The director of the Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel thinks that both Israel and the Palestinian Arabs are at fault for the lack of peace between them.
Speaking after Sunday morning services before a group of 75 congregants in the Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church last October, Rabbi Ron Kronish went out of his way to mention the late Rabbi Meir Kahane as an example of extremism of Jews. Kahane’s party, Kach (“this way”) was banned by Israel in 1988 due to his incendiary views of separation between Jews and Arabs, before he was assassinated by an al-Qaeda terrorist in New York in 1990.
Kronish also gave the distinctly wrong impression that many Jews were engaged in the “price tag” movement, which targeted churches and mosques for defacement inside Israel. If this indeed were such a prominent facet, it would have been made by Israel’s enemies as part of any dialogue or excuse for retaliatory actions or terrorism.
Most troubling, Kronish spoke for 30 minutes, and did not mention Islam, Hamas, or the Muslim Brotherhood once.
The very first question during the questions and answers stage was from a man who asked who Hamas was. The rabbi’s response was that while they have been violent toward Israel, they had separate military wing and political wing. Even Hamas says that this is a false distinction, which only Europe, the U.N. and the media has made.
The rabbi failed to explain that Hamas is in essence the local branch of the extremist Muslim Brotherhood, and supported by Iran, Qatar and Turkey, or mention its genocidal charter against Jews, not merely Israelis.
I stood up and commented that:
- Despite the Arabs continuous rejections, Israel has still repeatedly offered to make painful concessions for peace.
- Christians inside Israel are doing much better than elsewhere in the Middle East, which he distinctly failed to mention to a group of Christians.
- The Palestinian Authority’s president, Mahmoud Abbas, has said Israel is engaged in a genocide, most recently in the war in Gaza last summer, and apartheid, and that he will only accept a state free of Jews.
The rabbi shrugged off Abbas’s statement as “kind of silly, he could not really mean it,” and said that politicians make different statements all the time.
The rabbi said he knows lots of lovely imams and clergy. Peace, love, understanding, kumbaya is all beautiful, a goal we might all want, but is fantasy with the genocidal, radicalized Muslims that are incited to do serious harm, based on sharia, the Koran and jihad, to Israel and Jews.
It is abundantly clear that Christians want answers and basic education about the Middle East, and not whitewashed, sugar-coated, varnished, politicized views that are devoid of facts, context and in general, the truth.
In that vein, I propose that in talking to Christian groups about the potentially incendiary Middle East, that the following facts be included:
- The Jews are not colonialists: The Jewish People’s connection to the Land of Israel is more than 3500 years old; Jerusalem has always been a unified, whole entity, with Jews inexorably returning after foreign invaders kicked them out, and has had a Jewish majority since the mid-19th Century.
- Israel is an open society, a democracy, surrounded by 22 Arab-Muslim dominated states, many of which are autocratic, theocratic dictatorships, and none of which are democratic.
- Israel’s population includes 6.2 million Jews and 1.5 million Arabs, and it is surrounded by 350 million Arabs; the land mass ratio between the Arab world and Israel is 56:1.
- Israel shares Judeo-Christian values with the U.S., and values the sanctity of life. Israel’s healthcare system treats all equally: victim and terrorist, Arab and Jew. Even Hamas leaders have sent their relatives for medical treatment in Israel, which was provided even during the Gaza War, and even in the Golan, near the Syrian border, during Syria’s civil war.
- The IDF has to its own detriment warned both terrorists and civilians in Gaza that it was going to be attacking missile launch sites and weapons sites during the Gaza War. It has refrained from shooting when they knew civilians were present to prevent collateral damage and instead focused on precision strikes.
- As retired Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz has long argued to liberals and progressives, if you are for minority rights, women’s rights, gay rights, top quality health care, education, business opportunities, a robust and free press and a developed, respected judiciary which honors the rule of law, only one country in the Middle East which and abides by these values: Israel.
Only in Israel are Christians protected, their population growing and thriving as opposed to the rest of the Middle East where they are being persecuted, enslaved and murdered by Muslims.
- Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has repeatedly said Israel will recognize a Palestinian Arab state if they will recognize and accept Israel as the nation state of the Jewish People. Unfortunately, the Palestinian Authority has refused; in fact, Palestinian Arabs have rejected a state living side-by-side with Israel in 1937, 1947, 1967, 200, 2008, 2013. No other people on the planet have rejected so often a state that they claim to want.
- Israel is not an apartheid state; it is an egalitarian society, where Arab citizens of Israel have full, equal rights, serve in the Knesset, Supreme Court, Diplomatic corps.
- More than 90% of the Arabs who live in Judea & Samaria (the West Bank) are governed by the PA, not Israel.
- Polling consistently shows that the country most Palestinian Arabs aspire to live in is Israel, and would prefer to live there than in a Palestinian Arab state.
- Israel engages in tremendous humanitarian efforts around the world, frequently as first-responders during natural disasters, medical epidemics.
- We have all set the bar low for Palestinian Arabs, treating them like children: always victims, never credited with being responsible actors. Their goal, as stated in their pronouncements, words, deeds, charters, is to destroy Israel, and in some cases (i.e. Hamas’s charter) the Jewish People.
- The PA is engaged in a vicious multi-pronged war against Israel, including the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement and lawfare, which not only shows no signs of letting up, but has increased, and demonstrates they are not genuine partners for peaceful co-existence and recognition of Israel.
- At its core, this is a religious war: Islam since its inception in the Seventh Century has proclaimed it is triumphant and superior: Jews and Christians can live as dhimmi, second class among them, or will be converted or killed/ Muslims are enjoined not to befriend “infidels,” not trust them. Muslims are permitted to lie in order to engage in the ultimate goal, which is to establish sharia law throughout the world. Islam, in fact, is the most intolerant religion in the world.
- All of Israel has been designated as waqf, an inalienable religious endowment in Islamic law, which has far-reaching political ramifications as it prohibits and precludes any authentic PA peace treaty with Israel. At least three times in recent weeks, Abbas’ adviser on religious and Islamic affairs and the PA’s Supreme Shari’ah Judge have made statements showing that the PA agrees with Hamas’ religious belief, claiming Islamic sanctity over all of the State of Israel.
- The Palestinian Arabs have denied the Jewish connection to the two destroyed Temples, upon the ruins of which the Muslim conquerors built the al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem. This nonsense not only perverts Jewish history, it negates Christianity as well, denying that Jesus ever preached at the Temple in Jerusalem.
- The impediment to peace can be summarized as follows: Non recognition of Israel; delegitimization and demonization; erasing Israel on maps, replaced by a fictitious Arab entity; preaching, from Koranic sources, that Jews are descendants of monkeys and pigs; engaging in medieval blood libels; supporting the glorification of violence and terror, pronouncing that the war on Jews is religious and it is the duty of Muslims to kill, for every time they kill Jews it brings them closer to redemption; murderers are heroes; Hitler is a role model.
- The PA has profoundly poisoned the minds of their children to hate via textbooks, social media, mosques, PA-controlled media, and cultural activities, and PA President Abbas himself; generations have been so brainwashed; hateful beliefs about Jews are ingrained in Palestinian Arab psyche. It is not merely about the political entity of Israel.
- The conflict is not about “the occupation.” It is about intimidating and weakening Jews and the Jewish state within any borders. It is not about the lack of a Palestinian Arab state: In fact there has been one since the 1920s: Jordan, which comprises 78% of the original Palestine Mandate, which was intended to be the homeland of the Jewish state: even today, 70% of Jordan’s population is “Palestinian Arab.”
- Negotiating a “two state solution” will not bring peace to the region. Quite the contrary: A Palestinian Arab state at Israel’s border would be a terrorist state at the heart of Israel.
- Whenever Israel has made concessions, such as the Oslo Accords, or unilaterally withdrawing from Gaza and the “security zone” in Lebanon, it did not bring a respite from violence.
Israel is not a perfect society, but neither is the U.S is. Israel is striving to treat all with respect, but it cannot be held to impossible standards, especially when its very existence is always under attack.