Friday, March 22, 2013

Mordechai Kedar:The Ministry of Extraneous Affairs


by Mordechai Kedar

Read the article in Français (translated by Danilette)

I begin with a full disclosure: a few months ago the Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent me to an Asian country to advise its government in understanding a difficult matter regarding the Islamic population of that state, and how to deal with this matter. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs organized the event perfectly, in both the professional and logistical aspects, and the Israeli ambassador of that state personally accompanied me in my meetings with the local professionals. 

These days, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is preparing a promotional film on Israel, and in the leading role is Bar Rafaeli, whose participation in the film arouses a wave of objection, because she did not serve in the military. Some o
fficial sources also objected, especially the IDF itself, because her participation in an official film produced by the state of Israel could be interpreted as sending a message of leniency towards people who have not served in the IDF. These days, when "sharing the burden equally" has become a political mantra on the level of "It is better to die than commit certain sins", the IDF expects the Ministry of Foreign Affairs not to act in a way that whitewashes the evasion of military service in the IDF. But it seems that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs does not think it's a problem.

This case - in my view - is an indication of the way too many people in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs think. The employees of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are public servants, not appointed by the minister, and most are graduates of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' cadet's course. This was supposed to provide the state of Israel with a working staff that is professional and relevant, and executes the decisions of the government professionally and faithfully, and without dispute.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs Reflects an Obsolete Social Model 

In fact, the reality is totally different. The social profile of workers in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is fairly suitable to the model of the "Akhusalim" - coined by the sociologist Prof. Baruch Kimmerling, who described the state of Israel of the 1970s as being governed by an elite group of people who were Ashkenazim (Jews of European descent), secular, members of the old guard, socialist, and nationalist, forming the Hebrew acronym Akhusal. In general, one can say that the political, social, diplomatic and cultural agenda of the staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs resembles that of the Labor party (and perhaps also Meretz) much more than it resembles that of the Likud, despite the fact that since 1977 there have been more than a few governments led by the Likud. The proportion of religious, ultra-Orthodox, and Arabs who are staff members of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is significantly lower than their proportional representation in the population of the state of Israel.

As a result of this, Avigdor Leiberman, a minister from the Right, found it difficult to impose  his political agenda on his subordinates because of the simple reason that he could not appoint staff that suited him. The political echelon (the prime minister and minister of foreign affairs) can appoint no more than eleven people in the ministry, from the level of ambassador to the person who serves tea, and a minister who cannot place his people in key positions will find it difficult to control what is done in the ministry. My sense is that Leiberman was "persona non grata" in the eyes of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs staff.

MFA Not Faithful to the Policies of the Government and Prime Minister

The political agenda of the staff in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has created an absurd situation, in which the ministry that is the spokesman for the policies of the prime minister and is responsible for  hasbara (dissemination of public relations information), is entrusted with explaining government positions, despite the prime minister being far from being of "one mind" with the officials in the ministry of foreign affairs. This disparity became obvious in the early 2000s, when the prime minister was Ariel Sharon and the minister of foreign affairs was Shimon Peres. With the passing of years, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has adopted political language that does not reflect the policy of Israel by using expressions such as "the occupied territories" (occupied from whom?), "settlements" (instead of communities), "Palestinian people" (even Azmi Bishara* doesn't think that there is such a people) and "solution of two states for two peoples". The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has abandoned the opinion of Prof. Yehuda Blum, who was the legal advisor of the ministry and the Israeli representative in the UN, in which he proved that according to international law, the "territories" are not occupied, not to mention the documents that grant the Jewish people rights and sovereignty over all of the Land of Israel, such as the decision of the San Remo Conference in 1920.

During the past ten years I have personally come across this way of thinking among more than a few staff members of the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is evident also in the way that the ministry functions. At the end of the year 2000, when the Palestinian terrorists resumed blowing up our buses and their passengers, I wrote a short article  in English about the world of the martyr, and the type of reward that he expects in Paradise after he carries out his mission successfully. I sent the article to a senior official who was then responsible for hasbara, assuming that he would send the article to Israeli  representatives abroad, so that they could send it to local newspapers all over the world. After two days I called to determine the fate of the article, and the official told me: "We decided not to make any use of the article". I asked "Why?". And the official answered me: "It's not nice to get involved with other peoples' faiths, and it's not our business to get into the fantasies of other cultures." I thundered: "My friend, we are being killed in buses because of the fantasies of another culture!!!" "Nevertheless, he answered, "this is our final decision". Two years passed and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs began to publish horrible photographs from terror attacks, but only on the Internet. The faithful official has been promoted, and today he fills a senior position in the ministry.

In another matter regarding the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs in which I was involved, concerning Israeli policy in the Palestinian matter, I was a witness to officials saying something like: "We must direct the government to adopt the policy that we think is correct." In this case, "the correct policy" was the establishment of a Palestinian state with territorial contiguity based on the 1948 borders with slight border adjustments. The significance of this was that officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, public servants, see themselves as policy designers rather than workers who carry out the policies of the prime minister and minister of foreign affairs, who were elected by the public. Those of my readers who are familiar with the British series "Yes, Minister" and its sequel "Yes, Prime Minister", know exactly what I mean: public service has an agenda, and the role of the senior officials is to lead the minister, who is elected by the public, in the direction that the officials think is right. The minister is fed the information that the officials supply him with, so he thinks that he is making the decisions independently.

The MFA is Inept in the Matter of 

A third matter regarding the agenda of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs pertains to the subject of hasbara. The very fact that the previous government of Israel decided to establish a separate office  to deal with hasbara (and the diaspora) proves that there is a problem in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Even if this decision was made because of the need to find a job for an important person, the establishment of the ministry of hasbara indicates a certain lack of confidence on the prime minister's part in the officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who should be responsible for hasbara. It may be that they even quietly supported the establishment of this ministry, because they did not demonstrate against it or go on strike because of it, and my impression is that they are not comfortable with explaining the government policy anyway, because it is not consistent with their views. This might also explain the fact that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is not making any effort to establish an Israeli satellite television channel, either in English or Arabic.

The Agranat report on the performance of the government during the Second Lebanon  War (2006) also dealt with the failures in
hasbara, which was then the responsibility of Foreign Minister Tsipi Livni. The conclusion drawn in the report was that an office of spokesperson and hasbara should be established. And that this office should be included in the office of the prime minister, and would function as a headquarters of national hasbara and  be responsible for all other agencies  of hasbara and spokesmen, such as those that operate in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, IDF and the Ministry of Internal Security.  The fact that this body had to be established proves that there are problems within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and principally that it has its own separate agenda, which is evident when the officials attempt to speak in the name of the government and prime minister and explain their actions, while holding views that are at odds with those of the government.

Improved Communications Tools Erode the Influence of the MFA

But the issue of a separate agenda is not the only problem that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has. Another problem relates to the general decline in the importance of the Foreign Ministry in an era when heads of state talk with each other daily on cellular telephones and coordinate matters of policy without involving the ambassadors; in an era when participation between states in many varied areas (economic, financial, cultural, artistic, academic, military, security and more) are routinely carried out without the involvement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; in an era when every citizen who publicizes and/or distributes an article, clip or photograph on the Internet becomes a national spokesman; in an era when the media go over the heads of the officials of the bureaucracy and bring the words of the government and prime minister to every living room the world over and in an age when the ambassador of a country is at most an official who is in charge of carrying out what others ask him to do. How many Israelis know the names of the Israeli ambassadors in Paris, London or Moscow?

In the newly formed government, there is a minister responsible for foreign policy, and another minister who is responsible for relations with the U.S. 

The conclusion to be drawn from all of the above is that because of the external changes as well as the way the Israeli
Ministry of Foreign Affairs functions, this ministry has become an office of minor importance and little influence on what happens inside Israel as well as between Israel and other countries. To me, the ministries of health, transportation, infrastructures and the interior are more important, influential and meaningful to both present and future matters of the state in Israel than the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and perhaps the time has come to say openly that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has become nothing more than the coordinator of government activities in foreign countries. Even now, Israeli representatives serve as a base for professional activities of branches of other ministries - interior, security and the IDF, industry, commerce and tourism, police - while the diplomatic function of an ambassador has been considerably limited.

Retooling the MFA Staff for More Meaningful and Effective Work

Instead of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs leading government policy, the government should take the Ministry of Foreign Affairs out of the circles of true and important decision-making. A ministry whose intellectual approach is mired in the political agenda of a minority, becomes less and less relevant when the dreamers from the school of Shimon Peres and the "New Middle East" get slapped in the face by the reality of the Middle East. I hereby propose to examine the budget of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the slots for staff, and to direct them into more important, effective and relevant channels for the Israeli people after the era of the rule of the "Akhusalim".

*Translator's note: Azmi Bishara is an Arab former member of Knesset who fled Israel after being suspected of transferring information to the enemy during wartime


Dr. Kedar is available for lectures

Dr. Mordechai Kedar
( is an Israeli scholar of Arabic and Islam, a lecturer at Bar-Ilan University and the director of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam (under formation), Bar Ilan University, Israel. He specializes in Islamic ideology and movements, the political discourse of Arab countries, the Arabic mass media, and the Syrian domestic arena.

Translated from Hebrew by Sally Zahav with permission from the author.

Additional articles by Dr. Kedar

Source: The article is published in the framework of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam (under formation), Bar Ilan University, Israel. Also published in Makor Rishon, a Hebrew weekly newspaper.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the author.

The 'Islamic Bloc': Inculcating Hamas Ideology In Gaza Schools

by L. Barkan


On March 17-19, 2013, an international conference on "Youth and the Palestinian Cause in Light of the Arab Spring" was held in Gaza, sponsored by Hamas Prime Minister Isma'il Haniya. The conference was organized by the "Islamic Bloc," which started out as Hamas's student organization, active at Gaza colleges and universities, but which over the years has extended its activity to schools, from the high school level down through the elementary school level. The Islamic Bloc also has a presence in the West Bank, but on a much smaller scale, and only among college students.

The Islamic Bloc coordinates and cooperates with Hamas and its administration in the Gaza Strip, and offers a variety of educational, cultural, social and sports activities for young people. Through these activities, its activists inculcate Hamas's ideology and also give participants physical and weapons training to prepare them for resistance actions. The organization has an active website, and its various branches have Facebook pages that report on their activities in different parts of the Strip and in different educational facilities, attesting to their widespread presence in educational institutions throughout Gaza.

This document reviews the Islamic Bloc's activities in the Gaza Strip, sponsored by the Hamas government, and its more limited activities in the West Bank, as well as its activity vis-à-vis Arab, Islamic and Western elements.

Hamas Officials: The Islamic Bloc – An Inseparable Part Of Hamas's Strategy

The Islamic Bloc website clarifies its relationship with Hamas: "The Islamic Bloc is a Palestinian student organization that adopts the total Islamic perspective on education, unions, society, culture and sports. It is an ideological extension of the Islamic movement in Palestine [i.e. Hamas], and endorses this movement's views in all domains of life: politics, society, culture, economics, etc. It has an independent organizational framework, because Hamas is a political jihadi organization... whereas [the Islamic Bloc] is a union..."[1]

Main page of the Islamic Bloc website: "With knowledge we build, and with morality we ascend"

Members of Hamas and the 'Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades have been active in the Islamic Bloc since the 1980s, including Hamas Prime Minister Isma'il Haniya and Al-Qassam founding member Yahya 'Ayyash.

Hamas officials have praised the Islamic Bloc's activity in schools and confirmed its affiliation with the movement. At a ceremony held by Haniya on March 4, 2013 celebrating the Islamic Bloc's activity in the Gaza Strip, he praised its efforts in all fields and its substantial role in working with Palestinian youths in schools, universities and colleges, stressing that the Hamas government spares no effort in supporting education and students "in order to shape an intelligent, original, and outstanding generation that can elevate the homeland and liberate Palestine from the defilement of the occupation."[2]

Islamic Bloc representatives present Haniya with a map of Palestine during the ceremony

During a visit by an Islamic Bloc delegation to the home of Hamas official Mahmoud Al-Zahhar, the latter praised the Bloc for its major role in spreading da'wa and assisting students, and stated that it was an inseparable part of Hamas's strategic plan.[4]

Islamic Bloc delegation with Mahmoud Al-Zahhar (second from right)

The political support of Hamas is also expressed in an ad (see below) that appeared on the Facebook page of the Islamic Bloc chapter in the eastern Gaza Strip, which called for voting for Haniya in presidential elections and for Hamas in legislative council elections.[6]

"Isma'il Haniya President Of Palestine"; "Together We Shall Support The Hamas List In The Presidential And PLC elections" 

The Islamic Bloc offers activities for women and girls, and devotes a website and Facebook page to these activities. In December 2012, the women's branch of the Islamic Bloc was visited by Amal Al-Burini, the wife of Hamas political bureau head Khaled Mash'al, who arrived with her husband for an historic visit in Gaza.[7]

Amal Al-Burini visits the women's branch of the Islamic Bloc

Islamic Bloc: Indoctrination To Jihad And Armed Struggle

The Islamic Bloc also supports the armed struggle of Hamas's militant wing, the 'Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades. This is reflected, for example, in an article on the Islamic Bloc's website devoted to Sheikh 'Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam, after whom the brigades are named, which states: "Decades after the mujahid Sheikh 'Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam sacrificed his life on the blessed soil of Palestine, we find that the correct proposal regarding the [Palestinian] cause is the one proposed and carried out by 'Izz Al-Din: [namely the idea of] Islam and armed struggle... [Today] we see that the 'Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades are the ones bearing the burden of the conflict, and that 'Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam's way is the way chosen by the sons of Palestine: [namely the way of] Islam, revolution, and armed struggle – while many [others] have fallen into the quagmire of coexistence with the Jews."[8]

An image on the Facebook page of the Islamic Bloc in the eastern Gaza Strip, captioned "The 'Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades," depicts an Islamic conquest of the Al-Aqsa mosque in a military action. Above the caption is the Al-Qassam Brigades' symbol.[9]

Yazid Baker, the Islamic Bloc's middle-school supervisor in the western Gaza Strip, said that the organization seeks to plant the spirit of jihad and perseverance in the souls of pupils, so that they become the generation that will liberate the prisoners and all the holy lands and places.[10]

Following Israel's November 2012 Operation Pillar of Defense, the Islamic Bloc held celebrations in high schools and middle schools in the southern Gaza Strip, under the heading: "The Occupier Was Defeated And The Resistance Was Victorious," as shown in the following photo:

From the Facebook page of the Islamic Bloc in the southern Gaza Strip. The middle sign reads: "The Occupier Was Defeated And The Resistance Was Victorious," and features the symbols of Hamas and of the Al-Qassam Brigades

In March 2012, the Islamic Bloc held activities in Gaza schools marking the anniversary of the death of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. Ahead of these activities, Muhammad Aslim, an Islamic Bloc activist in the eastern Gaza Strip, said that Hamas officials would use the occasion to speak of Yassin's efforts "to revive the Islamic ummah and educate the youth in the way of Islam – [a way that] has enabled [the Palestinians] to level the playing field in their struggle with the Zionist occupation."[12] After the activities ended, the Islamic Bloc high school supervisor in the western Gaza Strip, Sa'id Al-Laqta, said that speakers at the ceremonies had expanded on Yassin's role in establishing "jihadist groups to fight the occupation," and that the organization had distributed flyers describing Yassin's life, "which was full of giving, jihad, calls to Allah, and support for the Palestinian cause."[13]

Firearms Training In Middle Schools

As part of its activities in the spirit of Hamas in Gaza schools, the Islamic Bloc holds a sports competition in middle schools called "The Strongest," which includes training and competitions in four fields: shooting, sports commentary, arm wrestling, and cycling. The Facebook page for the Islamic Bloc in the western Gaza Strip stated on February 23, 2013 that the initial tryouts for the competition had been attended by more than 3,000 pupils from various schools, and that further tryouts would be held among the regional winners. The posting was accompanied by photos showing pupils learning how to fire rifles.

The Islamic Bloc in the eastern Gaza Strip clarified on its Facebook page that training with hunting rifles (see pictures below) would be the default option until the opening of the first military school in the Gaza Strip next year.[14]

"Welcome, students participating in the tryouts for the sports creativity project – Shooting event."

A teacher participating in firearms training

Target practice[17]

In addition to the activities it organizes, the Islamic Bloc also supports the Futuwwa[18] program: a military training program held by the Hamas authorities in Gaza Strip high schools that started in the current academic year.[19] This support is reflected by visits held by Bloc representatives to special Futuwwa camps last January. During one visit, the coordinator of the Islamic Bloc in the Rafah district, Ibrahim Abu Al-Nour, said that "the purpose of the Futuwwa camps is to inculcate the values of power and honor in the souls of students, in preparation for removing the usurping occupation from the land of Palestine."[20]
Furthermore, in an Islamic Bloc ceremony at the Jaffa school in the Gaza Strip, various Futuwwa activities were displayed, as shown the following photos posted on the Facebook page of the Islamic Bloc in the eastern Gaza Strip:[21]

Photos from a
Futuwwa demonstration at an Islamic Bloc ceremony at the Jaffa school

Activity In The Arab, Islamic And International Arenas

Alongside activity among Palestinian youth, the Islamic Bloc also acts in the wider Arab and Islamic arena, and even in among Western elements. It receives delegations to the Gaza Strip, sends delegates to conferences outside the Palestinian territories, and meets with Islamic leaders.

Thus, for example, Islamic Bloc representatives recently met with delegations from Egypt,[22] Mauritania, Kuwait,[23] and Yemen[24] that visited the Gaza Strip, and also with an interfaith delegation from Norway.

In late December 2012, the Islamic Bloc attended two events outside the Palestinian territories. One was the first conference of the Muslim Brotherhood Youth in Syria, which took place in Istanbul with the participation of some 350 youths. It was also attended by Syrian Muslim Brotherhood officials, alongside representatives of various organizations and officials from several Islamic countries, including Hamas MP Mushir Al-Masri, members of the Tunisian ruling Al-Nahda Party, and representatives of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood student organization. [25] According to a report on the Islamic Bloc's website and the Hamas paper Al-Risala, the Islamic Bloc was represented by Mahmoud Al-Shawish, the middle school supervisor in the Gaza Strip. The report stated further that "the Islamic Bloc makes an effort to attend many external conferences, in order to exchange information and elevate the level of various youth and student activities, and in order to offer its experience... to the Arab and Islamic world."[26]

The second event was the "Arab Youth Conference For Liberation And Dignity" in Tunisia, organized by the Palestinian Youth Movement to bring together all the pro-Palestinian efforts of Arab youths in Arab and European countries. The conference was attended by all Palestinian factions and included over 90 Arab youths from Arab and European countries. The Islamic Bloc's representative, Wisam Al-Qutati, said that participants discussed activity among youth in various countries in order to imbue them with the spirit of the complete liberation of Palestine, the protection of Palestine's historic and Islamic identity, and assistance to the Palestinian refugees abroad. In addition to attending the conference, Al-Qutati visited the leader of the Al-Nahda Party, Rashid Al-Ghannushi, and the Tunisian presidential palace, where he met with the head of the president's office.[27]

In February 2012, Islamic Bloc head Hani Muqbil, along with other officials from student organizations in the Gaza Strip, attended meetings in Tunisia meant to establish the student bloc of the Al-Nahda Party in the country.[28]

In addition, the Islamic Bloc in Gaza recently hosted a multi-religious delegation for interfaith dialogue from Norway. Bloc officials stressed the tolerance of Islam and the respect it pays to all monotheistic religions, and explained that the hostility towards the Jews resulted from the usurpation of the Arab and Palestinian lands and holy sites, and that the Jews had enjoyed their rights only under the rule of the Islamic state. An unnamed delegate member described as "the coordinator of Muslim imams in Norway" thanked the Islamic Bloc for its activity and efforts to serve students and society, and stressed the need for steady contact in order to create a society characterized by love, affection, and stability.[29]

The Norwegian delegation[30]

Today, the Islamic Bloc has moved beyond sending delegates to external conferences, and apparently aspires to become a key organizer of Arab and Islamic youth activity promoting the Palestinian cause. As part of these efforts, on March 17-19, 2013 it held its first international conference, titled "Youth and the Palestinian Cause in Light of the Arab Spring." The conference was sponsored by Hamas Prime Minister Isma'il Haniya, and was attended by prominent Egyptian cleric Safwat Hegazi, by representatives of 30 student and youth organizations from Arab and Islamic countries, by Arab and Muslim officials, and by hundreds of students and youths from the Gaza Strip.[31] The head of the conference's preparatory committee, Nidal 'Id, said on January 29, 2013, the day the conference was announced, that it would mark the anniversary of the deaths of Ahmed Yassin and 'Abd Al-'Aziz Al-Rantisi, and celebrate Hamas' victory in the 2006 elections and in the two recent wars in Gaza, and the successful prisoner exchange.[32]

The Facebook page opened for the conference posted a list of its goals, which included strengthening the spirit of affiliation with Islam and the ummah; deepening the spirit of jihad as a tool to liberate occupied land; laying down foundations for successful political dialogue combining tradition and modernity; examining the shari'a perspective on dealing with the occupier; and sowing the spirit of erudition in the hearts of the youth.[33]

The first international conference of the Islamic Bloc in Gaza.[34]

Islamic Bloc head Hani Muqbil said at the conference that the organization had spared no effort in preparing it, with the aim of mobilizing the Arab youth for the sake of the Palestinian cause, and praised the Palestinian government [in Gaza] for sponsoring the conference and for bringing stability and freedoms to Gaza. He added that since its establishment, the Islamic Bloc had always supported the causes of resistance and jihad, which are the most prominent principles to which the Palestinian people and youth adhere. He stated further that the spirit of resistance is embodied by the young people, who managed to shell Tel Aviv by developing the [Palestinian] weapons and force, thereby undermining the Zionist entity and harming its defeated army. Palestine will soon be liberated by these Muslim Palestinian youths, he said, who believe in their religion and their just cause, and in restoring their rights that have been usurped by the occupier.

Egyptian cleric Safwat Hegazi said that the Arab peoples had no choice but to "either pray at the Al-Aqsa mosque or else die at its threshold," stressing that there would be no peace and no surrender until Palestine was liberated from the river to the sea. He added that the Arab revolutions meant that the words of Allah's Messenger (i.e. the Prophet Muhammad) would soon come to pass: a just Islamic Caliphate would be established with Jerusalem as its capital, and a decisive battle would be fought against the Jews that would send them scurrying to seek shelter behind Gharqad trees.[35] Hegazi urged the Palestinian people and Haniya not to lay down their guns until all the Palestinian lands are liberated and the Israeli occupation ends.[36]

According to the conference's Facebook page, the participating delegations also visited the homes of Mahmoud Al-Zahhar, of the martyr Ahmad Yassin, and of the late Hamas MP Umm Nidal Farahat (known as the "Khansa of Palestine"),[37] who was the mother of three sons killed in operations against Israel. 

The closing statement of the conference lists its conclusions and recommendations, including the following: "The [Palestinians'] rights, chiefly the rights of the refugees and the right of return, cannot be achieved through peaceful resistance alone. [Peaceful resistance] must be complemented by armed resistance..."; "Content related to the Palestinian cause must be reintroduced into the curricula of schools and universities, so as to re-involve the Arab and Islamic public [in this issue]"; "The Palestinian cause must be promoted through political and media efforts, and through jihad... No stone must be left unturned in bringing Palestine back into the fold of the Arab nation..."; "The Zionist occupier is an enemy and a foreign body, and the Muslims must unite their efforts to uproot and remove it, [efforts] which have focused on jihadi and educational action..."[38]

The "Youth and the Palestinian Cause in Light of the Arab Spring" conference

* L. Barkan is a research fellow at MEMRI.  

[2], March 4, 2013.
[3], March 4, 2013.
[4], January 22, 2013.
[5], January 22, 2013.
[6], February 21, 2013.
[8], December 18, 2012.
[9], February 19, 2013.
[10], February 22, 2013.
[11], November 28, 2012.
[12], March 20, 2012.
[13], March 30, 2012.
[14], February 21, 2013. The Hamas government recently announced its intention to establish the Gaza Strip's first military school, to be named after the assassinated commander of the Al-Qassam Brigades, Ahmed Al-Ja'bari.
[15], February 20, 2013.
[16], February 20, 2013.
[17], February 22, 20, 2013.
[18]  Futuwwa – an Islamic term meaning heroism or chivalry, which encompasses the sum of a man's virtues: courage, equanimity kindness, etc.
[19] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 5054, New Program In Gaza Schools Teaches Military Skills, Cultivates 'Resistance Spirit', November 16, 2012.
[20], January 23, 2013.
[21]!/alkotla.gaza.east, February 15-16, 2013.
[22], January 6, 2013.
[23], December 10, 2012.
[24], December 2, 2012.
[25], December 28, 2012.
[26],, January 8, 2013.
[27], January 5, 2013.
[28], February 22, 2012.
[29], February 5, 2013.
[30], February 5, 2013.
[31], March 18, 2013.
[32], January 29, 2013.
[33], March 6, 2013.
[35] According to a Muslim hadith, on Judgment Day the Muslims will defeat the Jews, and the latter will seek shelter behind a certain kind of thorny tree called the Gharqad tree. 
[36], March 18, 2013.
[37] Al-Khansa bint 'Amr was a poet in pre-Islamic times who converted to Islam during the time of the Prophet Muhammad. She is considered the "Mother of Martyrs" since, after her four children died in one of the battles of early Islam, she did not mourn them but rather thanked Allah for "honoring her with their deaths."
[39], March 18, 2013.

L. Barkan


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

How Many Israelis Must Die for Peace?

by Daniel Greenfield


“War is peace,” entered our cultural vocabulary some sixty-four years ago. Around the same time that Orwell’s masterpiece was being printed up, an armistice was being negotiated between Israel and the Arab invading armies. That armistice began the long peaceful war or the warring peace.

The entire charade did not properly enter the realm of the Orwellian until the peace process began. The peace process between Israel and the terrorist militias funded by the countries of those invading armies has gone on for longer than most actual wars. It has also taken more lives than most actual wars.

War has an endpoint. Peace does not. A peace in which you are constantly at war can go on forever because while the enthusiasts of war eventually exhaust their patriotism, the enthusiasts of peace never give up on their peacemaking.

Warmongers may stop after a few thousand dead, but Peacemongers will pirouette over a million corpses.

Two decades after the peace process has failed in every way imaginable. Two decades after cemeteries on both sides are full of the casualties of peace. Two decades which have created two abortive Palestinian states at war with one another and with Israel.
Two decades later, it’s still time for peace.

Peace time means that it’s time to ring up some more Israeli concessions in the hopes of getting the terrorists back to the negotiating table for another photo op in the glorious album of peacemakers. And if the photos are properly posed, perhaps there will even be another Nobel Peace Prize in it for all the participants.

Every so often I am asked about a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian-Arab-Muslim conflict and the interrogators are baffled when I tell them that there is no solution. As society has become more progressive, it has become progressively more difficult to explain even to intelligent people that the world simply does not work that way.

For two Cold War generations it was nearly impossible to communicate that there really would be no peace with the Soviet Union other than the cold kind maintained by a mutual balance of power. Their children and grand-children appear equally unequipped to understand that most serious wars end with either one side definitively losing and fundamentally changing or both sides maintaining a cold peace that will last only as long as neither side believes that it can squash the other with a surprise attack.

Israel did have peace until it began peace negotiations. It wasn’t a perfect peace, but aside from the minor problems of the Intifada, a comparative pinprick set against the violence that began after that infamous Rose Garden handshake, it was a good time whose like was then not seen again until Israel stopped playing peace process with the terrorists and learned to keep them away instead.

But the relative absence of violence, according to the amateur peacemakers, isn’t peace. A wartime peace isn’t what they want. What they want is a peacetime war. Let there be handshakes and suicide bombings. Let there be bloody bodies scraped off the sidewalk, but let there also be children’s choirs singing about peace. Let a thousand tombstones rise, so long as everyone can believe that peace is at hand.

This vulgar worship of peace as a religion, a creed that restores the faith of faithless men and women in humanity is a combination of empty sentimentality and calculated ignorance.

We must have peace in our time, the peacemakers say. And Israel must provide it. More territorial concessions must be put on the table. More goodwill must be shown so that the peacemakers can have their faith in the goodness of every man, woman, child and suicide bomber restored once again.

Who will Israel make peace with? President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, who hasn’t run for office since Hamas won the elections, doesn’t want to negotiate. Hamas only wants to negotiate a short-term pause in its campaign to destroy Israel. When he isn’t warring with Hamas, Abbas is declaring that he shares the same view on terrorism as Hamas.

But peacemakers only like the big picture. And the big picture is that there must be an answer. Tens of thousands demanded it in London before the war and Chamberlain delivered it to them. Peace arrived in our time, shortly before the Nazi bombers. Thousands more demanded it of every American president who faced a Communist thug across a negotiating table.

But then the Soviet Union collapsed because a persnickety cowboy wouldn’t give up a missile defense program that every Harvard graduate knew could never work. And now, as another Harvard graduate proudly tries to take credit for Israel’s Iron Dome, they still know it can’t work.

Reagan didn’t end the Cold War with treaties; he ended it by doggedly pursuing superior firepower. And that is why in the name of peace, the Harvard grad looking over Iron Dome on his visit to Israel, has shown Russia his peaceful flexibility by abandoning the final stage of missile defense.

Every Harvard grad knows that missile defense doesn’t bring peace. But what could anyone expect from Reagan? The poor dummy went to Eureka College. How could he know that defeating the USSR wouldn’t work?

Obama wants the same thing from Israel that he’s trying to get by selling out Poland on missile defense. Peace. While the only times Israel had any measure of peace is in the aftermath of a war, Harvard grads and the people who listen to them know that peace only comes about at the tail end of a long string of concessions and appeasement.

Peacemakers don’t really take into account how to make peace with killers. Most countries lock up violent murderers when they kill a dozen people for fun. But when they kill a dozen people in order to liberate other killers or lay claim to a piece of land, then they are worth negotiating with. And the only outcome of the negotiations is establishing murder as a negotiating tactic.

Peace leads to war because peacemaking rewards the warmakers. It rewards the obstinate killers who refuse to stop killing. And the more it rewards them, the more they kill.

So here we are with Obama t-shirts on sale to liberal American Jewish tourists in Jerusalem kiosks, a city whose Jewishness the man on the t-shirts will not recognize because it would harm the prospects for peace. And the question on their minds is how are we finally going to make peace happen.

The rational response is that peace isn’t going to happen. The two terrorist groups in their two states were set up for the sole purpose of destroying Israel. They are funded and supported by those countries that were attacking Israeli farmsteads with tanks around the time that Orwell was putting his final touches on “War is Peace, Slavery is Freedom and Ignorance is Strength.”

They are not going to stop trying to destroy Israel because it’s all they know and it’s their only reason for existence. And if that weren’t enough, they have spent generations teaching their children to hate and there is no sign whatsoever of them putting the brakes on the hate machine, which expresses more clearly than anything else that they do not intend to stop fighting now or even twenty years from now.

Not when their educational system is busy training the suicide bomber of tomorrow.
But ignorance is a particular strength of peacemakers. They don’t want reasons why it can’t happen. Nor do they want to hear that the best kind of peace with people whose religion tells them that they will go to heaven if they die while cutting your throat is the heavily armed peace of cold iron and steel.

War is their peace and ignorance is their strength.

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century.


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