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October 12, 2011 10:30 am

The Most Endangered Species

avatar by David Brog

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President Reagan and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.

It’s a sad reality of the Middle East that moderates have short life spans. In the summer of 1951, rumors began circulating that Lebanon and Jordan were discussing a joint peace deal with Israel. That July, both Jordan’s king, Abdullah I, and Lebanon’s former prime minister, Riad Bey al-Solh, were assassinated. In 1979, Egypt’s president, Anwar Sadat, became the first Arab leader to sign a peace treaty with Israel. He was assassinated for this “treason” two years later. In 1982, Lebanon’s president-elect, Bashir Gemayel, began discussing peace with Israel. He was assassinated that year for “selling the country to Israel.” The list goes on.

Why did both Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas turn down generous peace offers from Israel? The most benign explanation is that they both feared assassination for making concessions to Israel such as recognizing Jewish sovereignty over the land or giving up the Palestinian “right of return.”

There is more than enough evidence to demonstrate that Arab moderates are an endangered species and that their peril in turn imperils the entire peace process. We don’t need any further proof of this proposition. Yet the proof keeps coming. The most recent Arab moderate to be threatened is a man I recently had the pleasure of meeting: Sheikh Abu Kader al-Jabari of Hebron.

I first encountered Sheikh Jabari this August, when I traveled to Israel with Pastor John Hagee to participate in Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Courage” events. Beck wanted his events to rise above religious divides and stress our shared humanity and dignity. Thus he invited Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders to participate. Yet for the very reasons discussed above, many Muslim leaders were afraid to embrace the staunchly pro-Israel Beck. But one man did have the courage to speak out. Sheikh Jabari of Hebron sent a warm letter of support for “Restoring Courage.”

Before leaving Israel, Pastor Hagee and I met with Sheikh Jabari. We were joined by Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, one of the most prominent rabbis in Israel. Seeing these three leaders of these three faiths sitting next to one another gave our gathering an historic feel. Yet what was most encouraging about the meeting was not the nature of their agreement. The fact is that these three men have fundamental disagreements on significant issues. Instead, what made the meeting important was the way in which they agreed to disagree. All three religious leaders stressed that violence and killing have no place in resolving differences over the future of the land.

We left Israel later that night. And Sheikh Jabari returned to Hebron and continued to speak out. In the week that followed, he criticized Abbas for seeking a unilateral declaration of statehood from the United Nations. He also reiterated that Jews have a right to live in Hebron — their second holiest city — alongside the Muslim majority.

But while Sheikh Jabari rejects violence as a tool of politics, his opponents do not. On September 10, Palestinian terrorists issued a fatwa against Sheikh Jabari. These terrorists warned that if the Sheikh does not “recant” his statements criticizing Abbas and recognizing Jewish rights in Hebron, “our response will be with armaments.” This is a death threat, pure and simple.

This death threat did not come from Hamas. It came from the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, which has a long history of association with Abbas’s Fatah movement. In other words, these are Abbas’s terrorists. And when confronted with opposition, their response is not to debate, but to intimidate and kill. I don’t know how many Palestinians agree with Sheikh Jabari, but Fatah seems determined to make sure we never find out.

Israelis dream of peace. A large majority of Israelis would make significant territorial concessions to the Palestinians if such concessions would in fact bring peace. But hard realities keep dashing these hopes. Israel’s supposed partners for peace don’t want to end up like Sadat, Abdullah and Gemayel. And now, these supposed partners for peace are the very ones making the threats and wielding the weapons. It’s difficult to remain optimistic about Abbas when one sees how he treats those with whom he disagrees. Luckily for Abbas, no one is reporting this story.

David Brog, the executive director of Christians United for Israel, is the author of In Defense of Faith: The Judeo-Christian Idea and the Struggle for Humanity (Encounter 2010).

This article was originally published by the Daily Caller

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  • frania kryszpel block

    I believe I was one of the first to come to CUFI summit in DC. I am a child of Holocaust survivors who asked no one about Pastor Hagee before going. But I had watched,listened,studied and observed a person and organization that was unique in their genuineness of standing with the Jewish people. I was more than right then and it continues as only something real and genuine can. The Jewish people could not be more fortunate.

    • To stand up with us. These people have fought for the Jews. They have taught their young to fight for the Jews. On campuses, they stand up and have information about the religion that most Jews for not have. To see thousands of people come to the summit every year, they drive, fly,walk just to help their older brothers. From every continent they come and raise the flags of the US and Israel. Then they swarm all over Capitol Hill to their congressmen and their senators to sign petitions, to alert this government that Israel has more than a right to exist and they all are on board with Israel. They put their money where their mouth is. They do not play or pause when it comes to Israel. And for me,personally, I believe with my heart and soul when Pastor Hagee says they should not have kept silent during the Holocaust and let their brothers and sisters die. NEVER AGAIN does not ring hollow in his ears. Do not for one minute think that these people have not been under threat. These are not “those” Christians.

  • Moshe Averick

    I am reminded of the lyrics from a popular Israeli song: “Everybody talks about peace, but nobody talks about truth, justice, and righteousness.” These few paragraphs of simple truth resonate more powerfully than all the hot air and lunacy that has emerged from the U.N. and politicians around the world for the past 65 years since the founding of the State of Israel.

    I tip my yarmulke to David Brog and CUFI.