If Hamas and Israel were to sign a long-term cease-fire, the Gaza Strip could make use of a natural gas field in the Mediterranean, a highly educated population and wonderful beaches to become a pleasant place to live.
Palestinians are seen aboard the “Lolo Rose” ship, which has become a popular restaurant, during sunset on a beach in Gaza City, Gaza, July 31, 2017.
It looks like everyone wants to do away with Gaza. In Israel, saying “Go to Gaza!” is the equivalent of “Go to hell!” The late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was known for his off-the-cuff “witticisms,” once declared that he would like to see Gaza drown in the sea. Just like that, nothing more, nothing less. I also remember a conversation that then-opposition leader Shimon Peres and I had with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in Vienna in July 1978. At that meeting, Sadat told us that Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin had offered to give Gaza to Egypt in exchange for the right to annex the town of Yamit in the Sinai. Sadat responded with his rolling, baritone laugh, “Begin thought I was stupid. I immediately told him, ‘You can keep that damned place for yourself.’”
It was inevitable that the violent incidents along the border between Gaza and Israel over the last two weekends did nothing to improve Gaza’s terrible image. Anyone who follows the most recent news from the Middle East might reach the mistaken conclusion that Gaza is nothing more than the source of black smoke billowing from burning tires and of wanton bloodshed. Anyone who has followed the news over the past few years will recall violent military confrontations, rocket fire and a humanitarian crisis. Even the Palestinian leadership treats Gaza as disposable, or as a liability much more than an asset. Anyone who really knows Gaza, however, would be hard-pressed to see it as such a wretched place. There are several reasons for this:
The Oslo Accord, which provides an outline for a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, determined that the West Bank and Gaza would constitute a single political entity and that whatever solution is found would apply to both. Upon being elected in 2001, however, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon showed no intention of fulfilling the agreements. He did not trust any Arabs, whether they were from the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) or Hamas. This he told me during a lengthy conversation in 2005, when I led Meretz.
Instead, Sharon decided to disengage from Gaza unilaterally and evacuate Israeli settlements there. No one had promised Sharon that by doing this, Israel would be released from its international obligations to deal with the issue of Gaza as part of a comprehensive agreement, which even the most right-wing governments in Jerusalem, including the current one, have never renounced.
The Palestinians and the rest of the world considered the 2005 disengagement from Gaza to be part of the implementation of the Oslo Accord’s agreement on an Israeli withdrawal in stages from the occupied territories. On the other hand, the Palestinians never considered the possibility of establishing a Palestinian state in Gaza or declaring Gaza to be sovereign Palestinian territory that would be integrated at some point in the future, with other territories that Israeli would withdraw from in the West Bank, even though Israel’s right-wing government would not prevent them from doing so.
Former US President George W. Bush, who saw himself as being committed to spreading democracy around the world, forced Sharon to allow Hamas to participate in the 2006 elections for the Palestinian Authority’s legislative assembly, in violation of the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement signed in 1995. Accordingly, “The nomination of any candidates, parties, or coalitions … will be cancelled, if such candidates, parties or coalitions 1. Commit or advocate racism; or 2. Pursue the implementation of their aims by unlawful or non-democratic means.”
Hamas continued to support the use of violence and to call for the destruction of Israel. When Hamas surprised everyone by winning the elections, Israel and the international community had no idea how to handle this turn of events. Having failed to set preconditions for Hamas to participate in the elections, the international community instead ended up setting terms for Hamas to win recognition (renouncing terrorism, accepting international agreements signed by the PLO and recognizing Israel) after it had already won the election. Since Hamas never considered accepting those terms, the world (particularly the West) refused to recognize the movement, preferring instead to treat Mahmoud Abbas, elected Palestinian president a year earlier, as the sole legitimate Palestinian address.
From Hamas’ perspective, the emergent situation was little more than a case of hypocrisy by the international community, which refused to accept the democratic choice of the Palestinian people. In June 2007, the organization used brute force to seize control of Gaza and ousted the Palestinian Authority. Ever since then, all efforts to reconcile the Palestinian establishment in Ramallah and the Hamas leadership in Gaza have come to naught. Since Egypt rightfully regards Hamas as an extension of the Muslim Brotherhood, and since Gaza is squeezed between Israel and Egypt and receives a cold shoulder from both countries, the Hamas leadership has been seeking ways to do away with the status quo and have the siege of Gaza lifted, without changing its policy toward Israel or agreements between Israel and the PLO.
The recent events along the Gaza border fence stem from the desire of Gaza’s residents to extricate themselves from the corner in which they are trapped. The problem will not be solved through violent encounters between Israeli snipers and young Palestinians willing to sacrifice their lives in vain. An iron fist might well be a temporary solution, but what is really needed is a solution for the long haul. There are two possible options.
The first option is a shift in attitude among Hamas’ leadership regarding the use of violence. Such a shift could transform Hamas into a party to discussions on reaching peace with Israel, once Israel itself is willing to negotiate peace. The second option is immediate talks about arranging a “hudna,” a total cease-fire, for a specified number of years while finding a solution to the missiles in Hamas’ hands, but without the movement being forced to recognize Israel or past agreements.
A modest step such as these could be achieved with the help of an external player — for instance, Egypt or Russia. Several attempts at a hudna have been made in the past, so there is no reason not to renew them as soon as possible.
Members of Students for Justice in Palestine speak at the “Palestine Without Borders” session at the 2018 United We Dream National Congress. Photo: Youth Empowerment Alliance.
A pro-Israel group on Thursday denounced an “antisemitic” session recently hosted by an immigrant youth organization, which compared Israel with Nazi Germany and equated the movement for Jewish self-determination with white supremacy and genocide.
69% of progressives are ashamed to be Americans, but 63% are proud of their political ideology instead. The majority don’t attend religious services, but 73% list politics as their preoccupation.
Numbers from one poll showed that, “religiously unaffiliated Democrats were more than twice as likely to have attended a rally within the past 12 months compared with their religious peers” and were “significantly more likely to have contacted an elected official or to have donated to a candidate or cause” or “bought or boycotted a product for political reasons or posted political opinions online”.
Campus Week: A guide for Jewish students and their elders
Anti-Zionism ghettoizes Jews from the rest of the justice movement, putting a wall around us that separates us from other marginalized people. It cannot be reconciled with any movement striving for inclusivity. It denies us access to solidarity-based movements which should be fighting for equality, for historically oppressed peoples. As American Jewish students return to campus, they should prepare to be challenged academically and intellectually, and should also prepare to challenge movements that don’t respect Zionism and their Jewish heritage.
The Jerusalem Post reviewed a video showing two speakers who called for the “liberation of all of Palestine 48” and “we must take a stand and boycott Israel. BDS.” The slogan to “liberate all of Palestine” reverts to the founding of the Jewish state in 1948 and is widely considered a euphemism to cleanse Israel of Jews.
The German Middle East expert Thomas von der Osten-Sacken wrote an article on the website of the Austrian-based think tank Mena-Watch, with the headline “Speaker at indivisible demonstration calls for Israel’s destruction.” The protest was called #unteilbar (indivisible) by its organizers.
From 1998 to 2008, 5.4 million Congolese died as a result of civil war. Most of the Congolese asylum seekers in Israel came during this period.
It is now the turn of hundreds of asylum seekers from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to be deported back to their country. The Foreign Ministry has implied that the conditions that justified collective protection to Congolese asylum seekers no longer prevail and that there is nothing to prevent them from returning home safely. The Population, Immigration and Border Authority (PIBA) has given them 90 days to leave the country.
With its decades-old track record of murder and mayhem, Hamas has already secured itself a place in the annals of infamy.
From bus bombings to underground terror tunnels to the indiscriminate firing of thousands of rockets and projectiles at Israeli towns and cities, the Islamic extremist group has repeatedly found new ways to sow widespread death and destruction.
Since Israel’s unilateral disengagement from Gaza in 2005, the standard of living for the Palestinian people in Gaza has steadily declined, even though Israel gifted the Palestinians with thriving agricultural lands, productive greenhouses and beautiful beachfront communities.
Every once in a while, I come across a book that I can say changed the way I understand the world I live in. Raymond Ibrahim’s new book, Sword and Scimitar, altered the way I understand the development of our civilization – I mean the one that America inherited from Europe and made our own. It drove home to me how little I knew about the way Islam – in the form of attempted and often successful conquest – really changed the way our civilization evolved and the way it grew to understand itself.
American Thinker: “How War with Islam Shaped and Defined Us”
“In the Hadith, the Day of Judgment will never happen until you fight the Jews,” Hatem Bazian reportedly declared, “until the trees and stones will say, oh Muslim, there is a Jew hiding behind me. Come and kill him!”
That was in 1999.
Two years later, Bazian had co-founded Students for Justice in Palestine. Three years later, 79 members of his new SJP hate group were busted for disrupting a Holocaust Remembrance Day event.
Iran is a formidable enemy. A large country of more than 80 million people, endowed with energy riches, it has always been a regional power. Having an imperial past and revolutionary zeal (since the 1979 Iranian Revolution), Iran nourishes ambitions to rule over the Middle East and beyond. Furthermore, theologically there is no place in Iranian thinking for a Jewish state.