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...

  • Arts and Culture Middle East Hamas Commander Reportedly Urges Hezbollah to Join Forces Against Israel

    Hamas Commander Reportedly Urges Hezbollah to Join Forces Against Israel

    JNS.org – Five months after Israeli forces tried to assassinate Hamas military commander Mohammed Deif in Gaza, Deif appears to have signed a letter that the terrorist group claims he wrote in hiding. The letter, addressed to Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, expressed Deif’s condolences for the death of Hezbollah terrorists during Sunday’s reported Israeli airstrike in Syria. Deif is said to have survived multiple assassination attempts, but he has not been seen in public for years. According to the Hezbollah-linked Al-Manar [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Theater Shlomo Carlebach Musical Has the Soul to Heal Frayed Race Relations

    Shlomo Carlebach Musical Has the Soul to Heal Frayed Race Relations

    JNS.org – The cracks that had been simply painted over for so long began to show in Ferguson, Mo., in November 2014, but in truth they had begun to open wide much earlier—on Saturday, July 13, 2013. That is when a jury in Sanford, Fla., acquitted George Zimmerman of culpability for the death of a 17-year-old black man, Trayvon Martin. The cracks receded from view over time, as other news obscured them. Then came the evening of Aug. 9, 2014, [...]

    Read more →
  • Theater US & Canada ‘Homeland’ Season Finale Stirs Controversy After Comparing Menachem Begin to Taliban Leader

    ‘Homeland’ Season Finale Stirs Controversy After Comparing Menachem Begin to Taliban Leader

    A controversial scene in the season finale of Homeland sparked outrage by comparing former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin to a fictional Taliban leader, the UK’s Daily Mail reported. In the season 4 finale episode, which aired on Dec. 21, CIA black ops director Dar Adal, played by F. Murray Abraham, justifies a deal he made with a Taliban leader by referencing Begin. He makes the remarks in a conversation with former CIA director Saul Berenson, a Jewish character played by Mandy [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Spirituality/Tradition Placing Matisyahu Back Within a Life of Observance

    Placing Matisyahu Back Within a Life of Observance

    Shining Light on Fiction During the North Korea-Sony saga, we learned two important lessons. The first is that there are two sides to this story, and neither of them are correct because ultimately we should have neither inappropriate movies nor dictators. The second is that we cannot remain entirely fixed on the religious world, but we also must see beyond the external, secular view of reality. It’s important to ground our Torah-based thoughts into real-life activism. To view our act [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Nine Decades of Moses at the Movies

    Nine Decades of Moses at the Movies

    JNS.org – Hollywood has had its share of big-budget biblical flops, but until now, the Exodus narrative has not been among them. Studios have brought Moses to the big screen sparingly, but in ways that defined the image and character of Moses for each generation of audiences. The first biblical epic In 1923, director Cecil B. DeMille left it to the American public to decide the subject of his next movie for Paramount. DeMille received a letter from a mechanic [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Exodus on Screen (REVIEW)

    Exodus on Screen (REVIEW)

    JNS.org – The story of the Exodus from Egypt is a tale as old as time itself, to borrow a turn of phrase. It’s retold every Passover, both at the seder table and whenever “The Ten Commandments” is aired on television. But the latest adaptation—Ridley Scott’s epic film, “Exodus: Gods and Kings”—fails to meet expectations. Scott’s “Exodus” alters the source material to service the story and ground the tale, but the attempt to reinvent the biblical narrative becomes laughable. Moses [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Lifestyle ‘Jewish Food Movement’ Comes of Age

    ‘Jewish Food Movement’ Comes of Age

    JNS.org - In December 2007, leaders of the Hazon nonprofit drafted seven-year goals for what they coined as the “Jewish Food Movement,” which has since been characterized by the increased prioritization of healthy eating, sustainable agriculture, and food-related activism in the Jewish community. What do the next seven years hold in store? “One thing I would like to see happen in the next seven years is [regarding] the issue of sugar, soda, and obesity, [seeing] what would it be like to rally the [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Education Seeds of ‘Start-Up Nation’ Cultivated by Israel Sci-Tech Schools

    Seeds of ‘Start-Up Nation’ Cultivated by Israel Sci-Tech Schools

    JNS.org – Forget the dioramas. How about working on an Israeli Air Force drone? That’s exactly the kind of beyond-their-years access enjoyed by students at the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) industrial vocational high school run by Israel Sci-Tech Schools, the largest education network in the Jewish state. More than 300 students (250 on the high school level and 68 at a two-year vocational academy) get hands-on training in the disciplines of aviation mechanics, electricity and energy control, and unmanned air [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.