Justin Feldman
From the Jewish Grassroots

Honest Questions & Tough Answers on Gaza Escalations

In this footage posted by the Hamas-affiliated Shehab News Agency, you can see and hear some of the 600 rockets that have been launched from Gaza at Israel in the last 36 hours. We will continue to protect and defend Israeli civilians.

Posted by Israel Defense Forces on Sunday, May 5, 2019
From the Times of Israel Facebook cover photos: "Iron Dome takes out rockets fired from Gaza near Sderot, Israel, May 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)"

The big questions we ought to ask rarely make their way into hot discourse surrounding the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The big questions we ought to ask rarely make their way into hot discourse surrounding the Arab-Israeli conflict. With so much increasing tension and few to delineate how we got to where we are today, some people eventually become fed up and cut to the chase: We know Hamas isn’t going to stop firing rockets at Israelis from crowded areas, but given their minimal accountability from the world, does Hamas even have enough space in their territory to theoretically abide by the international laws of warfare and fire at Israel from non-civilian areas? Others might also ask: do they have enough money to protect their people from potential crossover from Israeli retaliation (funding the construction of bomb shelters)? Let’s reference some little known facts.

There’s an entire central region of the Gaza Strip that is much less inhabited to better suit as a zone of militant operations, yet Palestinian terror groups intentionally fire rockets at Israeli civilians from concentrated Palestinian civilian areas (i.e. northern Gaza). Israel contrastly sends leaflets, texts, and phone calls — all unprecedented measures in the history of warfare — to clear out these manipulated areas before targeting challenging centers of terror operations.

Furthermore, Palestinians have received a total estimated $68 billion dollars over the past 7 decades, categorizing them as the top recipient of foreign aid per capita in the world, and yet their leaders like Ismail Haniyeh and Mahmoud Abbas refuse to invest their pocketed money in the safety of their people, not to mention the non-existent jobs that they are reluctant to create despite Israel’s consistent delivery of humanitarian aid (did someone say Gazan poverty?). This is all a continuous lethal recipe, as few on the international stage have held these Palestinian rulers responsible. It also speaks volumes as such fora, including the UN and the EU, cement Palestinian oligarchic power and immunity — thus showing the few Palestinian dissenters speaking out that they have no foreign support nor should they be protected from the repercussions of an authoritarian society. 

But the real question we should be asking, given the knowledge of these aforementioned facts, is: Why must Hamas continue to launch war against Israeli civilians in the first place?

The cycle of intolerance permits this flow of power, in which the deliberate escalation of Palestinian poverty and unemployment and the connected scapegoating of Israel by Palestinian elites, solidifies their control and ruthless exploitation of domestic frustrations. Appealing to the international community for scores of aid and squandering that money into lavish properties and endeavors of Palestinian kleptocrats is step one. Step two entails funneling a significant amount of those funds for palpable impunity into incentivized terrorism, i.e. the Palestinian Authority’s Martyr Fund, or more virulently via Hamas’s asymmetric riots and rocketfire against Israeli (and Palestinian) civilians. Then, step three – harping on international media exploitation, sensationalism, and political enablement, and back to step one. This cycle is empirically what keeps the Israeli-Palestinian conflict going. Everything else not included in that long laundry list is, practically-speaking, peripheral and symptomatic.

This ailment we are diagnosing today is an age-old problem that has manifested itself repeatedly in different episodes of the conflict. During the 1948 War of Independence, the Palestinian meshing of their own belligerents with civilians imposed a lethal obscurity, accounting for the occasional instances of civilian casualties by Israeli forces (especially en route between the sabotaged roads connecting Tel Aviv to besieged Jerusalem) and also arguably necessitated the initial tragedy of Palestinian refugeehood, for the few in the latter region who were expelled. The deliberate absence of distinction by Palestinians between militant and civilian, rioter and protester today, is a customary tribal practice at best, and a twisted strategic measure at worst. I would consider voiding Palestinians of moral agency and sensibilities to be racist, but regardless, the phenomenon in practice establishes itself in order to gather the most Palestinian casualties to flaunt before a sympathetic and uninvested global attention; attention that is yanked by the chain of emotions, eager to point fingers at Israel without discretion, but is willfully distracted from or lazy to inspect the very real context of how these deadly exchanges are formed to begin with. The disturbing paradox is that the same sympathetic attention given to these Palestinian victims, who are expressly made indistinguishable from deceased Palestinian militants, is dissolved when considering the Israeli civilian victims, which Palestinian terrorists profusely and purposely attack, such as Israelis Ori Ansbacher, 19 and Moshe Agadi, 58. 

“Are you sure about the Palestinian Authority though?”

We know that when good-willed people make the point that the PA is a somewhat moderate voice for Israel to bargain with, they are neglecting the two-faced political game that the PA plays. On one hand, they cooperate on various humanitarian matters with Israel and occasionally crack down on local terror activity under their wing in conjunction with Israeli intelligence. On the other hand, they are planting seeds for perpetual resistance to secured peace a.k.a. glorifying terror in all sectors of society: media, education, athletics, entertainment, and politics for each succeeding generation. It’s how they get by without being fully ‘de-throned’ by the most fervent anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sectors of their society (a number that is actually growing by their own agenda). This is further reinforced by generously paying those that murder on that hatred on a monthly basis — a dream for many young Palestinians, when good wages are scarcely available and they’ve been raised to believe in the twisted “moral imperative” of violent supremacy. What is happening is that the PA is staying afloat in the feeble relevance of their people, keeping a foot’s distance from full Israeli counter-action, while simultaneously instigating regular bloodshed and fortifying obstacles in the long-term to bridge-building between two exhausted peoples. If that isn’t dreadful politicking, I don’t know what is.

The bottom line is clear. People are wasting their time, trying to make sense of the issues without pursuing context. Don’t blame Palestinian refusal to comply with international law, ongoing Palestinian asymmetrical warfare, and the resulting disproportional Palestinian deaths on Israelis just trying to transcend centuries of trauma and function in their own internationally-recognized indigenous state. If you’re spending billions of aid on rockets and bomb shelters for terrorists but not your civilians, on palaces in Doha, Qatar and Ramallah for yourself but poor hospital care for your people, on a society of systematic violence and resentment, and not on economic opportunity nor an equitable political system, that’s on no one but you. But I get it, there’s too much vanity in the Palestinian autocratic psyche to let go. Nothing left to lose for Palestinian people and everything to lose for their leaders. That dynamic will have to deteriorate sooner or later. The answer of how rests in whether the international community will finally speak up against the corruption of Palestinian leadership, or enable their pious march to national suicide.

About the Author
Justin Feldman (Yitzchak Eishsadeh) is a researcher, writer, and professional speaker. Formerly the National Activism Manager for the Israeli-American Council Mishelanu, a member of the Students Supporting Israel National Committee, and the youngest staff speaker in North America for StandWithUs, Justin has engaged thousands on Israeli history and advocacy strategy. Today, Justin has standardized and facilitated activism strategy guides for Zionist university students nationwide. In his spare time, Justin enjoys cooking, calligraphy, travel, and graphic design. He holds a B.A. in Political Science & Middle Eastern Studies from UCLA and is currently pursuing his M.A. in International Relations at NYU. You can follow Justin on Twitter @eishsadehy.
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