Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

Setting Back Arab-Israeli Peace

February 11, 2013 2:26 am 0 comments

Jimmy Carter with Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin at the White House for the 1979 Peace Treaty signing Between Egypt and Israel. Photo: www.nowtheendbegins.com.

To understand the root cause of the Arab-Israeli conflict, look no further than two recent sets of events.

First, there were the comments of two Palestinian Authority (PA) leaders.

In a speech broadcast to supporters in Gaza, PA President Mahmoud Abbas invoked the names of the “martyred’ in the pantheon of Palestinian history.

Among those mentioned were convicted terrorists with the blood of innocent victims, including Israeli children, on their hands. But most troubling of all was his reference to Haj Amin al-Husseini.

He was the mufti of Jerusalem during World War II, who became notorious for his collaboration with Adolf Hitler. History records the meetings they held, the photos they took, and the plots they hatched. Indeed, al-Husseini helped recruit Muslims for the infamous Nazi Waffen-SS.

If the goal was to widen still further the gap with Israel, Abbas could not have cited a more despicable figure than al-Husseini.

Moreover, in the same speech, Abbas spoke again of the Palestinian “right of return.’ This is a non-starter, as every reasonable observer of the conflict understands. It would flood Israel with millions of Palestinians and end the Jewish state. Apropos, Palestinian “refugees’ are defined differently than all other refugee populations in the world. The designation not only applies to the original refugees from the 1948 war – triggered by an Arab invasion against Israel – but also, astonishingly, to all their descendants in perpetuity.

To add insult to injury, the PA’s Minister of Religious Affairs, Mahmoud Al-Habbash, recently repeated another Palestinian claim – that the Jewish people have no historical link to Jerusalem. The late Yasser Arafat said the very same thing, to the consternation of U.S. President Bill Clinton, during the 2000-1 Camp David talks. At that time, the Palestinians could have achieved an historic two-state accord but, as documented by the American leader, Arafat was unwilling to do so.

Jerusalem and the Jewish people have been intimately connected – metaphysically, spiritually, and geographically – for literally thousands of years. To deny this link is to ignore history, undermine trust, and insult intelligence.

Peace is made between the parties to a conflict committed to a settlement. Four consecutive Israeli governments have publicly supported a two-state deal. The PA, unlike the terrorist group Hamas, is meant to be the partner in that process.

But how can it be if its leaders laud the legacy of Nazi collaborators, insist on solutions that would destroy Israel, and pretend no Jewish connection to their ancestral land?

Then there were the comments of Mohamed Morsi in 2010, only now brought to light. In a speech and a television interview, the Muslim Brotherhood leader, who became Egypt’s president in 2012, railed against Israel, Zionism, and Jews.

As reported by The New York Times, Morsi declared “We must never forget, brothers, to nurse our children and our grandchildren on hatred for them: for Zionists, for Jews.’ Egyptian children, he said, “must feed on hatred; hatred must continue.’ “These bloodsuckers,’ he went on, “who attack the Palestinians, these warmongers, the descendants of apes and pigs… They have been fanning the flames of civil strife wherever they were throughout their history. They are hostile by nature.’

This is not the first vile anti-Semitic tirade from an Arab leader, though Western media have paid far too little attention to this unadulterated hostility. But coming from an individual who today is the leader of the Arab world’s most populous country, and who is charged with maintaining the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty, it carries special weight.

Since these comments were first reported, Egyptian spokesmen have claimed the quotes were taken out of context, but were they? Looking at the entirety of both the speech and the television interview does not change their thrust one iota.

We have also been told the Arab world employs hyperbole, so the literal meaning should not be taken too seriously. But what Morsi said is what the Muslim Brotherhood, his long-time political base, has preached for decades.

Some Egyptians claim that Jewish leaders say the same insulting things about Arabs, but if there are such people, they do not occupy the presidency of a country or remain for a single moment unchallenged.

And finally, the flimsy assertion has been floated that anti-Semitism is, in fact, alien to Egyptian society. If so, why has virtually every Jew from Egypt left the country, part of the mass exodus of Jewish refugees from the Arab world?

Arab-Israeli peace is a vital goal, but it demands a climate conducive to the building of trust. Inflammatory, insulting language and bigoted beliefs, tragically, take the region in precisely the opposite direction. And countries like Spain, which wish to have a voice in the Middle East peace process, would do well to remind Presidents Morsi, Abbas and other Arab leaders to remember this fact.

David Harris is the executive director of the American Jewish Committee (AJC). This article was originally published by El Pais.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Blogs Book Reviews Can ‘Islamic Reformation’ Work? (REVIEW)

    Can ‘Islamic Reformation’ Work? (REVIEW)

    It is cocktail hour on an April afternoon in 2004. The sun is hot on Amsterdam’s canals, and I am sitting at Café den Leeuw on the Herengracht with Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Hirsi Ali is still a member of the Dutch Parliament, and we talk about Islam. Specifically, we talk about the concept of “moderate Islam,” or what she calls “liberal Islam.” And she has one word for it. “It’s absurd,” she says. “It’s complete nonsense. There is no ‘liberal […]

    Read more →
  • Food Jewish Identity A Look at the Vilna Vegetarian Cookbook (REVIEW)

    A Look at the Vilna Vegetarian Cookbook (REVIEW)

    Everybody knows that cooking varies from country to country. There are Italian restaurants, Chinese restaurants, etc. We associate different styles of cuisine with different languages. Do we also think of the association of different cuisines with different dialects? We should, because cooking also varies from region to region. Litvaks and Galitsyaners have their own traditions of preparing gefilte fish. Marvin I. Herzog, in his book The Yiddish Language in Northern Poland: Its Geography and History (Indiana University, Bloomington, and Mouton & Co., The […]

    Read more →
  • Relationships US & Canada Analysis: Jewish Women Less Likely Than Catholics to Take Husband’s Name

    Analysis: Jewish Women Less Likely Than Catholics to Take Husband’s Name

    An analysis of New York Times wedding announcements showed that women married in Jewish ceremonies were less likely to take their husband’s last names than those married in Roman Catholic ceremonies, the Times reported on Saturday. The largest gap between the two groups was in 1995 when 66 percent of Catholic women took their husband’s names and 33 percent of Jewish women did the same. Nearly half of the women featured in the publication’s wedding pages since 1985 took their husband’s name after marriage, while about […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Jerry Lewis, Legendary Jewish Comic and Humanitarian, Stays Relevant at 89

    Jerry Lewis, Legendary Jewish Comic and Humanitarian, Stays Relevant at 89

    JNS.org – Through appreciation of both his comedy and humanitarian work, legendary Jewish entertainer Jerry Lewis is staying relevant at age 89. The only comic to ever be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, Lewis added another award to his trophy case in April, when he received the 2015 Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB). Gordon Smith, NAB’s president and CEO, said the organization was “honored to recognize not only [Lewis’s] comedic innovation, but also his remarkable […]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports Israeli Gymnasts Win Bronze, Silver Medals at 2015 European Games in Baku

    Israeli Gymnasts Win Bronze, Silver Medals at 2015 European Games in Baku

    Israeli athletes marked a successful day on Sunday, as gymnasts won multiple bronze and silver medals in the 2015 European Games in Baku. The Gymnastics team won two silver medals and one bronze in group events, while Neta Rivkin, an Israeli Olympic gymnast, won bronze for the Solo Hoops event. Sunday’s gymnastics wins follow Sergey Richter’s bronze on June 16 for the Men’s 10 meter air-rifle, and Ilana Kratysh’s silver for women’s freestyle wrestling. The 2015 European Games in Baku are […]

    Read more →
  • Theater Report Highlights Success of Russian-Jewish-American Ballroom Dancers

    Report Highlights Success of Russian-Jewish-American Ballroom Dancers

    Russian-American Jews are some of the most successful ballroom dancing competitors in the U.S., South Dakota Public Broadcasting (SDPB) Radio reported on Thursday. Jonathan Sarna, a professor of Jewish history at Brandeis University, said their success can be traced back to Jewish discrimination in the former Soviet Union. Because of the prejudice they faced, Russian Jews had to perform better than their peers in every field, including dancing, in order to have a chance of getting ahead. “They knew that if they […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Israeli Dancer With Shofar, Prayer Shawl Wows ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ Judges (VIDEO)

    Israeli Dancer With Shofar, Prayer Shawl Wows ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ Judges (VIDEO)

    An Israeli dancer made use of Jewish props in an extraordinary routine that left judges amazed when he auditioned for season 12 of TV dance competition So You Think You Can Dance on Monday. At first, the panel of judges appeared confused when Asaf Goren, 23, began his audition in Los Angeles with a tallit (prayer shawl) over his head and the blowing of a shofar, which he explained “opens the sky” for people’s prayers. However, as soon as he started his “Hebrew breaking” performance, […]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Jewish Hoops Fairytale Falls Short as David Blatt’s Cavaliers Drop Game 6

    Jewish Hoops Fairytale Falls Short as David Blatt’s Cavaliers Drop Game 6

    JNS.org – A fairytale ending to Jewish basketball coach David Blatt’s first season in the National Basketball Association (NBA) was not meant to be, as the Blatt-led Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night dropped Game 6 of the NBA Finals to the Golden State Warriors, 105-97, to lose the best-of-seven series 4-2. Blatt, who just last year coached Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv franchise to a European basketball championship, failed to finish a second straight hoops season on top. But after the Cavaliers began the NBA […]

    Read more →