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I was wrong then: The Israelis do not want peace

Bassam Abu Sharif, former senior advisor to the late Yasser Arafat and one of the main initiators of the Oslo peace process, writes that he was wrong about the Israelis wanting peace and the two-state solution

Gosh Emunim was a right wing, messianic movement begun among Orthodox Jewish settlers following the Yom Kipper war of 1973.

The firmly held, unshakable belief, of this group was that God had given the land of Israel to the Jewish people. This land given by the almighty was to encompass all the land of Israel as described in the Torah, the Old Testament. That included all of the West Bank, and Gaza, known by their biblical names of Judea, Samara, and Gaza.

Gaza was mentioned in the Torah as the land of the Philistines, and was the place where Samson was said to have destroyed the heretical Philistine’s temple by a feat of strength. The questionable history of Jewish presence and travails in Gaza, serves to establish in the minds of the orthodox Jews the right of the Jewish people to claim Gaza as a part of Israel.

The Torah’s instructions or teachings, or what is often translated into English as Pentateuch, is the central concept in the religious Judaic tradition. It has a range of meanings: it can most specifically mean the first five books of the twenty four books of the Tanakh; it usually includes rabbinic commentaries, or Torah passages by Rabbi’s.  The Torah  proscribes the way of life for religious Jews. It is the narrative from Genesis to the end of the Tanakh. And it can also mean the totality of Jewish teachings, culture and practice.  Common to all these meanings, the Torah consists of the foundational narrative of the Jewish people: their call into being by God; their trials and tribulations; and their covenant with God. This involves following a way of life embodied in a set of religious obligations and civil laws: the Halakha.

No archeological or historical evidence exists beyond the descriptions in the Torah to establish that ancient Israel was as described. Archeological and historical evidence establishes rather that Israel was little more than a collection of fractious and separate communities, frequently hostile to one another, and never united as a single entity.

The truth, however, is most inconvenient when argued against desire or faith. Gosh Emunim has quietly died out as a movement, but not as pervasive rational for Israel. The messianic right wing movement has folded into the coalition of National Religious Parties of Israel. This collection of Orthodox Jews has made the belief of Eretz Yisrael, the reconstruction of Biblical Israel, a tangible ambition as ordained by God.

This ambition includes usurping by force the lands of the Palestinian people. They are to destroy their homes, displace them, and drive them out of the lands that rightly belong to Eretz Yisrael. The right to do this is obliged by God.

The methods used by Israel in this displacement are of unprecedented, uncivilized, brutality. They are free of restraint to murder, and brutalize the Palestinian people without fear of the laws of man. Only God may judge them.

Armed Jewish settlers supported by the Israeli Army attack Palestinian villages daily. They kill, and beat Palestinians, and destroy their homes and crops. The settlers engage a deliberate racist policy which violates the human rights of the Palestinian population, and their methods are clearly terroristic.

The Palestinians are the true victims of terrorism. The majority of Americans know nothing of the racist, brutal policies of Israel toward the Palestinians. In truth, the American people provide funding for these policies carried out by the state of Israel through billions of dollars in foreign aid.

The political realities of the United States, and the power of the Israeli lobby in that country, insist that Israel is untouchable, whatever its policies, whatever its extremes. Israel is to be free of castigation or rebuke.

 The three young Israeli settlers murdered in the West Bank was a tragedy that the Palestinian people condemned.  But lost in this tragedy are the 112 Palestinians murdered in the past seven months by armed Israeli settlers, and by the Israeli army in the West Bank.

The United States maintains a blatantly prejudicial standard when it condemns Palestinians for violence against Israelis, but ignores outrages perpetrated against them by Israel. Palestinians have a right to defend their homes and family equally as the Israelis do.

For the past several days, Israel has attacked the people of Gaza from the air. There are now over six hundred innocent Palestinian civilians, the majority of which are women and children, murdered by the Israeli bombardments. There is no doubt far worse to come.

The Obama administration has done little or nothing to stop this slaughter of innocents. A brief phone call by the American President to the Israeli Prime Minister, expressing the Presidents discomfort or unease with the mounting toll of murdered children was all that has been undertaken by the administration.  Those children of Gaza are not unlike those innocent immigrant children at the Texas border [with Mexico] for which he expresses such great sympathy. Those children in Texas are safe, and do not tremble in fear for their lives as do the children of Gaza.

In June 1988 I wrote an op-ed for the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal in which I suggested the two state solution. I was wrong back then. The Israeli’s do not want peace; they want our homes, farms, and lands. We the Palestinian people are to be excised, absorbed, or disappeared without trace.  

Bassam Abu Sharif was a senior advisor to the late Yasser Arafat and was one of the main initiators of the Oslo peace process of 1993. He is the Author of “Best of enemies, Arafat and the Dream of Palestine: An Insider's Account” where he describes his central role. He is now a member of the Palestinian Parliament.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye. 

Photo: Smoke rises from the house following the Israeli air missiles during the clashes in Gaza city, Gaza on 17 July, 2014 (AA)

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