A Realistic Look at the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

As usual, we constantly debate the Israeli Palestinian issue, even more so during election season. Where do you see yourself? I would submit most people fit into one of the five categories below:

Fantasizer – Optimist— Realist — Pessimist — Despondent

There is certainly reason for someone to be despondent. After all, this conflict has been continuous for 70 years without hope of resolution. But does despondency help anyone? The answer to that is no. Even those who have lost relatives to terrorism, HY”D, frequently pick themselves up and use the tragedy to initiate some good in the country in the name of the deceased. Certainly the rest of us, need to follow their example and continue to try to create the best country possible.

Is pessimism warranted? After all, 70 years of being surrounded by threatening enemies forced the country to minimize internal differences and work together to protect the country and develop the Start-Up Nation. On the other hand, the continuous varying levels of terrorism and wars without an end in sight take their toll. But just as a person with a chronic disease can choose to let it control his life or he can choose to live his life to the fullest despite the chronic disease, so too Israelis have learned to accept their chronic conditions and continue to live their lives to the fullest.

The opposite extreme: Fantasy as epitomized by John Lennon in “Imagine”. He wants us all to live as one but to do so he eliminates heaven, hell, religion, possessions. He imagines nothing to kill or die for. Well, I’d hate to inform him (if he weren’t killed) that this world was created with conflict from the time of Cain and Abel. If there were nothing to kill or die for, there would also be nothing to live for.  Without a value system (worth fighting for) then what is our purpose in life. But shouldn’t we strive to be optimistic that we can make the world a better place. Of course, but it has to be based upon the reality we are faced with.

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REALITY:

History:

  • In the 1400+ years since Mohammed slaughtered two Jewish cities in Saudi Arabia, Jews have been murdered and pillaged intermittently throughout the Arab world. Yes, there were good times as well, but even during those times Jews were considered dhimmis (second class citizens).
  • There has been a Jewish presence in the Holy Land since the destruction of the Second Temple.
  • There never was a Palestinian “people”. There were Arabs, most of whom came from Egypt or Syria in the late 1800’s for work, who lived in the area but there never was a distinct people. There are just Arabs.
  • Between 1948 and 1967 when Jordan controlled the “West Bank”, how did they treat their people. They kept them locked up in refugee camps in poverty. Contrast that with how the Jews treated their immigrant people
  • Was there ever a Palestinian “state”? In 1922, the British decided to give the land west of the Jordan to a Jewish homeland. In 1948, when the State of Israel was declared, five surrounding Arab armies declared war on Israel and Jordan “occupied” a portion of the west side of the Jordan which came to be known as the West Bank. In the defensive war in 1967, at the start of which Israel pleaded with Jordan to stay out of the war, Israel recaptured the area to the west of Jordan River. It is not occupied territory because it never belonged to a different country!
  • The majority of Arab “refugees” fled in 1948 on their own volition to escape the war. They were not forced out by the Jews. On the other hand, what happened to the Jews from the Arab countries. They were forced out and taken in and absorbed by the Jews in Israel.

Based upon this history we need to evaluate the current prospects for peace.

  • What impact did the Arab Spring have? There is tribal warfare throughout the Arab world. This is the same type of tribal warfare that has existed for centuries and is indigenous to the Arab culture.
  • The left is convinced that there is no “Islamic terrorism”. It is not politically correct to mention it. But any rational person would have to concede that the greatest majority of terrorism in Europe and the Middle East is performed in the name of Islam. Obviously, not all Moslems believe in terrorism. But just like in Judaism there are various interpretations of the religion, the liberal factions of Islam reject terrorism. However, the “Orthodox” versions of Islam are strident adherents to Sharia law and to violent defense of the religion. [In Judaism, it is the Orthodox tradition that has maintained the religion. More liberal groups pop up every centuries and even if the group persists, the children and grandchildren of the group eventually assimilate and are no longer identifiable as Jews.] Just as in Judaism the Orthodox tradition is the one which has stood the test of time and continues to maintain the faith, so too in Islam. We see this manifest in Europe where the second/third generation want to institute Sharia law in Britain, France, etc. There are neighborhoods were the official police cannot enter because they are ruled by Islam.
  • The Arab politicians, whether in the PA or Hamas, have been and are completely corrupt. Arafat had millions stored away in private accounts while his people were starving. The same is true of all the leaders and their sycophants. The same is true for their current leaders. Life in Gaza is unbearable, yet Hamas has millions to spend on rockets.
  • Education: What is in the curriculum of the PA schools? Israel is removed from the map and only the only “reality” is the entire land called Palestine. Generations have now been raised to believe that the Jews have to be pushed into the sea. In Gaza, Hamas has summer camps where they’ve replaced soccer with war maneuvers and training. They bring the children to the riots as human shields!
  • Pay for Slay: If the PA insists on supporting terrorists and their families instead of accepting millions of American and Israeli tax dollars – what is the message. Terrorism is the PA’s #1 priority.
  • Billions of EU support: Where has it gone? Corruption and support for terrorism instead of education and rehabilitation.
  • Both the PA and Hamas support BDS throughout the world, even at the cost of Palestinian jobs (shooting themselves in the foot) in the hope that the Jews will be pushed into the sea. The also push the oxymoron that Israel is apartheid, when it is the only state in the Middle East that has free elections to the point where the anti-Israel Arabs are allowed in the Knesset while Jews who demand a minimal loyalty to the State are rejected as racist! On the other hand, Saudi Arabia and many other Arab countries are Judenrein.

In summary, I would quote Professor Mohammed Dajani Daoudi who recently wrote: “[Encouragement] to violence; subliminal violent messaging; demonization of the “other”; indoctrination to militancy; and degradation of women.”

As such I have to conclude that there is no one to make peace with. This is not to say there are not people that would like to live peacefully within Israeli society but that there is no organized group that would be willing to risk actually making a peace arrangement with Israel. And if a group tried they would be attacked verbally and physically.  I believe at the shiva of Ori Ansbacher there was a local sheikh and group of people that came to express their sorrow. He could not release his name for fear of retaliation. Shortly after the visit the sheikh of another nearby village criticized the visiting sheikh calling him a traitor.

So where do we go:

Just as we learned from Obama’s trial of appeasement, it doesn’t work in the Arab culture. The only response to terrorism is strength (as Trump has done with ISIS). As in the Purim story, it was a policy of appeasement of Achashveirosh (going to his party celebrating 70 years since the destruction of the Temple) that lead to Haman and his decree. It was only when we stood up for ourselves that God helps us.

First I have no issue with working with those Arabs interested in peaceful relations on an economic basis. But I would insist on a declaration, not necessarily of support for, but of acceptance of the Jewish State’s existence.

Second, we need to increase the disincentive for terrorism: Any terrorist has to know that he likely will lose his life, and his family will be punished as well. The IDF soldiers need to be given the benefit of doubt in all cases of terrorism. The justification for punishing the families is the fact that they stand to benefit from Pay to Slay and as such the PA has included them as a package deal with the terrorist. As long as the PA insists on rewarding such families, it is reasonable to punish them.

Third: The definition of a deadly terrorist attack must include rock throwing, Molotov cocktails, and all incendiary balloons and kites. As such anyone identified by the IDF as performing these acts, puts his own life at risk. That will stop the riots in Gaza.

As for the fallout from these tactics, this is the time to initiate them. The left has already called Israel every evil possible. The UNHRC considers worse than N Korea, Iran, and every other despotic regime. With Trump in the White House, I don’t think we we have anything to lose and have much to gain including saving Jewish lives.

About the Author
Strong religious zionist background: First trip in 1963 - bar mitzvah, spent a summer volunteering at Hadassah in 1970, spent a year in Yeshiva in Jerusalem in 1971-72, parents made aliya in 1979, Tried to make aliyah in 1983 but was told I wouldn't fit into the system (after completing a fellowship in Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center) Professional: Board certified in general surgery, private practice in Manhattan for 28years, the Chief of the ENT / Head & Neck Service at the Phoenix VAMC, Clinical professor of surgery at Univ of AZ-Phoenix for 8 years. Finally made Aliyah in 2016 to work in Rambam. Licensed and Board certified in Israel Hobbies: Skiing, Hiking, Creating
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