This week my staff and I had the profound honor of taking Or Got of Kibbutz Be’eri to Capitol Hill. Kibbutz Be’eri has been a beautiful oasis of convivial neighbors, family, and friends, mostly left of center, sitting right near the Gaza border. Or is a handsome young man in his mid-30s, but his face is etched with anxiety and pain.
Or is alive because he was visiting a friend in Tel Aviv on October 7. He found out from a Hamas video that his mother was savagely murdered by Hamas terrorists on the day of the atrocities. He was speaking to her by phone at the time of her abduction when he heard Arabic and the cell phone suddenly went dead.
His sister and sister-in-law are not so lucky. Hopefully, they are still alive and are being held hostage somewhere in the mass underground city of tunnels that wraps around Gaza like a deep, suffocating boa constrictor. I marvel at Or’s courage to come here and to recall the nightmarish hell that he and his entire community have had to endure, repeatedly to members of Congress, in the desperate hope that they might be able to do something.
We have all seen the images of babies decapitated, butchered, and burned. Young people in the prime of their lives were slaughtered in the most savage way possible or abducted from a rave concert, along with the elderly and Holocaust survivors. One would think that by now the world would understand what Israel is up against.
We Jews are shaken to the core at the reaction, just days after this sadistic savagery, as we witness thousands of people now demonstrating against Israel’s right to defend itself in Brooklyn, London, Paris, Madrid, Athens, Rome, and throughout our American college campuses. As I write this, a mob is trying to attack Jews landing in an airport in Dagestan, Russia, in a modern-day pogrom.
Why the double standard for Israel and Jews? Why, only in the case of Israel, is it accused of “settler colonialism?” According to Article 51 of the UN Charter, every nation has the essential obligation to defend its citizens from acts of violence.
There is just one word for this exception, when it comes to Israel: antisemitism, whether from the pogrom in Dagestan or from Harvard Yard.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, just days after the atrocities, asked for a premature Israeli ceasefire stating, “The Palestinian people have been subjected to 56 years of occupation”. Regarded in the context of the Gaza withdrawal of 2005, where they are totally independent of Israeli rule, this is a loathsome, one-sided – statement.
Secretary Guterres prefers to swallow these unexamined, old canards, rather than look squarely at the brutalities of earlier this month. He also fails to acknowledge that much of this emanates from the constant and steady diet of antisemitic brainwashing that is ubiquitous throughout all aspects of Palestinian society. This includes from the textbooks of Secretary Gutierres’ own UN agency, UNRWA. Calls by members of Congress to change these textbooks have been going on for years, yet they are routinely ignored.
Now is a time we must acknowledge what most Jews have tried so hard to deny–that much of the world’s response is motivated by pure, unadulterated Jew-hatred.
It is also time we reevaluate the fundamentally flawed premises of the international foreign policy establishment, led by the United States, towards the Middle East.
A paradigm shift is well overdue. Certain premises that have been accepted as commonplace, unexamined axioms must finally be examined.
First and foremost: We have seen through the Gaza withdrawal of 2005 that the “land for peace” formulation simply does not work. We remember with profound sadness how in 2005, approximately 8,000 families were forced to leave their homes in Gaza, evacuating 21 communities. Gaza was supposed to become “the Switzerland of the Middle East”, with Jewish philanthropists donating to the cause “to make Gaza a vibrant economy.” This internally divisive decision the evacuation from Gaza tore apart the very soul of the state of Israel. Men, women, and children were ripped from their homes, some forcibly. People aged 60 and above who had spent their lives in agriculture were asked to develop new skills and find new housing and communities. Jewish billionaires bought the greenhouses so that the nascent Palestinian state would have some sort of economic infrastructure. Many rabbis argued that Israel should leave the synagogues because they would be turned into mosques. As soon as the blue and white flag of Israel was lowered, those synagogues and greenhouses, and every remnant of Jewish life in Gaza were savagely destroyed.
And that constituted the first heralding of the true feelings of the inhabitants of Gaza towards Jews. Elections were held in Gaza in 2006, and Hamas was victorious. In 2007, a coup was held in which members of the Palestinian Authority were thrown off rooftops by members of Hamas, as Fatahnics shouted words such as “I am not a Jew. You are treating me like a Jew,” plunging to their deaths.
This fatally flawed “land for peace” paradigm has been a cornerstone of US-led international policy, ever since the aftermath of the 1967 War. The US and other world leaders have consistently misinterpreted UN Security Council Resolution 242 which states, “Israel must withdraw from territories”. It never said that Israel is obligated to withdraw from all of the territories that it had captured in Israel’s defensive war of 1967, which has been part of a widely promulgated disinformation campaign.
In fact, many people have argued, with moral clarity, that Israel has already fulfilled this obligation, with its withdrawals from all of Sinai, Gaza, and many settlements in Judea and Samaria. Resolution 242 also applies to “every recognized state in the area”. It certainly does not apply to areas that are under the full control of Iranian-backed terrorist entities, such as Hamas in Gaza, or Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Resolution 242 also calls for “secure and recognized boundaries.” What “secure and recognized” implies is that Israel, like any other nation, must have defensible boundaries to protect its civilian population. Israel simply lacks the strategic depth to be able to defend itself from not only state actors, such as Iran, but also its terror proxies in Syria, Lebanon, and the West Bank. This war, waged not by a standing army, but by a brutal group of barbaric terrorists, has proven the impossibility of an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, where it would be 9 miles wide in its narrowest waist. Just one missile from the West Bank to Ben Gurian Airport, just over 5 miles away, would cut off all air traffic, isolating the Jewish state from all air traffic.
The Israelis know this. No Israeli, even well before the war that Hamas inflicted upon Israel, speaks about “land for peace” any more.
Unfortunately, these words have failed to be transported over the Atlantic, and the foreign policy establishment continues to place Israel in an untenable situation, hashing and rehashing the same abysmally failed paradigms, demonstrating either a supreme failure of the imagination or once again, the double standard of antisemitism. No one who is taken seriously, calls on the United States to abandon our occupation to Navahos or Aztecs.
The Palestinian Authority is not the Moderate Alternative to Hamas they Pretend to Be
We all wish that Israel had a rational negotiating partner on the other side of the table. Wishful thinking, however, does not make for good foreign policy.
Unfortunately, Palestinian children, whether they live in Gaza or Ramallah, or throughout the West Bank, have been taught that Jews are evil incarnate, that the state of Israel will be eradicated from the map and will be replaced by Palestine, and a horrific cult of deification of death and martyrdom For years we have been following the highly antisemitic textbooks that the Palestinian children learn from. Palestinian Media Watch documents this constantly.
One recent posting of PMW shows a group of children, that appear to be about 4 years old, holding another child saying, “We are playing martyr”, as they are giggling, saying, “The Martyr is the most beloved of Allah.”
The Taylor Force Act was passed in both the US Congress in the Israeli Knesset, (both in 2018), to prevent the lavish inducements that the Palestinian Authority gives to the families of Palestinian prisoners and martyrs. On October 15, 2023, Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) posted that the P.A. would be paying an additional $2,789,430 to the families of 50 Hamas terrorists. (This sum is likely to go up, as it was posted in the beginning of the war.)
The Palestinian Authority has long been regarded as the non-religiously based, more “rational” secular alternative to Hamas. It has also been routinely acknowledged that the Palestinian Authority sees this as a dispute about land and borders, not about theocracy and that once they have acquired a tangible area of land, there will be two states living side by side in peace and democracy.
On October 18, Mahmoud Al-Habbash, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ Religious Advisor, posted on his Facebook page, “Palestine is not just a cause of land and borders and a political cause. Palestine is a religious cause and a cause of faith.”
The Palestinian National Charter has never been repealed. All 33 Articles, (except the last, which is a procedural Article), talk about the qami (duty), to “liberate” all of Palestine from the hands of the Zionists. In 1996, the Palestinian Legislative Council met to agree to promise to amend the Charter. However, no members of a committee were ever appointed; there was never a committee meeting; and the Charter has never been amended.
Finally: Our Appeasement to Iran is Dead
According to a Wall Street Journal report of October 8, Iran helped to plan the October 7th Hamas surprise attack over several months. Whether or not one can clearly connect the dots between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the events of October 7th, Iran, with Qatar, has been the main funder of Hamas and Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Al Nusra Front, (ISIS in the Levant), among many others.
It is abundantly clear that Iran has long been part of the new axis of evil, along with Russia, China, and North Korea. Over the last two years, the United States has squandered a great deal of expense, energy, and effort, emboldening, enhancing, and enriching Iran, trying to seduce it back to the JCPOA. Throughout this period of attempted negotiations with Iran, the Iranians would not even deign to meet with us, as the nuclear centrifuges kept spinning, enriching at least 121.6 kg, of highly enriched uranium. Recently, US forces in Iraq and Syria have been attacked by Iranian-backed forces, making it apparent as to which side of the divide the Islamic Republic views the United States.
We now know that this is the ultimate contest of good versus evil. We are hopeful that as scenes of what young survivors like Or Got have etched into their memories from October 7 are replaced by those of the war in Gaza, the United States will remain on the side of what is moral, what is good, and what is right.
Sarah N. Stern is the Founder and president of EMET, an unabashedly pro-American and pro-Israel think tank and policy shop in Washington, DC.
It’s Time Together We Take A Stand
How far will we go to stop Iran?
Help us work to ensure that our policymakers and the public receive the EMET- the Truth.