Daniel Ben Abraham
The opposite of war is nuance

Seize the damn Rafah border already!

If I time-traveled here from the future, from a time after humanity had learned to solve all our wars, this is what I would tell you about Gaza, today.

Humanity’s wars are not over land nor resources nor religion. Wars are not caused by individuals, nor soldiers, nor even leaders for the most part. Wars are caused by the moral questions that humanity stumbles over. When we cannot answer these moral questions, we begin to polarize on opposite sides of them in group collective mindsets. Each side becomes increasingly ideological and irrational, breaking down the systems that maintained peace, believing it is defending itself from a worse threat in the other, until war is the only option left. 

That moral question of the entire Israel-Arab conflict in its broadest sense may be phrased as, “What should happen if a displaced, almost-exterminated, unique, minority people reestablish their indigenous homeland after 2000 years, where a non-diverse ideology dominated and is willing to cause its people endless suffering and war to reconquer it?” Unless the world understands a better answer, as humanity naturally desires peace, the peoples of the world will increasingly give in to terrorism, even to demands for Jewish extermination, and even join in, as they have before.

From a future perspective, I would also tell you that the peace-building systems of 2024 are not set up to solve such questions. We have a dispute between the Jewish state on the one hand, and not Islam, but an aggressive ideology within Islam on the other. That ideology wants Israel, the only state that might defend the Jewish people from the next surely coming holocaust, gone. Unfortunately, the world’s current peace-building system, the United Nations, has one Jewish state and fifty-seven Muslim states, meaning ideology and politics will skew the world’s very sense of justice and morality – the world’s very lens through which people understand right and wrong. 

Per my article entitled, “The true reason we’re not getting the hostages back” ( while Israel is killing individual Hamas henchmen, their global anti-Israel ideology is gaining global strength and support. The United Nations’ actions against Israel, and recognition of a terrorist-led Palestinian state by over 143 nations show this.

Israel cannot destroy Hamas with bombs, because Hamas is an idea. The only thing that can destroy an idea is a better idea. Otherwise, Hamas will simply reconstitute whenever Israel’s military campaign is over regardless whether Sinwar is killed or not, or another group would take Hamas’ place, feeding off the same population base ideology. While this ideological problem is worse if Iran and Qatar fuel the conflict, it’s not eliminated if they don’t.

If the future of Gaza were a question, it might be framed something like: “Why would the Palestinian ideology become moderate?” Because if would not, then they would wage war against Israel no matter what Israel does, no matter how much land Israel might give up. Nations have conquered nations since the beginning of time, not by leaders’ intentions, but by ideologies that empowered leaders who did so.

Right now, 72% of Palestinians support October 7th, and in the largest Arab poll taken by the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies across perhaps sixteen Arab countries, 84% oppose recognizing Israel half a century after major peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, and after the Abraham Accords. The peace deals between leaders become near-meaningless in light of a raging ideological war inflaming the population base. 

For 75 years, Israel has been playing roulette, hoping for a moderate Palestinian leader to emerge, not understanding that the game is rigged, and the ideology will always put in place the more aggressive leader. There is not a single democracy in the Arab world, which itself has no culture of compromise or even a term for “compromise” in traditional Arabic language, so why would a theoretical “Palestine” magically be the first compromising Arab democracy? 

Without this answer, the world calling for a Palestinian state is also calling for the destruction of Israel, knowingly or unknowingly, and thus calling for more war. 

And that’s the problem in a nutshell. The ideology of the “Palestinian cause” is actually two separate ideologies. One, the “Palestinian cause” of peaceful statehood next to Israel, and two, the “Palestinian cause” of conquering Israel. The root of the problem of the entire conflict is, the two causes are intertwined. The world can’t help one without helping the other, making any Palestinian state a steppingstone to destroying Israel, because when you feed an aggressive ideology, it only becomes more hungry, and more aggressive. 

The quest for the solution, then, is to answer the question, “How do you help the first peaceful ‘Palestinian cause’ while also, necessarily, definitely, precisely, weakening the second conquering ‘Palestinian cause’?” While Israel cannot solve the entire conflict in one step, any action furthering this dynamic is finally a step in the right direction, and as good as we may hope for.

With no political or democratic process, whatever Hamas does to cause misery toward its genocidal aims, the Palestinians will support, as they have no other choice. Even with Saudi or U.N. governance, it’s the same rigged roulette game, and the ideology would just channel all power to the most extreme group, resulting in more of the same. In 1-2 years, they would again lose control of Gaza to Hamas or a Hamas-like group.

But there are solutions. 

Without a political process, there’s still a way to ultimately hold Palestinian leadership accountable, by holding the ideology itself accountable. And that way is, to allow Palestinians, if they want to leave voluntarily, to be granted access, visas, and asylum, to emigrate to other countries, temporarily or permanently, as they choose. 

Why would this help?

Because while dropping bombs kills individual Hamas members but strengthens the ideology, giving Palestinians another option would do the opposite. Ideologies can withstand bombs, but can be weakened if you understand how. If Palestinians can vote with their feet and leave, that weakens Hamas and every extremist ideology that could ever rule, because metaphorically, “extremists can only swim in a sea of moderates”. Poor leadership would increasingly cause the metaphorical “tide” to recede by decreasing the supportive population base, the more Palestinians choose to leave Gaza. 

When some Israeli minsters discuss voluntary relocation of Gazans, even temporarily, the Arab world fiercely opposes, saying the Palestinian people must not be displaced again, and pressures the world to likewise prohibit all emigration of Palestinians. But this is immoral. This is not the Arab world’s decision, but the decision of each individual Palestinian. There is a huge gulf as wide as the Grand Canyon between Palestinians being forcibly relocated, and allowing those who wish to leave voluntarily to do so. Morally, the Arabs cannot win this argument. Since the world agrees on the moral rule of helping refugees escape from every other conflict zone, the world should agree for Palestinians too. The world won’t agree, because the world’s moral lens is ideologically skewed, now putting the Arab “cause” ahead of individual Palestinians’ interests. But if Israel seizes the border and helps Palestinians who wish to go free, Israel will ultimately win the triggered debate that is now being suppressed.   

If Donald Trump were to speak to this, he might say, “Not allowing Palestinians freedom to leave is the biggest scam in the world.” The Arab world has no right to put its own ideological “cause” which has caused the Palestinian people 75 years of suffering above the Palestinians’ own individual right to choose their own futures.

Remember, the goal is not for all Palestinians to leave, but to set up a mechanism whereby the ideology is divided into its two subparts, so Palestinians can best moderate their own governance. By allowing Palestinians who wish to voluntarily leave to do so, and giving them several safe options including in the Sinai, we have set up a reciprocal system where the more conflict their leadership causes, the less fuel for the ideology. The more extreme the leadership becomes, the weaker it becomes. The mechanism lets air out of the entire pressure cooker of a conflict. Hamas cannot claim it is representing the Palestinians if they are leaving. As any Palestinian leadership, Hamas or otherwise, will naturally want more power, it will be finally, after all these years, be incentivized to moderate. Hamas is not afraid of bombs, but is afraid of this. They may make a deal immediately after Israel seizes the border, rather than let one Palestinian leave. Shooting fleeing Palestinians is not a good look for Hamas. Such ideologically-directed strategies are the only thing that can moderate any Palestinian society because they supersede individual, leader, and government interests and decisions, and thus are a prerequisite to any coexistence.

“Not a single Palestinian should be forced to leave, but not a single Palestinian should be forced to stay, either.” 

This is a moral position everyone should agree on. In a world that has lost its moral compass, unaware of the pivotal moral questions let alone their answers, the one thing the world should be able to agree on, is that the Palestinian individual people should be able to make their own decisions, including putting their own self-interest ahead of the “cause” the world imposes. 

Freedom to leave is the real Palestinian “self-determination” the world should be advocating for. 

It’s not Israel keeping Palestinians in an open-air prison if it is such, but the rest of the world by refusing to accept them.

The Arabs will always put their broader “cause” ahead of individual Palestinian choices, because it’s not them suffering the consequences.

Still, even though anyone relocating would be voluntary, some will still falsely label it “ethnic cleansing”, because buzz words elicit emotions among ideologues easier than intellectual debate resolves them. While “ethnic cleansing” is not a defined crime under international law, a U.N. Commission described ethnic cleansing as S/1994/674 as “… a purposeful policy designed by one ethnic or religious group to remove by violent and terror-inspiring means the civilian population of another ethnic or religious group from certain geographic areas.” Israel is not ethnic cleansing, and would not be even if many Palestinians were displaced. Israel would not intentionally use force or terror against the population, Hamas would, and is. Many Palestinians want to leave Gaza voluntarily and have wanted to for years. Additionally, Israel is not selecting people for displacement based on ethnicity or religion, but allowing all people in one conflict zone territory to leave. It’s geographic, not ethnic. Palestinians are 99% Arab and Muslim, and are homogenous because they themselves do not allow other religions and cultures, but that’s not Israel’s fault. So, if a group that is homogenous because of their own discrimination is displaced, their discrimination does not transfer onto Israel. In fact, Israel has two million Arabs, so if under Israeli control, Gaza would have Israeli Arabs too, and be more diverse.

Egypt has allowed 50 tunnels from the Sinai to Gaza through which Hamas and weapons can enter, instigating this conflict and causing untold Palestinian suffering for decades. The tunnels found alone give Israel the moral right to seize the border. 

But Egypt sealed its border and is also in violation of its obligations under international law to give asylum to any Palestinian refugees at the Rafah border.  This is a whole additional justification for Israel to seize the Rafah border to help Palestinians who wish to flee the conflict zone to do so. 

If the world blames Israel for food and aid Hamas steals, Israel has yet another ground to seize the border, establish a safe zone, and deliver food and aid to Palestinians in the Sinai where Hamas is not in control. 

Israel could bring a case before the International Court of Justice against Egypt for helping instigate this war, and violating its obligations to accept refugees, demanding not only confirmation of the law, but $50 billion in compensation for all the suffering Egypt caused the Palestinians, and might resolve the war before the case came up for trial. 

Israel is afraid of Egypt’s threats to withdraw from the 1979 Camp David Peace Treaty, without understanding that Egypt has helped put Israel into an existential war, and is blocking key peace solutions. Under the treaty, Israel has the right to “agree on the modalities for establishing the elected self-governing authority in the West Bank and Gaza.” Egypt violated this by allowing tunnels and weapons in. 

Israel has a right to “arrangements for assuring internal and external security and public order”, which Egypt violated. Israel also has a right to “participate in joint patrols and in the manning of control posts to assure the security of the borders.” Israel also has a right to have Egypt take “All necessary measures will be taken and provisions made to assure the security of Israel and its neighbors during the transitional period and beyond” and Egypt violated that as well. The Treaty also says, “Egypt agrees that the use of airfields left by Israel near El Arish, Rafah, Ras El Nagb and Sharm el Sheikh shall be for civilian purposes only, including possible commercial use by all nations.” So, Israel has a right to use the airfield to bring aid to the Palestinians. Israel has exhausted its remedies in seeking a negotiated solution with Egyptian President El-Sisi under U.N. Charter Article 33, but Egypt refuses to negotiate. Israel is being baited with a Saudi peace deal, right into a continuing or worsening conflict as no deal would change the Arab world’s underlying ideological dynamics. So, Israel must help Israelis and Palestinians, and be a light unto the nations by taking a moral position. And, Israel should invite International media and monitors to hear, see, and debate as Palestinians have the option to flee into the Sinai for a better life than Hamas offers, so the rest finally have a chance to stay and make peace. 

Five peace offers didn’t work.

Elections didn’t work.

Cutting off aid to the Palestinians didn’t work. 

Giving aid to the Palestinians stolen by Hamas didn’t work. 

Maybe “free Palestine” should be “free the Palestinians!” 

Seize the damn Rafah border already! 

About the Author
Daniel was born in Budapest, Hungary, to the grandchildren of Holocaust survivors, and grew up in New York City. Daniel obtained his Bachelor's degree from Penn State University, has a Juris Doctorate with a specialization in public international law. He is the author of several books and articles, including The PeaceMatrix™, about a theoretical new system for solving all human conflicts. Daniel's approaches to the challenges of anti-Semitism, terrorism, and Israeli and international peace and security combine understandings of psychology, philosophy, law, Judaism and spirituality, and metaphysics.
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