Barak Hullman
Former Scholar of Islamic History, Storyteller, Author and Podcaster. Every Question Deserves an Answer.

Understanding ‘The Conceptia’

(L-R) Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, US President Bill Clinton, and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, at the Oslo Accords signing ceremony on September 13, 1993. (Wikipedia)

For many months now I have been trying to under “The Conceptia” (the mental concept) which led the most powerful army in the Middle East to allow Hamas to attack its citizens when the IDF and government had over a year of warnings, including detailed maps, names of Hamas commanders, their cellphones being tracked and warnings pouring in the day before shouting that there would be an imminent attack.

I wanted to understand how people whose entire adult life was dedicated to preventing an attack like this from happening could still allow it to happen. People like the IDF Chief of Staff Hertzi Halevy and the head of Military Intelligence Aharon Haliva, the heads of the Mossad, Shabak, government ministers, the Prime Minister and those that came before them.

Is Hamas so smart that they could pull the wool over our eyes and no one could see it? Former General Brik had been warning about this for years. 

This video is from two months before October 7th. And this one from 5 years ago!

How do we Israelis turn the styrofoam coffee cup inside out to see what we couldn’t see before October 7th and prevent it from happening again? Right now most of us are still stuck in the Conceptia and below I will show you how.

Our Dream, Their Dream

Look at our national anthem, HaTikvah (the Hope). 

Our hope is not yet lost,

It is two thousand years old,

To be a free people in our land

The land of Zion and Jerusalem.

Now look at Theodore Herzl’s Altneuland (Old New Land) written in 1902 which imagined European Jews reclaiming their old new land, the Land of Israel and building a prosperous, well-populated, state of the art country with a free, just and cosmopolitan modern society. 

This is the dream that Zionists like me grew up on. It’s the dream that led me to make Aliyah as a young man, get married, have a family and build my life in Israel. It’s also the same dream that allowed October 7th to happen.

Our dream and the Palestianians’ (and other Arabs’ and Muslims’) dreams are different. 

Take a look at the Palestinian National Charter. Here are some lines that give you an idea of what’s written there.

Armed struggle is the only way to liberate Palestine. This is the overall strategy, not merely a tactical phase. 

Commando action constitutes the nucleus of the Palestinian popular liberation war. This requires its escalation, comprehensiveness, and the mobilization of all the Palestinian popular and educational efforts and their organization and involvement in the armed Palestinian revolution.

The Balfour Declaration, the Mandate for Palestine, and everything that has been based upon them, are deemed null and void.

Zionism is a political movement organically associated with international imperialism and antagonistic to all action for liberation and to progressive movements in the world. It is racist and fanatic in its nature, aggressive, expansionist, and colonial in its aims, and fascist in its methods.

It’s a sad yet enlightening read. The Hamas Charter is more extreme. 

Our dream is a democratic, free, just and modern society. The Palestinians’ dream is to replace us, violently if needed.

The Conceptia stems from our inability to see that our dream is not their dream. No amount of money, work permits, good will and deeds, withdrawals from territory or agreements will change the Palestinian dream despite us trying all of that in the past.

Aren’t All Humans Good at Heart?

“Doesn’t every parent love their children and want the best for them?”

The answer is yes. 100% But wanting the best for our children as Israeli Jews is different from what many parents in Gaza and the West Bank want for themselves and their children.

What we want is to live in beautiful, affordable homes (that we own). We want good food, purpose driven lives, peace, freedom and liberty for all.

What they want is to replace us. How many videos of Palestinian mothers rejoicing over their children dying as martyrs do we need to see to realize that our dreams and their dreams are very different? 

What they see as “good” is different from what we see as good. We sing songs about peace, they sing songs about returning to Haifa and Yaffo and from the River to the Sea. We educate our children to respect others, Arabs included. They educate their children to kill Jews.

If that’s challenging for you to read it’s because you are stuck in the Conceptia.

October 7th was a result of us dreaming of living side by side with Gazans and them dreaming of dying for Allah. We should not discount the desire to die for Allah. If that is the highest level a Muslim could reach, why should their parents not want their children to kill us?

For them it’s the equivalent of a hi tech exit and then becoming Prime Minister or a doctor.

We have different dreams and because of that we can’t see that their dreams are just as real as ours. That’s the Conceptia. We want to believe that given enough time, money, sacrifice, agreements or land, the Palestinians will want our dream. But just like we don’t want their dream, they don’t want ours.

Our upper echelon should know this, but they didn’t and many of them still have a hard time accepting it. 

Most Israelis also don’t get it. They still believe the Palestinians will one day want our dream.

Here are some of our pipedreams that created and continue to create the Conceptia:

  • Hamas will agree to a deal
  • If we leave the West Bank (like we did in Gaza) we will have peace
  • Songs about peace 
  • Believing that anyone can manage Gaza when Hamas is an idea that can’t be defeated
  • Believing we can live in peace side by side with our Arab/Muslim neighbors
  • Wanting to just be left alone to live in peace
  • Thinking that if we just give a little more land or money or work permits or good will, something will change

Look at the Palestinian Charter and you will see that they want to use our dream against us and we willingly allow them. It’s very hard for a Westerner who grew up in liberal America like myself to accept this but if we don’t learn to look at our neighbors like they see themselves, we are bound to repeat the same mistakes again and again either until we get it or we are no longer here to get it.

About the Author
Barak Hullman studied for a PhD in Islamic History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (MA at Princeton). He made aliyah from South Florida in 1995. He lives in Jerusalem, Israel with his wife and their 7 children (all born in Jerusalem). Barak is the author of two books, Figure It Out When You Get There: A Memoir of Stories About Living Life First and Watching How Everything Else Falls Into Place and A Shtikel Sholom: A Student, His Mentor and Their Unconventional Conversations, available at He has two podcasts, Jewish People & Ideas: Conversations with Jewish Thought Leaders (guests have included Yossi Klein Halevi, Michael Oren, Natan Sharansky, Daniel Gordis and others) at and The Chassidic Story Project at   Learn more by going to
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