Nikki Haley has been making headlines since she began her term as the United States Ambassador to the UN. During an interview at the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington DC, she explained her positions and outlook – and it certainly went down well with the crowd.
Last month, Ambassador Haley made a speech, after her first meeting at the UN Security Council about the Middle East. The speech went viral, as she described her surprise at how the Council seemed to ignore Iran, ISIS, Hezbollah and Hamas, and focus solely on criticizing the one democracy in the region, Israel. She followed those tough words up with tough actions. She blocked the appointment of the former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to a senior UN position, saying she did not support the signal it would send to the Palestinian Authority. And recently, her strong stance condemning an anti-Israel UN report authored by the notorious Richard Falk, lead to real consequences. Antonio Guterres, the Secretary General of the UN, distanced himself from the report, the report was removed from the UN website, and the head of the UN agency responsible for it resigned.
Ambassador Nikki Haley with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres
At AIPAC, Ambassador Haley made it clear that she means business. “The days of Israel-bashing are over,” Haley said, pointing to the fact that since she entered office there has already been a notable reduction in anti-Israel rhetoric at the UN. This new stance will also express itself in the decisions that the USA makes at the UN – “Never again will we do again, what we saw with Resolution 2334.” She also spoke about her personal heritage, as the child of Indian immigrants, and how that impacted her connection to Israel. “I have seen so many similarities between the Israeli culture and the Indian culture. We are very close knit, we love our families, we have a strong work ethic, we believe in professionalism and philanthropy, giving back.”
Her most memorable line, after a spirited monologue about the first few months in the office, was this:
“So for anyone who says you can’t get anything done at the UN? They need to know, there is a new sheriff in town.”
Hopefully the sheriff can clean up the act of this notoriously anti-Israel organisation.
Nikki Haley rose to receive the standing ovation from the AIPAC crowd
The discussion and analysis of Resolution 2334, passed by the Security Council last week, is still continuing in earnest. But in all the coverage of the resolution and its aftermath in the media, there is one central point – maybe in fact, the most central point – that has not been mentioned and it is actually just one photo. I would argue however, that without mentioning this photo, no media outlet can truly have claimed to have presented the full story of Resolution 2334 and its meaning.
This image (captured by Palestinian Media Watch) is from the Facebook page of Fatah; the party of Mahmoud Abbas. Posted a day after the resolution, the words at the top of the image say “Thank you!” and then it lists the fourteen countries who voted for resolution 2334. In the center of the picture is the “Palestine” shaped knife stabbing the word “settlement” with blood pouring from it.
This reaction to resolution 2334 is not praise or condemnation, but incitement of the most explicit type – a call to people to stab and attack settlers and settlements. And it comes not from a fringe extremist, but from the party of the President of the Palestinian Authority himself.
This was not widely reported – just as many other instances of Palestinian incitement are not reported – but to ignore it is to ignore a crucial piece of the jigsaw. Focusing on it helps understand the difference between Western and Palestinian views of the conflict. Whereas Samantha Power, in her speech after the American abstention at the vote, spoke of a desire to see two states next to each other in peace and security, this cartoon speaks of a desire to attack and harm settlers. For the USA, resolution 2334 was about securing the prospects of a two state solution. This cartoon implies that the Palestinians see resolution 2334 as supporting their right to violence – and rather than pushing them to coexistence – it makes them emboldened in radical positions.
The fact that such a cartoon goes unmentioned in the media is also jarring considering the level of incitement that is considered newsworthy if it comes from an Israeli politician. Netanyahu’s comments about ‘the Arabs voting in droves’ still are mentioned frequently, a year and a half after they happened – yet surely a call to murder settlers is far worse than playing the race card in an election?
The extent and depth of Palestinian incitement is a significant piece of any understanding of the Arab Israeli conflict; one that is not focused on enough and which was missed once again last week. The veneration of martyrs, financial support for terrorists and spreading of incitement via pictures and music do not go away just because Western ears don’t want to read or hear about them. Until the Palestinians are challenged on these issues, they will not change their approach and will remain more hard-line in their position – harming both Israel and themselves.
On Sept. 20, the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies at Brandeis University brought a Board Director of the New Israel Fund, Prof. David Myers, to speak about the Arab-Israel conflict and who is responsible. Myers’ goal was to take a step back and analyze the events leading up to creation of Israel in 1948. Although the discussion was presented as an academic lecture, it was actually, in my opinion, a one-sided, biased outlook on the conflict. Myers attempted to present a three-dimensional approach to blame Israel, Palestine and Europe for the Israel-Palestine conflict, but his stance on the issue failed to accurately consider all sides of the conflict.
Myers used his focus on Europe to ignore parts of history. He spoke about Europe’s responsibility and the affect the Holocaust had on the current state of Israel without taking note of everyone who was involved. For example, according to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the highest-ranked Muslim religious leader of Jerusalem, the Grand Mufti, Haj Amin al-Husseini, met with Hitler, ideologically supported Hitler’s “final solution” and considered spreading it to the Arab countries during World War II. In a Nov. 2, 1943 address in Berlin, the Grand Mufti stated, “But most of all they [the Nazis] have definitely solved the Jewish problem. These ties, especially the last, make our friendship with Germany not a provisional one, dependent on conditions, but a permanent and lasting friendship based on mutual interests,” according to an Aug. 22 piece published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
Myers not only left out this critical part of history but also disseminated extreme statements about Israelis such as implicitly comparing Israeli-Jews to Nazis by saying that the oppressed had become like their oppressors in behavior and attitude. While Israel is not perfect, this comparison is flawed, and it misrepresents the facts. Regardless of one’s stance on the Israel-Palestine conflict, it is clear that Israeli policies cannot be described as ethnic cleansing or genocide. Although some point to the high numbers of Palestinian deaths as an indication of genocide, these people fail to acknowledge that these death tolls result from differences in military strategies, among other things ― not genocide. This double standard often presented by the UN fails to address the country’s right to self defense. Never in any point of Israel’s history has there been a mandate calling for murder of all Palestinians as there was for Jews in Germany under Hitler’s “final solution.” Such absurd claims diminish the significance of the Holocaust and suggest hostility towards Jews and their history.
Myers’ entire presentation focused on where the responsibility for the Israel-Palestine conflict lies, and while he attempted to put forth a “three-dimensional” approach that applied blame to Europe, Israel and Palestine, he failed to distribute the blame adequately. By not considering the Hebron massacre of 1929, during which 67 Jews were murdered by Arab terrorists, Myers left out crucial parts of history that contribute to the blame. Similarly, he did not explain that the campaign of anti-Jewish violence across the British Mandate Palestine in 1936 was led by Grand Mufti al-Husseini.
Worse, the terrorism that Myers avoided discussing did not decline in the 1950s and 1960s. Israelis suffered mass-casualty attacks by the Egyptian Fedayeen and the founding of the Palestinian Liberation Organization. Even today, there is raging anti-Semitism in the Middle East, stemming from the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. This past summer, the U.S. State Department accused the PA media of promoting anti-Semitism through the dissemination of “religiously intolerant material,” like television programs that “denied a historical Jewish presence in Jerusalem” or even went as far as calling Jewish people “evil,” according to an Aug. 17 Jewish News article.
In addition to ignoring a lot of harm caused by some Palestinians, Myers ignored the actions of many Palestinians who risk their lives trying to end the conflict and expose the corruption of the PA and Hamas. Instead of supporting this community of Palestinians, Myers presented the insulting portrayal that Israel has complete control of all Palestinians. To say that Myers effectively advocates for the Palestinian community is as misleading as saying he advocates for Israelis.
Looking at the bigger picture, zooming out the lens and including Arab responsibility in the conflict, it is clear that it is not correct to refer to this conflict as only between the Palestinians and Israelis but rather between the larger Arab and Muslim world and Israel. Israelis are not the majority population of the Middle East. If Israel had the upper hand, it would not constantly be living in fear of state-sponsored terrorism coming from Saudi Arabia and Iran. More specifically, existing as a majority population might reduce the fear of complete destruction by nuclear weapons in the hands of Hezbollah in Lebanon or Hamas in Gaza who want to see Israel destroyed. Israel and its people are a minority in a region full of irrational hostility and hate toward the Jewish people, especially from its neighboring countries such as Syria and Jordan. According to Israeli Defense Forces, since 2005 alone, more than 11,000 rockets have been fired by terrorists into Israel, putting 5 million Israelis in constant threat of rocket fire. Half a million of these citizens only have 60 seconds to find shelter.
Myers asked Israel to self-destruct by suggesting it grant citizenship to Palestinians ― thus disrupting the balance of Israel’s democracy and reducing the political power of Jewish-Israelis in their own asylum. I ask him to reconsider his absurd “three-dimensional” approach, which fails to fully analyze the conflict and adequately recognize the needs of both Israelis and Palestinians. I also ask for the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies at Brandeis University to host another lecture about the Israel-Palestine conflict that is not riddled with biased misinterpretations caused by blank gaps of hidden history.
Israel was established as a parliamentary democracy, a state with fundamental democratic values. While much of the Middle East is hostile to democratic governments from forming, Israel strives to constantly develop as a democracy. Between rights for Palestinians, women, and members of the LGBTQ community, Israel is a leader in democratic values in the Middle East, not to mention the world.
The UN ironically tried to condemn Israel for violating health standards at a World Health Organization assembly. Not only are Israeli health regulations up to level, Israel is a leader in international aid when other countries are in need of assistance.
Likewise, the UN tried to accuse Israel of not fully supporting women’s rights. In all areas, women in Israel have full equal rights. They lead in government, military, and all professional fields in Israel.
Just like any other democratic country, there are room for improvements. However, its democratic values cannot go unappreciated and its efforts to promote human rights should not be overlooked.
With pride in the democracy it is today, Israel celebrates the UN’s International Day of Democracy.
When reggae star Matisyahu took the stage at the Rototom Sunsplash Festival in Spain in August 2015, he faced a much different audience than he had in previous performances. He was confronted by a sea of Palestinian flags and extended middle fingers. Angry protesters chanted “Naziyahu!” and hurled a storm of shoes at the singer. Throughout the performance, the security team gritted theirteeth nervously. Yet Matisyahu played on, as cheers eventually drowned out the negative words. But how did this all start?
A few days before the concert, the festival directors, under pressure from the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement (BDS), canceled Matisyahu’s performance, citing his refusal to publicly support “the Palestinians’ right to a state.” Matisyahu, whose real name is Matthew Miller, is an American, not Israeli. BDS targeted him because he is Jewish.
Why would Matisyahu be brought into a conflict for a country not even his own? This blurring of the lines between protesting Israeli politics and holding Jews at-large responsible is a frequent technique by the BDS movement – and it backfired. In the words of Matisyahu: “Jews and non Jews spoke up about the injustice of the only publicly recognized Jew on the festival line-up being called out to promote a political agenda.” The outcry overwhelmed the initial call to protest, and even the Spanish government called for the artist’s reinstatement. The festival reinvited Matisyahu, who still faced staunch opposition and disruption from BDS supporters during his performance. Yet, he played on, calling all in the audience to let “music be your flag.”
Matisyahu’s troubling experience with BDS inspired his collaborative work with Jewish rapper Kosha Dillz, entitled “Dodgin’ Bullets,” which was released on July 15th. According to the artist, the track is “…not just a political statement geared [towards supporters of] the BDS movement or the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, but one of an existential and spiritual revolution, whereby one is able to dodge the bullets meant to knock you off your true life’s mission as a human being on this planet: to love with all of your heart, soul, and might!!! And to turn bullets of hatred into the music of the soul.”
The BDS movement, which promotes an academic and cultural boycott of Israel, has a history of pressuring Israeli and non-Israeli artists to condemn Israel’s actions concerning Palestinians (including pop-star Pharrell and rock artist Bruce Springsteen, to name only a couple).
Last year, a nuclear agreement was established between Iran and the United States. The agreement essentially stated that tough sanctions would be lifted off Iran in exchange for the country’s word to end its nuclear weapon development. Since the deal was passed the seas have been quiet but recently, things changed.
In clear violation of the nuclear deal, Iran held multiple ballistic missile tests. This particular offense violates the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2331, which states that Iran is “not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.”
Iranian officials have responded by saying that they will not cease these missile tests since it was not actually a violation of the agreement. According to Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, a commander in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps who is in charge of the country’s missile program, these missiles were tested for defensive purposes and the country will not stop this activity due to the fact that they are “always ready to defend the country against any aggressor.” Iranian Foreign Ministry officials have also spoken on the matter saying that since these missiles are not capable of carrying nuclear warheads, the tests are not considered a violation worth of sanctions.
A ballistic missile is launched and tested in an undisclosed location, Iran, March 9, 2016. REUTERS/Mahmood Hosseini/TIMA
Here are the issues: A nuclear capable missile has been defined as any missile with a payload over 500 kilograms and a range of 300 kilometers. The missiles surpass normal range and weight that is considered internationally acceptable to be considered a nuclear capable missile, even though, according to Iranian officials, these missiles may not have been designed to carry a nuclear warhead. Some of the missiles tested by Iran carried 24 warheads and one ton of TNT, which would completely obliterate Israel.
Not only this, but to reiterate the actual threat, on the sides of the missiles, “Israel must be wiped off the face of the earth” was written. In fact, The Iranian Revolutionary guard’s senior commander was quoted as saying that these missiles were designed to strike Israel. This new turn of events has prompted Israel to step up and call for consequences against Iran’s violations, and rightfully so. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has released a statement calling for the UN to take “immediate punitive steps following the repeated gross transgressions by Iran in the matter of rockets.” Israel’s’ Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, has also come to the UN Security Council encouraging them to condemn Iran’s recent behavior. He also pointed out that the tests are a violation of the UN resolution 2331. This would be an outrageous violation and should not be overlooked, as it is a clear breach of the agreement.
The phrase “Israel must be wiped off the face of the earth” is a direct existential threat to Israel and its people. This is not a defensive remark on the part of Iran. On the contrary it shows that they in fact desire an offensive stance against Israel. These type of long range missiles have the capability to cover all of Israel’s territory, proving to be a very real threat to the country’s existence in the Middle East. Israel is an important ally to the United States and this existential threat must be taken seriously.
The UN Security Council will be holding a closed door meeting to discuss this issue. According to Samantha Power, The U.S. Ambassador to the UN, the United States will hold said meeting and is encouraging other countries to cooperate in efforts to undermine Iran’s missile program that could be detrimental. These violations cannot occur. Existential threats to the lives of millions of people, and an entire state that is an ally to the United States, must be addressed immediately to avoid an enormous tragedy from taking place.
On Tuesday, March 13th, Vice President Joe Biden was in Israel discussing prospects for peace with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas who, in the classic fashion of Israel’s “partners for peace,” rejected all proposals. At the same time not too far away, Iran was busy test-firing ballistic missiles capable of reaching Israel. This clear sign of belligerence was not surprising coming from Iran, the largest state-sponsor of terrorism the world over.
Some are claiming that these missiles are not in direct violation of Security Council Resolution 2231, put in place shortly after the passing of the Obama administration’s incredibly controversial nuclear deal with Iran, which “calls upon Iran not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles.” As if to assuage doubts that they were not in violation of international law, Iran then fired two ballistic missiles on Wednesday emblazoned with Ayatollah Khomeini’s ever-catchy tagline “Israel must be wiped off the Earth.” To add incitement to aggression, General Amir Ali Haji Zada, commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s air force, informed the media that these missiles “belong to the Palestinian people.” Yet somehow, Iran is maintaining that this launch, and its blatant hostility and provocation, was carried out purely with self-defense in mind. It is baffling that some people possess the power to delude themselves into believing that Iran is seeking nuclear missiles for peaceful purposes.
A week later, Biden told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that “a nuclear-armed Iran is an absolutely unacceptable threat to Israel, to the region and the United States.” He then assured Netanyahu that America will see to it that Iran adheres to nuclear deal, proposed by the Obama administration this past summer. “If in fact they break the deal,” said Biden, “we will act.” So it seems that, given this obvious sign of aggression, the US should “act.” America said it would bring this matter to the Security Council, which is to convene on Monday to discuss what American ambassador to the UN, Samantha Powers, calls “dangerous launches.” Yet despite the fact that these launches were “provocative,” it was determined by the Obama administration that these missiles did not violate the nuclear agreement.
In response to this attack, Bibi beseeched the free world to “take immediate punitive steps following the repeated gross transgressions by Iran in the matter of rockets.” The European Union is considering issuing sanctions on Iran given the recent missile tests, an especially bold move considering the fact that this is a governing body who claimed that the singling out of Israeli products with labeling would somehow “serve to reduce the current levels of tension, fear and despair, among both Israelis and Palestinians.”
Even those shortsighted or intellectually dishonest enough to claim that the Iran deal is good for the free world must admit it qualifies as “a pretty good deal,” as Colin Powell so eloquently said, only if all parties adhere to said deal. If Iran can break the nuclear agreement so soon after its passing and feel no consequences, what kind of message does that send?
Contributed by CAMERA Fellow at NYU Polytechnic, Raizy Cohen.
If you think of the United Nations as a beacon of light and reasoning unto the nations of the world, perhaps you should think again.
The UN recently positioned Saudi Arabia as the head of a Human Rights panel. Yes, Saudi Arabia. The nation rich in oil and just as rich in human rights violations has been placed to judge other nations on their human rights abuses.
Think back to last summer, when a story broke about a blogger who spoke out against Islam and was rebuked with 20 weeks of public flogging, 50 lashes each time. They didn’t even make it to the second round, as the country came under serious international condemnation and the blogger was admitted for medical treatment.
During the first half of 2015, Saudi Arabia had already publicly beheaded 100 of its citizens. In 1995, the year end total of government beheadings in Saudi Arabia nearly cleared 200. Year after year, the government in this country continues to assert its dominance over its citizens by functioning as fear-mongering autocrats. And yet, they now get to play pretend as the one of authority figures on human rights.
In a curious deliberation in March 2015, the UN decided that of all the nations in its membership, the one who committed the most women’s rights violations was Israel. Israel, the only nation in the Middle East that grants equal rights to women! Israel, the only country in the world where both men and women are subject to conscription. Israel, one of the world’s nations with the most number of women in executive leadership positions, and the third country in the world to ever have a female prime minister. In Saudi Arabia, the women are not allowed to go anywhere without a male escort, and the only ones who can drive are American military personnel on US bases. Saudi women were only granted the right to vote last year.
Currently, the Saudis are under international pressure to stop the plans to behead and crucify a young man who was arrested originally in 2012 for having participated in the Arab spring protests, which called for political reforms in Saudi Arabia. There is debate as to whether the extent of his punishments are based on his being Shi’ite in a majority Sunni country. Regardless, the decisions that shape his fate are obscene, and simply put, show Saudi Arabia’s commitment to human rights violations.
In and of itself, the UN is a mess. The Commission on the Status of Women boasts the Sudanese president as one of its cabinet members – a man who has been indicted for crimes against humanity and genocide, among others. Qatar is also represented on the Human Rights council. Perhaps you’ve heard of Qatar; they’ll be hosting the World Cup in 2022. That is, if they protect the workers who are building the stadium, many of whom have died in masses from poor working conditions and construction accidents. Qatar also funds Hamas, the terrorist organization that controls Gaza and refuses to recognize the state of Israel. The trend of the UN to appoint absolutely preposterous leaders to its councils and boards is a widespread issue. How could an organization designed with good intentions become filled with such disgrace?
Most recently, the UN misstepped again in its decision to elect Venezuelan and Syrian leaders to top positions in a “decolonizing” campaign in the Falklands/ Malvinas Islands off the coast of Argentina. For starters, the idea that the UN needs to ‘decolonize’ the Islands is ludicrous, since a 2009 referendum in the Falklands’ government produced a 99.8% vote in favor of staying an overseas British territory.
The people of the Falklands Islands are not oppressed, nor are they subject to human rights abuses, unlike the dwindling population in Syria, where one of the heads of this ‘decolonization’ campaign is from. There, president-for-life Bashar al-Assad has taken measures against his people in organized massacres, chemical weapons attacks, and strategic bombings and altogether destruction of residential areas. Additionally, in Venezuela – a country generally ignored by the media – is in tatters. A serious drop in oil prices (the country’s main export) has depleted the economy, leading to a 700% inflation rate and robbing hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans of their jobs. During Hugo Chavez’s 14 year reign as president, Venezuelans were subject to arbitrary arrests, censorship, and police brutality. Needless to say, the UN has once again chosen a state with a seriously flawed human rights record to serve as part of a mission that aims to better the lives of the citizens of the world.
Perhaps these appointments will have little effect on the world, or perhaps they will leave a great mark. One can only hope that with its newfound place in a position of leadership in promoting human rights that internal Saudi politics will adjust to treat their own people better. Maybe some day, the UN will appoint leaders who are genuinely committed to the positions in which they serve. Maybe one day they will stop needlessly condemning Israel while rewarding its neighbors. Until then, the UN will continue to lose credibility.
On September 30th 2015, Mahmoud Abbas, President of the PLO, opened his speech to the United Nations General Assembly by ‘raising the alarm’ to the world and giving his version of the facts on the ground regarding the most disputed piece of real estate on Earth. He opened with his position on what is known as the Temple Mount by Westerners, Al Haram Al-Sharif by Muslims, or Har Habayit by Jews.
Abbas Speaking to the UN General Assembly
The fact of the matter is that this man, a terrorist and a tyrant who has held his democratically elected position long after its expiration date, has a point. On the Temple Mount we do find one of the greatest violations of basic human rights with all of the restrictions that are in place. The rights of free speech, expression and religion are obstructed in order to preserve the ‘status quo.’
The status quo leaves the administration of the site to the Waqf. Revered as the holiest site in Judaism as well as being a holy site in Christianity and Islam, the administration allows non Muslims to enter the Temple Mount only a few hours a day, and never on Fridays or Muslim holidays. Additionally, the site is closed for security concerns, resulting mainly from riots during Jewish and Israeli holidays designed to prevent Jewish ascension. Non Muslims may only enter through one of the eleven gates, and are forbidden from practicing any form of religious expression. Despite the numerous Israeli Supreme Court rulings demanding all must be allowed religious freedoms, the status quo on the Temple Mount has not changed.
Western Wall and Temple Mount
Over the past year, Abbas has upped his inflammatory rhetoric in relation to the Temple mount, culminating with his statement in September on official PA TV:
“The Al-Aqsa [Mosque] is ours… and they have no right to defile it with their filthy feet. We will not allow them to, and we will do everything in our power to protect Jerusalem.”
He then blessed all the blood spilled in Jerusalem in the name of Allah. This was in response to Israeli police forces being forced to enter the Al-Aqsa Mosque to blockade Muslim rioters inside. During the UN address he went on to threaten that if Israel continued this use of brutal force, they would turn the conflict from political to religious. Abbas is parading to the world that his peaceful people are being persecuted and their holy places desecrated, and he has been doing so for years. The truth is that Abbas is inciting violence onto his followers by using the places Palestinians deem holy as their main battleground.
This incitement has led to the violent uprising we are seeing today. However, it is not the first time brainwashing has led to violence among Palestinians. In 2000, the Second Intifada was sparked as a result of similar claims that the Jews were trying to take over the Temple Mount. As a direct result of Abbas’ incitement before and throughout the Second Intifada (from September 2000-2005), 1137 Israelis, 887 of whom were civilians, were killed in attacks. An additional 8,341 Israelis were wounded during this period. Unfortunately, the figures of the past four months are just as upsetting. As of February 2nd, this new wave of terrorism resulted in 30 Israeli civilians being killed and over 300 wounded. There have been 115 stabbings, 40 shootings, and 23 vehicular attacks. Sadly with attacks occurring nearly every day, these stats will have already increased by the time this piece was published.
These tragedies have taken place because the incitement on the side of Palestinian leadership has increased and has not been condemned strongly enough. The world must open its eyes and seek to understand what Israel and her people are dealing with. Abbas is not a partner for a peace, but rather a sneak who deceivingly states his dedication to pursuing diplomacy, while clearly demonstrating the opposite.
These past few years, the Middle East has been exploding, figuratively and literally. But there is one country that has made news headlines since its foundation. Israel and her tumultuous relationship with her neighbors, especially Palestine, are at the forefront of the minds of most foreign journalists. Matti Friedman, former correspondent for the Associated Press says, “When I was a correspondent at the A.P., the agency had more than 40 staffers covering Israel and the Palestinian territories. That was significantly more news staff than the A.P. had in China, Russia or India, or in all of the 50 countries of sub-Saharan Africa combined.” Yet, as Sarah Palmer noted in her latest blog post for The Sun, “Pop Culture, Politics and Perception; Importing Hate,” it’s not an easy subject to discuss, especially for those who aren’t so familiar with it. Those who follow the situation tend to be sincerely invested in it, often for personal reasons, and often have a difficult time demonstrating their understanding of the conflict clearly, because it’s not so black and white.
Palmer is quite clear in her piece that she is not an expert and considers herself as an outsider, meaning someone who has not invested time into analyzing the current and past situation in Israel. She opened up a discussion that, because of the situation’s complexity and historical significance, must be clarified and put into context.
The current state of turmoil in Israel began when Palestinian leaders incited attacks on Israelis by blatantly lying about an Israeli plan to change the policy at the Temple Mount that prohibits non-Muslims from praying at the holy site. Abbas provoked religious Muslims with statements such as “the dirty feet” of Jews don’t belong in the Mosque. This is by no means the first time Abbas has showed his support for terrorism. In 2012, the Palestinian leader glorified the terrorists responsible for killing hundreds of Israelis and two American diplomats.In 2013, he awarded Nayef Hawatmeh, the head of Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), the “highest order of the star of honor” for his work in committing dozens of terrorist attacks, including one assassination of 22 school children and 4 adults in Ma’alot. In 2014, Abbas sent a letter to the family of the terrorist who tried to kill Yehudah Glick in Jerusalem, praising him for his actions and calling him a martyr. Time and time again Abbas shows his support for terrorizing Israeli civilians and the current situation is no exception.
This tension surrounding the Temple Mount dates back to 1967, when Israel was forced to defend itself yet again from the constant Syrian-sponsored Palestinian guerilla attacks from Jordan and Lebanon, and Egyptian war crimes, especially closing off the Straits of Tiran to Israeli trade. Regardless of Israel’s appeal to Jordan to stay out of the war, they attacked and occupied U.N. headquarters in Jerusalem, bringing the conflict to the holy city. At the end of the war, Israel found itself in control of East Jerusalem, but the Temple Mount remained in the hands of the Jordanian Waqf. Although every part of Israel practices religious freedom (which is why you see pictures of all different faiths at the Western Wall for instance), the Waqf only allows Muslims to pray at the Temple Mount and assigns specific hours of visitation rights for other religious groups. There is absolutely no proof that Israel planned to change this. Abbas’ message was simply intended to incite chaos.
These past months, there have been countless Palestinian attacks on Israeli citizens from within the walls of the Old City and throughout the rest of the country. They are throwing boulders down on people and hiding mass amounts of weapons in the Al-Aqsa mosque. 12-year-old children are brainwashed to stab Jews. Knife-wielding extremists have assaulted elderly women. A young boy on a bicycle was assaulted in Pisgat Zeev. An Arab woman pretending to ask questions of a guard suddenly pulled out a knife and tried to stab him. There is terror everywhere in Israel right now. What have Palestinian leaders done to condemn this? Nothing. Fatah encourages it. The few extremist Jews who have attacked Palestinians are reprimanded by almost everyone in the country, and most importantly by the Israeli government. Yes, all terrorism is awful and both sides have done wrong, but there is no moral equivalency between the Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
The Israeli government has responded by taking security measures that inconvenience the lives of moderate Palestinians living in the West Bank. As a response to an attempt to butcher everyone on a bus, Arabs living in East Talpiyot are now forced to drive all the way through Bethlehem, an hour out of the way, because they can no longer drive through Armon Hanastiv. Abbas, Fatah, Hamas… they are all supporting the men, women and children of all ages who are risking their lives to kill Israelis. Unfortunately, the average Palestinian is suffering.
This situation clearly does not boil down to a rumor about the Temple Mount. Tension between Israelis and Palestinians has only escalated since the establishment of Israel in 1948. In the years leading up to this significant date, the Palestinians refused multiple proposals for a two-state solution, which would have established Israeli and Palestinian sovereignty in the land. Rather than accepting any of the peaceful negotiations, the Palestinians and every surrounding Arab country declared war as soon as Israel declared its independence. Since then, the hostility between the two nations has only grown through decades of wars, intifadas and terrorism.
The first step in breaking this cycle is to change the education systems in Gaza and Palestinian Authority-controlled Area A of the West Bank. Leaders, school teachers, imams and other role models indoctrinate Palestinian children to hate Jews and Israelis. It is not only the harsh conditions that some Palestinians live under that cause this terrorism. Before we can move forward on the relations between neighboring countries, we must address the distorted and violent education of the Palestinian people. We are all doing a disservice to the Palestinian children by ignoring the hate propagated under the Palestinian leaders.
There is no moral equivalency between the Israeli government and the PLO or Arab terrorist organizations. While the Israeli government is concerned for the safety of its citizens, the PLO holds almost no legitimacy among the Palestinians and organizations such as Hamas only advocate for terror. When Palmer states that “leaders have helped to sensationalize the violence,” it must but clarified that one side deals with terrorism through trial and justice while the other applauds the attacks.