web analytics
October 26, 2016 / 24 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘peace’

Respectful Dialogue, Nuanced Views: New Visions for Peace in the Holy Land

Monday, August 29th, 2016

Recently, at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center a forum hosted by the Home/Bayit organization, had a candid and wide-ranging discussion on ways to solve the conflicts in Israel between the Israeli’s and Palestinians and create something new and better for everyone in the Holy Land.

The fact that discussion of volatile issues could take place in such an atmosphere of respect was even more impressive than the solutions proposed. Inon Dan Kehati is chairman and founder of Home/Bayit, and his insistence on respectful and open dialogue really worked. One panelist quipped, “how many conferences have you all attended where everyone stays for four hours?” The energy was hopeful despite the potential for rancor. The respectful atmosphere meant that each participant could express the nuances of their views, which lessened the potential for polarization.

For example, Sami B Awad is a member of the Arab Christian community in Bethlehem, and one of the panelists. He indeed supports the BDS movement as a means to pressure Israel to address the grievances of the Palestinian population here, and decidedly not as an effort to displace or threaten Jews. He sharply criticized parts of the BDS movement for harboring antisemites who have no interest in Israel, but are joining BDS due to their distaste for the Jewish people. This he rejects outright, and in the strongest language. So as threatening as the actions of BDS can be to many, it was refreshing to see this nuanced approach.

We need more of that. And there was.

Sheikh Abu Khalil Tamimi of Ramallah has a bearing both regal and low-key. He rejects the mixing of religion and politics. He has studied under the Tablighi Jamaat movement, a pacifist Muslim movement founded in India nearly a century ago, which emphasizes the importance of one’s personal character improvement and rejects involvement in politics. True to his position, he maintains that it matters less whether there is one or two states, what is essential is freedom of movement for all people of the land in the entire land. Arab and Jew should be able to travel and live wherever they like. Rights for all, everywhere. And he added, “according to the Qur’an, the Jews will gather here in this land at the End of Days. And this is what we are witnessing!”

The Sheikh spoke in Arabic, with Sami B Awad translating. It was just part of the beautiful atmosphere of the evening – a Christian translating as a Sheikh quoted the Qur’an.

Oslo is dead was pretty much the consensus, the majority in attendance seemed to agree that a two state solution simply does not meld with the aspirations of the people actually living here. Both Arab and Jew love the entire Holy Land. Both Arab and Jew yearn for freedom of movement in its entirety, in the entire land. The concept of – “you go get your rights over there, and not here” was held up as a mockery of justice and a solution unacceptable to both Arab and Jew alike.

Freedom of movement for all, everywhere in the land

The desire for freedom of movement for all was echoed repeatedly throughout the evening by most of the panel. Ahmed Maswade, law student from Bir Zeit university and resident of East Jerusalem, put it this way, “I want Jews to be able to go to Hebron and Arabs to be able to go to Jaffa.” He does advocate for a Palestinian state, but with porous borders with Israel and one in which Jews can live freely. Sami stated, “it cannot be that the only way I can express my Christianity is on Christmas day in Bethlehem. I want to be able to visit Christian sites up in the Gallilee, and to visit the churches in Jerusalem.” Sheikh Abu Khalil Tamimi, trained to eschew both politics and state borders, echoed this need – and we heard the same expressed by Jewish leaders as well.

Rabbi Gabriel Reiss of the Lavi organization lives in the Judean Desert with his family. With his trademark gritty passion and big-hearted concern for all, he addressed the Arabs present by apologizing “on behalf for myself at least, because how, 60-plus years after the founding of the state of Israel, can there still be Palestinian refugees living in camps?” Applause stole some time off of his ten minute slot. An advocate for Jewish sovereignty in the entire land, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, sovereignty means responsibility for all inhabitants of the Land. Two state solutions amount to a certain schizophrenia, in which no leaders need take responsibility: the state of Israel can claim, why should we invest in areas that we are destined to give up? And leaders from the PA can claim, the occupation is preventing us from improving the lives of the Palestinians. That leaves people suffering in the middle. A one state solution would mean responsibility and a better life for all.

Rabbi Yehuda HaKohen of Alternative Action echoed the call for sovereignty-cum-responsibility for the entire land by decrying the current water shortage in Bethlehem. “It should be considered an embarassment that anyone lacks water in the Jewish homeland.” Echoing the discussion about identity, he emphasized the importance of expanding the narrative of each community, so that all residents of the Land have a real awareness of the aspirations and experience of each other.

Abrahamson Panel

Rabbi Yishai Fleisher is spokesperson for the Jewish community of Hebron. He combines a sense of humor with a broad knowledge of history and law. His humor is admittedly tinged by a certain sadness; he explained that he is part of a movement of those holding on tightly to what they value most, and feeling under constant threat from many directions. “We are like roots, holding on tight, and roots are not always pretty.”

“Hebron!” He teased, throwing out that word to the audience, “what do you think of when you hear that word? Settlers, land-grabbing, violence? What we should think of is – this is the place where my forefathers and foremothers are buried….Think about it – the members of Hebron have a religious ideology, are armed, you would think we would be shooting every day and we are not.” And later on, attorney Jonothan Kittub, Palestinian Christian and human rights activist, decried the way the residents of Judea and Samaria have been portrayed in the media. “In order to push Oslo, the efforts of the settlers had to be put in a negative light.” An unfair portrayal he rejects outright.

And for even more nuanced views, Attorney Kittub decried ‘puppeteering’ in the form of democracy. He put it bluntly – people do not need a “parliament,” they need the representation and civil rights, not some body that marginalizes anyone who disagrees. We do not need a “state,” we need self-determination, not a sham government.

Palestinian self-determination is still part of the vision of the Arab panelists who were present, but this would not come at the expense of freedom of residency and movement for all. Their vision is that two states would have porous boundaries with Jews living freely in Judea and Samaria, and Arabs within the ’67 borders, members of both populations free to travel and work where they wish.

A representative of J Street represented her view against the occupation of Judea and Samaria very aptly, and it was moving to hear her family’s personal story which proved her love for the state of Israel and heartfelt concern that the state live up to democratic principals. When members of the Arab community from Judea and Samaria expressed willingness to live under Jewish sovereignty, as long as citizenship and civil rights were granted, she did not capture the nuanced mood of the evening. Israel must withdraw from those territories was her final word, no compromise. This was, in her words, in order to preserve Israel as a Jewish and Democratic state. Good for Inon for inviting her and really living up to freedom of dialogue among different views; I was taken aback at her inflexible stance. That may change.

What she was hinting at was preserving a Jewish majority within the green line – what Yehuda HaKohen refers to as “demographophobia.”


Activist Emanuel Shahaf mentioned that now that Israel does not rule Gaza, we need not fear a demographic threat. Jews will remain in the majority, even including Judea and Samaria. Murmurs of of disagreement with his basic premise followed. Yehuda HaKohen has spoken against the whole concept of “demographic threat”, stating that neither side should fear a member of the other population having this or that number of babies. We need a paradigm that jettisons this fear.”Demographic threat” is the main reason some want to relinquish Judea and Samaria – it is to remain in the demographic majority within the green line. Population numbers as a factor in democracy just does not work in the middle east. It may seem generous to give up territory, but this really means giving up people – we do not want to know from you, go get your rights over there and not here – not real generous after all. Many in fact actually want to live in harmony, together.

Jonothan Kittub added that given Jewish sensitivities about security, no matter what the demographics, Jews need to run the security establishment. This was a perfect example of someone who was able to conceptualize what is essential to another community – the expanded narrative that Yehuda HaKohen is advocating for. We can create paradigms that are uniquely suited to the fabric of middle east culture. One is the need to embrace overlapping identities and an expanded narrative. And fears of a “demographic threat” have to be jettisoned.

Inon Kehati graciously gave me the floor to propose the concept of Muslim and Jewish religious courts that will work in parallel and unison to adjudicate conflict and to guide our peoples philosophically. The courtroom of the media will be replaced by the adjudication of G-d fearing leaders who will rule on the issues and rumors that divide our peoples. I am quite serious – the first meeting of Sheikhs and Rabbis is scheduled in a month’s time!

This was but one example of efforts to acknowledge the Other, an effort we were all making that evening, despite our differences, getting towards a unified narrative that will serve all peoples that dwell in the Land.


Rebecca Abrahamson

Peace With Egypt? Not Really

Friday, August 26th, 2016

The outstretched hand of Israeli Olympics judo competitor Uri Sasson, left alone in mid-air by his Egyptian opponent, reminds us all of something we have been trying to forget: Israel does not really have “peace” with Egypt. Currently, the interest of the military regime in Egypt is to cooperate with Israel. That is all. Interests, as we know, change all the time.

Israel paid dearly for peace with Egypt. We destroyed a thriving Israeli city and an entire region of agricultural villages. We surrendered all of our strategic gains from the Six-Day War. We retreated from the entire Sinai Peninsula, surrendered oil (and uranium) deposits, and, to top it all off, we now have ISIS just a stone’s throw away from Eilat. This “peace” has not improved our security or geo-political situation. Just the opposite.

Without the “peace” agreement with Egypt, U.S. armaments and aid would not have flowed freely to Egypt and the last significant army in our neighborhood would have melted away (like the Syrian army) between the 50-year-old rusting tanks and Soviet jets.

Israel’s security situation on the border with Syria, with which we never signed a peace accord, is much better than the situation on Egypt’s border – where we paid a steep price in lives lost and where we continue to pay from time to time.

“Poor Begin,” said Sadat. “I got the entire Sinai and all that he got is a piece of paper…”

True peace with Israel’s enemies within our land and outside it is not a territorial issue. It goes much deeper than that. The Arabs regard us as European colonialists. As long as we do not connect to our identity, they will continue to see us as a foreign entity in the Land. Justifiably so.

Moshe Feiglin

Putin, Netanyahu, Talk Peace Process on Phone

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke on the phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday, the Kremlin press service reported, adding that the conversation was initiated by Israel.

“The leaders exchanged opinions on Middle East settlement issues and topical aspects of the general situation in the region. They agreed to continue active Russian-Israeli contacts at different levels,” the report said.

On Wednesday August 17, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, Putin’s Special Representative for the Middle East and Africa, discussed prospects for advancing Palestinian-Israeli peace talks with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in Amman. Bogdanov also delivered a personal message from Putin to Abbas.

The Russian Foreign Ministry later issued a statement saying “the talks were meaningful and trustful. The sides considered prospects for advancing the Palestinian-Israeli settlement in strict compliance with the principles of international law. They also discussed the restoration of Palestinian national unity along the PLO’s political platform designed to create an independent Palestinian state, which would live in peace and security with its neighbors, including Israel.”

To be clear, in its current situation, the PA only has two neighbors: Israel and Jordan, so it’s a relief to read that it plans to live in peace with both. This considering the fact that Hamas, in the Gaza Strip, also has only two neighbors, Israel and Egypt, and it is maintaining a perpetual state of war with both.


A Simple Solution for Peace

Monday, August 22nd, 2016

People on the Left like to ask the people on the Right, “What’s your solution for peace?”

But they’re not really asking that, because they refuse to even consider any of the practical and peaceful solutions put forward.

They’re really saying, the only solution they’ll accept is the creation of a Palestinian State, and peace is not part of that equation.

I’ll offer a solution anyway. I’ve mentioned it before.

Polls have shown that nearly all Gazans want to move elsewhere. Polls have show that the majority of Arabs in Judea and Samaria also want to move elsewhere.

What could be simpler than giving them money and a plane ticket to elsewhere?

They want to leave. Let’s help them.

We provide them with enough funds to get a comfortable start in another country.

We demand the other countries chip in and do their part for peace by accepting these new immigrants – who, by the way, are coming with money in their pockets.

Voila! Peace.

How about we give it a try.


Is This What Peace Looks Like?

Sunday, August 21st, 2016

{Originally posted to the JNS website}

It’s not the end of the world just because an Egyptian athlete refused to shake hands with his Israeli counterpart at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro last week. After all, the Egyptian is the one who violated judo etiquette. He’s the one whom the fans booed.

I won’t lose any sleep over his petty insult, and I doubt many Israelis will either. But the incident, as small as it was, does offer some food for thought about much bigger issues, such as the prospects for peace between Israel and her Arab neighbors.

The Judo Snubber, Mr. Islam El Shehaby, was born on August 1, 1982. In other words, he was born nearly five years after Anwar Sadat’s visit to Jerusalem. Four years after the successful Camp David negotiations. Three and a half years after the signing of the Israel-Egypt peace treaty. Three months after the final Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai.

Which is to say that El Shehaby has never known anything but peace with Israel. Throughout his entire life, Egypt has been at peace, not at war, with the Jewish State. So if El Shehaby hates Israel, it’s not because of anything in his personal experience. He’s not a bitter war veteran. He didn’t watch his friends die in some tank battle with the Israelis. There has to be some other reason to explain his hostility.  And there is.

The peace treaty requires both parties to “abstain from hostile propaganda” against each other. Former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin insisted on that clause because he understood that for peace to last, it has to be between peoples, not just between leaders.

Leaders, of course, come and go. Sadat was assassinated in October 1981, even before Israel’s final withdrawal. Begin resigned from office in October 1983. For peace between Israel and Egypt to endure, both countries had to consciously educate their people to accept it.

The Israeli public didn’t need much convincing. The Israelis, after all, were the victims. They were the ones who were desperate for peace. And even those who had some qualms about Israel’s enormous concessions –giving up the entire Sinai peninsula, surrendering the oil fields, tearing down the Jewish communities in the Yamit region– soon retreated from their opposition.

Not so in Egypt. Neither Sadat nor his successors ever made any serious effort to educate the younger generation to accept peace. The Egyptian government-controlled media, mosques, and schools continued to spout hatred of Israel and Jews.

As a child, Islam El Shehaby no doubt was inculcated with the same anti-Israel and anti-Semitic hatred that dominated Egyptian society before there was a peace treaty. Real peace never took hold. The treaty has been, and remains, little more than a long-term ceasefire.

Now, a ceasefire is of course much better than gunfire. But a ceasefire is a fragile thing. If it’s not backed by deep, wide-ranging societal support for peace, then it could be broken at any time, by some new leader who decides he prefers war. And because the Egyptian public has been educated and conditioned for war all these years, it will back him up.

That’s the problem with Islam El Shehaby. He continues to view Israel as the enemy, all these years later. That’s why he could not bring himself to shake the hand of his Israeli judo opponent. There may be “peace,” but he’s ready for war–ready and willing.

Which is why so many Israelis are reluctant about the idea of establishing a Palestinian state next door. If 34 years after the peace treaty was signed, an Egyptian athlete still will not even shake hands with an Israeli, what does that portend for peace with the Palestinians, whose entire society is drenched in hatred of Israel and Jews?

The consolation that Israelis can derive from peace with Egypt is that although it’s shallow, at least most of the Egyptian army is separated from Israel by the Sinai. A Palestinian army, however, would be just a few miles from Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Jerusalem. That’s too much of a risk to ask Israelis to take. They have every right to wait until they see meaningful changes in Palestinian society before they start talking about taking those kinds of chances. The non-handshake in Rio de Janeiro is a reminder of that reality.

Stephen M. Flatow

Shiloh Musings: Peace with The PA Arabs Impossible!

Monday, August 8th, 2016

True PEACE cannot be achieved until one side is defeated and surrenders. We could have made PEACE in June, 1967, by annexing all of the Land we liberated in the Six Days War, declared Jewish Israeli sovereignty and opened it all up for Jewish settlement. That was the time, since we had defeated Syria, Jordan and Egypt.

theocracy watch

But for some very fokokt reason, the Israeli Labor Party, which ruled -even though they had formed a “national unity government” with Herut- had delusions that our sworn enemies would agree to peace if we returned the Land. Because of that stupid and dangerous ideology/theory we suffer from Arab terrorism to this very day, forty-nine years after the war.

Not only do we suffer from Arab terrorists here in Israel, but they are an inspiration and training ground for terrorism all over the world, such as the recent terror attack in Nice. That’s because the terror attacks here are tolerated and rationalized by people all over the world, including Israel.

Giving the Arabs “autonomy” and establishing the Palestinian Authority were terrible mistakes and have only encouraged and strengthened and legitimized terrorists.

All this must stop for there to be peace. Peace cannot be negotiated!

Batya Medad

Survey Finds Israelis Have Few Delusions about Peace, IDF Brass

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016

Against a background of recent disputes between the IDF senior command and right-leaning groups in the Israeli Jewish public, as well as with senior political leaders on the right, the July Peace Index focused on aspects of the IDF’s relationships with the public and with the political leadership. Or, rather, its Tuesday’s press release said so. As in all things factual, God is in the details; and when it comes to public opinion surveys, the details emanate from the questions.

To illuminate things, the Peace Index is a project of the Evens Program for Mediation and Conflict Resolution at Tel Aviv University and the Guttman Center for Public Opinion and Policy Research of the Israel Democracy Institute. The IDI is mostly made up of hard-left academics, with a smattering of token right-leaning individuals.

Now, rather than copy and paste the executive summary which was emailed to news organizations in a press release, JNI.media examined the actual data, which the Peace Index website also offers.

For whatever reason, it turns out the PI press release completely ignored the second question posed to its July group of 500 Jews and 100 Arabs: “Do you believe or not believe that negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority will lead in the coming years to peace between Israel and the Palestinians?”

Among the Jewish respondents, only 4% strongly believe in such a possibility. 16.1% believe it moderately. 35.4% moderately do not believe it. 41.1% do not believe it at all. We feel this should have been the focus of the survey: some 77% of Israeli Jews do not believe peace is a possibility. Incidentally, the Arab group is more optimistic, with 27% strongly believing in a coming peace, 19% moderately.

But maybe the PI has grown tired of getting this same answer to the peace question from Israeli Jews, who have grown thoroughly disillusioned and simply no longer expect their Arab neighbors to accept them as a legitimate political entity.

So, turning to the subject on which the PI press release opted to focus: how close is the apparent value system of the IDF senior command and that of the general public and of the political leadership? The question posed was: “At present, is the framework of values of the IDF’s senior command level close to or distant from the framework of values of the general Israeli public?”

Very few Jews, 7.2%, actually believe the two are very close. The middle was taken up by 41.7% who see them as moderately close and 28.7% as moderately distant. 8% believe they’re very distant. In other words, about 78% of Israeli Jews perceive a gap between the ideology of the IDF leadership and the rest of the nation. That is some gap.

A very similar outcome emerges in response to a comparison between the IDF leadership and the political leadership. A whopping 69% perceive a distance between the two. In a democratic country, such a perception of the military skewing to the left of where the elected officials and the political majority stand is reason for anxiety.

More Israelis disagree than agree with the assertion by Rabbi Yigal Levenstein, head of the Bnei David pre-military academy in Eli, that the IDF has adopted a pluralist worldview, expressed through HR allocations, appointments and budgets, that opposes halakha and pushes out religious-Zionist and ultra-Orthodox soldiers and officers. 33% of the Jews agree with Rabbi Levenstein, 52.3% disagree.

But one must ask how much of the Levenstein lecture that caused the public brouhaha did those 52.3% actually get to hear?

Are they aware of the recent Liba organization report that points out blatantly anti-religious IDF orders, like the prohibition on growing beards. Or do they know that the age limit for career officers enrolling in the IDF battalion commander course was cut down to 32, deliberately in order to disqualify religious officers whose career track, mixing yeshiva study and military service, is longer? Do they know that the Education Corps promotes soldiers’ interaction with Muslim, Christian and Reform and Conservative practices, at the expense of the more established faith, Orthodox Judaism? Is it possible that those responses would have been different had the respondents been aware of the realities Levenstein’s talk represented?

Finally, here’s a stacked question where the phrasing presages the answer. The PI question was: “In your opinion, is it good or not good for the IDF to adopt a pluralist and open framework of values—for example, regarding acceptance of the other when it comes to the LGBT community?”

What the question does, slyly, is introduce a claim that the values of openness and pluralism are mainly expressed by embracing homosexuals. It doesn’t offer any other choices for pluralism, such as permitting religious soldiers to abstain from concerts with female singers (they must stay and listen); or accepting a call from a brigade commander to go to battle that includes the Shema Israel; or accepting the fact that the vast majority of religious Jews view homosexuality as a repugnant phenomenon, which some are prepared to tolerate, but nothing more.

To produce a reliable response, the question should have been either, “Is it good or not good for the IDF to adopt a pluralist and open framework of values,” with which the vast majority would have agreed (who doesn’t want to be open and pluralistic?) or “Do you support homosexuals serving in the IDF?” — without endowing the LGBT with the mitigating term of “the other,” which would have produced a truer reflection of the Israeli public’s views on the matter.

This month’s survey was conducted by telephone on July 25-27, 2016, by the Midgam Research Institute. The survey included 600 respondents (500 Jews and 100 Arabs), who constitute a representative national sample of the entire adult population of Israel aged 18 and over. The maximum measurement error for the entire sample is ±4.1% at a confidence level of 95%.


Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/survey-finds-israelis-have-few-delusions-about-peace-idf-brass/2016/08/03/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: