Bassem Eid

Israel Seeks Peace as Terror Targets its Citizens

As Jews around the world prepare to celebrate Passover, the Holiday of Freedom, next week, the State of Israel – the reborn Jewish nation, after two thousand years of exile – is engaged heartily in the business of peacemaking with its Arab neighbors. In a ghastly contrast, extremist Palestinian and Israeli Arab terrorists – most or all apparently radicalized by the radical group ISIS or Daesh – are perverting the Muslim holy month of Ramadan with a wave of terrorism that has killed at least eleven Israelis in the past ten days.

On March 27, Israel hosted the foreign ministers of Egypt, Morocco, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates for a historic summit in the Negev Desert with the purpose of “advancing a regional security architecture” to counter threats by “air, sea, and piracy.” Meeting at the historic Kibbutz Sdeh Boker, best known as the retirement place of Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, the leaders – together with Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and U.S. Secretary of State Tony Blinken – engaged in conversations that were described as “very warm, including embraces and friendly conversation.”

Morocco’s Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita said “our presence today is the best response” to terror attacks such as the ones that have been taking place in Israel. A new generation of leaders has arisen across the Middle East that hopes to bury the hatchet of past conflict and advance a new dialogue seeking a better future for all in the region.

Such assurances could not be more timely. As Lapid put it: “This new architecture – the shared capabilities we are building – intimidates and deters our common enemies, first and foremost Iran and its proxies.” Indeed, Iran – which in recent years has embraced Nazi-style rhetoric about the Final Solution and with its proxies engaged in violence just last month from Jeddah on the Red Sea to Erbil in Kurdistan – is surely the greatest loser of the enhanced relations between Israel and its Arab partners. Following the conference, at which the Egyptians, Moroccans, Emiratis, and Bahrainis raised concerns about the nuclear deal and its regional consequences, Blinken took a new tone regarding the nuclear deal the United States has been negotiating with the Iranian regime, asking that Israel suggest an alternative solution and days later clarifying that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards are a terrorist organization.

In the modern world, when many Islamic societies are among the most harmed by extremist terrorism, it is indeed to be doubted whether the route to sympathy for the Palestinian cause in other Islamic countries lies through the butchery of unarmed Israeli civilians. Nonetheless, radicalized young Palestinians – immersed in an educational and media culture that has been steeped in anti-Semitic paradigms originating with the Third Reich – have engaged in a spate of bloody killing with the apparent intent of destroying the shoots of peace. Two young men were killed on April 7 when a gunman opened fire in central Tel Aviv; a week earlier, a Palestinian construction worker killed three Israelis and two Ukrainians in the small religious city of B’nei Brak; and a few days earlier, two mothers of three and a rabbi were among four murdered by an ISIS-inspired knifeman in Be’er Sheva.

Israel and its Arab neighbors have a great deal in common, including a desire to move beyond the conflicts of the past. Only the radical rejectionist regimes in Iran and Syria, which are despised by their people, and the radical terrorist militias that have paralyzed Palestinian and Lebanese society for decades now, constitute the remaining obstacles to peace and a new order in the region. Israel and its partners must now work together to counter the forces of hate, even as they work together to build a better tomorrow.

About the Author
Bassem Eid (born 5 February 1958) is a Palestinian living in Israel who has an extensive career as a Palestinian human rights activist. His initial focus was on human rights violations committed by Israeli armed forces, but for many years has broadened his research to include human rights violations committed by the Palestinian Authority (PA), and the Palestinian armed forces on their own people. He founded the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group in 1996, although it ceased operations in 2011. He now works as a political analyst for Israeli TV and radio.