investigation – assassinating popular journalists would be extremely counterproductive for Israel. If it were an IDF bullet, it was certainly not deliberately aimed at abu Akleh.

In any event, the source of the bullet is entirely irrelevant to the responsibility for her death. The firefight happened because terrorists have murdered 19 Israelis in the past several weeks – and here there is no question of intent! More murders have only been prevented by the actions of security forces, such as the operation in Jenin. Jenin has been the epicenter of terror attacks, and the IDF was there in order to arrest terrorists who were planning additional attacks. Shireen abu Akleh’s blood is on the hands of the terrorists, along with that of the Israelis they murdered.

None of this matters to the entire Arab and Muslim world, to most of Europe, and to many circles in the US and Canada as well, where Palestinian claims are accepted without question. Palestinians and their supporters have long since decided that “the occupation” – that is, the presence of a Jewish state of any size anywhere between the river and the sea – is the root cause of everything bad that happens there. In their view, Jewish victims of terrorism are “settlers,” whose killing is not unjust; the terrorists who murder them, with knives, axes, and guns, are heroes, not criminals; and Israel’s army and police are oppressors who must be resisted by any means possible. Arguments about bullets, therefore, are not to the point.

Palestinian leaders understand their audience, and they know that strong emotions, such as those evoked by the death of a popular personality like abu Akleh, can be turned against Israel. The more emotional the situation, the more useful it will be to inspire acts of violence against Israelis. The objective is a wave of “lone wolf” terrorism that cannot be directly tied to the organizations inciting it. Social media even makes it possible for the PLO and Hamas to outsource not only their terrorism, but the incitement as well.

So the Palestinians have pulled out all the stops, with a funeral perhaps larger than any since that of Yasser Arafat. They have unleashed their friendly media, which parrots their accusations of a deliberate execution, and every anti-Israel voice on social media as well. There will be schools and streets and summer camps named after the “martyr,” and little girls will model themselves after her. She will become a symbol of “resistance.”

There is no doubt that, as happened with al-Dura, we will soon hear terrorists claiming that they were inspired to do their bloody work in memory of Shireen abu Akleh.

_______________________________
* The term “Pallywood” was coined by Richard Landes to describe fake news videos created by Palestinians. See his video, “Pallywood, ‘According to Palestinian Sources…’.

Posted in Information war, Israel and Palestinian Arabs, Media, Terrorism | 1 Comment

Hamas Must Be Destroyed

Whoever has a gun should prepare it, and whoever does not have a gun should prepare his cleaver, axe, or knife. – Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar, 30 April 2022.

Nothing characterized Jewish life everywhere during the two millennia of diaspora more than the contingency of it. There were good times, bad times, and worse times, but unless some non-Jewish power protected them temporarily – and it was always temporary – anything could be done to the Jews. Their property could be stolen, their women violated, their homes burned. Over and over.

In her article Nostalgia for a Slaughterhouse, Phyllis Chesler contrasts the reality of the turn-of-the-century shtetel with the sentimental picture of Anatevka presented in Fiddler on the Roof, and quotes researcher Irina Astashkevich’s description of the second day of the pogrom, after the Cossacks and the Jews’ gentile neighbors had already stolen everything of value:

The carnival of violence, complete with scenes of torture, rape, and murder, played out on the second day of the pogrom as ‘celebratory street theater.’ Pogrom perpetrators purposefully drove Jews into the streets and hunted down their victims … acts of torture took place in front of an audience of pogrom perpetrators, the local population, and frightened Jews. The ritualized violence reiterated the previous pogroms, but often in a more grotesque and horrifying form. The elderly couple, Yudko Gurshevoy, aged seventy-five, and his wife Bruckha, mad with fear, were stripped naked and forced to run through the streets as hunted animals, cheered by the Cossacks. Pogromschiki bayoneted their victims, careful not to kill them, but to leave the wounded to suffer and bleed to death in agony that lasted sometimes for several days. Elderly parents were left to die, while their families were not allowed to help them … Pogromschiki made sure that all the apothecaries were wrecked, and there was no medical assistance; the only remaining non-Jewish medical practitioner was strictly prohibited to provide any help to the Jews on pain of death.

Astashkevich notes that in the Pale of Settlement during the period 1917-21 there were “over a thousand pogroms in about five hundred localities.” Anyone who has even a sight acquaintance with Jewish history knows that similar happenings were common everywhere and at any time in the Christian and Muslim worlds that the Jews inhabited, always as a powerless minority. Blood libels that triggered anti-Jewish riots were common during the medieval period, and have continued into the 21st century.

In June of 1941, Jews had lived in Iraq for more than two millennia, since the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem in 586 BCE. The Babylonian Talmud was composed here. But here too, Jewish life was always contingent. And in June of 1941 it came to an end in the Farhud, a bloody pogrom inspired by a pro-Nazi regime. Official estimates of the number of Jews murdered are in the range of 100-200, but more recent evidence indicates that the true number may be closer to 1000. The number of raped and maimed is unknown. In any event, it was the beginning of the end for the Jewish presence in Iraq; and in 1952 almost all of the remaining Jews were ransomed by the Israeli government and airlifted to Israel, forced to leave behind (as always) their possessions, including businesses and real estate worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

The custom, indeed the institution, that it is always open season on the Jewish people, reached its zenith with the Holocaust, which industrialized the impoverishment, torture, degradation and murder of Jews. We were treated like insects, even exterminated using a product originally intended for fumigation.

The phrase “Never Again,” if it means anything, should mean that the state of imminent victimhood in which Jews have found themselves since 586 BCE must never be allowed to recur. One of the purposes of establishing the Jewish state, which required a massive sacrifice of Jewish lives, was to accomplish this.

But we have not succeeded. Pogroms occur even here in the Jewish state, small scale ones that we call “terrorism,” and larger ones like the “riots” of May 2021 when our Israeli Arab neighbors attacked Jews in the streets, burned their homes and synagogues, and murdered them. On a continuing basis, the small-scale terrorism of rock-throwing and crime-as-jihad happen every single day, wherever Jews and Arabs come into contact with one another.

From time to time, the Jewish state is attacked with barrages of deadly rockets, which kill just a few Jews each time, because the vaunted Jewish intellect and great chunks of Jewish money have built domes of iron (and now, laser beams) to hide behind while our enemies take their potshots at us. Our carefully measured military responses take exquisite care to protect enemy civilians, and always stop before actually defeating the enemy. And afterwards, we avert our eyes as Gaza receives cash from Qatar and cement from Israel, ostensibly to help civilian victims of the conflict, but in fact is used by Hamas to dig more tunnels and build more rockets.

All our wars since 1948 have been, in a political sense, defensive. Even in 1967, when the IDF took control of great swaths of territory, including the heartland of the Land of Israel, one of the first acts of our leadership afterwards was to return the heart of the heartland, the Temple Mount, to Muslim Arab control. In following years, instead of a massive drive to settle the liberated and conquered lands and to drive our enemies out of them, our politicians tried to find ways to return them to our enemies in return for “peace.”

The message that we have been broadcasting non-stop for the last few decades, and that our enemies have been receiving loud and clear, is that “we will defend ourselves, but only just enough to stop your immediate assault.” So naturally, as soon as they can, they try again. And the same goes for our response to terrorism, both large and small-scale. Apprehended terrorists, even mass murderers, are temporarily incarcerated in institutions that they to a great extent control, while their families are richly rewarded by the Palestinian Authority, with money that comes from Israel, Europe, and the USA.

So yes, the situation of the Jews is better today in Israel than it was in Kishinev in 1903, or Iraq in 1941-52. But the basic nature of our response is the same: pay the ransom if possible, and ward off the blows if not. What we do not do is change the perception of the Jew as the victim-in-waiting. What we do not do is discredit, for once and for all, the idea that it is normal to try to kill Jews.

On the evening of 4 May 2022, a few days after Yahya Sinwar exhorted them to use their knives and axes, two terrorists entered the town of Elad in central Israel, murdered three Jews and injured seven others – with knives and axes, as instructed. This continues a streak of terrorism that began in March in which a total of 19 Israelis (including Druze and Christian Arabs) have been killed by Palestinian terrorists.

This is nothing particularly out of the ordinary. The messages that come from the official media of Hamas and the groups that make up the PLO (which constitutes the Palestinian Authority), is that killing Jews is praiseworthy, murderers are heroes, and that continued violent “resistance” will bring about the removal of the Jews from every bit of the land from the river to the sea. This message also permeates social media, mosques in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza (including the al-Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount), the educational systems of the PA and UNRWA, and every aspect of “Palestinian” culture.

It is time, for the first time since the end of the War of Independence, to permanently end the pernicious perception of Jews as appropriate victims. It is time for all of our enemies to understand that killing Jews or even trying to do so is not an option, because the cost will be astronomical for them. It is time to finally actualize the promise inherent in the slogan “Never Again.”

Today we have a golden opportunity to do this, to demonstrate that finally, after more than two millennia, it is not normal to try to kill Jews.

MK Itamar Ben Gvir of the Otzma Yehudit faction, responded to the terror attack in Elad, saying “in a normal country, an Air Force flyover would now be dropping missiles on the house of [Hamas leader] Yahya Sinwar, who called for attacks with weapons and axes, and killing him. This is how you cut off terrorism.” Some call Ben Gvir an extremist, but numerous other politicians and media personalities agreed with him. The argument against killing Sinwar is that he would be replaced, and terrorism would continue. And Hamas has threatened that if he or any other Hamas official is harmed, they would respond with “immediate war,” including suicide bombings in Israeli cities, like those that took hundreds of Israeli lives during the Second Intifada.

But Israel should assassinate Sinwar tomorrow, and as many of his associates in the leadership of Hamas as possible. And she should preempt the threatened war with a war of her own, on Hamas in Gaza as well as its cells in Judea, Samaria, eastern Jerusalem, and anywhere else they are found. The operation should be carried out in accordance with international law; that is, so that collateral damage to civilian lives and property is proportional to military necessity – as opposed to the previous policy of attempting to achieve military objectives with close to zero civilian casualties.

The operation should have a twofold objective: one goal should be purely military – and it should continue until Hamas (and associated factions like Palestinian Islamic Jihad) in Gaza and Judea and Samaria cease to exist. The other should be in the information arena, to declare to the world that Israel will no longer tolerate attempts to murder Jews. Israel must make it clear to her enemies and allies alike that – as Ben Gvir said – we are a “normal country,” and if you try to murder our citizens, you will pay dearly.

Israel has many enemies, and Hamas is only one. There are many areas in which she has lost the sovereignty so painfully obtained in 1948 and 1967. All of these enemies must be deterred or destroyed, and sovereignty recovered – at the Temple Mount, Joseph’s Tomb, Hevron, and even the Negev and the Galilee. There is a long road to follow to take back what has been given up over the years, and to educate the world that the conditions of diasporic oppression that the State of Israel inherited no longer hold. The destruction of Hamas can be the first step on this journey.

Posted in Information war, Israel and Palestinian Arabs, Jew Hatred, Terrorism, War | 15 Comments