By BERNIE BELLAN As if there weren’t more important issues in the world to consider, debating the merits of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism has now become one of those wedge issues by which individuals who have differing views on Israel define themselves.
Saying you’re in favour of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism seems to have become codeword for saying you’re defending Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians.
That something which was ostensibly intended to defuse anti-Semitic sentiments has instead led to often bitter confrontations, especially on university campuses, is not really all that surprising.
When it comes to Israel, using certain terms such as “BDS” (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions), and “apartheid state” became flash points for bitter exchanges between defenders of Israel and her critics. (And, in saying that I refuse to categorize all critics of Israel as “anti-Israel”. There are many Israelis themselves who are critical of Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians. It would be ludicrous to call them “anti-Israel”, as if one cannot be critical of one’s country without being accused of being “anti ….” – insert whatever country you want.)
Frankly, although the recently proposed motion by the University of Manitoba Faculty Association that it should oppose the adoption of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism caused a great deal of consternation within certain groups, it is just one more episode in what will likely be a never-ending debate about Israel that leads individuals to take sides without respecting the merits of the opposing side’s views.
When I was asked by Elaine Goldstine and Adam Levy of the Jewish Federation how I would respond to the proposed motion by UMFA before it was to come to a vote, I responded that I would play it very low-key. Lobby behind the scenes to defuse the situation, I suggested. Maybe it could be headed off without coming to a vote, I said, before more outspoken groups and individuals seized upon what was happening in an attempt to further polarize the issue.
What worried me was that an organization like B’nai Brith Canada would want to use what was happening at the University of Manitoba to inflame passions – which B’nai Brith is very good at doing.
Not only that, I said that if the proposed motion did come to a vote – and did pass, then what you would likely see happen is that some very major supporters of the University of Manitoba would then withdraw financial support for the university in response to what they perceived as anti-Israel behaviour on the part of the university’s faculty association.
That is the last thing one would want to see happen, but that is how these sorts of events often play out.
However, lost in all the controversy over what the UMFA executive was proposing was that the impetus for passing a resolution of the very sort that was being considered was coming in very large part from Jewish academics on Canadian university campuses.
Recently a group of 155 Jewish Canadian academics signed a letter opposing the adoption of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism. In part, the letter stated:
“We know that there is serious and occasionally fractious disagreement on our campuses about antisemitism and its relationship to criticism of the State of Israel. These disputes cannot and will not be resolved by definitional fiat. If the goal of adopting the IHRA definition is to quell further conflict around the legitimate scope of criticism of Israel, it will surely fail. This is already evident at many academic institutions.
“Adopting a seriously flawed framework to confront antisemitism is antithetical to the broader pursuit of justice and tolerance at the core of the mission statement of many universities. Freedom to criticize the policies and practices of any state without exception, including the State of Israel, is central to accountable scholarship, learning and education. We believe it is also central to building a more just academy.”
At this point I am not sure how I weigh in on this debate. I do agree with the sentiment of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, but I can also see the dangers inherent in attempting to define anti-Semitism too specifically. It reminds me very much of an earlier era when American Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, in commenting about “hard core pornography”, wrote that “I know it when I see it”. Maybe we should apply that same loose generalization to antisemitism without trying to define it to a very fine degree.
In the coming months we can expect to see more university campuses across Canada dealing with the same issue as the University of Manitoba Faulty Association. There is a concerted effort by certain groups within academic circles to have the issue brought to the fore. The University of Ottawa Faculty Association has already passed the same kind of resolution as the one that was on the agenda for UMFA (and still may be).
What is truly ironic about the debate that is now taking place is that both sides are using very similar language in arguing either for or against the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism. Here, for instance, is an excerpt from the B’nai Brith press release denouncing the University of Ottawa Faculty’s resolution:
“The IHRA definition, understood and used correctly, is a useful tool for combating antisemitism. The European Commission has just published a handbook on practical uses of the definition, recommending its use in universities ‘to identify and intervene against antisemitism’ and ‘to create safer places for Jewish students, (Ed. note: emphasis mine) as problems can be identified and better solved at an early stage.’“
Now, compare the language used by B’nai Brith with the language used by “Jewish Faculty in Canada Against the Adoption of the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism”: “On campuses where this definition has been adopted it has been used to intimidate and silence (Emphasis mine) the work of unions, student groups, academic departments and faculty associations that are committed to freedom, equality and justice for Palestinians.”
In other words, the IHRA definition, it is argued, can be used as a weapon either to make university campuses safer or less safe, depending on whose side you’re on.
Thus, the IHRA definition has become a symbol of one’s leanings. Saying you’re in favour of its adoption has come to mean you’re pro-Israel, while if you’re against it, you’re anti-Israel. That comes as no surprise at all. One wonders whether all the hard work that went into coming up with a definition of anti-Semitism that was meant to serve as an educational tool might be coming to naught as it is now being used as a litmus test for one’s position on Israel.
Algorhythm — Who Could Ask For Anything More?
By MICHAEL POSNER It was long claimed that technique was neutral. Today, that is no longer a useful distinction. The power and autonomy of technique are so well secured that it…has become the judge of what is moral, the creator of a new morality. Thus, it plays the
role of creator of a new civilization as well. — Jacques Ellul
I no longer believe that technology is simply a matter of means, which men can use well or badly. As an end in itself, it inhibits the pursuit of other ends in the society it controls. — George Grant
The other day, a friend posed the following question: how did the Western, liberal left become so anti-Semitic?
Gary Saul Morson calls this the Dostoevsky problem. In a recent essay in Mosaic Magazine, Morson — a professor of humanities at Northwestern University — notes that the Russian novelist was simultaneously among the most compassionate of men and yet, in his later years, a rabid, dyed-in-the-wool anti-Semite. What makes good people hold horrendous beliefs, Morson asks.
In other words, how is it that so many otherwise humane, caring, well-educated people can embrace such a toxic ideology as anti-Semitism?
Just to be clear, I’m not talking about right-wing anti-Semitism, an ugly and genuine phenomenon on its own. I’m not talking about the carefully veiled discrimination that still exists in corporate boardrooms, private golf courses and yacht clubs, or the more virulent “Jews will not replace us” strain chanted by neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017.
I’m talking about liberals, people who, in normal circumstances, might be reliably expected to denounce cold-blooded terrorism. And indeed, to be fair, some have.
But in the effluent of the October 7 pogrom, in defiance of reason itself, a very large segment of the hard-core left — students, high school teachers, college professors, trade unionists, civil servants, social workers, celebrities — has bizarrely chosen to align itself with Hamas, murderers who incinerate grandmothers, mutilate the dead, smash the heads of infants against walls, burn entire families alive, and play catch with the sliced-off breasts of women they have raped, before shooting them in their vaginas.
Hamas did all of this, as British writer Douglas Murray observed, not with any sense of shame or guilt, but gleefully — jubilantly — dutifully recording the carnage and the horror on their GoPRO cameras.
Even if it were not defending itself against this kind of barbarism, Israel is a country that a liberal left should reflexively support — in fact, celebrate. After all, it’s a beacon of democracy in an authoritarian, theocratic part of the world. It’s a relentless champion of the most cherished liberal values, including free speech. It’s an enlightened defender of women’s and Lgbtq+ rights. And, ex nihilo, it has incubated and developed some of the world’s most transformative consumer and medical technologies.
Compile a checklist of every bleeding heart leftist’s favourite causes and, by any impartial assessment, Israel would get two thumbs up on every one.
And yet, marching hand-in-hand with the baying mobs at pro-Palestinian rallies, the liberal left endorses calls for Israel’s destruction, lionizes terrorists, supports appeals for Jews (not just Israelis) to be gassed, and proclaims that Hitler was right after all — that the deaths of six million Jews in the Holocaust was not nearly enough.
The moral contradiction is so striking that it forces one to ask: how did the left manage to keep its Jew-hatred so well hidden for so long?
In part, it is now obvious, by screening anti-Semitism behind the veil of anti-Zionism. “We’re only criticizing the policies of the state of Israel,” they whined, ad nauseum. Well, at least we can put that lie definitively to rest.
Recently, testifying in Congress, three uber-woke female presidents of once-elite American universities found themselves unable to unequivocally state that calls for Jewish genocide violated campus codes of conduct.
It was an astonishing moment in the American conversation, one that crystallized the moral depths to which the progressive left, and the Marxist ideology that underpins Critical Race Thinking, has led higher education.
Use the N word in any conversation, in any context, and you will be cancelled forthwith, probably in perpetuity. Use the wrong pronoun, misgender someone (even unintentionally), attempt to defend a pro-life position on abortion — all of these micro-aggressions, and many more, are deemed acts of violence, threats to the safety of students, for which the campus thought police must be dispatched. God forbid a university student should feel intellectually unsafe, or be forced to deal with the free exchange of ideas.
But explicit calls for the murder of Jews? That, the three college presidents grimly and repeatedly insisted, depends “on context.”
Nor is the left’s support merely rhetorical. Its kaffiyeh-clad legions have defaced Jewish-owned businesses, ripped down posters of hostages, harassed, intimidated and physically assaulted Jews, issued death threats, and fired bullets at synagogues and Hebrew schools. According to the Anti-Defamation League, anti-Semitic incidents in the two months after October 7th reached the highest level since it began tracking the figure in 1979.
How does this happen? They can’t all be card-carrying anti-Semites, can they?
I’d like to propose three tentative answers. The first is denial, a blanket refusal to accept documented, historical truth.
What is denial? Denial is pretending that terrorists are resistance fighters. Denial is maintaining that Jesus was a Palestinian, not a Jewish rabbi. Denial is contending that there once was a land called Palestine governed by indigenous Arabs; it hasn’t happened in all of human history. Denial is claiming Gaza is still “occupied,” although Israel vacated the territory in 2005, ceding control to the Palestinian Authority. Denial is insisting that the state of Israel is somehow illegitimate, ignoring that it was established in May, 1948 in accordance with the United Nations Partition Plan, and was admitted to the UN with full member status the following year.
In its most egregious form, perhaps, denial is suggesting that Hamas wasn’t in fact the author of October 7th. What really happened, you see, is that the IDF deliberately killed its own citizens, in order to justify invading Gaza and resettling the territory. Sadly, there are people with Ph.Ds, who believe this.
It is this refusal even to hear counter-evidence, Morson suggests in his Mosaic essay, that characterizes the well-educated bigot. “Even the purest of hearts and the most innocent of people can be drawn into committing…a monstrous offence,” he quotes Dostoevsky as saying. And he cites this passage from The Possessed: “And therein lies the real horror: that…one can commit the foulest and most villainous act without being in the least a villain!…That is our whole affliction today!”
After denial, there is ignorance — of a shocking degree. Let us count the ways.
Among those lustily calling for the extermination of Jews, many have only the thinnest grasp of the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict. They get most of what passes for their understanding from 30-second TikTok videos, or from other morons who get their ‘knowledge’ from TikTok.
The things anti-Semites don’t know about the Middle East would fill encyclopaedias, were encyclopaedias still published.
They don’t know that, during the past century, Arab leaders rejected 10 separate peace proposals that would have created an independent Palestinian.
They know that Israel’s 1948 war of independence displaced 700,000 Arab settlers in Israel — the so-called Nakba — but don’t know that an equal number of Jews were evicted from their homes in half a dozen Muslim countries at the same time.
They don’t know that the name ‘Palestine’ has nothing to do with Arabs, who originated in Arabia. They don’t know that the name was given to the region by the Romans, as a deliberate slight to the Jews, who called it Judea and Samaria.
And of course, when pro-Palestinian protestors chant, “from the river to the sea,” fewer than half can actually name the river or the sea referred to.
“Knowledge is no guarantee of good behaviour,” American philosopher Martha Nussbaum has observed. “But ignorance is a virtual guarantee of bad behaviour.” Or, as English satirist Alexander Pope remarked, “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.”
Pope, incidentally, belongs to that now disgraced class of dead, white writers (b.1688-d.1744) whose work used to be taught in what used to be the humanities departments of what used to be institutions of higher learning that used to be dedicated to genuine education.
Today, of course, the primary goal — at least in the humanities and social sciences — is no longer to teach students how to think critically, but to indoctrinate them, and protect them from the grave injuries inflicted by offensive words.
This objective, the New York Times opined recently, is in many ways understandable, “especially for students who find campuses to be uneasy places because they are among the first in their families to attend college. One way to make students feel safe, schools have decided, is to restrict speech that upsets students.”
Put aside for the moment the notion that college and university is precisely where students should be exposed to the cut and thrust of intellectual debate. But wait a minute: wasn’t a previous generation of students also the first in their families to receive a higher education? I’m thinking of battle-scarred Second World War veterans, who on the killing fields of Europe and the Pacific confronted actual aggression and genuine violence.
Not so long ago, one looked to the humanities departments to illuminate the great minds of western civilization, to teach undergraduates how to think critically, and see beyond binary options in the marketplace of ideas. At Montreal’s McGill University, for example, Professor Louis Dudek taught a two-year course called Great Writings of European Literature, which covered everything from Voltaire’s Candide to Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. Today, the humanities are largely an afterthought — enrolments plunged 30 per cent between 2005-2020 — and those who do enlist are lectured by rigid commissars of identity politics.
The left’s ignorance also extends to the historical persecution of Jews. A recent survey found that one in five Americans aged 18 to 30 believe the Holocaust is a myth. Even more maintain that the six million deaths recorded are exaggerated.
You can hardly fault them for their cluelessness. In colleges and universities, the narrative is wall-to-wall Palestinian victimhood, Israeli belligerency.
The mainstream media — the BBC, NPR, CBC, the New York Times, Washington Post, Guardian, The Independent, as well as Reuters and the Associated Press — has become an echo chamber, repeating the same message, along with evocative images and videos: that Israel is a white, racist, colonialist enterprise illegally occupying someone else’s land, and that it is principally interested in killing Arab women and children.
In a recent essay in The Economist, former New York Times Op-ed page editor James Bennett — he was forced to resign in 2020 after publishing a controversial piece by Republican Senator Tom Cotton — charged that the once-liberal Times had become illiberal, shifting from “an inclination to favour one side of the national debate to an impulse to shut debate down altogether.”
Standard practices at both the CBC, the BBC and elsewhere virtually guarantee a skewed picture of the conflict. Their idea of journalistic balance is to interview one Arab/Palestinian spokesperson and one Israeli, although the latter almost invariably is a left-winger who despises his government as much as the Arabs. When IDF representatives or Israeli diplomats are invited on air, they are grilled as if they were on trial at Nuremberg, while Palestinian mouthpieces are given carte blanche to lie, distort and defame, without pushback.
Another common tactic is the deliberate omission of news that vindicates an Israeli talking point, or stigmatizes Arabs. Thus the refusal to label Hamas a terrorist organization. Thus the willingness to uncritically accept any claim of Israeli aggression, while failing to correct the record when the facts exonerate the IDF.
One example: when Israel asserted that Hamas had turned Gaza’s hospitals into military fortresses, the mass media worked strenuously to disparage the evidence. But when the medical chief of Kamal Edwan Hospital admitted that he had served as a lieutenant colonel in Hamas since 2010, and that 16 other doctors, nurses and paramedics on staff were members of the al-Qassam Brigades, the Hamas terror wing, the BBC, CBC and others simply ignored the story.
The polarization that marks the Gaza debate, however — and the anti-Semitic fervour it has unleashed — is a symptom of a much deeper problem: the binary universe we now inhabit.
In 1937, a 21-year-old named Claude Shannon submitted his master’s thesis to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Its deceptively boring title — A Symbolic Analysis of Relay and Switching Circuits — obscured a revolutionary finding: that the simple, binary structure of Boolean algebra, in which variables are either true or false, ones or zeroes, could form the building block of complex computers. These on-off switches were referred to as bits; a package of eight became a byte.
Various scholars have since deemed it the most important academic thesis of the century. Regardless, it’s fair to say that Shannon’s insight forms the bedrock of our hyper-technological world.
In fact, the binarial approach has become a prominent feature of far more than computer programming; it now governs an ever increasing swatch of daily social interaction. Played out largely on line, public debate of the most important policy issues — politics, war, abortion, climate change, immigration — is conducted almost exclusively in binary — i.e., polarized — terms.
It’s either for or against, yes or no, true or false. Good or evil. Safe or unsafe spaces. Pro-life or pro-choice. Pro carbon taxes or against. Pro curbs on migrants or in favour of open borders. Pro Putin/Russia or pro Zelenskyy/Ukraine. Pro Israel or pro Hamas. And philo-Semite or anti-Semite.
On Mega’s Facebook, opposing voices joust and parry, while ‘friends’ signal approval or disapproval with thumbs up Like or Dislike icons, much like Romans voting on the fate of Christians in the Coliseum.
On TikTok — the platform’s very name suggests its binary construct — the propaganda duel on Gaza, climate change and other hot-button issues is conducted by warring videos.
On TV reality shows (America’s Got Talent, Master Chef, Dancing with the Stars, etc.), judges decide whether contestants will go home (i.e., die) or return for another week (i.e., live); literally on The Voice, and metaphorically elsewhere, judges’ chairs either turn for Yes, or do not turn for a No. In one new Fox TV show, Snake Oil, participants win or lose by determining whether a new product invention is real or snake oil. Many video games, a sealed universe occupied by tens of millions of young men and women, force players to make simplistic binary choices about heroes and villains — i.e, about morality itself.
It gets worse. The algorithms that regulate social media platforms — Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, X (formerly Twitter), etc. — are written to provide content that satisfies pre-formed opinion, and thus entrench biases. Watch, if you can stomach him, one podcast of anti-Israel British activist Owen Jones, and the algorithm will soon feed you six more. The same phenomenon, of course, applies to virtually everything else: right-wing commentators, sports highlight reels, pet videos, TV sit-com and film clips, perilous rollercoaster rides, pickle ball tournaments, etc.
The operations of old school media are not appreciably different. The New York Times, James Bennett lamented, is essentially serving partisan audiences versions of reality they already prefer, a relationship that “proves self-reinforcing. As Americans became freer to choose among alternative versions of reality, their polarisation intensified.”
McLuhan was right, after all: the medium is the message. Because, in hierarchical terms, content — and therefore meaning itself — now takes a back seat to the technological imperative, the algorithmic construct, which is designed to stoke and exploit primal emotions like fear and anger. Bland doesn’t sell. Neutrality won’t keep the eyeballs glued.
In Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism, writer Anne Applebaum notes that “polarization has moved from the online world into reality…The result is a hyper-partisanship. There can be no neutrality in a polarized world, because there can be no nonpartisan or apolitical institutions.” Thus are anti-Semites born and nurtured.
Taking stock of the dismal, post-First World War social landscape, the poet Yeats feared that the centre would no longer hold. “The best,” he wrote, “lack all conviction. The worst are full of passionate intensity.” Is that not an apt description of our current malaise?
Today, more a century later, the centre itself has essentially vanished and — flung centrifugally, algorithmically, to the margins — we are left bellowing at each other across the vast abyss.
Hamas savages make no distinction between Israeli Jews, Arabs
By MYRON LOVE I remember many years ago attending a presentation by Simon Wiesenthal, the world’s leading Nazi hunter, during which he made the point that the focus of Holocaust education should not be on the number six million – the number of estimated Jews who were murdered – but rather on the 12 million martyrs – including other targeted groups such as the Roma, people who were gay, the mentally and physically handicapped and the many great many Slavic people who were also murdered. After the Jews, the Slavs were next on the list.
By focusing strictly on Germans killing Jews, he observed, it became too easy to make it out to be only Germans versus Jews – thereby making it easier for Holocaust deniers and absolving the other European peoples who were complicit in the killings.
Similarly, while we naturally mourn our Jewish brethren who were so horribly slaughtered on October 7, we need to also bear in mind that Hamas made no distinction in its murderous rampage between Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs or between Israelis and foreign workers.
In a posting for The Gatestone Institute on November 30, Israeli-Arab journalist Khaled Abu Toameh noted that he Hamas terrorists who attacked Israel on October 7 did not slaughter Jews alone. The terrorists also murdered and kidnapped scores of Muslim citizens of Israel, including members of the Bedouin community. The terrorists’ murder spree made zero distinction between young and old, Muslim and Jew.
“Scores of Arab Israelis were wounded, murdered or taken prisoner,” he reported.
One such brave individual was 23-year-old Awad Darawshe, an Arab-Israeli paramedic who was on duty at the music festival near Kibbutz Re’im, which was among the first locations under attack. When the medical staff on site were ordered to flee, he insisted on remaining behind to treat the wounded.
Abu Toameh suggests that the paramedic thought that because he was Arab, he could reason with the killers. He was murdered nonetheless.
Another courageous Arab-Israeli that the writer noted, 50-year-old Abed al-Rahman Alnasasrah, was murdered by Hamas terrorists when he attempted to rescue people from the music festival. He was married and a father of six children.
Fatima Altallaqat, 35, from the Bedouin village near Ofakim, was murdered while working with her husband near the city of Ofakim in southern Israel. She was a mother of nine children, the eldest nine years old.
Abu Toameh quotes her husband as saying: “We’re a religious Muslim family and she wore the traditional headdress of a devout woman. It is inconceivable they [Hamas terrorists] could not see who was inside [the car]. They were five meters away from her as they passed.”
Forty bullets were fired into her.
Abu Toameh further cites the comments of Suleiman Zayadneh, brother and uncle, respectively, to four of the Arab-Israeli hostages, who describes himself “as proud to be a Palestinian and Muslim”.
‘The people who came to shoot and kill — they know nothing of religion,” the writer quoted Zayadneh as saying. “These [Hamas] people came and killed left and right.”
Abu Toameh went on to reference the words of Nuseir Yassin, a video blogger with 65 million followers. Two days after the massacre, he wrote: “I realized that… to a terrorist invading Israel, all citizens are targets. More than 40 of them [the murdered] are Arabs. Killed by other Arabs. And I do not want to live under a Palestinian government. Which means I only have one home, even if I’m not Jewish: Israel…. So from today forward, I view myself as… Israeli first. Palestinian second. Sometimes it takes a shock like this to see so clearly.”
Abu Toameh reported that “there have been many storie about reciprocal inter-communal generosity and heroism in the aftermath of this national tragedy, and they create hope for the future”.
He quoted a statement by the Darwashe Family:
“We are very proud of Awad’s actions… This is what we would expect from him and what we expect from everyone in our family — to be human, to stay human and to die human.”
Abu Toameh also quoted Ali Alziadna, four of whose family members were kidnapped, as saying that he was “touched by the outpouring of support” by other Israelis.
“People from all over the country have come to hug and support our family,” Alziadna said. “The entire nation is one family now.”
Abu Toameh pointed out that many Arab citizens of Israel serve as IDF officers and policemen, risking their lives for their fellow Israelis. Many are serving at the front lines, saving lives.
Undoubtedly, Abu Toameh suggested, one of the objectives of the Hamas massacre, in addition to slaughtering as many Israelis as possible, was to thwart normalization between Israel and Arab countries, especially Saudi Arabia. Hamas may also have aimed to damage relations between Jews and Arabs inside Israel.
”The terror group was, without doubt, hoping that we would witness another cycle of violence between Jews and Arabs inside Israel, similar to that which erupted in May 2021,’ Abu Toameh posited. “Then, Hamas succeeded in inciting a large number of Arab citizens of Israel to take to the streets and attack their Jewish neighbors and Israeli police officers.
“This time, however, the Arab-Israelis have not heeded the calls by Hamas. One reason is that Arab-Israelis saw, with their own eyes, how Hamas terrorists make no distinction between Jews and Muslims.
“Hamas has repeatedly demonstrated that it cares nothing for the well-being of Arabs and Muslims. From their luxury homes and hotel rooms in the safety of Qatar and Turkey, Hamas leaders give the orders to attack Israel and then sit back and let the world weep over the destruction they wrought upon their own people.
“On October 7,” Abu Toameh concluded, “Hamas metaphorically shot itself in the foot by showing the world, with unfathomably ghoulish pride, by way of Go-Pro cameras and other self-documentation, that it has neither a religious nor a secular-humanist set of values. Perhaps the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip should look at the Arab citizens of Israel and note how they enjoy equal rights, democracy, freedom of speech and a free media. If Palestinians wish to live well, like the Arab-Israelis, this is the time for them to get rid of Hamas and all the terror leaders who, for seven decades, have brought them nothing but one disaster after another.”
It is too bad that so many gullible fools in our Western societies refuse to open their eyes to the truth.
An Arab Trusteeship Council for Gaza
By Prof. BRYAN SCHWARTZ Oct. 17, 2023 (Originally posted to The Times of Israel)
1 No peace is possible with Hamas. It is genocidally antisemitic. This position is foundational, not rhetorical or mutable. Waiting for the emergence of a “pragmatic” version of Hamas is suicidally naïve.
2 Peace and cooperation are possible with most of Israel’s non-Iranian neighbours. They are militarily threatened by Iran, not Israel. For many in those countries, Iran’s version of Islam might be more problematic from the religious perspective than Israel’s Jewishness.
3 Hamas’ attack was partly to prevent a Saudi deal and a long-term economic cooperation
4 Israel has no territorial claim to Gaza and no material, religious, or ideological interest in running it.
5 Israel has vital moral and material interests in the emergence of a peaceful, demilitarized, and prosperous Gaza. If that can occur in the medium term, a long-term reconciliation of the Palestinians with Israel is achievable.
6 As and when Hamas is evicted from power, Gaza will need some new form of government.
7 The Palestinian authority probably cannot be trusted to take over Gaza. It is corrupt and lacked- and probably still lacks- credibility with a majority of the population in Gaza.
8 There used to be a concept called trusteeship in international law, whereby foreign powers would govern a territory in its best interests until its final status is clarified at the wishes of its own people.
9 The United Nations cannot be trusted to administer Gaza – any more than it has shown to be trustworthy to maintain strategic security in Southern Lebanon or to operate UNWRA in a manner that is effective for Palestinians and not hostile to Israel.
10 Consider this alternative. After Hamas is evicted from power, there is an interim period- say five to seven to ten years -of governance over Gaza by an Arab trusteeship council. The Council members are appointed primarily by Arab states sympathetic to Israel and eager to see the people of Gaza thrive. This Council could include local Gaza representatives and a representative of the Palestinian Authority but the majority would be representative of states like Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia.
11 The trusteeship agreement would be formal, agreed to by Israel, and unequivocally state its objectives, including:
-defining the sole purposes for which outside reconstruction and development money can be spent and requiring strict accounting
-ensuring that the education system in Gaza is not contaminated by antisemitic hatred;
-promoting sound administration of Gaza, including providing for transparent and non-corrupt government, with significant safeguards for human rights, and conformity to the rule of law;
-promoting the development of a real economy for Gaza, not one fuelled primarily by international subsidies.
13 No state could participate in the Council without having a peace agreement with Israel.
14 In fact, the creation of the Council and Saudi participation in it could be part of a peace deal with Saudi Arabia. The deal could involve a reconstruction package from the Saudis for Gaza, which would help secure the support of the people of Gaza for the Council arrangement as an interim measure.
15 Policing would be carried out by a force composed of Palestinians and members of the police forces of Trusteeship states, under the direction of the Council.
16 The net effect would be to remove Gaza from Iran’s influence and establish temporary control by a consortium of mostly Sunni states. The latter would be chosen from among those that are at least reasonably friendly to Israel and genuinely committed to good governance in Gaza.
17 The definitive solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict can only be achieved in a series of steps. Compromises are even more painful if they are framed as permanent. But if practical peace, stability, and some prosperity can be achieved in the medium term in Gaza and the West Bank, an amicable and enduring resolution should be achievable with the Palestinians.
18 While Israel is under severe military menace right now, it is not too early to think about how a positive political outcome can be achieved after the necessary and painful battle is concluded.
19 The current catastrophe is a so-far successful attempt by the regime in Teheran to disrupt peace negotiations involving Israel, the United States, and Saudi Arabia. Political vision along with military force might enable Israel to turn around the situation and complete and consolidate a lasting peace with almost all of its Arab neighbours and to set the stage for a formal and enduring peace with the Palestinians. The Teheran regime would be isolated, diminished in prestige, and more likely to be replaced from within.
About the Author
Bryan’s Jewish-themed musical “Consoulation: A Musical Mediation” premiered in the Spring of of 2018; https://consoulation.com His new album will appear in the coming months. Bryan Schwartz graduated with a doctorate in law from Yale School and holds an endowed chair at the University of Manitoba Law School. He is the author or editor of over thirty books and collections of essays. Bryan also created and helps to deliver an annual summer program at Hebrew University in Israeli law and society. He has served as a visiting Professor at both HU and Reichman university. . As a practising lawyer, Bryan has argued a number of cases at the Supreme Court of Canada, advised governments, and served as an arbitrator at the provincial, national and international level.