Here are some answers to real questions that I’ve been asked. No, I am not an authority on anything, but my views are at least as considered (and probably more so) than those of celebrities and politicians that are often interviewed in the media.
Yes, this will be on the test.
Q: What is the “Palestinian problem?”
A: The Palestinian Arabs will not accept Jewish sovereignty anywhere between the river and the sea. That’s a problem.
Q: Why will solutions that involve Israel evacuating Jews from some of the land and establishing a Palestinian state always fail?
A: See the answer to the first question.
Q: Why won’t they accept any Jewish state in the land of Israel?
A: For pious Muslims, it is against their religion. For all Palestinian Arabs, it is because they firmly believe that all the land belongs to them and it was stolen by the Jews. Therefore, it would dishonor them to give it up.
Q: Why are they so violent?
A: Because the Quran commands it, and because they believe that violence is necessary to regain their honor.
Q: Can we convince the Palestinians that compromise would be to their advantage?
A: No. We can only convince them that violence will result in painful reprisals and push them farther away from their goals.
Q: Who pointed this out long before the founding of the Jewish state?
A: Ze’ev Jabotinsky.
Q: But don’t they care about economic welfare, peace, a good life for their children, and so on?
A: Sure. But it doesn’t override their religion and their concern for honor (this is a fact of great importance that Westerners rarely understand).
Q: Wouldn’t there be less terrorism if the economic conditions of the Palestinians were improved?
A: No, because terrorism is driven by religion and honor-shame dynamics.
Q: But certainly there are moderate Palestinians!
A: There are, but the nature of Palestinian political consciousness is that the popularity of a leader is directly proportional to his extremism.
Q: What about Arab citizens of Israel?
A: In a practical sense most of them accept the existence of the Jewish state and benefit from it. But ideologically most are opposed to it. Look who they elect to the Knesset.
Q: Why do most “peace” plans involve Jews moving, but never Arabs?
A: Because history shows that Jews can be forced to move far more easily than Arabs. And because most of the world, including many Israelis, have been convinced by anti-Jewish propaganda that we don’t belong here.
Q: Will Trump’s “peace” plan be any different?
A: No. See the answer to the first question.
Q: Why does Israel’s government never push back hard enough against terrorism?
A: Because there is an unelected elite that dominates the legal establishment and doesn’t allow it to.
Q: Why do they do that?
A: Because they want to look good to “enlightened” circles in Europe and America, because they themselves are insecure about Israel’s right to exist, or both.
Q: Why is Iran so hostile to Israel?
A: Iran’s leaders want to establish a Shiite caliphate in the Middle East and they want to become a world power. They see America as their most important opponent and Israel as an American outpost. They are also motivated by Islamic ideology, which tells them that Jewish sovereignty over “Muslim land” is an abomination.
Q: What will stop Iran’s expansionism?
A: Either the Iranian people will overthrow the repressive regime or Iran will be defeated militarily. There’s no other option.
Q: Will there be war between Israel and Iran?
A: Unless something unforeseen happens – like a counter-revolution in Iran or an attack by the US – it is inevitable. Iran is constantly making strategic moves against Israel, such as Hezbollah’s rocket buildup, introducing Iraqi Shiite militias into Syria, digging attack tunnels under the Lebanese border, building precision missile factories in Lebanon, and – last but not least – the clandestine nuclear program. Israel is trying to blunt these initiatives as much as possible, but at some point it will be impossible to avoid a confrontation.
Q: When will war break out?
A: It’s hard to say. PM Netanyahu has been doing his utmost to combat the threat without opening full-scale hostilities. But as I wrote last week, there could be changes to the leadership in the UK and the US that would make it much harder for Israel to prevail, which could bring about a preemptive war sooner rather than later.
Q: What’s the matter with liberal American Jews?
A: American liberals in general simply do not hear the truth about Israel. The information available to them is strained through a very biased filter of liberal media like NPR, the NY Times, and similar print and broadcast media, which are all committed to a 2-state paradigm that was created in the early 1990s with the Oslo accords. The Israeli public moved beyond this as a result of the Second Intifada and the consequences of the withdrawal from Gaza, but the American media never changed its slant.
Q: Why is this?
A: In the past, the US State Department, the oil companies, and others followed the Saudi line established in 1973 that called for the reversal of the results of the wars of 1967/73. The media dutifully followed along.
Q: And more recently?
A: During the fight over the Iran deal, the Obama Administration associated PM Netanyahu with its Republican opposition. Support for Israel became a partisan issue. The administration (which was close to the Israeli Left) and its friendly media strongly pushed the idea that Netanyahu is a right-wing extremist, that Israel is becoming undemocratic and theocratic, and similar themes. The leadership of the Reform movement, with which many liberal Jews are aligned, also took this line. Liberal Jews have no trusted source of information about Israel that presents any other point of view than that of the Israeli Left.
Q: Please compare antisemitism and anti-Zionism.
A: Antisemitism is irrational, unjustifiable, hatred of Jews. It involves fantasizing conspiracies, blaming Jews for everything bad that happens in the world, and believing any accusation made against Jews, no matter how fantastic, without proof. It associates Jews with evil forces in the world, be they the Devil, Bolshevism, or capitalism. Anti-Zionism is all that stuff, except its target is the Jewish state. Scratch one and you will usually find the other.
Q: Is antisemitism getting worse throughout the world?
A: Definitely. There are more violent incidents in both Europe and America. There are also many more relatively non-violent expressions of antisemitic and anti-Zionist ideas.
Q: Who’s responsible?
A: The old-fashioned extreme Right, the more modern “intersectional” Left, and Muslims. The violence in Europe seems to be primarily from Muslims, while in America the extreme Right has perpetrated most of the violent incidents. On American campuses, the Left and Muslims have been responsible for increasingly strident anti-Zionist expression.
Q: Will it get worse in America?
A: Politics in America have become polarized to a degree that is unprecedented in my lifetime. A sharp reaction to Trump’s presidency could bring the left wing of the Democratic Party to power, which is characterized by strongly anti-Zionist views. At the same time, the internet and social media have empowered the extreme Right, who now see themselves free to express ideas that were formerly taboo.
Q: What are the most relevant lessons from the Holocaust for today’s situation?
A: First, it is quite possible that they really do want to kill us. And second, we only have ourselves to rely on.
Q: What is the best response to antisemitism?
A: A powerful Jewish state. Not only is it a refuge for Jews facing persecution elsewhere, it can serve as an example of Jewish strength and self-defense.
Q: What is the single most unappreciated gift Hashem has given to the Jewish people in two millennia?
A: Sovereignty in our own land.
Q: In addition to being thankful to Hashem, what is the appropriate response to this gift?
A: To treasure and protect it. To never let it slip away.