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 US & Canada ‘Death of Klinghoffer’ Actress Compares Met Opera to ‘Schindler’s List’

    ‘Death of Klinghoffer’ Actress Compares Met Opera to ‘Schindler’s List’

    An actress starring in the controversial Met Opera The Death of Klinghoffer defended the show on Tuesday by comparing it to the 1993 Holocaust film Schindler’s List, New York Post reported. “To me, this was like [the movie] Schindler’s List. We make art so people won’t forget,’’ said the actress, who plays a captured passenger in the show and asked not to be identified. The Met Opera focuses on the infamous murder of Lower East Side Jewish resident Leon Klinghoffer, 69. The wheelchair-bound father of [...]

    Read more →
  • Analysis Arts and Culture Beyond ‘Klinghoffer’: Opera’s Composer, Librettist Have Broader Jewish Problem

    Beyond ‘Klinghoffer’: Opera’s Composer, Librettist Have Broader Jewish Problem

    JNS.org – One of the most controversial operas in recent memory, “The Death of Klinghoffer,” debuted Oct. 20 at New York’s Metropolitan Opera. The Met has scheduled seven more performances through November. The first staging did not occur without protest, as about 400 demonstrators—including Jewish communal and nationally recognized leaders—came to Lincoln Center to denounce the anti-Jewish and anti-Israel opera. “Klinghoffer,” the creation of composer John Adams and librettist Alice Goodman, premiered in 1991—with few additional stagings. The opera is based [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Israeli Actress Gal Gadot in Talks to Star in Ben-Hur Remake

    Israeli Actress Gal Gadot in Talks to Star in Ben-Hur Remake

    Israeli actress Gal Gadot is in negotiations to take on the female lead role in the remake of the 1959 classic Ben-Hur, according to The Hollywood Reporter. If the deal is finalized Gadot will play Esther, a slave and Ben-Hur’s love interest. Actor Jack Huston will star as the Jewish prince who is betrayed into slavery by his childhood friend Messala, played by Toby Kebbell. Ben-Hur fights for his freedom and vengeance with the help of Morgan Freeman’s character, who trains Ben-Hur how to win at chariot-racing. [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports Young Israelis Try to Crowd-Fund Their Way to Major League Baseball Playoffs

    Young Israelis Try to Crowd-Fund Their Way to Major League Baseball Playoffs

    JNS.org – Baseball, hot dogs, and apple pie are the American dream. So why do two young men who have built their lives in Israel have a GoFundMe crowd-funding webpage with the urgent message that they need $3,000 to travel to the U.S. to watch the Kansas City Royals and Baltimore Orioles square off for Major League Baseball’s (MLB) American League championship? Brothers Naftali and Yoni Schwartz, 27 and 25, respectively, are Kansas City natives. Even though they made aliyah with their [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Sports Race Cars Speed Through Jerusalem in Amazing Exhibition

    Race Cars Speed Through Jerusalem in Amazing Exhibition

    Some 3,000 years ago, King David probably never imagined cars racing at 240 kilometers per hour (150 miles per hour) through the ancient capital of the Jewish people. But on Monday and Tuesday, October 6-7, thousands of Israelis lined the streets to watch Porsche, Audi, and Ferrari race cars fly through the capital against the backdrop of the Tower of David, the Old City Walls, and other city landmarks. The second annual non-competitive Jerusalem Formula One Road Show had been [...]

    Read more →
  • Israel Sports NBA Superstar LeBron James Says He Wants to Visit Israel

    NBA Superstar LeBron James Says He Wants to Visit Israel

    Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James expressed interest in visiting Israel someday, local news site Cleveland.com reported on Sunday. Speaking to Israeli reporters before the Cleveland Cavaliers’ preseason debut against Maccabi Tel Aviv, the NBA star said he had never visited the Jewish state but “I want to look forward to going there if I get an opportunity to.” When asked by an Israeli reporter if there was “any chance that LeBron James and Cleveland comes to Tel Aviv,” the athlete said [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Florida Rabbi Dominates Former Basketball Star Congressman in Hoops Showdown (VIDEO)

    Florida Rabbi Dominates Former Basketball Star Congressman in Hoops Showdown (VIDEO)

    A Florida-based Chabad rabbi put former basketball star, U.S. Congressman Curt Clawson to shame on the court when the two faced off one-on-one recently. A YouTube video, posted online on Tuesday, shows Rabbi Fishel Zaklos of Chabad of Naples shooting hoops with the Florida politician, who played basketball in high school and at Purdue University in Indiana. The game took place in the parking lot of the Chabad Jewish center run by Zaklos. During the 1-minute clip, Zaklos scores two impressive [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada David Blatt’s Cleveland Cavaliers Rout Maccabi Tel Aviv, 107-80

    David Blatt’s Cleveland Cavaliers Rout Maccabi Tel Aviv, 107-80

    JNS.org – Less than five months after leading Maccabi Tel Aviv to its sixth European basketball title, David Blatt, now the head coach of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, routed his former team in an exhibition game on Sunday, with the Cavaliers dominating Maccabi 107-80 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. The 20,562 fans in attendance witnessed Lebron James’s first appearance in a Cavaliers uniform since he left the club in free agency for the Miami Heat four years ago. [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.