Tali Silberstein

Dear Rania

Dear Queen Rania,

I am a great fan of yours. Not only because of your impeccable style and beauty, but I admire all women leaders in the Middle East.  Albeit your power is derived not from democracy, but from a monarchy. If you lived in Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, I am certain you could be a female elected leader like Aida Toma Sliman, an Arab woman in the Israeli Knesset (parliament). Prior to her political career she had been head of a daily Arabic newspaper in Israel. Why do you think that Israel is the only country in our region where Arab women can not only enjoy equal rights and opportunities, but also become leaders in society?

Regardless of how you became a leader, you are an inspiration. I was taken aback that in your interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour you inaccurately and irresponsibly mentioned that Israel is a colonialist empire.  

I can imagine how busy you are, so you may have forgotten: remember it was the Turkish Ottoman Empire who were the political entity ruling the region from the 1300s until their defeat in World War I.  Following WWI, the region was divided solely to serve English and French political and even more so economic aspirations. The British had a mandate over what is today Jordan, Israel, the West bank, and Gaza. In fact the British promised a homeland for the Jews in Palestine (not a country, the name of a region) with the Balfour declaration in 1917 even before the war ended and before the idea of a nation called Jordan ruled by the Hashemites was born.

For the Hashemite kingdom of Jordan is the only remaining of the three that has survived since its founding in 1921 by the British as a result of the Sharifian Solution. The Hashemites were given 3 territories in the Middle East for aligning themselves with the British in World War I.

In your sequence of thinking that puts Jordan as a colonialist enterprise.

By 1934 when your father was born in Tulkarem (in present day West Bank) he was born into the British Mandate of Palestine (again not a country, the name of a region). Your grandfather would have described himself a Moslem Palestinian, just as my Jewish uncle’s s father living in Jerusalem would have described himself as a Jewish Palestinian.  This nomenclature was derived from the name of the Turkish region that was then adopted by the British. I’m wondering, do you purport we just give back our countries to Turkey or the British? 

In the same interview, you claim that the conflict began 75 years ago, that would put the start right at Israel’s founding in 1948. Again, you must have misspoken as we both know Jews have a thousands year old connection to the land. But that aside, even this contemporary conflict did not begin in 1948. It has been in play since the Middle Ages if we look at modern history. It began even before the Middle East was carved out haphazardly by the west.

Also, in your interview you stated that Israel should go back to 1967 borders, have you discussed this with the King?  Before 1967 the West Bank was part of Jordan. Do you remember it was annexed by Jordan in 1948 after the Arab-Israeli war? Subsequently in 1967 Israel took control of the West Bank in hopes that we could entice the Jordanians to make peace in the “land for peace” credence. But the Jordanians never agreed to resume their ruling of the West Bank. Going back to 1967 borders means your father’s birthplace can again be part of the territory you, as a Hashemite monarch, rule! Do you think you can also help convince the Egyptians to take back Gaza? I wonder why under the peace agreement with Egypt they took back the whole Sinai desert (Israeli communities were uprooted in the land for peace swap) but they wouldn’t take back Gaza. I wonder why your father in law, King Hussein, didn’t accept the West Bank as part of the peace agreement with Israel in 1994? 

When Christiane Amanpour pressed you on using words like apartheid, you did not go back on your words. Can you please come to Israel and  explain why you say this word to the Muslim-Israeli women in my Zumba class on Mondays, and then Muslim- Israeli children on the swim and soccer teams with my children? And while you are here I can drive you around the country for you to explain how this word applies to Israel to all the Chritstian, Musim Arab Israelis and Druze that sit in cafes in Israel alongside Jewish Israelis. Fadale, please explain it to them.

I really appreciated how you ended the interview by stating that the end solution has to be a political one. Why did the past Palestinian leadership reject over 4 peace deals that were heavily negotiated, in which almost all Palestinian demands were met. Did your husband’s family support the peace deal with then Prime Minister Barak? Remember this was the deal that offered even East Jerusalem as the capital of the newly formed first-ever Palestinian state in history to exist? I wouldn’t be surprised if King Abdullah was a little hesitant.

Since 1967 and until today the Waqf, an Islamic organization, based in Jordan, controls the Dome of the Rock. I can see how losing control of this incredible monument built in 668 on top of the first and second Jewish temples destroyed in 70 CE, and 156 BCE respectively would be difficult.  

When Israel and the Palestinians make peace, and if East Jerusalem will be its capital, the Hashemite kingdom may need help allowing someone else to control the third most sacred site in Islam. If they do, they can talk to every Jew in the world for advice as we have let the Waqf control our holiest site since we gained control of it from Jordan in 1967. Also, please tell the king that there are clearly no hard feelings even though before 1967 under Jordanian control Jews were not allowed to visit our holiest site.

I liked how you pivoted when Amanpour asked about your husband’s refusal to take in Palestinian refugees. You stated that there should be no more Palestinian refugees. I subscribe to the same principle. There are 350,000 Palestinians living in refugee camps in Jordan. Most census data I have seen reveals that besides those refugees, Jordan’s population is 50-60% of Palestinian heritage. Strange that these percentages are not at all reflected in the Monarchy’s political and administrative leadership. 

Also, intriguing is your harsh criticism of Israel rooting out Hamas from Gaza to protect its citizens. While Jordan itself fought and expelled the PLO (then deemed a terrorist organization, today the organization that rules in the West Bank) and Hamas. Jordan actually banned Hamas in 1999. Why is Israel not allowed to remove Hamas from terrorizing Israelis and Gazans today?

You claimed to Amanpour that Israel is not doing what it can to avoid civilian casualties. You continued to expand this point by affirming Israel’s use of precision weapons. I think you are again confused. Israel invests in precision weaponry precisely to avoid as many civilian casualties as possible. If Israel used non-precision weaponry which would be easier, less expensive, and keep our soldiers safer, many, many more innocents would die. 

You mentioned Israel’s “indiscriminate bombing” of Gaza which not only almost comically contradicts the use of precision weaponry, but is also an absolutely fictitious claim. The Israeli Air Force coordinates with troops on the ground, intelligence organizations, IDF commands to decipher the most specific coordinates of an airstrike, to avoid as much damage and innocent death as possible. You, yourself, spoke of the density of Gaza. I guarantee no other army on earth would make such efforts to avoid innocent loss.

You claim it is not self-defense to target hospitals, schools, and mosques. Hamas purposely uses civilian entities, including all of the above and even ambulances and children’s bedrooms to target Israeli civilians. The IDF recently published a picture of rockets being stored in the drawer under a little girl’s bed. Israel must root out Hamas to save Israeli and Palestinian civilians. The IDF does everything it possibly can to avoid and limit the loss of innocent lives.

In your interview with Becky Anderson on CNN you stated that Israel’s eviction orders are not effective because there is no electricity in Gaza and the orders are on TV or online. Hamas has electricity and fuel supplies. If Hamas is able to have electricity and internet to terrorize Israeli hostage families by posting videos on the internet, why wouldn’t they be able to give access to civilians?  If Hamas cared about Palestinian lives why wouldn’t they announce the evacuations from the mausoleums in the Mosques where everyone can hear the call to prayer 5 times a day? If Hamas cared about Palestinian innocent civilians why would they threaten them against heeding evacuation orders?  Why would they literally shoot at the Palestinians using the humanitarian corridor? Hamas does not protect innocent Palestinians, it does the opposite, it purposely puts them in danger to achieve their fundamentalist goals. The same goals that caused Jordan to expel Hamas.

In your interview with Becky Anderson regarding the war you mentioned that:

“You can kill the combatant, but you cannot kill the cause.” Does that mean you believe that the world should be an Islamic Caliphate under strict Sharia law?” You must have had a moment of deep confusion, because that is Hamas’s cause. Israel is fighting Hamas. Hamas’s cause is NOT a Palestinian state. Israel must kill the combatants to save OUR cause (the Palestinian and Israeli people) of peace. I agree with you that a two-state solution is the ultimate path.

I urge you to use the incredible platform you have. If you truly believe in a future for your people, please be more responsible with your words.  Please be clearer about what you believe. You mentioned the Pact of Omar, of Islam, that protects the innocent. To honor this pact, you know that Hamas and all Islamic fundamentalism must be removed. To truly lead, you must urge the Palestinian people to recognize Israel as a Jewish, democratic state in the Middle East. That has been, and remains to be, the primary piece missing in bringing peace to the people. 

About the Author
Though she was born in Israel, Tali grew up in the United States. Tali received a Masters in Public Affairs from the Lyndon B. Johnson school of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. She worked in the Jewish non-profit arena. Tali was happy to be a part of Jewish and Israel education at a conservative synagogue in San Diego, CA. She moved back to Israel with her family in 2016.
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