I live in Ashkelon in Israel, on the border of Gaza. Following the barbaric attack of Hamas on October 7th, we are now in the middle of what the state of Israel has declared to be not an operation but a war.
I am not a political scientist or a political commentator – I am a teacher of Jewish studies and a psychologist-counselor. I approach the Arab-Israeli conflict in the main from a religious point of view as a teacher of Jewish studies.
In the Hebrew Bible there is a concept of the impurity of the land of Israel – and, it is written (Leviticus 18, 28) that the land of Israel vomited out its inhabitants, the Canaanites, due to their idolatrous practices defiling the land, and that the land will vomit out the Israelites as well if they defile the land. In my view, the greatest impurity of the land of Israel is not idolatrous practices of ancient Canaan – the greatest impurity is the spilling of blood and murder.
I want to suggest that Israel allowing terrorist organizations Hamas and Fatah (originally the PLO) to rule within the land of Israel (in Gaza, and in the West Bank, Judea and Samaria, the heart of the land of Israel) is to defile the land of Israel from a religious and spiritual point of view. In my view, Israel has a moral and religious obligation to uproot these terrorist organizations from the land of Israel so that the land is not defiled.
Most important, this moral and religious obligation to uproot these terrorist regimes from the land of Israel is not only for our own sake as Jews in the land of Israel — but, for the sake of Palestinian Arabs living under the oppressive rule of these terrorist regimes.
The world is virtually silent regarding the terrible oppression of Palestinian Arabs by the terrorist regimes of Hamas and Fatah — especially relative to the excessive and unjust criticism directed to the state of Israel that has only defended itself from wars and terrorism intended to destroy Israel as a state.
With all of our pain and suffering as Jews in the land of Israel as a result of wars and terrorism, Palestinian Arabs living under these terrorist regimes are victims far more than we as Jews in Israel. I emphasize that they are victims not of Israel, but of Hamas and Fatah — as well as victims of Arab Muslim states surrounding the State of Israel that prior to the rise of these terrorist regimes initiated war against Israel in 1948, 1967 and 1973 with a declared aim of the extermination of the State of Israel.
Palestinian Arabs are victims of Arab Muslim states surrounding Israel that rejected the two state compromise solution suggested by the UN in 1948, and had the UN solution been accepted a Palestinian Arab state would have been established — and, from 1948-1967 Egypt illegally occupied Gaza, and Jordan illegally occupied the West Bank, Judea and Samaria, during which time a Palestinian Arab state in those territories could have been established.
Palestinian Arabs living under Hamas and Fatah are not only victims in terms of the number of deaths caused directly by them in killing their own people (for example, in cases of collaboration with Israel) and caused indirectly by them when Israel defends itself from terrorism. Palestinian Arabs living under these terrorist regimes are also victims of terrible oppression (especially economically and socially) due to huge amounts of money that Hamas and Fatah have received being used not for the building of flourishing societies in Gaza and the west bank, Judea and Samaria, but for terrorist activity and purchasing of weapons – and, Palestinian Arabs are indoctrinated in a systematic way to Jew hatred.
I want to add that a tragedy of the Arab-Israeli conflict is that the world in being obsessed with unjust criticism of Israel is also virtually silent in regard to the terrible suffering, bloodshed, totalitarianism and oppression that is rampant throughout the Arab Moslem world. In over 100 years of the Arab-Israeli conflict the number of deaths on both sides is over 100,000 people. In less than 10 years of the recent conflict in Syria the number of deaths was over 500,000.
Before suggesting a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, I want to point out that a two state compromise solution was suggested long ago – and, this was the suggested solution of the UN in 1948.
This compromise two state solution was accepted by Israel in 1948 and Israel has always since then been willing to accept such a solution. Israel has demonstrated willingness to compromise and make territorial concessions for the sake of peace – in giving Sinai to Egypt as part of the peace agreement between Israel and Egypt in 1979, and in leaving Gaza in 2005 unilaterally even without any peace agreement.
The compromise two state solution of 1948 was rejected by the surrounding Arab Moslem states who attacked Israel with a declared aim of extermination of the state of Israel, and they did the same again in 1967 and 1973. They were clearly interested not in establishing a Palestinian Arab state in the land of Israel, but in preventing the establishment of a Jewish state in the land of Israel.
The compromise two-state solution has been rejected to this day by the terrorist regimes of Hamas in Gaza and Fatah in the West Bank, Judea and Samaria, as reflected in their charters. They have been interested not in a compromise two state solution, but in a one state solution of only a Palestinian Arab state in the land of Israel and in carrying out a terrorist war against Israel.
Parenthetically, in my view, it is a widespread myth that Hamas is more extreme and Fatah more moderate — both are terrorist organizations that are committed to the destruction of the State of Israel as reflected in their charters.
Most important, the two-state compromise solution is simply absurd and insane from a logical and common sense point of view. How can Israel be expected to compromise with, and make concessions to, an enemy who is committed to its destruction?
By way of analogy, what of the case of a wife who is a victim of physical abuse from a husband not interested in compromise in declaring that he will kill his wife? Would anyone in their right mind (no matter what we may think of their conflicting narratives) suggest to the wife, or worse pressure the wife, to compromise with her husband, and make concessions to him, for the sake of peace between them so that they can live together? Wouldn’t such a suggestion, or even worse pressure, clearly constitute aiding and encouraging the husband to attack his wife as well as endangering the life of the wife?
In the current situation, Palestinian Arabs in Gaza have only 2 possibilities of escape — the border with Egypt and the border with Israel. Both borders in recent years have been closed — and, there has been a siege or blockade of Gaza by both Egypt and Israel.
However, Israel has always until now provided humanitarian aid to Gaza including supplying building materials, electricity, gas, water as well as transferring money to Hamas — even though Hamas is committed to the destruction of the State of Israel (and, even though Hamas diverts building materials supplied by Israel for terrorist purposes such as tunnels, and diverts money transferred by Israel for purchase of weapons). And, Israel has allowed Palestinian Arabs from Gaza to work in Israel.
Egypt has never allowed any such humanitarian aid. Yet, criticism is widely directed to Israel in laying siege to Gaza, and not to Egypt.
It is without question absolutely absurd from a moral point of view to expect Israel to provide aid to an enemy that is committed to its destruction. The obligation is without question on Egypt to open its border and allow humanitarian aid to Gaza in general and especially in a time of war – assuming such aid would not go to Hamas to be diverted for terrorist purposes. It is being reported that Egypt is now agreeing to allow humanitarian aid to Gaza through its border – and, in all likelihood this is due to pressure from the US upon Egypt.
Moreover, Egypt has been from 1948 until now unwilling to incorporate their own brethren in Gaza into Egypt as citizens.
Egypt clearly has moral responsibility for Palestinian Arabs in Gaza today. In 1948, 1967 and 1973 Arab Muslim states, including Egypt, attempted to exterminate the State of Israel. In addition, Egypt illegally occupied Gaza from 1948-1967. Egypt today then has a clear moral responsibility for its Palestinian Arab brethren in Gaza having taken responsibility over them in the past in attempting to destroy Israel in 1948, 1967, and 1973 as well as ruling over Gaza from 1948-1967.
What is the solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict?
Dennis Prager, the well-known Jewish educator and political commentator, argues, and I agree with him, that the Arab-Israeli conflict is not complicated, and actually very easy to understand – he clarifies that the solution is not easy or simple, but the conflict is very easy to explain. He points out that if Israel were to put down all its weapons, in all likelihood there would be a massacre of Jews in Israel, while if Arab Muslim states surrounding Israel and the terrorist regimes Hamas and Fatah were to put down their weapons, they would have peace with Israel and assistance from Israel in helping them establish flourishing societies.
But, I disagree with Dennis Prager that a solution to the conflict is not easy or simple — and, I do think that there is an easy and simple solution that is both reasonable and just.
Following the war in 1948 initiated by Arab states with the declared aim of the destruction of the State of Israel, roughly 600,000 Jews from throughout the Arab world were incorporated into Israel as citizens. These states following the war in 1948 did not incorporate their Palestinian Arab brethren living in the land of Israel into their states as citizens.
I want to suggest that today just as pressure has now been exerted on Egypt to allow humanitarian aid to be given to Gaza through its border – so too, pressure should be exerted upon Egypt by the US and the international community to accept their brethren in Gaza into Egypt to be citizens of Egypt, which Egypt should have done long ago in 1948.
In order that this solution should be in the self-interest of Egypt enormous financial aid should be given to Egypt by the US, Europe, the UN and international community in order that Egypt can rebuild its own society that is very poor — so that a flourishing Egyptian society can be built for Egyptians and for the Palestinian Arabs from Gaza that Egypt should incorporate into their society. Such huge amounts of money are evidently available – as huge amounts of money have been given by the US, Europe and the UN to the terrorist organizations of Hamas and Fatah that have been used far more for terrorism than for building a flourishing society in Gaza and the West Bank, Judea and Samaria.
This, in my eyes, is a reasonable and just solution to the situation in Gaza. And, this same solution, in my view, should be applied in the West Bank, Judea and Samaria (and, this should have been done long ago in 1948), with Palestinian Arabs in those areas being incorporated into Jordan with enormous financial aid being given in order to build a flourishing society in Jordan. And, it can be argued that Fatah, ruling over a large area in the heart of the land of Israel, is an even greater danger to the security of Israel than Hamas in Gaza.
By the way, should moral objection be made to the idea of forcible transfer of Palestinian Arabs from Gaza to Egypt, and from the West Bank, Judea and Samaria, to Jordan – I point out that no moral objection was heard when Israel forcibly transferred Jews living in Gaza into its borders when Israel left Gaza in 2005. Transfer is then evidently an acceptable and moral solution. Transfer of populations is something that has happened throughout history as a result of wars – such as regarding India and Pakistan in 1947 (involving over 15 million people) roughly at the same time that the states surrounding Israel refused to incorporate Palestinian Arabs (about 600,000 in 1948) into their states after attempting to exterminate the State of Israel.
Only in the event that peace will flourish between the Arab world and the State of Israel, and the rampant Jew hatred of epidemic proportions throughout the Arab world, especially among Palestinian Arabs, will largely disappear, should thought then be given to the possibility of establishing a Palestinian Arab state within the land of Israel alongside the state of Israel – assuming that there is reasonable assurance that the state of Israel would exist in peace and security, without facing existential danger to its existence.