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Breaking bread with British lords

Weeks ago, I was invited to a dinner hosting a delegation of nine British lords and a dozen European parliamentarians who were visiting Israel. They had come to express solidarity with the Jewish state after last year’s Hamas massacre. They had visited the ravaged communities in the south, as well as families whose relatives were still being held in captivity in Gaza.

A professor and a Knesset member spoke about the dire picture of expectations for the region. Then Lord Peter Mandelson addressed the group. He spoke sincere words of condolence over Israel’s losses. He was clearly moved by the plight of the hostages.

He also offered his prognosis for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, drawing on his own experience. He had held cabinet posts in the British government and was involved in the 1998 agreement between Ireland and the United Kingdom, ending decades of violence and terror.

Not all conflicts are alike

Frowning, he predicted the Israelis and the Palestinians would eventually tire of fighting, as did the British and the Irish. Then he extolled the two-state solution as the only possible fix.

He made light of the masses of pro-Hamas demonstrators, calling them ignorant. He emphasized general pro-Israel sympathies among the British public, but warned that could change if the war was prolonged.

But what is the relevance of his reference to the British-Irish conflict? Religion certainly played a role, but Roman Catholic and Protestant animosity never reached the devilish fanaticism that Israel faces. Neither the British nor the Irish were intent upon each other’s total annihilation. Hamas’ raison d’être as stated in its charter is Israel’s destruction and the death of every Jew worldwide. Neither the British nor the Irish decapitated dozens of babies and elderly as Palestinian terrorists did. Neither did they bake a baby in an oven in front of its mother before murdering her, with millions of pro-Hamas demonstrators from London, New York, Sydney and Ramallah cheering these acts days later. Such people are amoral.

His Lordship overlooked the untiring, violent tribalist revenge that is widespread in the Middle East from generation to generation. The highly regarded principles of muruwah (Arabic for manliness), sharaf (honor) and karama (dignity) that are part of Arab society. He’s oblivious to shaheedism (martyrdom), as the highest aspiration in jihadist (warfaring) culture.

Former Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal left no doubt when he said any truce with Israel would only be a tactic, to enable them to rearm and continue the fight till Israel’s destruction (The New York Times, April 27, 2008). More recently, Hamas official Ghazi Hamad said they would repeat the October 7 massacre a million times until Israel is destroyed (Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation, October 24, 2023).

Even our “peace partner,” the Palestinian Authority, has such aspirations. According to the late Palestinian official Faisal Husseini, a “moderate,” the Oslo Accords were a Trojan Horse to achieve Israel’s destruction in phases (Al Arabi, June 24, 2001). Husseini should know. He was an advisor to the 1991 Madrid Peace Conference and subsequent negotiations with Israel. His goal of Israel’s destruction in stages was repeated by other officials, such as Abbas Zaki, a member of the Fatah party’s central committee (Al Jazeera, September 23, 2011). There’s a reason why the PA regime in Ramallah pays terrorism pensions (even in Gaza) and publishes schoolbooks glorifying terror till today. From generation to generation.

Pounding square pegs into round holes

Israel may in fact be reaching exhaustion, but not in its fight to survive. It is tired of attempts by deluded foreign leaders to force a failed two-state solution down its throat. The Jewish nation accepted and tried it multiple times, even dividing Jerusalem, during its 75-year existence: In 1948, 1993, 2000, 2005, and 2008, all to no avail. Each time it was rejected and followed by Palestinian terror.

Israel has repeatedly made tangible, painful concessions for peace, most recently in 2005 by unilaterally evacuating the Gaza Strip and expelling 10,000 Jewish residents. For this, Israel was paid back with 30,000 Palestinian rocket attacks, i.e. 30,000 attempts at mass murder of Israeli civilians, and the October 7 Hamas massacre. After such war crimes, more Israelis today believe gifting the Palestinians any further land is an invitation to the next war, is suicidal, and illogical. Withdrawing from the Land of Israel will not bring peace. The American and European obsession with the two-state solution reminds one of a frustrated child hammering wooden blocks, trying to force a square peg into a round hole.

A call for murder, genocide

The lord’s dismissal of the masses of pro-Hamas demonstrators as ignorant was facile. Millions of people, primarily adherents of Islam, and their leftist, often socialist and other progressive sympathizers, participated. Many carried Palestinian flags and signs that read “Resistance by all means.” They chanted “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” This was before Israel responded to the massacre.

“Resistance by all means” referred to Hamas’ violence, which included the brutal killing of civilians and the taking of hostages. The protesters were endorsing the cruelest behavior of Hamas.

As for the rhyme “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” this was an open call for genocide, ethnic cleansing. It means ridding the area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea of the Jews and their state. Some news media tried to whitewash this chant of the demonstrators, suggesting it only means establishing freedom for the Palestinians. But we’ve heard these lines for decades.

Yassir Arafat, the late head of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), explained in 1970: “Our basic aim is to liberate the land from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River….We are not concerned with what took place in June 1967 or in eliminating the consequences of the June war. The Palestinian revolution’s basic concern is the uprooting of the Zionist entity from our land and liberating it” (Martin Gilbert, Israel: A History, Black Swan, London, 1999, p. 418). This is not about liberating Gaza and the West Bank to make room for a two-state solution. The Palestinians’ conflict has always been about Israel’s very existence.

Educated hate

The lord may shrug off such slogans as rants of the ignorant, but they’ve sprung up around the world and not just at populist protests. Hateful and antisemitic demonstrations are seething at even the most elite schools of higher education in the world, including Harvard University. Currently, 99 universities in the United States are under federal investigation for allowing antisemitism to fester on campus. The schools have pandered to extremist elements, resulting in Jewish students being targeted and harassed abusively by other pro-Palestinian students and radical professors calling for Israel’s destruction to the extent that they fear identifying openly as Jews. Jewish students report removing their Star of David pendants and religious head coverings.

Harvard University President Claudine Gay delivers opening statement at congressional hearing in Washington, DC, December 5, 2023.

Before a US congressional hearing on the rise of campus antisemitism, the presidents of Harvard and two other schools gave evasive answers to repeated questions, refusing to say that calling for the genocide of Jews would be against school policy. They said it depended on “context.” How hard can it be for the president of Harvard to answer that question? Had the question been about African Americans or about Muslims being threatened, the answer would have been quick and unequivocal.

A December 2023 Harvard CAPS/Harris poll found that a majority of Americans do sympathize with Israel. However, in the typical university-age group, 18- to 24-year-olds, 51 percent said Israel should be “ended and given to Hamas and the Palestinians.” That’s the next generation of political and business leaders in America.

Normalizing massacres of Jews

It’s becoming popular to call for the killing of Jews in public. An extremist imam before a crowd in Montreal. A radical activist before a crowd in London. And others.

On January 13, 2024, one prominent activist, a 25-year-old Palestinian poet and journalist, Mohammed el-Kurd, told a large cheering crowd at an anti-Israel protest in London that “we must normalize massacres as a status quo,” with reference to the October 7 attack. The crowd responded by cheering. Ignorant? No, they want more October 7 massacres.

This will not go away by dismissing masses of genocide-praising antisemites as ignorant.

Israel is grateful for the expressions of sympathy by the lords and many foreign delegations that have come to Israel. The UK, the USA, Germany and other EU countries have been extremely supportive of Israel’s battle against Hamas terrorism. It is clear, however, the day after the war ends, there will be international pressure to renew a failed process for a two-state solution that, in fact, sustains war and terror rather than defeats it. This kind of solution Israel doesn’t need.