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February 8, 2016 0

The French Initiative

By Jonathan Green­blatt
CEO of the Anti-Defamation League

This arti­cle orig­i­nally appeared on The Times of Israel blog

Here they go again. The French For­eign Min­is­ter, Lau­rent Fabius, has announced a new ini­tia­tive toward con­ven­ing an inter­na­tional con­fer­ence on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The his­tory of such inter­na­tional gath­er­ings, with the unique excep­tion of the Madrid Peace Con­fer­ence fol­low­ing the first Gulf War, has not been a good one. Most often, they become forums for bash­ing Israel rather than mak­ing real progress to break through on the tough­est final sta­tus issues that still divide Israelis and Palestinians.

This bad his­tory is com­pounded, how­ever, in this instance, by the accom­pa­ny­ing state­ment by Mr. Fabius that if such a con­fer­ence fails to lead to progress toward peace, France will rec­og­nize a Pales­tin­ian State. What incen­tive remains for the Pales­tini­ans to be forthcoming?

This alone would guar­an­tee the fail­ure of a con­fer­ence. It is always a chal­lenge to get the Pales­tini­ans to be forth­com­ing toward Israel. If they know for cer­tain that they will be rewarded for inac­tion, the like­li­hood of progress is even more remote.

The French posi­tion reflects the fun­da­men­tal fal­lacy of much of the inter­na­tional com­mu­nity in address­ing the con­flict. Because they see Israel as the occu­pier and stronger party, they see pres­sure on Israel as the way to move the process. In this view, there is noth­ing expected of the Palestinians.

Make no mis­take: Any hope for peace requires actions and com­pro­mises by both sides. Israel has to be forth­com­ing, as well as the Palestinians.

The record, how­ever, shows repeat­edly that Israel can nego­ti­ate in good faith and offer solu­tions that give some­thing to each side.

This was true at Camp David in 2000, when Prime Min­is­ter Ehud Barak offered the Pales­tini­ans a state on more than 90 per­cent of the ter­ri­tory; this was true when his suc­ces­sor Ariel Sharon pulled Israel out of Gaza in 2005; this was true in 2008, when Prime Min­is­ter Ehud Olmert offered the Pales­tini­ans even more than Ehud Barak did for build­ing a state. This was true ulti­mately in the recent effort of U.S. Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry to bro­ker a compromise.

While the Netanyahu gov­ern­ment has been less will­ing to pro­pose an ini­tia­tive on peace, there is every rea­son to believe, based on Israel’s his­tory of both the left and the right, that Israel will be there if Pales­tini­ans demon­strate they are pre­pared to truly engage in direct nego­ti­a­tions and will­ing to make impor­tant com­pro­mises for peace.

The so-called friends of the Pales­tini­ans, who blame Israel for every aspect of the con­flict, do the Pales­tini­ans no favor by expect­ing noth­ing of their friends in return.

A far more pro­duc­tive exer­cise for the inter­na­tional com­mu­nity, as coun­ter­in­tu­itive as it may seem, is to direct its atten­tion toward Pales­tin­ian behav­ior. The focus should be on what changes are nec­es­sary from the Pales­tin­ian side in order to bring an inde­pen­dent state closer to real­ity. This does not mean Israel is exempt from expec­ta­tions that it make seri­ous and sus­tained efforts to achieve peace. How­ever, the world should expect the Pales­tini­ans to com­pro­mise as well.

Such com­pro­mises that should be demanded of the Pales­tini­ans include accept­ing the legit­i­macy of Israel as a Jew­ish State; the recog­ni­tion that Pales­tin­ian refugees will be reset­tled in a Pales­tin­ian State, just as Jew­ish refugees were reset­tled in the Jew­ish State; the acknowl­edge­ment that a peace agree­ment between the sides will mean the end of the con­flict and future demands; and the ces­sa­tion of incite­ment cam­paigns against Israel and Jews and an end to cel­e­brat­ing to those who com­mit ter­ror­ist attacks.

That’s a lot to ask of the Pales­tini­ans, you say, par­tic­u­larly because they are the occu­pied party.

Maybe so, but it has never been tried. And the Pales­tini­ans remain in their dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tion. Mean­while, Israeli ini­tia­tives have not only gone nowhere, they have often been fol­lowed by Pales­tin­ian violence.

It is, how­ever, not merely that this approach has not been tried. It is more that it speaks to the root of the prob­lem and to under­stand­able Israeli skep­ti­cism that the Pales­tin­ian goal has not changed at all from 1947 when it was clear that Israel’s destruc­tion was its pri­mary aim.

How­ever much one seeks to blame Israel for the Pales­tin­ian con­di­tion, it is Pales­tini­ans them­selves, with a changed approach, who can bring about a fun­da­men­tal change in the sta­tus quo. Israel’s reac­tion to a new Pales­tin­ian approach will undoubt­edly be cau­tious but will be a response that could move things for­ward toward a two-state solution.

Hav­ing said all this, Israel needs to think about tak­ing its own ini­tia­tive, not because any such move will ensure that there is peace — that can only hap­pen when the Pales­tini­ans engage in the rethink­ing described above — but in order to cred­i­bly demon­strate to the world its com­mit­ment to peace.

Inter­nally, inac­tion has cre­ated a vac­uum that is being filled by peo­ple who are against a two-state solu­tion and who would like to erode Israel’s demo­c­ra­tic values.

Exter­nally, boy­cotts and dele­git­imiza­tion cam­paigns con­tinue to mount against Israel and one-state ideas gain momentum.

An Israeli ini­tia­tive — whether on halt­ing set­tle­ments, bet­ter respect­ing Pales­tini­ans’ rights, or offer­ing a plan — will not bring an end to anti-Israel activ­ity. It will, how­ever, weaken it sig­nif­i­cantly. It could draw away from it many well-meaning peo­ple who are frus­trated with the decades-old stale­mate and sta­tus quo.

Respon­si­bil­ity for peace and for accept­ing at least parts of the oth­ers’ nar­ra­tive lie on both parties.

It is the Pales­tin­ian rethink, how­ever, that could make all the difference.

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November 13, 2015 0

A Religious Ruling Forbidding the Killing of Jews Sparks Controversy

A  recent video fea­tur­ing a Mus­lim reli­gious leader issu­ing a rul­ing for­bid­ding the killing of Jews has sparked con­tro­versy on social media. The video shows Jor­dan­ian Salafi Sheik Ali Al-Halabi giv­ing a les­son to a group of stu­dents. One of the stu­dents says to the Sheik: “The Jews in Pales­tine — some say it is per­mis­si­ble to kill them under any cir­cum­stances.” The Sheik replies: “One who pro­tects you, pro­vides you with elec­tric­ity and water, and trans­fers money to you; one for whom you work and whose money you earn – you will double-cross him, even if he were a Jew?! This sort of killing is per­mis­si­ble dur­ing con­fronta­tion, dur­ing a declared war, whereas when there’s mutual trust and you double-cross and kill him – this is not permissible.”

The stu­dent then asks if this also applies to armed sol­diers walk­ing in the street, to which the Sheik replies “The same answer. Let me ask you a ques­tion: ‘Does a gun­man walk­ing in the street kill every Mus­lim he sees?” The stu­dent replies “No.”

Another stu­dent asks the Sheik if it were true that they [Israelis/Jews] don’t attack unless attacked first? The Sheik answers that while he didn’t know, that is what “the broth­ers in Pales­tine informed us.” How­ever, the Sheik adds, “this gen­eral rul­ing – one shouldn’t think we thus defend the detested Jews, but this is the real­ity. Oth­er­wise, if they killed any­one they saw, no one would remain in Palestine.”

Headline: "A Salafi Sheik in Jordan forbids killing the Occupation's soldiers!"

Filastin news­pa­per (Gaza), Novem­ber 3, 2015 Head­line: “A Salafi Sheik in Jor­dan for­bids killing the Occupation’s soldiers!”

Per­haps unsur­pris­ing, the Sheik’s com­ments sparked a wave of angry reac­tions on Face­book, where the Sheik was tar­geted with hate­ful posts includ­ing: “His face indi­cates he is of Jew­ish ori­gin,” “This garbage, who refers to them as sheiks?,” “God’s curse upon you and your likes, it is not per­mis­si­ble to kill the Zion­ists because they trans­fer you money and food,” “I spit on sheiks, shave off your beard and make it a broom for the toi­let,” “It is per­mis­si­ble to kill you, may God kill you and your likes”.

Fol­low­ing the angry reac­tion to his com­ments, Sheik Al-Halabi clar­i­fied his rul­ing, say­ing “The Jews are usurp­ing occu­piers, a double-crossing and treach­er­ous peo­ple who are decep­tive and cun­ning. They killed the mes­sen­gers and the prophets … Jihad against the Jews is an oblig­a­tory one, incum­bent upon every Mus­lim state and upon every Mus­lim who accepts Allah as his Lord and Islam as his religion.”

Another reli­gious leader, Sheik Abu Himam, who was present at Al-Halabi’s les­son, also renounced the pro­hi­bi­tion against killing Jews. In a Novem­ber 7th video, Sheik Abu Himam says: “I empha­size and reit­er­ate that it is per­mis­si­ble to kill the Jew­ish occu­pier, and that it is legit­i­mate for our peo­ple in Pales­tine to defend [them­selves] in every means and in every way which enables them to repel this enemy and kill them to the extent that they can.” He adds that “Our lofty and sub­lime Salafi method is known for its fidelity to those who believe and for being devoid of poly­the­ism, athe­ism, and oppres­sion, first and fore­most of which are the descen­dants of apes and pigs, the Jews.”

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November 5, 2015 0

Continued Publication of Anti-Semitic Themed Cartoons in the Arab and Muslim World

As Pales­tin­ian ter­ror­ism across Israel per­sists, Arab and Mus­lim news­pa­pers and social media accounts con­tinue to pro­mote themes in sup­port of the vio­lence, which is often referred to as a “mass out­burst” or the “Knives Intifada.”

In addi­tion to the image of the knives, other themes are also being fea­tured. Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry’s recent efforts to end the vio­lence are depicted as Israel and Jews con­trol­ling the US and its lead­er­ship.  Exam­ples of car­toons pub­lished include a fig­ure rep­re­sent­ing the US trapped inside the Star of David, Uncle Sam being in the pocket of Israel and Sec­re­tary Kerry wip­ing the blood from the teeth of a wolf – which rep­re­sents Israel.

Another ever-present alle­ga­tion is the charge that Israel is attempt­ing to alter the status-quo on the Tem­ple Mount/Noble Sanc­tu­ary in Jerusalem.  These images show Israel as a sin­is­ter snake attack­ing the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Below are exam­ples of the car­toons published:

 

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