As the conversation between Evelyn and Jeff heats up, so do the comments
that we are receiving. The passionate exchange has also spilled over to Facebook.
here to read and to add your thoughts.
We now bring you part III of this dialogue.
Evelyn: Well, the good news is that the battle is over in Gaza and no more
innocent people are dying.
Jeff: I am surprised that you say that. Yes, for now Israel has pulled out
their army. But Hamas still remains in power, they still are launching rockets,
their charter still calls for the destruction of Israel. They surely will
regroup, restock and relaunch their attack on Israeli citizens. You really
feel that the problem is solved and the battle is over? When one people declare
war on another the battle is not over until they are totally defeated or until
they change their attitude.
Evelyn: The Palestinians feel that it is Israel that has declared war on
them by denying them their right to their land. And yes, as long as they feel
oppressed we will be having a problem.
Jeff: We’re going in circles here. They claim the entire land. Not
a piece and not a section of the land, but the entire Israel – which even
you agree is absolutely unacceptable. They do not want to compromise and do
not accept the two-state proposal that you and so many others good intentioned
people may have, which is to split land into two, one Arab and one Israel.
They didn’t accept it in 1948 and they don’t accept it today. So what exactly
are you suggesting?
Evelyn: They will have to compromise if they want peace. Both sides will
have to compromise.
Jeff: And if you discover that they would rather be at war for the entire
land then be at peace in only a section of the land? What would you say then?
Evelyn: I would be very sad.
Jeff. Well, I don’t want to depress you but you should read Libyan leader,
Muammar Qaddafi’s article in
yesterday’s New York Times. He adamantly argues that the Arab world will never
accept a two-state solution; they see the entire land as theirs. “The Palestinians
believe that what is now called Israel forms part of their nation, even were
they to secure the West Bank and Gaza.” Qaddafi suggests that the only solution
is one state where Arabs and Jews live side by side in peace.
I am not addressing his “solution” and many of his other points, which one
can take strong issue with. But you see from his arguments that the Palestinians
claim all of Israel.
Evelyn: Qaddafi I do not trust. Several decades ago he called for all Israeli
Jews to be driven into the sea. Now he’s suddenly calling for peace, with
Arabs and Jews living side by side. So I don’t think that he is good source
Jeff: This is not about Qaddafi. His words just reflect the feelings of much
of the Arab world. Hamas makes the same claim: They will not be satisfied
until they put an end to the “occupation” of the entire Israel.
Evelyn: That is why we need to empower the moderate Palestinians, who understand
and are willing to live peacefully with Israel. And that is precisely my point
in this entire conversation: We know that there are radicals who call for
Israel’s destruction. They will never be satisfied and we should not appease
them. What we need to do is embolden and engage the moderates. I am not blaming
Israel for these radicals per se. But if Israel responds to their provocations
with too much aggression, Israel is feeding into their agenda while weakening
the sober voices calling for peace, and pushing the moderate Arabs and average
person on the street toward radicalism.
Jeff: So we’re back to square one. Remember, the people of Gaza freely elected
Hamas. What you are doing is blaming Israel for creating the terrorists.
Evelyn: I will not say that all terrorists are a result of Israel’s behavior.
But, yes, Israel’s dominance over the Palestinians has contributed to their
bitterness and desperation, and in effect, cultivating a climate where terrorism
Jeff: And thus the terrorists and those that elected them and protect them
cannot be held accountable! This is ludicrous and criminal: It’s like saying
that a murderer is not responsible because he had a dysfunctional childhood.
Why are you bending backwards to justify the cold-blooded murder of innocent
people at the hands of these terrorists? And the next thing you’ll tell me
is that the United States is responsible for the attack on 9/11 because Western
culture offends the Muslims and America supports Israel.
Evelyn: Don’t distort my words. I am not saying that the terrorists are innocent
and should be excused. I am saying that we must be wiser than them and respond
with a sober strategy that will marginalize them, and will engage the moderates
to make peace and not tolerate their criminal behavior.
Jeff: That sound very nice in theory. But in reality, besides for the fact
that Gazans elected the terrorists, Arab aggression against Jews goes back
long before 1967 and 1948, and is not isolated to a “small” band of terrorists.
Which is why I have been insisting that we must go back to the root of the
issue, as we began discussing earlier.
Evelyn: What are you referring to?
Jeff: Long before the Arab world had any grievances about the so-called “occupation”
of their land they attacked and murdered Jews living in the Holy Land. Are
you aware, Evelyn, of the venom being spewed against Jews week after week
in mosques across the Arab world? Do you know that in their weekly sermons
Imam’s incessantly dehumanize and incite their followers against the Jews,
calling them (citing the Koran) “descendants
of apes and pigs?”
While it’s true that Arabs and Jews lived at times side-by-side, and in many
instances Muslim rule was far less brutal for the Jews than Christian persecution,
we also have a consistent history of Arab/Muslim anti-Semitism (anti-Jewish
may be more precise, being that Arabs may also be Semites) – both in and outside
of Israel. Take the 1929 pogrom in Chevron, or the hangings, beheadings and
humiliation of Jews in Iraq, Iran and other countries going back decades and
centuries, beginning with Muhammad turning on the Jews after they rejected
his prophetic claims.
Evelyn: These are all terrible things. But why are you bringing them up now?
How is this relevant to our conversation? Why are the Palestinians responsible
for this history?
Jeff: Are you kidding me?! The climate and attitudes of the Arab/Muslim is
absolutely critical to our discussion. The Palestinians may not be responsible
for their ancestors, but to understand their mentality we must know their
history. And frankly, the virulent anti-Jewish attitudes are not just history;
it dominates the current, prevalent sentiment in Arab-Muslim communities –
being taught in their schools, preached in their mosques, advocated in their
media. And for this they are responsible. Without addressing this Jew-baiting
I cannot see how we can ever get to the root of the conflict. But please allow
me please to finish my point.
Evelyn: Go ahead.
Jeff: Why, may I ask, were close to 1 million Jews persecuted and banished
from Arab/Muslim countries as a result of the establishment of Israel in 1948?
Countries, like Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, imposed serious reprisals against
their Jewish citizens, which numbered in the hundreds of thousands and who
lived their for hundreds if not thousands of years! If their problem was simply
the “occupation” within the borders of Israel, why did all these countries
destroy their beautiful Jewish communities? This only demonstrates yet again
that Arab/Muslim interests were driven by anti-Semitism. And incidentally,
by persecuting the Jews living in Arab lands, they effectively forced them
to emigrate to Israel, which added close to 1 million more Jews to the Israeli
So, while it’s all very convenient to blame Israel for Arab resentment and
rage, the fact is that this anger and prejudice goes back centuries, and continues
to strongly inform and influence the attitudes in the region.
Evelyn: Yes, I agree that it’s important to address in the full picture.
But I was discussing the immediate problem, which is the Palestinian conditions
in Gaza and the West Bank, their growing anger and resentment, and how to
alleviate their suffering and provide them with a state, so as not to further
feed the extremists.
Jeff: The immediate problem is part and parcel of the bigger picture. Evelyn,
you keep harping back to the Palestinian suffering, when much of is a result
of their elected radicals and their overall hatred of Israel. You cannot keep
blaming Israel for protecting its innocent citizens from attack from people
who are driven by hatred. Even if they have some legitimate grievances, there
are ways to peacefully address them. The reason they don’t address them peacefully
is because these grievances are only understood in context of the overall
loathing of Jews. Perhaps if the Palestinians would just accept Israel and
stop calling for its destruction and attacking it, their living conditions
you describe would get better. But that will not happen until their entire
Evelyn: Your words are very depressing. You’re basically saying that no solution
can come until there is no fundamental change in the hostile attitudes, which,
I should add, come from both sides.
Jeff: Perhaps we can find some short-term band-aids to treat some of the
symptoms. But until we don’t address the heart of the matter, we will sadly
be trapped into fighting fires and never getting to its source.
Imagine: On a daily basis Arab/Muslim/Palestinian children are fed a steady
diet of anti-Jewish rhetoric. What impact does leave on them as they grow
older? How much hope do you find it that? What should depress you is the way
their children are being educated.
Evelyn: I don’t know if we can do much about that. We have to make sure not
to further fan the flames. I feel resigned.
Jeff: Hold on there. I am not finished. We still have to address the “Palestinian”
Evelyn: Let’s take a break.
Jeff: Ok, that I can agree with.
Part IV – continued next week.