Death of a Reporter

Al Jazeera’s Abu Akleh died as much in the line of fire asin the lie of fire!

By David E. Kaplan

So much has been written on the tragic death of Shireen Abu-Akleh, most of it critical of Israel, accusing the Jewish state of pre-meditated murder. All these allegations are unsubstantiated but this is no matter to the purveyors of falsehoods, who are milking her death only to besmirch Israel. Should it be established that the bullet that killed the Al Jazeera news correspondent was by an unintentional stray bullet as she was caught in a crossfire while covering clashes between Israeli troops and Palestinian gunmen during an Israel Defense Forces operation in the West Bank city of Jenin or even a bullet from a Palestinian terrorist – both of which are highly possible – this story will be dropped like a hot potato.

Why?

Because its value as an anti-Israel weapon will have been neutralized.

The durable interest in this story was NEVER about Abu Akleh; it was only about how to blame Israel for her death.

When it comes to coverage of Israel, ‘NEWS’ today is more about ‘aiming’ than pointing the cameras, and the death of Shireen Abu Akleh by a bullet is a latest example until the next proverbial ‘round’!

A TWIST IN THE ‘TALE’

However, there has been another twist in Shireen Abu Akleh’s death that is proving both revealing and disturbingly illuminating.  Writing for the Kuwaiti daily newspaper al-Qabas, Ahmad al-Sarraf  sounds an alarm about a racial chink in the character of “the Arab world” today in his June 3 article ‘IF I WERE ISRAELI’.

No friend of Israel, the Kuwaiti journalist  doesn’t break rank with his anti-Israel cohorts when he characterizes her death as “murder” and accuses Israel of the deed, writing that she:

 “was struck by a treacherous Israeli bullet that took her life, while carrying out her duty.”

So yes, he accuses Israel of treacherous murder without any proof, but look what he accuses the Arab world – with proof!

Noting that while “Her murder sparked a storm of intense sympathy, which was accompanied by a strong wave of protests,”  he then goes  to write that when:

 “everyone discovered Shireen’s full name and the fact that she was the daughter of Nasri Antoine Abu Akleh…… people understood that she was Christian.”

Projecting Prejudice. Popular Libyan Islamic Scholar Sheikh Zain Khairallah: “Palestinian Journalist Shireen Abu Akleh Was A Christian, So We Are Forbidden From Praying For Allah To Have Mercy On Her Soul”

One would think – So what!

Continues al-Sarraf in the Kuwaiti daily:

 At once, public opinion throughout the Arab world changed – and the same people who had just announced her a martyr stripped her of that title. There were even those who asked to stop praying for her soul, since mercy can only be sought for a Muslim. A Kuwaiti cleric known for his extremist views issued a fatwa ruling that she was an infidel that should be shown no mercy. If I were Israeli, I wouldn’t have been able to find a better story or tragedy than that of Shireen Abu Akleh as an example that the Arab world doesn’t deserve any respect. If Abu Akleh’s own people show no sympathy for her death, then why should Israelis do so?  

The Arab nation lost an Arab woman who dedicated her life to the protection of her homeland. If the Arab people can’t describe that woman as a martyr, why should their enemies describe her as such?”

A Bad Call. Following Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh being shot dead  amid gunfire between Israeli forces and Palestinian gunmen in the West Bank, another Islamic scholar courted controversy in his May 13  tweet by calling on Muslims to not pray for her.

He concludes his article with:

As an Israeli, I would genuinely ask myself: Is the Arab world trustworthy? If they reject a loyal daughter of their own, how would they ever come to accept us?”

This development out of the death of Al Jazeera’s Abu Akleh, exposes another distortion prevailing in the middle East – the persecution of Christians in the Middle East. The case of Abu Akleh exposes this because it reveals Arab Muslim attitudes towards Arab Christians in their societies.

Huma Hader writing in his 2017 report ‘The Persecution of Christians in the Middle East’ for University of Birmingham wites in his overview:

A century ago, Christians in the Middle East comprised 20 percent of the population; today, they constitute no more than 3-4 percent of the region’s population (Pew Research Center, 2015; cited in Ben-Meir, 2016). The drastic decline in the number of Christians in the Middle East is considered to be part of a longer-term exodus related to general violence in various countries, lack of economic opportunities in the region, and religious persecution (Katulis et al., 2015; Hanish, 2014; Weiner, 2014).

The Middle East may be the birthplace of Christianity and home to some of its oldest communities, but the Christian population has dropped dramatically over time and this trajectory – including in areas under Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas control – is only going to intensify.

Downgraded in Death. On learning she was Christian, Shireen Abu Akleh was no longer deserving of “prayer for mercy”.
 

AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH

In a 2019 report commissioned by the then British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt found pervasive persecution of Christians, sometimes amounting to genocide in parts of the Middle East that has has prompted “an exodus in the past two decades.”

The report continues that:

“The inconvenient truth is the overwhelming majority (80%) of persecuted religious believers are Christians”.

The exception is in Israel, where the Christian population is growing:

“The Christian population of Israel currently stands at approximately 177,000 citizens, or 2% of the overall population, according to data published by the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) ahead of Christmas (2019).”

So even while a group of 25 bipartisan Congress members -14 Democrats and 11 Republicans – have urged the PA to release the bullet that killed Abu Akleh so it can be forensically examined by Israel, the PA is refusing to do so.

Instead of always blaming Israel irrespective of the facts, the PA should ‘bite the proverbial bullet’ and release the actual bullet.

What is it afraid of again – the TRUTH?





While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs (0&EO).

CHEERLEADERS FOR PALESTINE IGNORE STATE OF CRIMINALITY

By Alex Ryvchin

(courtesy of the Australian Times)

On the last day of April, Yehya Sinwar, the head of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, delivered these instructions to the Palestinian people: “Let everyone who has a rifle, ready it,” he said. “And if you don’t have a rifle, ready your cleaver or an axe, or a knife.”

The Murder Merchant of Gaza. Terror on Israeli streets as Hamas Leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar again stirs up his people to kill Jews.
 

On Thursday the following week, two men from the village of Rummanah, on the northern tip of the West Bank, phoned a Jewish-Israeli driver named Oren Ben Yiftah. Ben Yiftah had regularly transported the two across the security barrier into Israel where they performed occasional work as labourers. That day, Ben Yiftah drove the two Palestinian men to the city of Elad in central Israel. They had told Ben Yiftah they had been hired to carry out urgent repairs at a synagogue. As they neared the synagogue, one man produced an axe, the other a knife and, after a struggle, they hacked Oren Ben Yiftah – a man they knew – to death. The two men then left the car and approached Yonatan Havakuk and Boaz Gol, both easily identifiable by their religious garb as Jewish, and slew the men in the street. Hamas praised the men for their “brave and heroic act”.

The victims, fathers in their 30s and 40s, leave behind a total of 16 children!

Randomly Murdered. Inspired by their leaders to kill, the victims of the Elad terror attack on May 5, 2022, (left to right) Boaz Gol, Yonatan Havakuk and Oren Ben Yiftah (Photo: Courtesy)

It is difficult to imagine a more clear-cut link between incitement to violence and the act itself; between cause and effect. Nineteen Israelis have been murdered in similar street attacks in the past few months.

Hamas has rightly been designated a terrorist organisation in Australia, but the Palestinian Authority, which governs the West Bank, is no less complicit in this process. In a prelude to an earlier spate of lethal stabbing attacks, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas declared:

Al-Aqsa is ours and so is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre”, and the Jews “have no right to desecrate them with their filthy feet”.

Soon after, Palestinian social media was awash with graphics and videos showing how and where to stab a victim to greatest effect.

Official Palestinian Authority TV broadcasts claims of “Zionist” plots to destroy Islamic holy sites, to “burn monasteries and churches” and “bomb the Al-Aqsa Mosque”. Such claims have been used to rally the masses to violence since the 1920s. Needless to say, since Israel unified Jerusalem in 1967, the mosques and monasteries have stood unmolested.

As news of the Elad terror attack broke, young men in Gaza and the West Bank handed out sweets as though marking a festive day. Slain Jewish civilians immediately brighten the mood. Any visitor to a Palestinian village in the West Bank will have seen the banners, posters and public squares dedicated to their “martyrs”. Palestinian propagandists have even taken to photoshopping photos of their captured terrorists, carefully replacing haggard, defeated countenances with assured smiles to convince their youth that there is glory even in capture.

Slaughter on the Streets. Security forces pouring into the scene following terrorist attack in Elad, in central Israel. May 5, 2022 (Photo: Shaul Golan)

Taken together with the PA’s notorious payment of life pensions to the families of terrorists, Palestinian society operates under a system of inducement and reward that has turned the killing of Jews into an industry.

The violent purging of suspected “collaborators” is another feature of this system and reinforces the glory of the resistance and the perfidy of having contact with Jews. Hamas summarily drags suspected collaborators through the streets in the theatrical style of a mid-century junta, and the “moderate” Palestinian Authority still enforces laws that make the sale of land to Jews punishable by death, or life with hard labour if the court is moved to leniency.

The paranoia and fanaticism are not only projected outward at the Jewish menace, but meted out to the most vulnerable in Palestinian society. A law enabling rapists to evade punishment by marrying their victims remained on the books until 2018. “Honour killings” performed by brothers and fathers of sisters and daughters who have brought “shame” to their family occur with a startling regularity. Only 4% of Palestinians believe homosexuality should be accepted.

Needless to say, there is no accountability for, or even great scrutiny of, this criminality and gross intolerance. It certainly doesn’t rate a mention at party conferences or in full-page pro-Palestinian resolutions passed by student unions at ANU (Australia National University in Canberra) and Melbourne University. All is shrouded in the solidarity of slogans or a sort of orientalism that judges Middle Eastern peoples against outrageously low standards.

Selective Understanding. Ignoring Palestinian criminality and acts of terrorism, University of Melbourne Student Union passes an historic pro-Palestinian motion that it stands “with BDS and Solidarity Policy”.

To make them worthy of the adulation, the marches, the bumper stickers, the pledges to peremptorily recognise a Palestinian state, the Palestinians have been reconstructed as a mythical version of themselves, cleansed of all sin and stripped of all responsibility. The consequence of all of this is that there is absolutely no incentive for Palestinians to self-examine let alone reform, let alone develop a society that is functional, just and worthy of a state.

Should our new government wish to revisit Australia’s position on aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it ought to see the Palestinian leadership not as it wishes it to be but as it is, and to hold Palestinian leaders to the same standards as in every other society. Otherwise, we will see policymaking founded in delusion and more lives lost to a system of violence and impunity.




About the writer

Alex Ryvchin is the co-CEO of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry and the author of Zionism – The Concise History.







While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs (0&EO).

MISREPRESENTATION LEADS TO MISHAP

Revealing true intent beneath the facade

By Lawrence Nowosenetz

In his article Time to establish an interfaith solidarity in wake of death of Shireen Abu Akleh’Rasheed Omar (DM 29 May 2022) writes:

 “the freedom struggle of the Palestinian people is not a Muslim struggle, it is an anti-colonial struggle for justice, struggle of reclaiming land, identity and statehood.”  Omar also refers to “the pernicious Zionist propaganda machine that seeks to frame the Palestinian freedom struggle as a religious war between Muslims and Jews.  Quite the contrary is true.”

Is it?

KORANIC TEACHINGS

Koran chapter II verse 91 says:

Drive them from where they drove you out

Islamic teachings provide that lands which become Islamic by  conquest or otherwise, stay Islamic forever and Muslims must expel any non-Muslim rule in a land once governed by Islamic law. The area that was Palestine fell under Muslim rule in  637 AD and with the exception of the Christian crusader period from 1099 to 1187 AD until the British Mandate era in 1923 was a colony under several Muslim empires.  

The Palestinian Authority’s current Mufti Mohammed Hussain stated in the official  PA daily publication  Al-Hayat Al Jadida 13 April 2018:

Palestine, that includes within it, Jerusalem, is waqf land, it is forbidden by Shari’ah law to relinquish it or ease the transfer of ownership of it to enemies, because it is part of the Islamic public property. Granting ownership over Islamic territory or part of it to enemies is invalid and constitutes treason.”

This sounds a lot like a religious war.

No Compromise. Posing in front of the Dome of the Rock at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City, Jerusalem’s Mufti Mohammed Hussein asserts that “Jerusalem, is waqf land” and  “it is forbidden by Shari’ah law to relinquish it”. (Ahmad
Gharabli/AFP)

After the Camp David peace negotiations failed, Yasser Arafat was interviewed by an Israeli  Muslim Arab journalist. He asked Arafat why he walked away from the negotiations. His answer was :

Because the Israelis would not give us 100%”.

Similarly in the peace talks with Israel Prime Minister Ehud Olmert seven years later, Abbas also refused to make any land concessions or compromises.

We have all heard the slogan “from the river to the sea Palestine shall be free”. This geographic area refers to the Jordan river and the Mediterranean sea. It not only includes the West Bank and Gaza but the entire territory of the State of Israel prior to the 1967 Six Day War. The struggle to reclaim land stated by the Omar does not specify what land exactly this entails.

Does he too consider the State of Israel as waqf land? 

In a survey undertaken by the Jerusalem Communications and Media Center published on 6 August 2018, the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank were asked:

 “Is religion in general an important part of your life?”

The answer was yes by 96.8 in the West Bank and by 99.2 in  Gaza . Even allowing for non-Muslims (a minority)  in this poll, it  indicates the centrality of Islam in the Palestinian street.

Fair enough but are its extremist positions not an impediment to genuine rapprochement and peace?

Head to Head. They came close but not close enough – Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and PA head Mahmoud Abbas during their meeting in Jerusalem, Jan. 8, 2008. (REUTERS/Moshe Milner/GPO)

INFLAMING HATRED

Hamas which rules Gaza and has a substantial following in the West Bank is less subtle about its beliefs. Its very name is an acronym for Islamic Resistance Movement and is committed to the total annihilation of Israel.  In recent months, Hamas and several groups in the Gaza Strip announced the formation of a new body, called The National Commission to Support the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories of 1948. The El Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades is a Palestinian armed group, and its name suggests its link to the El Aqsa Mosque being the third most holy site in Islam. The Fatah slogan is:

With spirit with blood we will redeem you Al Aqsa Mosque”.

The fact that the mosque is under the administration of the Jordanian waqf does not seem to make any difference: Israel is to blame.

WAR AGAINST THE JEWS

While a theoretical distinction can be made between Zionists and Jews this is at best tenuous. While not all, most Jews identify with Israel, and Judaism itself is infused with Zionist prayer. Jews are an ancient nation not just adherents of a religion.  Lip service  is paid to the idea that Palestinians have no problem with Judaism. In practice they promote intolerance and hostility.  Palestinians are vociferous about their opposition to Judaisizing Jerusalem. A recent Fatah  video called for Israelis to leave:

 “because you have no history in our Jerusalem, and it is not your homeland.” It also called for “blood” and ended with the chant Allahu Akbar – “Allah is greatest” repeated four times.

(Facebook page of the Fatah Commission of Information and Culture, May 28, 2022)

Fatah also  published  a video with a song calling for Jerusalem “to be freed of the Jews”. It  encouraged Arab states to unite and break down borders between them to “redeem” Jerusalem and prepare “the Jews’ graveyard” (Fatah Facebook page, Oct. 13, 2020)

Palestinian terrorists who have randomly murdered Jews inside and outside Israel do not differentiate between Zionist and non-Zionists. They do not ask their victims before carrying out their killings whether  they are  Zionists. The EU  have recently made a finding that  Palestinian school textbooks have for many years incited hatred and promoted demonization of Israel.  By definition Israel is a Jewish State. Palestinian children are conditioned to consider Jews as evil.

Is this too not building a psychological wall obstructing any potential for peace?

Jews are “impure” and “the world’s dogs” appear in the lyrics in girls’ songs to their terrorist relatives
Official Palestinian Authority TV  | Nov 4, 2021

.    

INTOLERANCE OF FREE SPEECH

Western journalists  working in Gaza in recent years have been harassed and threatened by Hamas for documenting cases of the terrorist group’s involvement of civilians in warfare against Israel. The Times of Israel has interviewed  reporters  in the international media revealing how they allow themselves to be intimidated and fail to report on such incidents. This is swept under the carpet. Any illusions that Palestine tolerates public criticism and debate were convincingly shattered by the death of Palestinian lawyer and activist Nizar Bayat. He was an outspoken critic of the corruption of the Palestinian Authority but was labelled as selling out the Palestinian cause for personal gain. He had  a huge following on Facebook.  On 24 June 2021, he was beaten and dragged from his house by 14 members of the Palestinian security forces without an arrest warrant. He subsequently died in a Hebron hospital. The official cause of death was natural causes, but a private autopsy initiated by his family revealed he had forty-two injuries sustained by metal pipes. The PA and Fatah did not respond to calls for a detailed investigation. There was no international outrage and media solidarity. The Guardian – hardly a staunch supporter of Israel – ran the headline in its international edition dated 31 August 2021:

Nizar Bayat’s death highlights brutality of Palestinian Authority”. 

The death in custody of Palestinian political activist and human rights defender Nizar Barnat’s highlights brutality of Palestinian Authority.

A little humility and introspection may well be sorely expected from the writer and those who call for rejuvenating the Palestinian struggle from ‘Israel’s settler colonialism’. Palestine may be in need of democratic reforms to reach liberation rather than anti-Israel slogans. 

Perhaps the moral equation is not so binary. In the words of Bob Dylan:

 “Good and bad, I define these terms quite clear, no doubt, somehow.
Ah, but I was so much older then I’m younger than that now

(My Back Pages 1964) 

There are further risible issues in Rasheed Omar’s article such as the well-known anti-Israel trope: “Zionist Israel’s settler colonialism”. These need to be addressed fully too. Demonisation and delegitimisation of Israel will not  assist in reaching a mutual understanding conducive to peace and co-existence. This raises the question whether the supporters of the Palestinian cause are  committed to this goal or the destruction of the Jewish State.  




About the writer:

Lawrence Nowosenetz is a retired South African advocate at the Johannesburg Bar specialising in labour law; a former senior Commissioner of the CCMA (Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration) and  served as an Acting High Court Judge in Gauteng. He has served as Chairman of the Pretoria SA Jewish Board of Deputies and in 2019, he immigrated to Israel where he lives with his wife in Tel Aviv. He retains an interest in international law.






While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs (0&EO).

CELEBRATING JERUSALEM EVERY DAY

By Jonathan Feldstein

This week, Israel and Jewish and Christian friends all over the world celebrated Jerusalem Day, 55 years on the Biblical calendar (the 28th of Iyar) corresponding to the day on the secular calendar in June of 1967 when Jerusalem was miraculously reunified during the Six Day War.  Indeed, the restoration of Jewish sovereignty to all of Jerusalem for the first time in 2000 years is yet another fulfillment of the many promises God made to the Jewish people, and many prophesies that continue to play out before our eyes right here in the Land.

For Jews and Christians, there is no place more central or significant to our faith than Jerusalem.  Jerusalem is the place that Kings built, prophets prophesied, where the Temples stood, where Jesus preached and was crucified, and much more.  Jerusalem is mentioned several hundred times in the Bible. It’s the only place by name that God specifically tells us to pray for, and to be guardians on the walls of. 

Sadly, not everyone understands that and the significance of Jerusalem to us today.  Not only doesn’t everyone understand that, but some people deny the significance of Jerusalem to Jews and Christians, deny that there was ever a Temple on the Temple Mount, and talk about Jerusalem being “defiled” by Jews and Christians, and “Judaized”.

David Rubinger’s iconic photo showing Israeli paratroopers (from left: Zion Karasenti, Yitzhak Yifat and Haim Oshri) standing in front of the Western Wall in Jerusalem during the Six-Day War, June 7, 1967 .(Photo credit: David Rubinger/GPO)

This narrative is not only not Biblical, but it undermines the very foundation of Judaism and Christianity. It is the mother of all replacement theology, to erase actual Biblical history and our deep roots in Jerusalem as Jews and Christians to the Holy City. 

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre sacred to all the Christian faiths as the site of the Resurrection of Jesus following his Crucifixion. (CC-BY-SA Anton Croos)

This is all the more reason why we need to celebrate. Last year, Hamas and other terrorists used the occasion of Jerusalem Day to start an 11-day war, launching over 4000 rockets at Israeli communities.  As bad as that is and was, I prefer to look at the cup half full.  Yes, we have our challenges, but there are far more blessings. In fact, our cup runneth over.

While I am not a prophet, this year I felt a little bit like a prophet of doom, joking with friends that we should hold off plans until after the war starts.  My daughter, with a two-week-old baby, nervously told my son-in-law that if there is a war, he has to tell the army he can’t go and be among the first 5000 reservists called up as he was a year ago. Thankfully, no major war or conflict broke out and Jews were able to march and celebrate throughout the city.

Being a Jew in Jerusalem, I feel the blessings every day. From the balcony of my apartment, I can see the golden dome on the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount . I am overcome with joy and emotion that 17 years ago, my youngest son was born in Jerusalem. He is named for two relatives who were murdered in the Holocaust and no doubt prayed for the restoration of Jerusalem.  I suspect that they could never have imagined how that has become a reality today as a thriving diverse city that is the capitol of the State of Israel.  As overjoyed as they would be seeing a young man carrying their name, born in Jerusalem, who is finishing high school and preparing to go serve the country as a member of the IDF, they would be speechless to know that now, I also have three grandsons born in Jerusalem, representing another generation of Jewish life thriving in Jerusalem.

But don’t believe me. This month I had conversations with two dear Christian friends who live in Jerusalem and have been part of life here for decades.  We discussed modern and Biblical history, the blessings that they experience being here, and the significance of Jerusalem’s reunification and why we celebrate today.  Chris Mitchell is the veteran head of the CBN Jerusalem bureau for more than two decades.  He’s reported on thousands of aspects of life here and is well known to Christians around the world.  He’s a journalist with the highest of integrity who speaks about being at the intersection of history and prophesy. Hear his invaluable insight here.

Orthodox Christian worshippers take part in the Good Friday procession, along the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem’s Old City, on 22 April 2022. (AFP)

John Enarson works on a theological basis to help Christians understand the significance of Jerusalem to them.  He has had the privilege of living and raising a family in Jerusalem and speaks with unwavering moral clarity rooted in Biblical tradition.  Together, Chris and John offer extraordinary personal testimony and insight about living in Jerusalem and the significance of how and why celebration of Jerusalem Day is so important.  

Yesterday, I was watching a TV talk show broadcasting from Jerusalem with the Old City as the backdrop.  The panel was discussing the significance of Jerusalem’s reunification, in light of current events including the annual “flag march”, as well as the threats from Hamas, Hezbollah, and others.  This is particularly relevant given that last year on the eve of Jerusalem Day, Hamas used this as an excuse to launch rockets at Jerusalem (to “protect” Jerusalem!), beginning an 11-day conflict during which terrorists fired more than 4000 rockets at Israeli communities.  I suppose that “protecting” Jerusalem means different things to different people.

Organized by the Elijah Interfaith Institute, Abrahamic Reunion, and the Tantur Institute for Ecumenical Studies, a multi-faith prayer in Jerusalem welcoming Jews, Christians and Muslims. (Courtesy Abrahamic Reunion)

One of the panelists talked passionately about the significance of Jerusalem’s reunification and our celebration. She spoke ardently, as a proud Israeli. Before my mind could ascribe any political association, she described herself growing up in a (left-wing) kibbutz environment and noted that even for her, celebrating Jerusalem and not caving in to Hamas threats was a priority. 

That’s when it hit me. 

The reunification is indeed a national thing. Jerusalem’s reunification is not something I take for granted.  Years ago, I was moved to hear from a friend’s father, Moshe, how that very year, hundreds of thousands of Israelis flocked to Jerusalem to celebrate its reunification.  For him, it was like a heart transplant, bringing a new pulse to the State and people of Israel, one for which we waited and prayed for nearly 2000 years. 

Cobbled street through the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, Jerusalem

Today, too many do take Jerusalem’s reunification for granted.  That’s wrong. Jerusalem is our heart.  Its reunification is fulfillment of a Divine promise on which we could bank, and is now fulfilled. Even if it took two millennia.

Not everyone looks at the significance of Jerusalem’s restoration from the same perspective. Some look at it as just part of modern history, some as fulfillment of a Divine promise, some as one of the greatest things to happen in the State of Israel, and some, a combination of all these.  But remembering Moshe’s moving words, along with the passionate comments of the “left-wing” woman on TV, things clicked in a way that haven’t before.  That’s part of the beauty of living here. It’s not just academic.  I live in my own Petrie dish.  I am part of the experiment and can observe the outcome all at the same time.

The Church of All Nations also known as the Basilica of the Agony  on the Mount of Olives next to the Garden of Gethsemane.

Our joy and celebration should be unbridled. No exceptions. This year, thank God, it was, more or less. But we don’t have to wait once a year to celebrate Jerusalem. Like our heart, it’s part of who we are, central to Judaism and Christianity. Let’s celebrate Jerusalem every day.



About the writer:

Jonathan Feldstein ­­­­- President of the US based non-profit Genesis123 Foundation whose mission is to build bridges between Jews and Christians – is a freelance writer whose articles appear in The Jerusalem Post, Times of Israel, Townhall, NorthJersey.com, Algemeiner Jornal, The Jewish Press, major Christian websites and more.





While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs (0&EO).

LET DEAD TERRORIST GROUPS LIE

Enlisting support against delisting terrorists

By Jonathan Feldstein

[Ed note: At the time of publication of this article, Politico  media reports that President Biden has “finalized his decision to keep Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on U.S. notorious terrorist blacklist.”]

There have been recent reports that the Biden administration is planning to remove five groups from the US’ foreign terrorist blacklist. Each of these groups is now considered defunct. But it’s strange that if they are defunct anyway, why anyone would worry about delisting them. It’s better to let dead terror groups lie.

The groups include Basque Fatherland and Liberty, Aum Shinrikyo, a Japanese cult; Kach, an Israeli/nationalist Jewish group, and two Islamic groups: the Mujahideen Shura Council in the environs of Jerusalem, and Gama’a al-Islamiyya.

When I read the reports, I asked myself why, and why now?  A Christian friend reached out to me to get an understanding from an Israeli perspective, and whether it was something for which she needs to pray. I explained to my friend that it seems the delisting of these groups is connected with ongoing reports that the Biden administration is considering removing Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) from the US terror blacklist as part of wooing Iran to renew the Obama-era nuclear deal.

Just to be clear, the IRGC is directly responsible for the killing of some 600 U.S. military and is far from defunct. A group of 46 retired U.S. generals and a growing number of Democrats and Republicans are on record urging the Biden administration not to remove the IRGC from the terrorist blacklist.

In this context, I explained to my friend that not only does it not make sense to delist defunct terror groups but doing so is deliberately dangerous. Typically, when members of a board, alumni of an institution, or other notables pass away, they are not removed but are identified by a note that they are now deceased. Why not just leave the list of terror groups as is, and make a note that they are defunct? Listing those that are no longer active actually shows success in the war on terror.

To Delist or not to Delist? Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei meeting with leaders of the IRGC last January. Will the Biden administration remove Iran’s IRGC from terror blacklist? (Photo: Handout via Getty)

I told my friend that delisting the defunct organizations is a smoke screen for plans to delist the very active IRGC. Anyone who cares about the threats of Islamic terror in general, and to Israel in particular, will be uncomfortable with the delisting of two Islamic terror groups.  However, the Biden administration’s machinations appears expedient – like the tossing a bone to placate some in Congress – by the inclusion of the Jewish/nationalist group Kach, creating the pseudo impression that the administration is being equitable.  There’s no reason to delist any of these – including Kach. It’s also offensive to those who were the victims of these and other terror groups.

My friend is a Hispanic pastor. She revealed how the removal at the end of 2021 of Columbia’s FARC off the US list of terrorist organizations proved traumatic for Hispanics who had suffered under the ruthless terrorist and drug trafficking group that raped and destroyed and kidnapped poor Colombians for decades.

FARC Fiends. On May 15, 2000 the Colombian FARC put an explosive collar around the neck of a woman, killing her and a man who tried to neutralize the device. (Photo of FARC soldiers: Pablo de Tarso Luz Meneghel Sparco)

The similarities are astounding. It was reported that the Biden administration’s delisting of the ‘now defunct’ Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebel group as a “foreign terrorist” organization was to support a tenuous peace agreement in Colombia. As a rule, wooing terrorists with promises of turning a blind eye rather than confronting and defeating them is not good policy.

This applies to FARC in Colombia, and IRGC in Iran.

Clearly what’s behind this is to bring Iran to sign a new or revised nuclear agreement which has become a pilar of US foreign policy.  Seeing the Biden administration’s eagerness to renew an agreement at any cost, the Iranians have used this as a make-or-break negotiating tactic.

The IRGC is on the terrorist list as a central part of Iran’s military. However, it operates far beyond a typical military unit simply preparing for combat. Since the 1979 Iranian revolution, the IRGC has become a quasi-governmental institution, with vast independent power and actual oversight and control over key elements of Iran’s economy, industry, and energy sectors. It regularly calls for Israel’s destruction, and materially supports other terrorist groups around the world with money, training, and equipment.

Bad Boys. There is overwhelming evidence that the IRGC is the largest and most powerful sponsor of global terrorism, writes Navid Mohebbi in Al Arabiya News. (Stock photo)

While Biden has made a new Iran deal a key pillar of his foreign policy even before coming into office, reports to mitigate the looming disaster of delisting the IRGC, suggest Biden is personally resistant to such delisting. These conflicting agendas suggest a combination of schizophrenia, deliberate disinformation and possible incompetence which I discuss in the interview . Delisting the IRGC might help achieve his key foreign policy goal of an Iranian agreement, but looks weak regarding international terrorism, something that he and other Democrats don’t need as another foreign policy failure.  With the mid-term election in just six months, that’s part of the reason that even some moderate Democrats – already resistant to rejoining a nuclear deal that goes too easy on Iran – are urging Biden to stand firm on keeping the IRGC on the terrorist list.

Right is Might. General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said before the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) that in his personal opinion, he does not support the delisting of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization.

These issues will no doubt be top on the agenda when Biden is expected to visit Israel at the end of June, particularly in light of recent reports that Iran may be days away from enough material for one nuclear bomb. With his coalition shaky at best, Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett cannot afford to appear weak or allow anything to undermine his leadership in protecting Israel from the Iranian threat.

Towering Rage. The IRGC was found liable in 2018 for the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, which killed 19 Americans and injured 260. (© AFP/Getty Images)

Is this a good cop, bad cop quasi negotiating tactic with Iran, or just a dress rehearsal for another Biden administration foreign policy failure? The implications of delisting these terror groups now, along with FARC, opens old wounds of their victims, brings Jews, Hispanics and all people of conscience closer together, and makes us all less safe.



About the writer:

Jonathan Feldstein ­­­­- President of the US based non-profit Genesis123 Foundation whose mission is to build bridges between Jews and Christians – is a freelance writer whose articles appear in The Jerusalem Post, Times of Israel, Townhall, NorthJersey.com, Algemeiner Jornal, The Jewish Press, major Christian websites and more.





While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs (0&EO).

WHAT IF?

From bicycle saddle to hospital bed – some existential thoughts about self and country

By David E. Kaplan

On Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israel’s Independence Day) on the 5th May, I went for a ride on my bicycle. Turned out – a regrettable mistake. In a quiet side road, I had a serious accident and ended up in Meir Hospital, Kfar Saba. I am recovering well but I ask the question:

What at the last corner before the accident I turned right instead of left?”

Lying in my ward later that night following a general anesthetic stitch-up, I reflected on the poem of Robert FrostThe Road Not Taken’ and pondered literally and figuratively if, in the words of the poet:

I took the one less traveled by

Clearly then – inter alia –  I would not be penning this prose!

But then I pondered beyond my bodily bruising and thought instead of the anatomy of the world whose condition too throughout history has either sored or soured dependent at critical moments when  fractured futures or favourable fortunes could have gone either way and the destinies of people would have been quite different.

As I was reflecting in an Israeli hospital, I thought back to those past pivotal – some even existential – moments in Israel’s modern history, when disaster or salvation hung in the balance:

WHAT IF on November 2, 1917, Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour had not written a letter to Britain’s most illustrious Jewish citizen, Baron Lionel Walter Rothschild, expressing the British government’s support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine – a letter that would eventually become known as the Balfour Declaration.  In all likelihood, I would then not be lying in a ward of the seventh largest hospital in the Jewish state of Israel after 2000 years of exile.

Weighty Words. Lord Arthur Balfour and the letter that moved a dream towards reality.

WHAT IF Rommel’s African Corp had not lost the Battle of El Alamein in 1942, leaving the German Wehrmacht free to steamroll northwards to Palestine? Again, possibly no Meir Hospital would have been established in 1956.

WHAT IF Prime Minister David Ben Gurion had not demanded the unification of ideologically diverse Jewish armed forces during the War of Independence to forge a national army – the IDF?

WHAT IF? A British army recruitment drive in Tel Aviv during World War II. The big fear for the Jews before the Battle of El- Alamein was that Rommel would overrun Palestine.

WHAT IF Israel had not taken out the Egyptian Air Force in the opening round of the 1967 Six Day War?

WHAT IF Israel had not mounted Operation Thunderbolt in 1976 to rescue the Jewish hostages held in Entebbe airport following the hijacking of an Air France airbus A300 jet airliner? No Jew or Israeli plane would be safe anywhere. The message – don’t mess with us and expect  you will get way with it. Jews will “NEVER AGAIN” be slaughtered with impunity.

‘Plane’ Truth. What if Israel had not rescued the Jewish captives held by Palestinian and German terrorists in Entebbe in 1976?

WHAT IF there was not a young IDF commander of a tank battalion Avigdor Kahalani, like a biblical David that blocked a Goliath Syrian army from conquering the Golan Heights in 1973.

WHAT IF Prime Minister Menachem Begin had not embraced the peace process with Anwar Sadat of Egypt or authorized the surprise bombing of Iraq’s nuclear facility in 1982?

WHAT IF Israel had not mounted highly secretive operations to rescue the threatened Jews from Yemen and Ethiopia and absorbed one million Russian immigrants. In 1948, Israel had a Jewish population of 716,700; today over seven million, the largest concentration of Jews anywhere in the world! If the quest before had been for the restoration of Jewish sovereignty in their ancestral homeland, the quest today is to secure it for eternity.

Reaching a Crescendo. What if Israel had not neutralised Iraq’s nuclear ambitions in 1981 with Operation Opera.
 

ONE DOME TO ANOTHER

And then as I lay in the hospital bed digesting the distressing news of the Arab disturbances playing out at the Temple Mount / Haram al-Sharif, the compound housing both mosques, Al- Aqsa and Jerusalem’s most iconic Dome of the Rock, I reflected on exactly a year earlier when Hamas and its cohorts had unleashed over 4,300 rockets at Israel’s civilian population centers and pondered WHAT IF we did not have our IRON DOME?

Not designed to attack or retaliate, this “life saver” defence missile system developed by Israeli companies and financially supported by the US, proved some 90% effective in intercepting enemy rockets, greatly reducing the death toll. No less significant, this remarkable instrument of Israeli ingenuity also reduced the need for IDF ground operations in and around the civilian areas that terrorists use for launching missiles and rockets at Israeli civilians. Invariably ground offenses result in greater loss of lives. All this was avoided or averted because of the IRON DOME!

Special Relationship. Israeli Iron Dome anti-rocket system (right) and an American Patriot missile defense system are shown during a joint U.S.-Israel military exercise on March 8, 2018. (Jack Guez/AFP via Getty Images)

A MAJOR LEAK

And then finally before retiring to sleep at Meir, the need for the bathroom reminded me of one final WHAT IF, which at the time of its happening was lavatorialy inconsequential but decades later proved monumentally existential.

What do I mean?

For many years, U.S.-Israel military ties  – so vital to Israel – were non-existent. From Israel’s creation in 1948 until the mid-1960s, US State Department and Pentagon officials argued against even providing American arms to Israel lest it provoke the Arabs to ask the Soviets and Chinese for more weapons, which in turn would stimulate a Middle East arms race.

U.S. policy fundamentally changed only after the 1967 Six Day War when France – Israel’s main supplier –  abandoned the Jewish state and the US stepped in to give Israel a qualitative military edge over its enemies. This was all due to a successful meeting between Israeli PM Levi Eshkol and US President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1968 leading to an agreement to sell Phantom jets to Israel marking the change in relationship between the two countries and establishing the US as Israel’s principal arms supplier.

Meeting of Minds. One of the most important meetings in Israeli history was Prime Minister Levi Eshkol (left) meeting here with President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1968 as the President’s Texas ranch, which established a warm relationship between the two countries which has stood the test of time.

Since then, Israel has never looked back.

All this however would not have happened, had LBJ not decided at a precise moment in 1942 to relieve himself at an airbase toilet.

A 33-year-old Representative from Texas, lieutenant commander Johnson on the 9th June 1942, boarded a plane called the Wabash Cannonball for a mission in the South Pacific. While the Wabash Cannonball was on a bombing mission, Johnson’s participation was as an observer to inspect and report back to President Roosevelt of Japanese troop movements over New Guinea. However, no sooner had the future US president boarded the B-26, nature called!

Toying with the decision to “hold it in” or go to the toilet and catch the next bomber, he chose the latter and alighted from the plane.

It was a history-altering decision.

After relieving himself, he then joined the crew of another bomber, the Heckling Hare

LBJ was lucky.

The  Wabash Cannonball  was hit by enemy fire and crashed with a total loss of life, while a crippled “hare” made it back to base.

So to my list of Israel’s “What Ifs?”, I add:

Where would Israel’s relationship be today with regard to the US, had not a young Lyndon B. Johnson not had the desperate need to at the right moment to take a leak?

And so while Israel never looked back, my final thought was if only  the driver of the car in Kfar Saba had ‘looked back’ – in her rear view mirror – before opening her door into which I rode!

The writer on a ride in northen Israel.






While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs (0&EO).

“MOTIVE UNCLEAR” – MEDIA UNDER THE SPOTLIGHT

The crime did not end with a brutal mass murder of Jews in central Israel but continued with the warped news coverage. The media must stop deliberately using misleading headlines when it comes to Israel.

By David E. Kaplan

It began as a day to celebrate; it ended as a day to mourn.

At the end of Israel’s 44th Independence Day following a wave of terror attacks across the country and repeated threats by Palestinian terror groups over the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, two axe-wielding terrorists went on a rampage at a central park in the largely ultra-Orthodox city of Elad in central Israel.

Adding a knife to their ‘cutting-edge’ arsenal, the two ideologically-charged terrorists, hacked three fathers to death leaving sixteen orphans  as well as injuring a further seven, three seriously. A man calling the United Hatzalah emergency service could be heard screaming into his phone:

 “There is so much blood… these are wounds from an ax.”

 The local Israeli police had no difficulty  confirming the incident as “a terror attack”.

No such ease came to the international media who did everything to initially blur the Palestinian identity of the assailants as well as to try implicate Israel for the mass murder of its own citizens.

Quick off the proverbial grid was FRANCE 24 with a neutral news flash  at the bottom of my TV screen:

ISRAEL – ISRAELI MEDICS SAY 3 KILLED, AT LEAST 6 WOUNDED IN MASS STABBING NEAR TEL AVIV; MOTIVE UNCLEAR.”

No suggestion as to the clear identities of the  perpetrators or the victims, leaving it open for viewers to surmise that it could be a ‘criminal act’!

After all, the headline report concluded:

“MOTIVE UNCLEAR

Motive unclear?

No less infuriated was my wife, who reflexibly exclaimed in an outburst:

 “It’s like saying 6 million were killed in the holocaust. They weren’t killed; they were MURDERED.”

The motive for the Elad rampage was clear to every Israeli, Jew and Arab, but for the French journalists covering the Palestinian terror attack, the perpetrators and motive appeared a mystery.

The French Disconnection. FRANCE 24 news reports that the motive of the axe killers of Jews in Elad was “UNCLEAR”.

More likely – they did not want to spoil the network’s preferred narrative!

Not wanting to be outdone, Al Jazeera went fiendishly further. Content not to identify the perpetrators in its reportage, nor even to suggest that it was either terror or mass murder, the Qatar-based broadcaster, while reporting that 3 Israelis were “hacked to death”, prefaced its headline with the chilling:

 “PAY THE PRICE”.

What a cold, callous and calculating account by a news network; as if these families whose lives were ripped away by mass murderers had it coming to them; well-deserved.  Al Jazeera describes these killers not as ‘murderers’ or ‘terrorists’ but “attackers”  whose actions should be understood or forgiven as the real villain is ISRAEL who in the remainder of the headline is depicted as a predatory “hunter” for trying to apprehend the “attackers”.

The next channel I switched to was the BBC that neutrally characterised the murderious rampage with axes on civilians as an “attack”. Enlisting no adjectives to describe the horror of the attack, the headline report failed to draw any attention to the identitiy of the killers, other than describing them as “attackers”.

Suspected Terror Attack. BBC  news report of hunting “attackers” not killers, murderers or terrorists.

FROM ELAD TO JENIN

Change of cities; change of positions!

Compare Al Jazeera’s coverage of the deliberate attack on Jews in Elad with the  tragic death of its Middle East correspondent Shireen Abu Akleh who was caught in a crossfire conflict situation. Fatally shot by a bullet, the source of which remains undetermined.

Given the non-stop media coverage of this unfortunate death of a single journalist, one could be excused for asking where has been the coverage of some 20 journalists killed and 13 injured since Feb. 24, the beginning of Russia’s war on Ukraine. During this unwarranted invasion, three journalists went missing, and eight journalists, including four women, have been kidnapped. Can any of the protestors for Shireen Abu Akleh demanding Israel be brought before the ICC  even name any of the journalists killed or kidnapped in Ukraine? It is less about the Al jazeera journalist and more about defaming Israel.

Now compare the actual wording in a few of Al Jazeera’s   headline reports of the death of its journalist in Jenin:

SHIREEN ABU AKLEH…SHE WAS WEARING A PRESS HELMET AND JACKET,AND DESPITE OF THIS OR BECAUSE OF IT SHE WAS SHOT AND KILLED.”

– Al Jazeera assumes with no proof that Israel shot the journalist and because she was identified as ‘Press’, Israel deliberately killed her – in other words, murdered her!

– A follow-up Al-Jazeera report read:

DIRECT VICTIM OF ISRAELI TERRORISM

Murder it was Not. Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh, who was tragically killed by a bullet during a gunfight between Israeli forces and Palestinian gunmen in Jenin. (credit: REUTERS/IMAD CREIDI)

No explanation that Israeli forces were in Jenin during a dangerous operation to restore calm during a period when Israeli civilians have been losing their lives to terror attacks across Israel, many of them planned and orchestrated in Jenin, Al-Jazeera saw fit to characterise the Israeli military as “ISRAELI TERRORISM

If there was any doubt as to the  transparent bias of Al-Jazeera, note its following headline report where it unabashedly lays out the narrative it wants presented to its global viewership:

SHIREEN WAS MURDERED BY A GOVERNMENT THAT RECEIVES UNCONDITIONAL FUNDING FROM THE USA.”

Al-Jazeera was now acting as judge and jury. While following  the initial autopsy of Shireen’s body by Palestinian coroners, Dr. Ryan al-Ali of the Pathological Institute at the a-Najah University in Nablus, was quoted by al-Jarmak TV channel as saying that “it cannot be determined whether [Al-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was killed by Israeli fire or by a Palestinian bullet,] Al Jazeera blamed Israel for her death, saying that she was “deliberately” targeted by troops.

We condemn this heinous crime, intended to prevent the media from carrying out its message, and we hold the Israeli government and the occupation forces responsible for her death,” the channel wrote on Twitter, adding:

 “We call on the international community to condemn and hold the Israeli occupation forces accountable for the deliberate killing of our colleague Shireen Abu Akleh.”

Judge, jury and now executioner – that is Al-Jazeera.

Neglected in the media coverage is the highly disturbing Palestinian Authority (PA) position that is refusing to allow the bullet that hit the journalist to be examined by Israel in order to conduct a ballistics analysis. It has emphatically rejected a request to do a joint probe. 

Why?

Because it is not about discovering the truth but rather in besmirching Israel internationally. This was revealed today by PA head Mahmoud Abbas at Abu Akleh’s funeral, where he said:

We will take Israel to ICC, we don’t trust them.”

The killers who butchered three Israelis to death in Elad were referred to by Al-Jazeera as “attackers”, while Israel is automatically, without any proof, not only blamed for the journalist’s death, but stands accused of “murdering” her. Complicit in this ‘murder’ according to Al-Jazeera, is the USA because of its “UNCONDITIONAL FUNDING” of the Jewish state.

Undisputed Terror Attack. Family and friends grieve at the funeral of Boaz Gol who was killed in the terror attack in Elad in central Israel. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

All this boils down to is the explicit antisemitism in the media with Al-Jazeera leading the venomous pack.

While some news networks thought the motives of the killers of Jews in Elad was “UNCLEAR”, it is becoming increasingly CLEAR that one of the most important aspects of the media-saturated conflict between Jews and Arabs is also the least covered:

The Press itself





While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs (0&EO).

From Reason to Reckoning

By Samuel Hyde

In part one of this article series titled ‘From Dreams to Fears’ , I articulated the two dreams birthed within Israel post its sweeping victory in the 1967 Six Day War and how the visions of these two camps of dreamers has led to a paralysis within Israeli society and its approach to the conflict. In part two titled ‘From Paralysis to Pragmatism’, I developed a concept called ‘conflict reduction’ which aims to replace this paralysis by providing actionable steps to develop renewed strategies when dealing with the obstacles to peace. These pragmatic steps are aimed at producing economic enrichment and independence for the Palestinians while simultaneously resulting in necessary political separation for Israel. Conflict reduction is an approach that will not solve the conflict but can be undertaken with immediate effect to alter the current reality. To even begin to approach the conversation around solving the conflict, one would need to reckon with its cause. As long as Israel attempts to deal solely with the obstacles to peace without reckoning with the cause of the conflict, new obstacles will continue to arise. In this piece I’ll attempt to articulate why. Arriving at the point of reckoning begins with one question:

What do the Palestinians want? A question which has swindled the minds of Israeli society for decades, one that remains an ongoing debate in a search for nuance; and a desire to understand the narrative and demands of those across ‘the green line’.

The Israeli peace camp concluded in the 1990s that they had arrived at a definitive answer to this question. It came to a head in 2000 when Israel’s Prime Minister, Ehud Barak, traveled to Camp David to meet with the head of the PLO, Yasser Arafat. Barak, who was elected on a campaign of establishing peace based on the “land for peace” model, offered the Palestinians an unprecedented proposal which addressed all the obstacles to peace that Israelis had been told would see an end to the conflict.

Shook Hands and Walked Away. Yasser Arafat shakes the hand of Ehud Barak at Camp David in July 2000 but walked away from any deal.  (Photo: Getty Images)

Israel was told that the obstacle to peace was the occupation: Palestinians wanted Israel’s military presence in the West Bank and Gaza to cease. The proposal offered the Palestinians a fully sovereign independent state in the West Bank and Gaza, thereby ending the occupation.

What was the other obstacle to peace? Settlements. The proposal stated there would be no settlements in the State of Palestine. Settlements were to be removed or exchanged for land of equivalent value. As a result of this proposal, two obstacles have been eliminated.

Then, Israel was told that Jerusalem was the obstacle to peace. The Palestinians want a capital in Jerusalem. Jerusalem would need to be divided. The proposal included:

The Jewish neighborhoods to Israel.

The Arab neighborhoods to Palestine.

A split of the Old City with concessions of the holy sites and a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem.

Therefore, the sovereign independent state of Palestine would see an end to the occupation, have no settlements, and a capital in Jerusalem. Check, check, check!

But Arafat walked away.

It’s possible to explain that walking away was a negotiating strategy, that’s how politics works. Unfortunately for those that arrived at such a conclusion, eight years later, in 2008, Mahmoud Abbas, Arafat’s heir, declined yet another far-reaching proposal from Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Arafat and Abbas walked away from two proposals that would have created a sovereign independent Palestinian State with no occupation, no settlements and a capital in East Jerusalem.

Not Enough! Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas declined peace proposal from former PM Ehud Olmert in 2008, which included near-total withdrawal from West Bank and relinquishing Israeli control of Jerusalem’s Old City. Olmert later described his offer to give up Israeli control of the Old City as “the hardest day of my life.” (photo credit: Moshe Milner GPO/Flash90)

If this is genuinely the Palestinian aspiration, one would imagine someone would publish an op-ed. Perhaps an NGO would be created, where just one individual would remark, “We could have everything we want, return to the negotiating table and secure our state”. But there were no such voices among the Palestinians. There were no objections about Arafat walking away and no objections about Abbas walking away. However, they walked away to celebrations, indicating that by walking away, they delivered what their people wanted. I know some attempt to “reason” with this by stating: “It’s because you cannot criticize in this society. Palestinian society is not democratic”. Look at Russia today, people are holding signs and protesting, and the stakes there are much higher.

To add to this point, two months after Arafat walked away, the Second Intifada (28 September 2000 – 8 February 2005) erupted, resulting in the deaths of over 1,100 Israelis. Buses were engulfed in flames, entire families were killed, and restaurants were blown to pieces. “The cause  of terrorism and no peace is the occupation”, a canard still accepted by people who portray themselves as “reasonable”. However, here in Israel, the Israeli-peace camp was forced to abandon its notion that the conflict was about restoring the 1967 borders and recognized that when Palestinians spoke of “freeing the land”, they referred to 1948. The claim that the occupation caused the violence of the Second Intifada could no longer be accepted, since it began only a few weeks after Israel had offered an end to the occupation.

After Shaking Hands, Shaking Israeli Society. Israeli paramedics and police at the scene of a suicide bombing that killed 19 and injuring 74 on a bus in Jerusalem. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack, June 18, 2002. (Photo by Flash90)

Other “reasonable” people might say “well Israel proposed this accord but would it have followed through?” Regardless of Arafat walking away, five years later, in 2005, Israel disengaged from the Gaza Strip. As a result of the disengagement, Gaza was left with no settlements and no occupation. Instead of the Palestinians using the disengagement as an opportunity to build upon sovereignty and independence, they voted into power an Iranian terror proxy, Hamas, with a founding charter that calls for the genocide of Jews and destruction of the Jewish State.

What do the Palestinians really want? They do not want a Palestinian state that ends the occupation, has no settlements, and has its capital in East Jerusalem. Or, you could say that they want that, but there is something that they want more.

For those who chose to see it, the answer was there all along. The Palestinians told the world what they wanted. The world continues not to listen. Or, in Israel, if we did listen, we explained it away. Ask a Palestinian today if they view Tel Aviv as occupied, and you will more often than not receive a resounding “yes”. “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”. The establishment of a Palestinian state with no state for the Jewish people within any borders has always remained the absolute top priority for the Palestinians.

They have consistently pursued this for almost a century.

In the late 1950’s, the British Foreign Minister, Ernest Bevin, reached a poignant conclusion. He said the following:

There were two people on the ground, Jews and Arabs. Two nations exist in the land, and they are not religions. Jews and Arabs are two distinct collectives”.

He details what the top priority is for each of these collectives. He calls this top priority a point of principle. He says:

 “for the Jews, the point of principle is establishing a State. For the Arabs, the point of principle is to prevent the Jews from establishing a state in any part of the land.”

Notice how he defines the cause of the conflict. He is not saying the conflict is one where the Jews want a State, the Arabs want a State, and they cannot agree on the borders. No. He zeroes in on why the conflict exists: the Jews want a State, and the Arabs want the Jews not to have a State.

This by definition is irreconcilable. Everything else you can divide. You can divide the land, divide the resources, and have all kinds of economic and security arrangements. But the one thing that you cannot divide, the one difference that you cannot split, is between the idea that the Jews want a sovereign independent State and the Arabs want the Jews not to have that state.

It is as simple as that.

Shifting from “reasoning” with the conflict to “reckoning” with its cause, allows one to understand why the conflict exists and remains. What would see an end to the Palestinian rejection of a Jewish state within any borders? Strategies and policies which expand normalization and peace with the wider Arab world. Why? Because for the Palestinians this conflict has never been viewed as Israel vs Palestine, but rather the Jewish state vs the Arab world. The Palestinians open a map. They see seven million Jews existing among half a billion Arabs, near one and a half billion Muslims, most of them still hostile to a Jewish State within any borders, and conclude that time is on their side.

Israel’s peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan did not fundamentally alter the Arab narrative regarding the Jewish state. They still referred to Israel as a foreign, colonial, Western outpost in the region that would one day disappear. The so-called peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan are better understood as non-aggression pacts. For decades, Israelis were told this is what peace looks like in the Arab world. As long as the conflict with the Palestinians continues, this is the best that Israelis could hope for.

But then came the Abraham Accords, an enlightenment in the Arab world’s engagement with the Jewish State. The Gulf states and later Morocco went all in. New agreements are signed daily between Gulf countries, Morocco, and Israel in education, space, and agriculture. The warm diplomatic relations have resulted in unprecedented and noteworthy societal normalization between Jews and Arabs. Moroccan leaders and Israel are collaborating on a project to rebuild destroyed synagogues and Jewish structures in Morocco. The UAE is hosting Holocaust remembrance ceremonies and Bahrain is welcoming Israel’s ministers to the sounds of Hatikvah.  Which tells you that peace doesn’t occur as a result of societal normalization, but rather societal normalization occurs as a result of peace agreements and recognition.

In clear contrast to the agreements with Jordan and Egypt, the accords between the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco, shifted the narrative. Israel is no longer viewed by these states as a foreign outpost but an integral and natural part of the region and everything is in one word: Abraham.

When you say “Abraham”, you acknowledge the Jews as kin. You accept the Jews as people with a history in the region, not as foreigners, but as a people who belong.

New Hands. In the wake of the Abrahams Accords,  new hands shakes on deals that are reshaping the Middle East. Seen here is the CEO of Start-Up Nation Central Prof. Eugene Kandel, (right), shaking hands with UAE Ambassador Mohamed al Khaja. (Photo by Eyal Marilus)

Having spent the past few months working and engaging with Moroccan, Emirati, Bahraini and now Saudi analysts, researchers and columnists on what Israel’s next rules of engagement should be for an end to the conflict, we have collectively concluded that the conflict comes to an end in one of two ways: Either those who want a Jewish State will forgo that top priority, or those who believe that there should not be a Jewish state within any borders will forgo their top priority. That’s it. That is how we get to lasting peace. In the absence of one of these two outcomes, the conflict continues. In other words, you could say the conflict has its origin in Jewish Zionism vs Arab anti-Zionism.

Far too often peace-seekers are paralyzed by the idea that “there is no partner for peace“. As such, some still continue to advocate the notion that an end to the occupation would produce peace, while others argue that the removal of all borders between the “river to the sea” under Israeli sovereignty will produce peace. Both these ideas, the first which pursues a two-state solution through the same implementation of the past and the other that pursues a one-state solution by ignoring key political, ethical and legal determiners are destined to produce no greater outcome, because both fail to reckon with the cause of the conflict. 

By reckoning with the cause of the conflict, we open up a path of renewed strategies which allows Israel to finally tackle the true obstacle to peace. Israel’s ‘end-goal’ policy of a peace accord with the Palestinians remains clear and very little has changed when it comes to what is on the negotiating table. When wider Arab acceptance occurs, it will be a relatively straightforward process. The negotiation with the Palestinians won’t require some end of times salvation because – as seen in the relations with the Gulf states and Morocco – when the Arabs forgo their war against Zionism they simultaneously forgo their support for the Palestinian cause, and it is Arab support which has always ignited the fuel that burns Palestinian ‘rejection’. When Arab acceptance occurs and Israel is predominantly viewed as an integral part of the Middle East, the Palestinian cause is drained of what grants it foundational staying power.

In order to bring about that eventuality, sooner rather than later, we must make it clear to the Palestinians and the Arab world at large that if their goal is “from the River to the Sea”, if their goal is no Jewish State within any borders, they will not have our sympathy and support. But, as in the cases of the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco if they finally adopt a path of having a Palestinian state next to Israel rather than instead of Israel, they will find a majority of Israeli society rushing to support them in that constructive cause. It is at that point, and only that point where we would have a Palestinian state living side by side a Jewish state as equal claimers to the land.



About the writer:

Samuel Hyde is a is a writer and research fellow at ‘The Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance’. He is a South African born columnist and political researcher based in Tel Aviv, Israel, focussing on topics that range across Israel’s political climate, antisemitism, the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and the Jewish world. He is a contributing writer/ editor of two books with former Israeli Knesset member Dr. Einat Wilf titled “We Should All Be Zionists” and “Political Intelligence”. He has also worked in field related organizations and political research institutes investigating creative ways to deal with public policy, conflict resolution and education.





While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs (0&EO).

Is it any Wonder?

From messaging to targeting – Jews in the firing line

By David E. Kaplan

Its hunting season – and the prey are Jews!

Hardly a day goes by that Jews around the world – and over the last month on streets across Israel – are not in the deadly ‘crosshairs’ of some raving antisemite or raging jihadist terrorist.

Last Thursday there was blood on Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Street with three young Israelis shot dead at a popular pub; and several days ago there was a knife attack – thankfully not fatal –  in the port city of Ashkelon.

Should we be surprised?

Sadly no when a soundtrack of hate against Jews is being played over and over by murderous messages ranging from ‘finishing Hitler’s job’ to doing ‘God’s work’.

FROM THE DEVIL TO THE DIVINE

So who are the “VOICES” sending these messages?

Crazed Cleric. Considered one of the most influential Islamic scholars of his generation, the preeminent Egyptian scholar Yusuf Al-Qaradawi  advocates for completing Hitler’s job against the Jews and supports suicide booming against Israelis.

With over 120 books under his belt and sometimes described as a “moderate Islamist”, Sunni religious authority Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi who is Chairman of the International Union of Muslim Scholars called  in one of his recent sermons for his flock to finish what:

HITLER HAD STARTED“.

Based in Doha, Qatar, this Egyptian-born spiritual leader publicly advocates for the extermination of Jews.

His defenders will point out that he is a “moderate” referring to  his cautionary dissertation on the danger of extremist groups of Islam, but then will ignore that Al-Qaradawi has condoned Palestinian suicide bombings against Israelis.

One of the deadliest “voices” inspiring violence against Jews is Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Iran-backed Hezbollah, the most powerful group in Lebanon who has said that it was good that Jews congregated in Israel because:

there will be no need to chase them around the globe, and in Israel, the final solution could be implemented to the end.”

In other words – ‘easier to kill’

‘Dead’ set on Killing Jews. The fiery leader of Iran-backed Hezbollah,  Hassan Nasrallah, that has praised the recent terrorist attacks in Israel.

Nasrallah’s choice of the Nazi parlance of “Final Solution” is chilling as it is revealing and a reminder that Israel needs to be strong and resolute. His message is to expunge any Jewish presence on earth and coming from him, it is perceived by his Shia followers as doing “God’s work”.

CAPITALISING ON CRISES

Whatever the current crisis is in the world  – economic, pandemic or presently Ukraine –  it always provides the ‘perfect platform’ to attack Jews. Only last month, the director of the Jewish community  of the city of Ivano-Frankivsk in western Ukraine where many refugees have fled to escape Russian attacks, Igor Perelman, was stabbed while delivering aid by an assailant yelling antisemitic obscenities. A few days later in Turkey, on April 3, leading Palestinian Muslim scholar claimed on Turkish TV that Jews started the “Ukraine-Russian war” to establish “a second Jewish state in Ukraine”.

Rid the world of Jews. Back in February 10, 2021, Palestinian Islamic Scholar, Mraweh Nassar said on Turkey’s Channel 9 that the Jews are the most dangerous enemies of the Muslims and that if Muslims really want to live in peace and security, they must get rid of this enemy. He explained that the Muslims will experience their “best days” after they kill the Jews, as described in the Hadith.

The scholar was the Secretary-General of the Jerusalem Committee of the International Union of Muslim Scholars Mraweh Nassar, who made the statements on Turkey’s Channel 9, an Arabic-language outlet affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. Towards the end of his maniacal rant, the ‘scholar’ could not resist adding that the Holocaust was a Jewish hoax:

Even in the false Holocaust… There is a book written by a Jew, which asks ‘Who killed the Jews?” 

Blame the Jews. On 3 April, 2022, Palestinian Muslim scholar Mraweh Nassar denies the Holocaust on Turkish television after blaming the Jews for causing the Russian-Ukraine war. (Photo: MEMRI)

ANTISEMITISM IN VOGUE

When not gracing the pages of Vogue and other fashion magazines, supermodels Gigi and Bella Hadid  – with a combined 125 million Instagram followers – are quick to vilify Jews and Israel on social media. Far more plunging than her necklines, Gigi Hadid reached an all-time low in March 6, 2022, when she posted on Instagram that she was pledging to donate her earnings “to aid those suffering from the war in Ukraine, as well as continuing to support those experiencing THE SAME IN PALESTINE.” In other words, she was equating the massacres of civilians in Europe not seen since the Second World War to what the Palestinians experienced in Gaza during Israel’s defensive war in 2021. While Israel was trying to stop unprovoked rocket attacks aimed at her civilian population, supermodel Gigi saw this as the same as Putin set on destroying a country and mass-murdering its civilian population. The false comparison is not only obscene – its antisemitic. 

Hardly Model Behaviour. Having made thirty-five appearances on international Vogue  magazine covers, Gigi Hadid is well familiar with make-up. She is also a master at making-up facts as she equates the situation in Ukraine with Gaza.

Should the Hadid sisters ever parade their scantily clad bodies in Gaza as they  do on runways and magazines, they would unlikely ever again have the opportunity to ‘parade’ their warped ideas.  With Gaza patrolled by the “modesty police”, Gigi and Bella may well find themselves arrested or far worse!

And what of our local “voices” in Israel?

Cover Girls Uncovered. Critical of Israel’s justifiable defense against rockets from Gaza, supermodels Gigi and Bella Hadid would hardly be welcome on the streets of Gaza, patrolled by the “modesty Police”.

LETHAL LEADERSHIP

What message did  Knesset Member Ayman Odeh, head of the Joint List send when he called on Arabs serving in security forces to give up their weapons and quit?

In a Ramadan video that he posted from Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate – a flashpoint of ongoing clashes between Palestinians and Israel Police – he said:

 “It is humiliating for our sons to join the security forces of the occupation… The young people must not join the occupation forces. Throw their weapons in their faces and tell them that our place is not with you.”

Call to Quite. Joint List party leader Ayman Odeh speaks in a video on April 10, 2022  in which he calls on Arab Israeli officers to quit the security forces, saying they ‘humiliate’ their people. (Screencapture/Facebook)

To say this during a period when. Israel is facing the deadliest wave of terror in recent years, is inflammatory.

To say this when one of the victims of the recent attack in Bnei Brak included an Arab police officer, Amir Khoury, who was fatally wounded as he shot the terrorist in a firefight, shows insensitivity and a message to fellow Arabs to not integrate into Israeli society nor join  its civil service.

To say this when there have been constant appeals from the Arab community and its leaders to the Israeli government to fight the escalating crime in Arab areas is hypocritical.

National Hero vs Toxic Politician. While the ultra-orthodox city of Bnei Brak will be naming a street after Amir Khoury, the Arab policeman who died a hero in a terror attack, Joint List party leader Ayman Odeh dismisses this bravery and calls on his fellow Arabs not to join hands with Jewish Israelis in protecting the entire population.

To say this from the same man when he once said when he served on the Haifa Council that “Arabs and Jews must work together”, shows he is not a man of his word nor of principle.

Is it any wonder that Odeh’s  calling triggered outrage.

Instead of acting as a responsible member of the opposition, Ayman Odeh’s calling joins all the other VOICES  in weaponizing their rhetoric aimed at harming Jews.

If there is to be any fighting, we need to fight hate!




*Feature picture courtesy: Avshalom Shoshoni




While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs (0&EO).

From Paralysis to Pragmatism

Revising the peacemaking modality between Israel and the Palestinians from resolving to reducing

By Samuel Hyde

On one side, there are those within Israel and the International community who are still fixated on the idea that the conflict can be solved – an aspiration that many Israelis believe is currently unrealistic. On the other hand, some think the conflict must be managed, and the status quo must be sustained indefinitely – an equally problematic aspiration.

So perhaps it’s time for something new.

To move forward, I will argue that this approach must begin with breaking free from the two dreams birthed within Israel post our victory in the 1967, Six-Day War. I unpacked these two dreams in the first part of this article series, titled “Israel From Within: From Dreams to Fears and Back Again”. However, I will still provide necessary context on these two opposing dreams in this piece as we advance. From the onset, I will also clarify that this concept will not solve the conflict. It won’t help manage it. However, it has the potential to reduce it.

Any proposal for reducing the conflict must meet the following criteria:

  • occupation redirection over the Palestinians with no settlement expansion, while at the same time leaving Israel’s security firmly intact, and
  • re-directing Western funding policies which have enabled Palestinian rejection.

A BREAKAWAY FROM TWO DREAMS

After the Six-Day War, Israelis were blinded by two dreams of certainty. The first dream, known as “Land for Peace” was centered around Israel’s peace-seekers who woke up after the war, looked at the country’s new borders, and saw for the first time that the Jewish people held solid bargaining chips: The idea was that these territories could be exchanged for a peace treaty. In other words, Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War presented a golden opportunity to end war.

The second dream is known as “Settlement for Redemption”. Instead of bargaining away the captured territories, the state could settle them. According to the great ideologue of the settlement movement, Rav Kook, the Hebrew Bible contains a series of prophecies that the Jewish people will return to their land, and by settling the hills of Judea and Samaria, otherwise known as the West Bank, Jews would fulfill these prophecies and provoke a chain of events leading to the messianic dream.

These camps of dreamers did not achieve their intended goals, which today has led to an oddly paralyzing consensus within Israel. Today most Israelis do not want to control the lives of the 2.6 million Palestinians living in the West Bank. At the same time, most Israelis don’t want to withdraw from this territory for fear of making their country so geographically small as to be indefensible. They agree on a paradox, and therefore the certainty behind the two dreams has only led to confusion and stagnation.

In truth, the current paralysis in Israel, if mobilized correctly, can lead to fresh thinking and a new course of action. Philosopher Karl Popper once observed that:

 “new ideas are not born in ideological spaces paralyzed by certainty, but in places where doubt fills the human mind.”

So, how do we replace paralysis with pragmatism?

OCCUPATION REDIRECTION AND SETTLEMENTS

The 1993 Oslo Accords birthed the Palestinian Authority (PA) and granted it control over 40% of the West Bank. The Palestinian zones are called Area A and Area B. Area A covers the main Palestinian towns, where the PA has total civilian and security control; Area B encompasses the outlying areas and villages, where the PA has only civilian control. The remaining 60%, called Area C, remains under the control of the Israeli army.

Therefore, a Palestinian resident of Ramallah does not directly experience the Israeli occupation daily. The authority that governs him is Palestinian, and the police force protecting him is Palestinian. However this is only true as long as he remains inside Ramallah and does not venture out to other areas that do not share continuity.

Al-Manarah Square in central Ramallah, the Palestinian city in the central West Bank located 10 km north of Jerusalem and which serves as the administrative capital of the Palestinian National Authority.

Addressing this situation does not require a peace accord. The solution is neither strategic nor political but infrastructural. In the early 2000s, the Israeli Central Command and IDF Planning Directorate drew up a plan dubbed ‘Keep It Flowing’ to pave roads that would bypass the settlements and join the different parts of the Palestinian Authority. Over the years, civilian bodies have continued developing and upgrading this plan. It would not be cheap to implement because it involves tunnels and bridges, but it would create transportational continuity for Palestinians. Senior officials in the IDF Central Command are clear that the Israeli security apparatus already has the technological solutions to facilitate this development – without reducing Israel’s level of security. If Israel were to pave this network of roads, giving the Palestinian Authority autonomous control, freedom of movement would be completely transformed.

If this is so simple, why has it not been done yet? The hard-right opposes any territorial concessions to the Palestinians because it believes the land is holy and must not be conceded. But many members of the hard left are also against it because they think policies that make life easier for Palestinians in the territories will normalize the occupation and thereby legitimize it. The center’s emergence in today’s political scene comes at such a vital time – allowing Israelis to break free from years of left and right polarization.

Next, to facilitate no settlement expansion, Israel would have to refrain from expanding its settlements outside the major blocs and allocate land in Area C for Palestinian economic initiatives. One annex of the 1995 Oslo Accords is the Paris Protocol, making the Palestinian economy entirely dependent on the Israeli economy and the State of Israel. The Palestinian tax, customs, import, and export systems rely on and are effectively controlled by Israel. The Paris Protocol can and must be revised to end this dependence. Recent years have seen a creeping annexation in the territories. The ideas above would propel Israel in the opposite direction— necessary separation. In other words, yes to the occupation redirection, no to settlement expansion.

End Expansion. The writer advocates no Israeli expansion of settlements outside the major blocs and that land in Area C be allocated to Palestinians for economic initiatives.

Some 120,000 Palestinians work in Israel, bringing large sums of money to the Palestinian territories and providing a livelihood for 600,000 people. There is a significant pay differential between employment in the PA and Israel – for the same job. The IDF’s top brass have concluded that permits for Palestinians to work in Israel can be dramatically boosted. These employment opportunities can be opened to women and older men with clean records, with a supervised but minimal risk to Israel. If 400,000 Palestinian workers entered Israel every day, this would significantly improve the Palestinian economy. More than 1 million Palestinians would directly enjoy the fruits of working in Israel.

Note the complementary process here. Alongside political separation is economic independence. These policies would not produce a two-state solution but will create a two-state reality. These small and cumulative steps are not to end the conflict but to change its nature; paving the way with pragmatic caution.

SECURING SECURITY

In 2005, Israel disengaged from the Gaza Strip, a unilateral move many describe as a failed experiment. As a result of the disengagement, Israel may have gained a sizeable demographic bump. Still, it also saw the birth of Hamas, an Iranian terror proxy with a founding charter that calls for the genocide of Jews and destruction of the Jewish State.

When it comes to Palestinian terrorism, Israel’s security is based on its forces’ ability to foil the formation of terror cells in the West Bank. Their great success stems from Israel’s wide-reaching intelligence network in Palestinian towns and villages. To guarantee the effectiveness of this intelligence, Israel needs to maintain free military access to every part of the Palestinian autonomous areas. Here are the five principles that will guarantee Israelis’ continued security. Note that Israel conceded three of these five points in the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

-The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) will remain in place, and Israeli intelligence will  continue to operate in all parts of the West Bank.

-The IDF will continue to conduct pursuits and arrests in all parts of the Palestinian autonomous area.

-Israel will retain a permanent military force in the Jordan Valley.

-The airspace will remain under full Israeli control.

-The electromagnetic field will remain under full Israeli control.

WESTERN FUNDING

With western countries providing the bulk of the funds for UNRWA’s operations, it unwittingly bolstered the Palestinian idea  that it is better to struggle for a “return of refugees” rather than come to terms with the legitimacy of Israel and build a new life of prosperity in the West Bank and Gaza. UNRWA undermines peace by reinforcing to the more than 70% of Gaza inhabitants registered as refugees that Gaza is not their true home. It does so by providing the political infrastructure that grants Palestinians the status of “refugees”, which they would not otherwise merit if international standards were applied. UNRWA cannot be a meaningful partner in Gaza’s reconstruction. On the contrary, UNRWA remaining a major actor in any attempts to rebuild Gaza assures its failure.

School for Scandal. UNRWA launches probe  in 2021 into 10 staffers amid allegations of antisemitism.

Israel should insist that UNRWA’s donor countries – the United States, Australia, Britain, and the European Union – cease its support. Countries that officially support the two-state solution should not underwrite an organization such as UNRWA, whose transparent aim is that the Jewish people will not have a sovereign state. Dissolving UNRWA is essentially dissolving a structure that only further enables the root cause of this conflict – Palestinian rejection of a Jewish State in any part of the land between the river to the sea.

Walk on By. Palestinians walk past the headquarters of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Refugees (UNRWA) in Gaza City in 2021. (Photo by AFP)

By redirecting the billions of dollars from UNWRA, foreign governments could instead aid the already developed yet highly under-funded education and public health systems of the PA. Those supporting a two-state solution or those invested in creating a ‘two-state reality’ must send a clear message:

One that simultaneously enables Palestinian enrichment but erases the cause that denies Israel’s existence.

Furthermore, countless independent NGOs and research bodies have found that UNWRA’s school curricula are entrenched with antisemitic propaganda. Many of UNWRA’s teachers have been found guilty of engaging in antisemitism. When we talk about terrorism in Israel, we focus on the individual or individuals committing the attack to remain “polite” and not generalize. The truth remains that terror attacks in Israel are the product of deliberate, systemic, and ongoing incitement, often from within the UNWRA education system. It might be the time to dispense with political ettringite and replace it by holding those responsible for this incitement accountable.

Teaching Hatred. An image of a girl smiling as ‘heretics’ are burned in a Palestinian textbook. Donor counties frequently  threaten to withhold funding due to textbooks being used to promote hate and violence against Jews and Israelis..(IMPACT-SE)

LAST WORD

I am not advocating a complete divorce between Israel and the Palestinians. These changes would not produce a two-state solution but, if handled effectively, would lead to a two-state reality that would best provide for Israel’s vital interests, notably security and dramatically improve day-to-day life for Palestinians.

If this approach to ‘reduce the conflict’ is undertaken, the future could prove more promising. History is dynamic and surprising, and so is the Middle East. We can assume that new opportunities will arise. Ten years ago, people would have shrugged, looked to the sky, and rolled their eyes at the thought of the Abraham Accords becoming part of the Middle East’s reality. A revised approach for conflict reduction, will reposition Israel to always spot arising opportunities to favourably remodel a more prosperous and peaceful future for all in the region.



About the writer:

Samuel Hyde is a political writer and commentator based in Tel Aviv, Israel. As a columnist he has been published throughout Israel, the U.S and South Africa in esteemed publications, focusing on topics such as Israel’s political climate, antisemitism, the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, the Jewish world, and Jewish Pluralism. He also works in field related organizations.






While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs (0&EO).