In his recent Relevant article, “Blessed are the Peacemakers,” publisher Cameron Strang states “many are beginning to believe it is possible to be authentically pro-Israeli, pro-Palestinian and pro-peace.” However, one of his concluding statements in the article, which appeared in the March/April issue of the magazine, demonstrates the very one-sided approach of this article – an approach that reveals a false pretense behind his claim to be both pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian. Strang writes:
To remain a democratic state that is Jewish in character and majority, Israelis must find a way to acknowledge Palestinian demands for sovereignty in a portion of the historic land of Israel. And in order for Palestinians to achieve dignity and freedom, they must be either be allowed to create their own state in a portion of historic Palestine or be given equal civil and political rights in Israel.
In spite of his claim to be pro-peace, pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli, Strang places all the responsibility for a successful peace process on the Jewish State. He says Israel “must find a way to acknowledge Palestinian demands” and Palestinians “must be allowed to create…or be given…” At no point in the article does Strang judge the Palestinians responsible for anything. According to his definition of what it means for the Jewish state to remain a democratic state, Israel must do all the giving. And apparently, if Israel would just do what Strang says they should do, there would be peace.
In reality, nothing could be farther from the truth.
Strang’s biased modus operandi is particularly disturbing in light of the fact that Relevant claims the magazine is read by more than 1.35 million young adults each year. The magazine’s target audience is members of the millennial generation (typically defined as people born after 1980).
These “millenials,” who were born after many of the major events of Israeli history have taken place, have the right to be fully informed about the history and context of the Israeli – Arab conflict. But Strang misses an opportunity to enlighten his readers by omitting information that would provide a more complete understanding of that conflict.
This article is an effort to educate Strang’s readers about the things he left out of his distorted narrative.
Palestinian Demands for Sovereignty
In his article, Strang writes, “Israelis must find a way to acknowledge Palestinian demands for sovereignty in a portion of the historic land of Israel.” He makes no mention of all the times the Palestinians have been offered sovereignty and have refused it. Here is a summary of these refusals.
The 1949 Armistice Lines
On November 29, 1947, the UN General Assembly voted to partition Palestine into two states, one Jewish and the other Arab. The UN partition plan (UN Resolution 181) divided the British Mandate so that each state would have a majority of its own population, although a few Jewish settlements would fall within the proposed Arab state while hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs would become part of the proposed Jewish state.
However, the Palestinian Arabs and the surrounding Arab states rejected the UN plan on the grounds that the General Assembly vote was an international betrayal that allotted too much territory to the Jews.
On May 15, 1948, the British evacuated Palestine, and the State of Israel was born. The neighboring Arab states of Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Iraq immediately invaded Israel, claiming that they sought to “save” Palestine from the Zionists.
The war between Israel and the Arab states ended with the signing of armistice agreements in 1949. The territory known as Palestine prior to 1948 was divided into three parts, and the boundaries between them are known as the 1949 armistice lines (the “Green Line”). Israel got control of much of the territory that is currently part of the State, Jordan occupied East Jerusalem and the hill country of Judea and Samaria (the “West Bank”), and Egypt took control of the coastal plain around the city of Gaza (the “Gaza Strip”).
The Palestinian Arab state envisioned by UN Resolution 181 was never established because the Arabs claimed it gave too much land to the Jews. Instead of accepting an opportunity for sovereignty under a two state solution, the Arabs attempted to destroy the new state of Israel with the intent of establishing a Palestinian state that encompassed all the territory.
The Three No’s of Khartoum
Another opportunity for the creation of an Arab state came in 1967, after Israel defeated the armies of Egypt, Jordan and Syria in what is known as the Six Day War. This war was fought in spite of multiple Israeli attempts to convince their Arab neighbors to negotiate a peace settlement. Prior to the war, on May 27, 1967,Egyptian President Nasser said: “Our basic objective will be the destruction of Israel. The Arab people want to fight.”
The Six Day War was a defensive war fought after years of terrorist attacks by Arabs infiltrating Israel from Jordan, the Gaza Strip, and Lebanon, Syrian shelling of the Galilee from the Golan Heights, and threatening rhetoric from Nassar of Egypt. By the end of the war Israeli forces had captured the Sinai, Golan Heights, Gaza Strip and West Bank. Israel also took possession of East Jerusalem, which along with the West Bank, had been illegally occupied by Jordan
After having won against what looked like impossible odds, Israelis – as well as many others – had hopes that the Arabs would finally be ready to talk peace. Indeed, the Christian Century, a magazine not known for its Zionist sympathies, wrote on June 21, 1967:
Israel’s astounding military repulsion of threats from its Arab neighbors – whatever else may be said of it – has added a new, important, and potentially healthful dimension to the 20-year-old conflict between the two sides. Until now the Arab states have shouted a recalcitrant “Never” to all proposals that the quarrels between them and Israel be negotiated. They have refused to recognize Israel’s legitimacy as a state, have denied it innocent use of the Suez Canal, have precluded any settlement of the Arab refugee problems by refusing to enter into diplomatic relations with Israel ant have constantly threatened to annihilate Israel at a time of their own choosing. Until now the situation was one that kept Israel under constant pressure. Now that Israel has penetrated deeply into and controls vast areas of Egypt, Jordan and Syria, the situation is reversed. The Arab states are under pressure, and their “Never” does not have the permanence it appeared to have a month ago. Now men who refused to talk must talk.
But just three weeks after the end of the war, hostilities began again as the Soviet Union initiated a massive resupply of arms to Egypt and Syria, prompting Nasser of Egypt to declare that he was preparing to continue the battle against Israel.
From August 29 to September 1 of 1967, the leaders of thirteen Arab states met in Khartoum, Sudan and pledged to continue their struggle against Israel. The agreed upon conditions were very specific: there would be no peace with Israel, no negotiations with Israel, and no recognition of Israel. These are the infamous Three No’s of Khartoum.
On November 22, 1967, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 242, which established principles that were to guide the negotiations for an Arab-Israeli peace settlement. In short, Israel would withdraw from land won in the war in exchange for peace with its neighbors. This “land for peace” formula has been at the root of all attempts at negotiations ever since.
But in light of the Three No’s of Khartoum agreed upon by thirteen Arab states three months before UN Resolution 242 was adopted, is it any wonder that subsequent attempts on Israel’s part to negotiate land for peace have consistently been met with Palestinian rejections of all offers of sovereignty?
No understanding of the Arab-Israeli conflict is complete without at least some reference to this long history of Arab rejectionism.
Why does Strang leave information like this out of his article, which he told CAMERA was two years in the making?
Camp David Accords: 1978-1979
One notable exception to the failure of negotiations since the adoption of UN Resolution 242 is the signing of the peace treaty between Anwar Sadat of Egypt and Menachem Begin of Israel in 1979, in which Israel withdrew from the Sinai Peninsula in exchange for Egypt making the Sinai a demilitarized zone.
The peace treaty between Egypt and Israel was the result of direct negotiations between the two nations, initiated by President Sadat’s visit to Jerusalem to meet with Prime Minister Begin and speak to the Israeli Knesset. This was an unprecedented move that infuriated most of the rest of the Arab world.
The actual framework of the treaty known as the Camp David Accords was negotiated when the two leaders met again with US President Jimmy Carter in September 1978.
As a result of these accords, Egypt got the Sinai back and Israel was able to live in peace with one of its neighbors.
Full diplomatic relations were established between Israel and Egypt in 1982, making Egypt the only Arab state to officially recognize Israel until 1994, when Jordan followed suit.
The examples of Egypt and Jordan demonstrate that Israel is ready, willing and able to reach an agreement for peace when dealing with a party that engages in serious negotiations. However, a serious engagement in negotiations with Israel carries with it the acknowledgment of Israel’s right to exist.
The refusal on the part of the Palestinians to live in peace and acknowledge Israel’s right to exist – as demonstrated by the emphasis Hamas and the Palestinian Authority place on jihad and the liberation of “Palestine” – is the reason there have been no successful negotiations of land for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
The Camp David Summit of 2000
At the Camp David Summit in the summer of 2000, Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered the Palestinians sovereignty over 95% of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) and 100% of Gaza. He proposed a division of Jerusalem that would include Arab neighborhoods inside the present boundaries of Jerusalem as part of the future Palestinian state. The proposal would have also made Arab areas outside of Jerusalem part of a new Arab city of Al-Quds. Israeli land would be exchanged for territory in the West Bank remaining under Israeli control. Jerusalem’s Old City would be divided and the Arabs would have religious sovereignty over the Temple Mount.
This was an unprecedented offer on the part of the Israelis. However, Palestinian Authority Chairman Yassar Arafat said no and made no counter offer.
The Clinton Parameters
Following the failure of the Camp David Summit, President Bill Clinton presented a peace plan that came to be known as “the Clinton parameters.” Clinton’s plan proposed a Palestinian state comprising between 94 percent and 96 percent of the West Bank and the entire Gaza Strip; Israeli annexation of settlements in blocks; Palestinian sovereignty over Arab areas in East Jerusalem and Israeli sovereignty over Jewish areas in West Jerusalem, including the Western Wall; Palestinian sovereignty over its own airspace; and the return of refugees to the Palestinian state. Land swaps were part of this proposal as well.
The fact that this was an excellent offer of sovereignty for the Palestinians is demonstrated through a warning the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the US, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, gave to Yassar Arafat. He said, “I hope you remember, sir, what I told you. If we lose this opportunity, it is not going to be a tragedy. This is going to be a crime.” Bandar later told The New Yorker‘s Elsa Walsh: “It broke my heart that Arafat did not take that offer.”
Ehud Barak accepted the Clinton plan. Yassar Arafat refused it, returned home and launched the Second Intifada in September 2000, in which thousands of Israelis and Palestinians were killed over the next five years.
Once again, the Palestinians turned down an offer of sovereignty that included all of Gaza, almost the entire West Bank, Arab areas in East Jerusalem, and control over their own airspace.
Strang provides none of this background – which is crucial to understanding current circumstances – in his piece in which he places responsibility for peace solely on Israel.
How is omitting this information justified?
The Example of Gaza
In its continued quest for peace in exchange for land, the State of Israel forcibly removed all of its citizens from Gaza in August 2005. Jewish homes, greenhouses and infrastructure were left intact. But rather than taking advantage of what they had been given and building upon it to develop a thriving economy, the Arabs dismantled everything left by the Jews and used whatever they could as raw material for rockets designed to kill the same people who provided them with the resources and opportunity to do so.
Instead of using Israel’s withdrawal as an opportunity to demonstrate how it would improve the lives of its citizens if the Palestinians achieved statehood, Hamas turned Gaza into a launching
pad from which over 8,000 rockets have been fired into Israel over the past decade. This behavior is consistent with the position of Hamas’ leaders, who do not recognize Israel’s right to exist, refuse to negotiate with Israel, and continue to call for the end of “the Zionist project in Palestine.”
As Osama Hamden, a Hamas representative said at a press conference for Hamas Al Aqsa TV in December 2008, “Our goal is to liberate all of Palestine, from the river to the sea, from Rosh Hanikra to Umm Al-Rashrash [Eilat].”
The fact that Hamas is also concerned with the territory known as the West Bank is evident in a statement made by Mahmoud al-Zahar, June 15, 2010, on Future TV, Lebanon. In a video clip translated by MEMRI, he said:
We demand the liberation of the West Bank, and the establishment of a state in the West Bank and Gaza, with Jerusalem as its capital – but without recognizing [Israel]. This is the key – without recognizing the Israeli enemy on a single inch of land…This is our plan for this stage – to liberate the West Bank and Gaza, without recognizing Israel’s right to a single inch of land, and without giving up the Right of Return for a single Palestinian refugee. Our plan for this stage is to liberate any inch of Palestinian land, and to establish a state on it. Our ultimate plan is [to have] Palestine in its entirety.
Obviously, Hamas has no interest in a two state solution, for Gaza, the West Bank, or any combination thereof. Their ultimate goal is “Palestine in its entirety” – which means the elimination of the Jewish State.
However, Strang failed to mention this reality. How can any responsible peace-making Christian ignore Hamas’ hostility toward Israel? How can any responsible journalist fail to include even a reference to this obstacle to peace?
The problem is not limited to Hamas. Fatah, the majority faction of the PA, shares this common goal with Hamas – the destruction of the state of Israel. In a statement on Hezbollah TV on April 2, 2014 and in a video posted to YouTube on April 20, 2014 (translated by Palestinian Media Watch), Fatah Central Committee member Tawfiq Tirawi made statements such as:
…the two-state solution does not exist…we must return to the option of one Palestine from the [Jordan} River to the [Mediterranean] Sea…the homeland…is…all of Palestine…which is represented by [the] Gaza [Strip] and the [West] Bank, by Palestine – all of Palestine, from its [Jordan] River to its [Mediterranean] Sea. This is our goal; this is the lantern that lights our way; these are our principles in the Fatah Movement: Palestine — [the] Gaza [Strip] is part of it; the [West] Bank is part of it; and it is Haifa, Jaffa, Acre, and it is all of Palestine, which will be an independent state for us, Allah willing.
Tirawi also said, “the only solution before us is the historic solution presented by Fatah in 1968.” This is a reference to the rewritten PLO charter, which was a revision of the first PLO Charter written in 1964. The PLO Charter of 1964 called for the “liberation” of Palestine – or in other words, the destruction of the state of Israel. The 1964 call to liberate Palestine did not include the West Bank or Gaza, because in 1964, these territories were under the rule of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and Egypt respectively. The PLO claimed sovereignty over the West Bank and Gaza only after these areas came under Israeli administration following the Six Day War in 1967.
The PLO Charter was revised in 1968 to include a claim for all the territory under Israeli control as of 1967. Article 2 of the charter defines Palestine as “an indivisible territorial unit” with “the boundaries it had during the British Mandate.” So, when Tirawi says that the only solution is the historic solution presented by Fatah in 1968 – that is, the liberation of all of Palestine – he is clearly calling for the destruction of the state of Israel.
The PLO, Fatah, Tawfiq Tirawi and Mahmoud Abbas know their history. Does Strang?
It’s unfortunate that Cameron Strang either does not know the history, or ignores it in his effort to persuade well over one million readers that Israel “must find a way to acknowledge Palestinian demands” in order for there to be peace.
Israel as a Jewish State
Hamas and Fatah are in agreement that Israel should cease to exist and that the Palestinian state should encompass all of pre-1948 Palestine. Knowledge of this historical position demonstrated in both the Hamas charter and the PLO charter of 1964 provides insight into why Mahmoud Abbas, the chairman of the PLO since 2004, refuses to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
The inability to recognize Israel as a Jewish state is simply an extension of the Palestinian national movement’s difficulty in making ideological concessions concerning the Jewish national movement. While Israel has recognized the Palestinian people and their right to a Palestinian state, the Palestinians have not reciprocated by acknowledging the Jewish people’s right to a state in their ancient homeland.
Cameron Strang completely ignores this reality.
Israel’s insistence that the state be recognized as a Jewish state is as old as the state itself. The demand to be recognized as such has been a part of peace negotiations since the founding of Israel as the nation-state of the Jews. As a March 25, 2014 CAMERA article points out:
Israel’s position is that Palestinian recognition of the Jewish right to self-determination parallels Israel’s recognition of a Palestinian right to self-determination, forming the basis of a two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. The refusal by Palestinian negotiators to recognize Israel as the eternal homeland of the Jewish people thus lies at the heart of the conflict. A peace agreement that is not predicated upon acceptance of a sovereign Jewish state in the Middle East is seen as evidence that Palestinians do not view two neighboring sovereign states – Jewish and Palestinian – as a long term solution to the conflict, but rather as a temporary truce that can be altered at a more opportune time.
If Strang is as pro-everybody as he claims to be, he would not stop at insisting that Israel acknowledge Palestinian demands. He would also require the Palestinians to acknowledge Israeli demands.
And if Strang is really as pro-everybody as he claims to be, he would have taken the opportunity to provide his readers with historical and politic
al context in relation to this issue; context that demonstrates some of the difficulties Israel has faced in the decades long peace process with the Arabs.
He did not.
“Dignity and Freedom” for Palestinians
In his concluding remarks (quoted above), Strang suggests that Palestinians will achieve dignity and freedom when they are “allowed to create their own state.” In light of what happened in Gaza after the election of Hamas in 2006, this statement is naïve at best. Not only has there been no creation of a viable state, but the Palestinians did not make use of the opportunity given them to further their dignity and freedom.
Contrary to the implication in Strang’s statement, Israel is not singularly responsible for the dignity and freedom of Palestinians under Palestinian leadership. It is ultimately the responsibility of leaders to promote their people’s welfare by devoting resources and providing a stable society in which they can achieve dignity and freedom.
However, most unfortunately for their citizens, the leadership in Gaza is not concerned with devoting resources or providing a stable society for the people they govern. Rather, as the Hamas charter makes abundantly clear, their priority is jihad for the purpose of “the liberation of Palestine” and the destruction of the Jews.
While they may not always appear to agree with Hamas on methodology, the ultimate goal of the Palestinian Authority is also the liberation of Palestine through the political and/or physical destruction of the Jewish State. In spite of the fact that the PA likes to present itself as more “moderate” than Hamas, it actively encourages and supports all forms of jihad, or struggle, against Israel. One way PA leaders encourage jihad is by honoring terrorists such as Nayef Hawatmeh, the leader of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), on May 28, 2013.
According to the Palestinian Media Watch, the DFLP carried out many deadly terror attacks in the 1970’s, including the killing of 22 schoolchildren and 4 adults after taking them hostage in Ma’alot, the killing of 9 children and 3 adults in an attack on a school bus, the killing of 7 in a Jerusalem bombing, and the killing of 4 hostages in an apartment building in Beit Shean.
Documentation by Palestinian Media Watch demonstrates that glorifying terrorist murderers is an ongoing Fatah policy. On April 13, 2014, Fatah’s Facebook “Main Page” posted pictures and texts honoring two female suicide bombers. One picture is of suicide terrorist Ayyat Al-Akhras, who blew herself up near a supermarket in Jerusalem on March 29, 2002, killing two and wounding 28. The text accompanying the photo calls her a “hero” and promises her “allegiance to your pure blood.”
Fatah’s Facebook status for that day says: “The anniversary of the Martyrdom death of the hero Ayyat Al-Akhras.” The text in the accompanying photo says: “The 12th anniversary of the Martyrdom death of the hero Ayyat Al-Akhras from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades (Fatah’s military wing).”
Another suicide terrorist honored by Fatah was Andalib Takatka, whose suicide bombing killed six and wounded 85 in Jerusalem. The following text accompanied her picture: “Martyrdom-seeker Andalib Takatka, bride of Al-Asifa [i.e., Fatah terror unit]” “Martyrdom-seeker Andalib Takatka, from the village Beit Fajr in Bethlehem, [carried out] her operation (i.e., suicide bombing) on Friday, April 12, 2002, causing the deaths of six Israelis and wounding 85 in Jerusalem.”
The continual honoring of terrorists and suicide bombers by the PA perpetuates violence as others are motivated to follow their example. So do the words of a Palestinian Mufti, speaking on official PA TV on January 17, 2014. He said: We [Palestinians] are a nation whose position on this land is [one of] two things: It’s either to live in honor and glory on this land, or to be under it as Shahids (Martyrs), just like the first generations of Muslims andShahids of our nation. Yes, this path and course was chosen for us, because this blessed land needs our sacrifice, even if it be our lives.”
Actions and words such as these demonstrate the priority of the Palestinian leaders, which is to attack Israel – not provide resources or a stable society where citizens can achieve dignity and freedom. Even worse, the PA misuses funds intended for the people, embezzles millions of dollars given for aid, hoards fuel for their own use, fails to pay the suppliers of electricity, and steals 800 million dollars meant for the poor through front companies for investments.
A May 18, 2012 article in the Gatestone Institute reveals that according to one of Arafat’s most trusted aides, Mohammed Rashid, Abbas has followed the precedent of embezzlement of funds established by Arafat. As of 2012, Rashid estimates that Abbas’ personal fortune is more than $100 million.
Obviously, the rather dismal prospects for Palestinian citizens being able to realize lives of dignity and freedom is a result of the corrupt actions of their leaders.
But Strang makes it look like Israel is solely responsible.
If the Palestinians are to have dignity and freedom, they need to accept accountability and responsibility. And when they fail to do so, would-be peacemakers need to hold them accountable. This is not something Strang appears willing or able to do.
The Water Libel
Another example of the absurdity of Strang’s implication that Israel is responsible for all of the problems faced by Palestinians is demonstrated by his use of a frequently repeated water libel. He says, “Israel only turns on water for most Palestinian towns intermittently…by contrast, Israeli settlements, which are often adjacent to these West Bank villages, have uninterrupted water supply.”
Here, Strang suggests that Israel is solely responsible for the water problems of the Palestinians. Strang’s suggestion is contradicted by Professor Haim Gvirtzman of the Israeli think tank Begin-Sadan Center for Strategic Studies (BESA) who has published a thorough review of the situation titled “The Truth Behind the Palestinian Water Libels.” The executive summary of Prof. Gvirtzman’s survey reads:
Water shortages in the Palestinian Authority are the result of Palestinian policies that deliberately waste water and destroy the regional water ecology. The Palestinians refuse to develop their own significant underground water resources, build a seawater desalination plant, fix massive leakage from the
ir municipal water pipes, build sewage treatment plants, irrigate land with treated sewage effluents or modern water-saving devices, or bill their own citizens for consumer water usage, leading to enormous waste.At the same time, they drill illegally into Israel’s water resources, and send their sewage flowing into the valleys and streams of central Israel. In short, the Palestinian Authority is using water as a weapon against the State of Israel. It is not interested in practical solutions to solve the Palestinian people’s water shortages, but rather perpetuation of the shortages and the besmirching of Israel.
As CAMERA has pointed out, Israel supplies Palestinian communities with water from Israeli wells and has laid hundreds of kilometers of new water mains and connected hundreds of Palestinian villages and towns to the newly built water system. Villages and towns not hooked up to the new system have refused the service for political reasons, believing that acceptance of Israel’s offer of a new water supply would legitimize the “occupation.”
Israel treats at least 78% of its sewage and uses that water for agriculture, thereby conserving the use of that much drinking water. Israel has developed the means to desalinate seawater, thereby increasing the supply of fresh water. And Israel conserves water in a number of ways, from efficient bathroom fixtures to drip irrigation techniques.
By way of contrast, much of the water in the Palestinian territories is consumed by wasteful agriculture techniques such as flood irrigation of water-intensive crops, or lost through leaky, ill-maintained pipes.
Again, Strang has failed to acknowledge that the Palestinians share a large measure of responsibility for the suffering they have endured.
America’s Civil Rights Movement
In the context of a call to Christians to “take a stand for those who cannot,” Strang places the Israeli/Palestinian conflict on equal footing as other “crises of immense global importance.” The first one he mentions is America’s Civil Rights movement in the 1960’s.
This is not an appropriate comparison. African American leaders protested non-violently, they did not make use of missiles and suicide bombers, they did not deny the right of the US government to exist, and they certainly never expressed their intent to drive white people into the sea. The actions of these leaders stand in sharp contrast to the actions and words of the leadership of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.
According to Dumisani Washington, an African American pastor and author, the “parallels” between the Palestinian plight and that of African-Americans are spurious. He details the reasons in a March 6, 2014 article titled, “7 Reasons Why the Palestinian Crisis and the Black Struggle for Freedom are Absolutely Nothing Alike.”
Strang also compares the conflict with the Rwandan genocide. This happens to be an appropriate comparison, but not in the way the author intends. While the intent was to insinuate that Israel is guilty of a potential genocide, it is the Palestinian leaders who routinely incite and train their people towards the desired goal of the annihilation of the Jews.
In 2009 at the United Nations Durban II Conference in Geneva – a follow-up to the blatantly anti-Semitic and anti-Israel Durban I Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance – a group of Rwandan diplomats and scholars expressed their concern about the demonization of Jews and Israel by radical Islamists to Dr. Charles Asher Small, the Director of the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy.
Small reports their concern was that the same tactics are being used today against Israel and the Jews as were used by Hutu extremists against the Tutsis in Rwanda, and the Nazis against the Jews preceding the Holocaust.
These concerns are legitimate.
Examples of incitement on Palestinian TV documented by Palestinian Media Watch look an awful lot like the anti-Tutsi incitement of the Rwandan genocide. According to the Human Rights Watch report, “PROPAGANDA AND PRACTICE,” “the propagandists stressed that Tutsi were foreign to the area and had stolen Rwanda from its rightful inhabitants, and that the ruthless conquerors had ground the Hutu under their heel in a repressive and bloody regime.”
Just as the Hutu propagandists claimed that Tutsi were foreigners who had stolen the land and oppressed the rightful owners of the land, so too the Palestinians claim that they are the historic inhabitants of the land and the Israelis are foreign occupiers and oppressors.
The Tutsi were compared to cockroaches in propaganda that said, “A cockroach gives birth to another cockroach…The history of Rwanda shows us clearly that a Tutsi stays always exactly the same, that he has never changed. The malice, the evil are just as we knew them in the history of our country.”
Just as the Tutsi were compared to cockroaches who are perpetually evil, so too Israelis are identified as animals who have no right to live.
The Hutu propagandists “insisted that not just the freedom and prosperity of Hutu were at risk but their very lives…(They began) charging that the Tutsi had prepared a war that “would leave no survivors.” Saying that the enemy’s objective is extermination, Hutu leaders exhorted their audiences to “rise up…really rise up.”
Just as the Hutu claimed to be innocent victims who were in danger of being annihilated by the Tutsi, so too the Palestinians claim to be innocent victims of genocid
e at the hand of Israelis.
Just as Hutu leaders exhorted their audiences to “rise up,” so too do Palestinian leaders encourage their followers in jihad. In the same way that Hutus were incited to kill Tutsis, so too Palestinians are incited to kill Israelis.
Underlying much of the propaganda was the image of the Hutu as the innocent victim of aggression by Tutsi conquerors. Authorities used lies, exaggeration, and rumors about the local situation to make the general propaganda against Tutsi more immediate and frightening. They staged incidents or reported events that had not in fact occurred.
Just as Hutu authorities used lies and staged incidents to make their propaganda even more frightening, so too the Palestinians.
These statements are just a few of many cited in the HRW report, but the parallels between Hutu propaganda and Palestinian propaganda are glaring.
People who are regularly fed such a steady diet of incitement for jihad cannot be expected to suddenly live at peace if given their own state, no matter how much land is given for that purpose. As Abbas has made abundantly clear, a Palestinian state will never recognize the Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, and the efforts of jihad will not stop until Israel ceases to exist.
In contrast to Strang’s confident, but naïve, assertion, Israel’s acknowledgment of Palestinian demands for sovereignty in a portion of the land of Israel is not the magic bullet that will bring peace. Peace will only occur when and if the Palestinians stop inciting their people towards jihad and start educating them towards peace.
The False Pretense of Being Pro-Everybody and Pro-Peace
Cameron Strang falsely equates the Israeli/Palestinian conflict with America’s Civil Rights movement and the Rwandan genocide but fails to see the total inappropriateness of his comparisons.
He makes use of an oft-repeated water libel against the Israelis, but fails to verify the facts or offer any evidence in support of what he says.
He suggests that Palestinians will achieve dignity and freedom when Israel allows them to create their own state, but ignores the fact that it is Arab leaders who prevent their people from having dignity or freedom through the misuse of funds and resources, and the priority placed on jihad.
He states that Israelis must acknowledge Palestinian demands for sovereignty, but fails to mention the opportunities for sovereignty they have refused, as well as the Arab refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish State.
He claims to affirm Israel’s right to exist, but promotes a Palestinian narrative that does not include that right.
He subjects Israel to harsh and biased scrutiny, but ignores the targeted killing of Israeli civilians by Palestinians.
In short, the anti-Israel polemic that runs as a consistent thread throughout this article places Cameron Strang among those who seek to delegitimize the Jewish State by depicting Israel as the only obstacle to peace in the Middle East.
What Strang either does not know, or chooses to ignore for the sake of his argument, is that Arab animosity and violence towards Jews was alive and well before the founding of the State of Israel. As CAMERA has pointed out:
Arab violence against Jews is often alleged to have begun with the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 or as a result of Israel’s capture in 1967 of territories occupied by Jordan. But even before the Mandate for Palestine was assigned to Great Britain by the Allies at the San Remo Conference (April 1920) and endorsed by the League of Nations (July 1922), Palestinian Arabs were carrying out organized attacks against Jewish communities in Palestine.
In recent years, as the world has held onto blind hope that the Palestinians and Israelis could reach some kind of peace agreement, Mahmoud Abbas has been seeking and demanding unity between Fatah and Hamas, in spite of international recognition of Hamas as a terror organization. Palestinian Media Watch has documented Abbas’ assertion that there is nothing to prevent unity because Hamas and Fatah agree on all important issues. On December 31, 2009 on official Palestinian Authority TV, Abbas said:
There is no disagreement between us [Fatah and Hamas]: About belief? None! About policy? None! About resistance? None! So what do you [Hamas] disagree about? Why are you not signing the [reconciliation] agreement?
What exactly are the beliefs and policies of Hamas that Abbas claimed agreement with in 2009?
Hamas refuses to recognize the existence of the State of Israel.
Hamas’ mission is to replace the Jewish State with an Islamic caliphate.
Hamas rejects compromise and all attempts at peace negotiations.
Hamas refuses to renounce terrorism.
Hamas has claimed credit for suicide attacks that have killed hundreds of Israeli civilians and has launched thousands of missiles into Israel.
The Hamas charter calls for the death of all Israelis, and for the death of all Jews.
On April 23, 2014, Fatah and Hamas announced a unity agreement. If Abbas’ statement of agreement with Hamas in 2009 wasn’t enough, this action on the part of Abbas and the Palestinian Authority should make it obvious to all that Fatah and the PA have never genuinely been interested in peace with Israel. In fact, Fatah’s military wing, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, has now announced that they “will adhere to the option of armed resistance until the liberation of all of Palestine.” The expression “the liberation of all of Palestine” is a common Palestinian euphemism used to refer to the destruction of Israel.
Cameron Strang’s discussion cannot be expected to reflect on this latest development, as the article was written before the unity agreement occurred. However, it is not unreasonable to expect that he prepare his readers with enough background on Fatah’s role in the conflict so they can be equipped to understand why a unity agreement with Hamas is not only possible, but quite logical.
But Strang’s blatantly one-sided approach fails to educate his readers in a meaningful way. By refusing to acknowledge
the facts on the ground, he exacerbates an already volatile situation, and will never succeed in bringing peace. Instead, by denying the historically lethal Arab hostility towards Jews and Israel, the danger facing the Jewish State, as well as Jews around the world, is intensified.
By placing all the responsibility for peace on Israel while he makes no demands of Palestinians, Strang makes an appalling contribution to the delegitimization of the Jewish State in the American press.
One can only hope and pray this contribution is unwitting and not intentional.