Arab countries, Palestinian governments, UNRWA, Western media, and protestors have brought misery to the Palestinian people.
One of the most poignant stories from the October 7 massacre involves a 13-year-old boy named Ariel Zohar. Ariel became a bar mitzvah just weeks after both his parents and his siblings were murdered by Hamas. Attending the ceremony, former Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau marked his own bar mitzvah several decades earlier, also as an orphan, after the Nazis murdered both his parents and his siblings.
The elderly rabbi told the young man of his own tragic past, and then added, “I had a good life and achieved much. And you too will achieve, and you too will have a good life, because you see how many good people love you.”
Rabbi Lau and Ariel Zohar represent different generations, one born before modern-day Israel, the other born in Israel, yet both suffered the same fate. Neither the Nazis nor Hamas murdered Jews because of a land dispute. While Rabbi Lau’s family were victims of an ideology that sought to achieve Aryan supremacy, Ariel Zohar’s family were victims of an ideology that seeks to achieve Islamist supremacy.
Indeed, from generation to generation (l’dor v’dor), the location changes, the identity of the supremacists changes, yet the outcome is too often the same for the Jewish people.
But what about the Palestinian people? From generation to generation, the needle has not moved for them. Who is responsible for their stagnant existence?
In 1948 when several Arab nations declared war on Israel, the Arab leaders told the Palestinians to leave temporarily, and once they “drove the Israelis into the sea”, they could return to their homes. To their surprise, the Arabs lost the war and the Palestinians who left, lost their homes. The Palestinians who stayed, were given Israeli citizenship.
Compounding the plight of the homeless Palestinians, the Arab countries put the refugees in camps instead of taking them into their own countries. In fact, in 1951 Syria sought to grow its population, giving citizenship to 500,000 Egyptians. When the United Nations asked Syria to take in 80,000 Palestinian refugees, Syria refused.
Today no Arab country has offered to take in any Gazan refugee. The overarching goal, leaving the Palestinians as refugees to evoke sympathy and undermine Israel, remains. The Arab countries failed the Palestinian people then and continue to fail them today.
The Palestinian leaders spread propaganda to gain support, especially from their willing accomplices on the far left. One example involves the Arabic word “Nakba”, which means “catastrophe”. The Palestinian leaders describe the Palestinian refugee situation as The Nakba.
Few people, however, know the origins of the word. In fact, “Nakba”, in the context of the Palestinians, was first used in a pamphlet written by a Syrian professor named Constantin Zureiq who lamented the fact that the Arabs brought upon themselves a great catastrophe by causing the refugee situation. The Nakba, according to him, was not the refugee situation itself, but the fact that the Arabs were responsible for their own suffering. Now strategically rebranded, the word “Nakba” is often used in antisemitic diatribes, placing the blame on Israel.
In Congress, the far left “Squad” created a Nakba resolution to malign Israel. They conveniently ignore the fact that the refugee problem was caused by 1. the Arabs’ refusal of the U.N. Partition Plan, 2. the Arabs’ initiation of a war against Israel, and 3. the Arabs’ refusal to take in the refugees that resulted from that war.
In addition, they fail to acknowledge that throughout history there have been countless other groups of people who have been displaced, and yet had the willingness and fortitude to move forward. Only the Palestinians have stagnated.
The fact that Israel has offered peace deals with the Palestinians multiple times, but has been rejected every time, is a great failure for the Palestinian people. Ambassador Abba Eban famously said, “The Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”
When Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia remarked, “It was a crime against the Palestinians, in fact against the entire region.”, he was not referring to anything Israel did. He was speaking of Yasser Arafat’s rejection of the 2000 deal put together by two liberal leaders, President Bill Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak. The deal was so generous that Arafat’s rejection of Palestinian statehood stunned the world.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency is a significant perpetuator of the Palestinian problem. UNRWA was initially set up as a small, short-term organization created to provide basic humanitarian aid to the Palestinians. Today it has over 30,000 employees and an annual budget of 1.6 billion dollars. The Palestinians are the only people to have a United Nations relief agency dedicated entirely to them. In addition, the Palestinians are the only people whose descendants, in some cases several generations later, are still considered refugees. The descendants represent 98% of the current Palestinian refugees. Can someone be a refugee from a country he has never lived in or even stepped foot in?
Instead of helping the refugees move towards independence, UNRWA helps sustain their refugee status. They are complicit in the goal of keeping the Israeli/Palestinian conflict alive. In fact, one of the demands of the Palestinian leadership is “the right of return”, in which all the original refugees and their descendants return to Israel. This demand would put an end to Israel as a Jewish, democratic country.
By supplying the Gazan population with services and supplies and eliminating the financial responsibility for Hamas, UNRWA enables Hamas to use its own funds to build terror tunnels and manufacture rockets.
Funded primarily by the United States and the European Union, UNRWA is intrinsically linked to Hamas in terms of its goals and actions. Hamas missiles have been found in UNRWA schools and hospitals. In addition, some of the freed Israeli hostages have reported that their jailers were UNRWA teachers.
UNWRA’s schools promote antisemitism and terrorism in their textbooks and curricula. Even grammar and math problems routinely evoke the notion of killing Jews. A sample math problem might be: If there are eight Jews and you kill six of them, how many are left?
The television shows that young, impressionable Palestinian children watch contain characters whose innocent appearances belie their venomous words. These characters teach them to use violence against Jews.
The summer camps for Palestinian children are designed to infuse the youngsters with goals of terrorism.
A common prop in Palestinian school plays is fake blood, as the children pretend to stab Jews.
Palestinian children’s toys and games contain messages of hatred and cruelty towards Jews.
The Western media and Palestinian advocates, often called “Hamas’ useful idiots”, are great enablers of Hamas. Since Hamas violently seized control in Gaza in 2007, their game plan has been to fire missiles, provoking Israel to retaliate. Knowing that the media and ill-informed people worldwide will blame Israel when civilians are killed, Hamas then uses its civilians, especially children, as human shields. This strategy has been ongoing, as Israel has frequently “mowed the lawn” in Gaza. Since it has reaped sympathy for them and outrage against Israel, Hamas has continued to use this strategy, resulting in the death of many innocent Palestinians. Just as Donald Trump said that he “loves the poorly educated”, Hamas undoubtedly loves his “useful idiots.”
The media and the protestors claim to care about Palestinian lives, but in fact, make little or no mention of Hamas’ and the Palestinian Authority’s brutal oppression, including torture and murder of their own people. In addition, the media and protestors do not seem to care about the child labor involved in building some of Hamas’ tunnels, even when it is known that many children died while building them. Nor are they concerned when Hamas fires missiles that fall into their own territories, killing innocent Palestinians.
Perhaps the saddest example of failure towards the Palestinians involves the Palestinian mothers. When children as young as 12 and 13 have tried to stab Israeli soldiers, and were killed in the process, their mothers have been known to hand out sweets in celebration. Do Palestinian lives matter to anyone?
In a 1970 interview, when asked whether time was on the side for the Arabs who talk of fighting for 100 years, Prime Minister Golda Meir responded, “I don’t believe it. You want me to believe that things will never change, that they will go on shooting and killing. You want me to believe that generation after generation of young people in the Arab countries will have no other ideal except to kill Jews. I don’t believe it.”
As the Prime Minister predicted, several Arab countries have since signed peace agreements with Israel, reaping the many benefits of a peaceful co-existence with their former enemy. On the other hand, the Palestinians who continue to “have no other ideal except to kill Jews” are the ones whose suffering persists. The pictures and videos we see of the death and destruction in Gaza are a direct result of their foolish choice.
Consider the optimistic message that Rabbi Lau conveyed to Ariel Zohar. The rabbi’s ability to move forward after his horrific past no doubt helped propel him to a good and fulfilling life. By telling his own story, the rabbi tacitly urged Ariel to reject the bitterness he could rightly feel, and instead choose to pursue a good life, full of achievements.
On October 7, Israel was attacked on the most joyous holiday on the Jewish calendar, Simchat Torah, a day when we mark the completion of the yearly cycle of Torah readings, only to begin again.
Having finished the reading, we celebrate with that unique sense of gladness that arises from knowing we have accomplished something worthy and special.
We celebrate with the anticipation of starting the reading from the beginning once again. We know that with each new reading, there is the possibility of gaining fresh insight from the ancient words.
From generation to generation, Jews have joyfully sung and danced on this happy holiday. Next year and all the years that follow, Jews will joyfully sing and dance again on Simchat Torah.
Just as we embrace the potential to gain new wisdom from the old Torah scrolls, may the Palestinians and those who enable them embrace the potential to find new wisdom in their old thinking. Perhaps then, a future generation of the Palestinian people will have a reason to be joyful, too.