Gary Epstein
And now for something completely different . . .

A Peaceful, Rational Dialogue

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Once again, we are engaged in a bloody, ugly conflict, and once again the shouted voices of extremists are drowning out those of us who would engage in dialogue for the purpose of creating an enduring peace between these two peoples, each of which believes it is entitled to a disputed land.

In an attempt, once and for all, to address the seemingly unbridgeable cultural, religious, and political gap, we have brought together a Palestinian Official Spokesperson from Hamas (who, for obvious reasons, has requested anonymity and will be referred to as “PS–Hamas”), and an Israeli Partisan of the Jewish State (“IP–Israel”) to engage in an uncensored, open, frank dialogue.

IP–Israel:  The Jewish people is indigenous to this land. Its culture and religion are inextricably bound to the land. Our connection to Israel is 3,000 years old, and archeological and historical evidence indisputably proves our continued presence in this land. Therefore, it is simply false and libelous to call us colonialists or settlers.  Moreover, given the Balfour Declaration, the heavily negotiated San Remo Treaty, the 1947 UN Partition vote, and subsequent defensive wars, the land that we occupy is legally and morally ours.  There has never been a Palestinian state. Before 1948, Gaza belonged to Egypt and the West Bank belonged to Jordan. Before that, the British Mandate. Before that, the Ottoman Empire.

PS–Hamas: We want you dead. We want all the land, from the river to the sea. We are shamed and outraged by your presence in and control over any portion of this land, which is consecrated to Islam. Did I mention that, as we have recently demonstrated, we want you all dead, including women, children, Holocaust survivors, infants? You are all occupiers. Occupiers are not victims.

IP–Israel: Islam did not even exist, and there were no Arabs here, when we came to this land. Many, if not most, Palestinians derive from Egypt or Arabia.  Arafat himself was born in Cairo. We are the indigenous people.  The earliest Arab colonizers arrived 1700 years after the Jews settled here.  But nevertheless, we want only to live in peace.  We, unlike the Arabs, have accepted the concept of two independent states for two peoples no less than five times–in response to the 1936 Peel Commission; in response to the 1947 United Nations Partition Plan; after the Six-Day War, when the Arabs adopted their Sudan policy of No Peace, No Recognition, No Negotiations in response to Israeli peace initiatives; in 2000 in connection with the Barak Plan; and in 2008, in response to the Olmert peace plan.  Moreover, having withdrawn every last Israeli from the Gaza Strip in 2005, we can hardly be characterized as occupiers of Gaza. Why didn’t you use your total dominance and control in Gaza to build a successful, peaceful polity?  You had the funding, the land, the control.

PS–Hamas:  You do not listen, because you do not wish to hear.  We want you dead.  From our perspective, you have no claim to the land and no right to exist on the land.  It is ours, from the river to the sea.

IP–Israel:  But do you understand that when we are confronted with that attitude, we have no alternative but to defend ourselves?  Do you expect us to surrender, to march willingly into the sea?  We have no choice but to resist, through every means available.  And now more than ever, since you have demonstrated that you are willing to translate your hateful rhetoric into horrific and repulsive action, killing and beheading infants, raping girls, kidnaping, taking innocent hostages, burning people alive.

PS–Hamas:  They were Jews.  Occupiers.  Colonists.  Zionists.

IP–Israel:  Are you in favor of killing all Jews?

PS–Hamas: Yes. Duh. Have you not been listening?  Have you not read our charter?  Do you not hear the chants of our supporters in the streets?  Have you not watched our Instagrams from the killing fields that were formerly peaceful communities employing workers from Gaza?  We want you dead.  Hitler is our hero.

IP–Israel:  Surely that can not be the view of the average Palestinian?  How could we ever countenance a state on our borders whose mission it was to destroy us?

PS–Hamas:  You are an idiot.  A Zionist is a Jew. A Jew is a Zionist. A Palestinian is a supporter of Hamas or the PA, both of which seek the destruction of Israel and death of Jews.  The reason that there have been no elections in the West Bank is because Abbas knows that Hamas would win.  The great majority in Gaza supports Hamas.  We cheered and celebrated the massacres.  We.  Want.  You.  Dead.

IP–Israel:  You understand that we have a powerful military and the will to resist?

PS–Hamas: If we kill enough “innocent” babies and civilians, your will to resist will weaken.  We have time.  And we can not lose.  If we kill you, we win.  If you kill us, we win, because it is only a matter of time before our useful idiots in the press and the UN and the streets bring pressure on you to stop,  And then we can rebuild our war machine. (Laughing) They were calling for a ceasefire on October 8, before you had even finished counting your dead babies.

IP–Israel:  Do you not understand that your actions on October 7-8 repelled and revolted the entire civilized world?  Do you believe that your supporters will not abandon you after such a display of contemptible malevolence and foul cruelty?

PS–Hamas: (laughs) Our supporters in Iran applaud us.  Our constituents on the Arab street venerate us.  Our stooges on university campuses are ”exhilarated.”  We have a fifth column in every European capital. China, Russia,  BLM, and AOC–do any of them sound to you like respecters of truth and morality?  Why do you think people around the world tear down posters showing kidnapped Israeli children?  Because they simply refuse to accept the reality that they are on the side of the barbarians, the rapists, the homophobes, the kidnappers, the misogynists.  Our partners and co-conspirators in the media have too much invested in our narrative to object. And as to the rest of the liberal world, half of them will refuse to acknowledge the brutality or will excuse it because of how downtrodden we are, and the other half will come around once we show enough pictures of dead Arab children.  We win when we kill you and we win when you kill us.

IP–Israel: But how callous and cynical can you be?  The Arab children will be dead because you have put them in danger, by commencing hostilities, by shooting rockets from residential areas, by using schools as shields.

PS–Hamas:  What’s your point?

 IP–Israel:  Obviously not one that you could comprehend.  Do you know that the donated funds that could have permitted you to build a functional, even thriving, economy have been diverted to weapons manufacture, tunnel building, and maintenance of billionaire lifestyles for your political leaders in Qatar and elsewhere?  You tore up water pipes to manufacture rocket launchers.  You used cement that could have built schools and shelter to build attack tunnels.

PS–Hamas:  Pretty clever, huh?  Anyway, it is the fault of the Zionists, who expelled us from our land.

IP–Israel:  Do you know that an equal number of Jewish emigrants from Arab lands were expelled and arrived as refugees in Israel?  They have been fully absorbed into Israeli society.  The fifth generation of Palestinian “refugees” are still living in refugee camps, denied equal employment and residential rights in all Arab states, and supported like beggars by foreign contributors and the UN.

PS–Hamas:  Yes.  It is the fault of the Zionists.  That’s one of the reasons we want you dead.

IP–Israel: The Zionists could not have taken your state from you because you never had a state. Do you not know that there has never been a Palestinian State and the two closest approximations were both granted and created by Israel:  Gaza, when Israel voluntarily withdrew, and the PA-controlled areas of the West Bank, under the Oslo Accords.  So what legal claim do you even have on this land?  That before they left 75 years ago, many of their own volition, the great-great-grandparents of some of you once lived on it under someone else’s rule?  Why should Palestinians be unique among the world’s refugees to have that status permanently?  And if there is to be a Palestinian homeland, isn’t it Jordan, the part of the Palestinian Mandate that was separated by Great Britain after World War I to be an Arab country?

PS–Hamas:  The Jordanians threw us out.  Black September. Not a single Arab state has welcomed us, assimilated us, treated us as equals.  We needed to remain as refugees as a rallying point for the oppressed Arab masses in all the Arab dictatorships.  We are fifth generation refugees, stuffed in refugee camps that have become cities, discriminated against in Lebanon, Syria, Egypt.  And it is all your fault.  Because . .. otherwise . . . whose fault could it be?  You are an apartheid state engaged in genocide.

IP–Israel:  If so, we are very bad at genocide and apartheid.  The Arab population of Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza has increased since 1948. In Israel, Arabs enjoy more civil rights than in any Arab country.  They vote, they get free education, they serve as lawyers and doctors and pharmacists, they have political parties and are represented in the Knesset (Parliament) by their freely elected representatives, they have judges, including a Judge on the Supreme Court.  How are the civil rights in Gaza?  While we’re on the subject, how are women who wish to abandon the hijab treated there?  How are gays and lesbians treated? Can you get an abortion?  Are they gracious to transgender people before they kill them? Don’t blame Israel for the state of affairs in Gaza; blame yourselves and your puppeteers in Iran.  Perhaps your argument is with your Arab brethren, not with us.

PS–Hamas:  (Pause.)  We want you dead.

IP–Israel:  Other Arabs are prepared to make peace with us.  Consider the Abraham Accords.  We were even negotiating with Saudi Arabia.

PS–Hamas:  That is why Iran insisted that we attack.  We needed to stop that process.  Plus, we want you dead.

IP–Israel: Am Yisrael Chai.  That will never change. The people of Israel live.

PS–Hamas:  We want you dead.  That will never change. We want you dead.

Stay tuned for future installments of this dialogue. We see some very positive threads emerging from an open exchange of ideas.

About the Author
Gary Epstein is a retired teacher and lawyer residing in Modi'in, Israel. He was formerly the Head of the Global Corporate and Securities Department of Greenberg Traurig, a global law firm with an office in Tel Aviv, which he founded and of which he was the first Managing Partner. He and his wife Ahuva are blessed with18 grandchildren, ka"h, all of whom he believes are well above average. He currently does nothing. He believes he does it well.