End of occupation, end of violence?

It has become quite prevalent to hear from the critics of Israel’s policy towards the Palestinians, that all the incitement against Israel, all the violence and all the terror attacks on its civilians, has to do with Israel’s “refusal” to end its occupation over the West Bank. In their minds, the equation is simple: end of the occupation = end of violence between the two peoples. This argument is uttered abroad, as well as in Israel by extreme left winged organizations. Some even go further and blame Israel for all the atrocities in the Middle East; to their opinion, these stem directly from the unresolved Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Israeli occupation. If that was true, then the wars in Syria, Libya, Iraq, Lebanon etc, will be over once Israel withdraws from the West Bank. In such a scenario, peace in the Middle East would seem closer than ever! Well, sorry to disappoint you, but beliefs of this kind could not be more wrong.

Let’s stick to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for now. The proposed link between ending of Israeli occupation and bringing peace and quiet (as viewed in a very deterministic way by the circles mentioned above), would inevitably imply that Palestinians are basically a peace-seeking people; if freed from Jewish/Israeli occupation, they would readily live in peace with the Israeli neighbors. Now, let’s look at some historical facts:

Before the creation of the Jewish state, while under British (non-Jews of course), Palestinian-Arab violence against Jews in the early 20th century occurred regularly. For example, in 1921, 43 Jews were killed in Jaffa; in the 1929 Arab riots (also known as the 1929 massacres), 113 Jews were killed and 339 others were injured; between 1936 and 1939 (known as the Arab revolt) 400 Jews were killed and thousands were injured. Likewise, before 1967, while not under any Israeli dominance/influence, savage terroristic attacks were launched from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank by Palestinians against Jews within the green line, inflicting many hundreds of innocent victims. I think we get the point.

Hebron_massacre_newspaper
The 1929 edition of the Baltimore News, reporting on the 1929 massacre of Jews in Hebron (Source: Wikipedia)

Maybe the Palestinians were all along disregarded and discriminated against by the international community vis-à-vis the expanding Jewish population in Palestine, and as a result, took up arms? Well, facts attest to the contrary: in 1937 the Peel Commission offered a fair partition-based solution, in favor of the Arab population. Guess what happened? David Ben-Gurion accepted and the Arab-Palestinians bluntly rejected it. The same thing happened in 1947 with the UN partition plan for Palestine (creation of two independent states living peacefully side by side), which was supported by the international community. Again, Ben-Gurion said YES, Palestinian-Arabs said NO! and took up arms, attacking savagely the Jewish population.

The crucial point here is that not only the Arabs refused to form their own sovereign state, but they were completely against the formation of a Jewish state. In 1948, a day after the first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, announced the independence of Israel, and only three years after the end of the holocaust, five Arab armies, supporting the local Palestinian militias, went on an all-out war in order to annihilate and wipe out all of the Jews in the new born state.

3261628762
David Ben-Gurion’s declaration of independence in 1948 (Source: Haaretz)

Well, maybe the Israeli “demon” came out only after the 1967 war, revealing a stubborn and cruel occupier? Let’s remember that the 1967 war and the occupation of territories was totally legitimate (based on the international law), as Israel was facing and warding off an existential threat by Egypt, Syria and Jordan. As it came out later, and disappointing its detractors, the occupied Sinai Peninsula was returned to Egypt following the peace treaty in 1979. The treaty has ensured the end of belligerency and the security of Israel, free from threats or acts of force. As for the Golan Heights, to whom it can be returned? to the crumbling illegitimate Syrian regime or maybe to insurgents such as ISIS?  what kind of “peace” Israel can expect in return?

In 2005, following the Oslo accords, the Gaza Strip was fully returned unilaterally to the Palestinian Authority. This move, which involved dismantling of many settlements and transferring thousands of settlers without any tangible benefit, astonished even Israel’s best friends. From hopes of Gaza becoming the next Singapore, it has become a stronghold of terror, when Hamas, a brutal terrorist organization, won the elections in 2006. Ever since, more than 20,000 rockets were fired into Israel, terror tunnels are being dug under Israeli kibbutzim, child soldiers are being trained, and venomous incitement rules over children’s education and culture.

History_Speeches_4036_Anwar_el_Sedat_Camp_David_Summit_SF_still_624x352
Anwar Sadat, Jimmy Carter and Menachem Begin after signing the Camp David Accords in 1978 (Source: History.com)

It is legitimate by international law to take halt of enemy’s territories till the threats he poses are removed (it proved out very nicely with the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt). Can anyone envisage Egypt, the biggest and strongest Arab state, come to terms with Israel without the latter insisting on holding Sinai till the agreement? Along the same line, and adding to that the bitter experience Israel has had after the disengagement from Gaza, can anyone dare state that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will be reasonably solved without Israel insisting on holding the West Bank until a tangible solution is apparent?

Now, Israel’s “sympathizers” could claim that Israel “has fallen in love” with holding large areas, not exerting itself too much to get out of the stalemate. Disappointment again! Two Israeli Prime Ministers offered practically all of the West Bank in exchange for peace (in 2000 and 2007). Surprise, in both cases, the Palestinians said NO! Again and again, the Palestinian leaders refuse to make compromises in order to give their people, finally, their own state. By the way, over 90% of the Palestinians already live under their own sovereignty.

After going through this “short” summary, we can assume that unilateral actions, such as an immediate withdraw from the West Bank, will only make things worse. Any genuine action to end the violence must occur with the cooperation of both sides. Compromises can be made, trust should be built, but in order to end the violence, the party that incites their youth, that commemorates its terrorists and that celebrates the death of Jews, needs to change from its core. According to the Anti-Defamation League index of Anti-Semitism, 93% of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank harbor venomous Anti-Semitic attitudes. Violence can only end when there is a dramatic will to end the hate, and to teach about tolerance and peace. A withdraw from the West Bank can only happen when there is a genuine bilateral attempt to promote peace.

Aparth…what??

Refuting the lie of the apartheid

On August 17, 2015, Bradley Burston, Haaretz Correspondent, finally “had it” with the Israeli policy towards the Palestinians and decided to bluntly accuse Israel for its so-called apartheid policy. On August 25, 2015, Noam Chomsky described the actions of the Israeli occupation as “worse than South African apartheid”. These accusations align with what seems to be a global trend to bash Israel and blame it for pretty much everything that is wrong in the world. This phenomenon is quite prevalent on college campuses in the US and the UK. The “Apartheid week”, which has become a yearly routine, is sponsored by the BDS movement (Boycott, Divest and Sanctions), which accuses Israel of ethnic cleansing, apartheid, colonization, racial discrimination etc. More examples can be found in many places in the world.

BDSRally17-9-11ByJasonMurphy-web

According to its definition, apartheid is a policy/system of segregation or discrimination on the grounds of race. Between the years 1948-1994, South Africa enforced through legislation an apartheid regime, which harshly discriminated the non-white racial groups. This discrimination encompassed every aspect of life, such as the right to vote, job opportunities and education. It also encroached on aspects of simple, everyday life: which road you could walk on, which park bench you could sit on, at which beach you could go swimming; even intermarriage between whites and non-whites was strictly forbidden. What is important to emphasize is that these people, despite being grossly discriminated against, were in fact, equally defined as citizens by the South African laws.

Israel is the only true democracy in the Middle East, and 20% of its population are Arabs. Totally contradicting the above accusations, any form of discrimination against the non-Jewish minorities is strictly forbidden by law in Israel. Thus, the Arab-Druze population is fully represented in the Knesset by sixteen Arab/Druze-Israeli members. Likewise, the judiciary is typified by equality between Jews and Arabs. In this way, the Supreme Court judge, Salim Joubran (incidentally an Arab), found the former Israeli president, Moshe Katsav (Jewish), guilty and sentenced him to serve seven years in prison (http://goo.gl/FgwvSk). Another example of this policy of equality, is provided by the IDF Colonel Ghassan Alian, a Druze-Israeli, the commander of the Golani brigade, which is one of the leading infantry brigades in the Israeli Defense Forces.

Similarly, Jewish and non-Jewish students study side by side in colleges and universities; Jews and non-Jews receive exactly the same medical treatment under the same roof, and use exactly the same means of transport. In short, NO SEGREGATION! In fact, Israeli-Arabs are considered among the best and brightest in the Arab world. For example, in 2013, the level of illiteracy in Egypt was 28.6%, in Syria 20.4%, in Lebanon 13.5%, in Jordan 10.1%; and how much the Israeli-Arabs? 6%. So, still accusing Israel of apartheid? Ludicrous.

jewish_palestinian_coexistence

Okay, so if not the Arabs (Palestinians) who are Israeli citizens, what about the Palestinians who are not? First, the Palestinians who live in the West Bank are NOT Israeli citizens, and therefore cannot receive any citizen benefits from the Israeli government (I don’t mention Gaza because Israel withdrew from the territory and it is now completely controlled by the terror organization, Hamas). This actually reflects the essence of the entire conflict: the Palestinians in the West Bank, fighting for an independent state, fiercely opposing the Israeli presence. The Palestinian leadership audaciously manipulates the already complicated situation on the ground, by spreading misinformation that present Israel as an apartheid state. Palestinians in the West Bank are citizens of the Palestinian Authority; this authority should be the sole address to their demands for equality in economy, education, employment etc.

The critics will say that it does not matter, because Israel occupies and oppresses the Palestinians anyway, depriving them of political freedom, and economic/educational advancement. In fact, more than 90% of the Palestinians in total (Gaza + West Bank) live under Palestinian sovereignty. Why are there no Palestinian elections? Because the last time they did, Hamas, a terrorist organization (recognized as such by the US, UK and EU) won and took over the rule of the Gaza Strip in 2006. Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority (PA), is on his ninth year as president, five years beyond the due elections (which never took place). Hamas and the PA (aka Fatah) are practically enemies, and only because of the cooperation between Israel and the PA, Hamas failed to overtake the rule over the West Bank as well.

Just another point – the Palestinians are among the most educated people in the Arab world, according to the World Bank report. As for 2013, in Gaza and the West Bank, 80% graduate from high school and 50% from college. Far more extensive than most Arab/Muslim countries, such as Egypt, Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Yemen. Cruel oppression? It doesn’t seem like it.

One of the major claims implicating Israel of apartheid policy relates to the security/separation wall. This wall stretches with minor deviations along the green line, which separated the West Bank from Israel before the 1967 war. Before this wall was erected, there was hardly any separation between Israel and the Palestinians. The life of the Palestinians in the West Bank was evidently more comfortable, but this does not imply by any means the existence of one state with equal citizens. In practice, there were two separate entities: Israel and the Palestinian Authority, with open borders, as explained above.

So how did the wall come about? The horrendous suicide bombings of the Palestinian terrorists that swept Israel in cafes, restaurants, buses and clubs took the life of over 1,137 citizens, throughout the Oslo accords process in the 90s and early 2000s. These atrocious attacks caused the Israeli government, led by Ariel Sharon, to create a security wall in order to prevent terrorists from entering Israel.  The number of Israeli victims from terror attacks was immediately and dramatically reduced. Yes, The Palestinians deserve better; the open border state as in Europe, could serve as an ideal example to peaceful coexistence. However, they need to stop pretending that they are innocent, they need to take responsibility for their actions, and they need to know that there are implications to their extreme actions. Therefore, calling this safety wall “an apartheid major instrument”, would appear now insane.

These days, we in Israel are experiencing another wave of terrorism from the Palestinians, killing Jews indiscriminately everywhere. Any effort to try to justify this violence by calling Israel an apartheid state is utterly disgraceful.

Game of Lies

On Wednesday (October 14) Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, accused Israel for “executing an innocent 13 year old boy”.  In addition, he said that “The Israeli attack against our people, our land, and the holy places threatens peace and stability”. A day later, Abbas’ harsh accusations showed up as a vile lie, when Israel proved that the “innocent 13 year old victim” was alive and only lightly wounded, receiving treatment in an Israeli hospital. The Palestinian president bluntly ignored the horrific terror attacks committed by this boy and other Palestinians in recent weeks. Here’s a short summary: 7 Israelis were savagely murdered and over 92 were injured. Oh, and that “innocent” 13 year old Palestinian, actually went on a stabbing rampage and managed to severely injure a 13 year old Israeli kid. The life of this stabbed kid is still hanging by a thread.

These recent false statements by Abbas and his men are merely a fraction of the lies that are being spread in Palestinian media, which I refer to as “the Game of Lies”. Here are some more examples: Palestinian terrorists, who shot and stabbed to death two Israelis (including Haviv Haim, 78 years old) and wounded several others on a bus were portrayed as “Martyrs”; an Arab-Israeli woman, who stabbed innocent people in Afula (a city in northern Israel) with a butcher knife and got shot by the police (only lightly wounded), was portrayed as an innocent victim of police brutality only because she was an Arab; on October 2, Eitam and Na’ama Henkin were murdered right in front of their children while driving their car, and the Palestinian reaction was that it was a legitimate act against the Israeli occupation. These savage murders of innocent Israeli citizens were never denunciated by the Palestinian leaders.

As it seems, in fact in line with their previous conduct in this matter, loathsome acts of savage terrorism, such as slaughtering old people as well as children and women, are praised by Palestinian leaders as “brave” and applaudable fighting against the occupation. Moreover, Palestinian leaders are bluntly accusing Israel of launching a religious war, claiming that it has been violating the status-quo in the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, and threatening the holy Al-Aqsa mosque. Israel has intensely rejected these accusations; contrary to those who might doubt the authenticity of the Israeli reaction, just recently, the US State Department, publicly supported the Israeli version, that the status-quo on the Temple Mount has not been changed. To support that, let us look at the numbers: over 3.5 million Muslims, 200,000 Christians and 12,000 Jews visited the Temple Mount this year. These facts further add on to the absurdity of the Palestinian manipulative and false claims. The game of lies continues here as well.

Abbas and Palestinian leadership are mentioning every now and then that they want peace with Israel. At the same time, they continue to poison the minds of their youth with hate towards Israel, they honor dead terrorists that killed Israelis, they praise stabbing and shooting of Israelis on the streets as bravery, and they blame Israel for committing horrendous war crimes and genocide at the UN and other international forums. How can you say that you want a peaceful solution, when in fact, you are doing the complete opposite? If you indeed want a peaceful solution, why not teach your kids about tolerance and accepting the different, instead of indoctrinating them with uncompromising hate of Jews/Israelis.

With that being said, I must remind the reader that Abbas and his friends do not really represent the Palestinian people: it was the fundamentalist and extreme terror organization, Hamas, who, in a convincing manner, won the first and last democratic elections in 2006. More than 1.4 million Palestinians are under the Hamas regime in Gaza, and apparently a major part, perhaps the majority of the Palestinian population in the West Bank, support Hamas. Ever since winning the elections, Hamas has fired around 20 thousands rockets into Israel. If Abbas and his regime are still trying to camouflage their blatant hatred towards the Zionist idea, the Hamas charter explicitly and repeatedly calls for the killing of Jews and utter destruction of Israel.