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One Palestinian, one Jew, and two very different impressions of ‘Golda’

(JTA) — Like many other Diaspora Jews, I was curious to see the film “Golda,” which dramatizes Israel’s first female prime minister’s handling of what for Israel was the nearly disastrous Yom Kippur War of 1973. But I wanted to know what it would be like to see it with a Palestinian American.

So I called up my friend and colleague, Omar Dajani, professor of law at the University of the Pacific and a legal adviser to the Palestinian negotiating team in peace talks with Israel from 1999-2003. We agreed to see the film the same night in our respective cities (he in San Francisco and me in Ottawa) and compare notes the next morning. 

On the film’s artistic aspects — for instance, the excellent casting of Helen Mirren as Golda Meir and Liev Schreiber as U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger; the less successful portrait of Moshe Dayan by Rami Heuberger, who missed the boat on the defense minister’s well-known charisma — our agreement was deep and broad. (And I succeeded in getting Omar on board with my favorite Israeli actor, Lior Ashkenazi, who plays David “Dado” Elazar, the IDF’s chief of staff.) 

But finding common ground on the framing of the Yom Kippur War, the focus of the film’s narrative — proved much harder.

Most of the Israeli criticism of its country’s handling of events in October 1973 has focused on the Israeli intelligence failure in the lead-up to Egypt and Syria’s surprise attack. Israeli analysts refer to this blindspot as the “conceptzia.”

Talking to Omar, I soon realized that I, too, had been caught up in a conceptzia, albeit of a different sort.

I was only a baby when the Yom Kippur War broke out. But so much of my life was indirectly shaped by those three weeks in 1973. My first boyfriend had come to Winnipeg with his Israeli parents in part because of that war. Same with my seventh-grade crush, in Vancouver. Born two days apart, both were exactly a year old when the war changed things for so many Israelis. My husband had the reverse family story; he moved with his parents and sister to Israel a few months before the war broke out before they returned to Canada 18 months later. And my kibbutz “dad” (some youth movement-raised young adults, like I was, are gifted an “adoptive” family on kibbutz to connect with as they spend time in the country) served on the front lines in 1973. Just two months ago, we talked about his battle memories — still raw and unfiltered — until the wee hours of the night.

All these personal connections have meant that when I think about the Yom Kippur War, I feel instinctively protective. Protective of Israelis who were forced to endure the insult of being attacked on their holiest day of the year (for Jewish Israelis at least) — even if that holiness extends, for many, to simply bike riding on empty streets. Protective of the memory of the 11 boys who were killed on my aunt and uncle’s kibbutz — for whom a stunning tune to the Yom Kippur Prayer “Unetaneh Tokef” was written, and which I’ve led at my synagogue on High Holidays past.

Though I’m ashamed to admit it — given her comments denying the existence of the Palestinian people — I was also protective even of Golda’s legacy as a Jewish stateswoman.

But talking to Omar I was forced to consider another perspective. “As a film about the 1973 war,” Omar told me, “I found it infuriating. The film did almost nothing to set up the fact that the Egyptian offensive against Israel was taking place to a great extent on Egyptian territory.” Egyptian President Anwar Sadat was trying to get back the Sinai, after all.

Omar also stressed that Meir refused to entertain various opportunities for Israel-Egyptian peace in the years leading up to the war, a point made in a recent Jewish Telegraphic Agency article about the film. Sadat “was dying for a peace opening,” Omar said to me. “The film claims that Israeli-Egyptian peace in 1979 was a result of what Meir did, while I would argue that the peace agreement was in spite of what she did.”

I challenged Omar on the idea of the war being started on “Egyptian territory” given that the Sinai was (legally) occupied by Israel following the Six-Day War of 1967; he countered with a view of that war as having resulted from an offensive attack by Israel. I drew on the idea that Egypt’s closure of the Straits of Tiran and expulsion of United Nations peacekeepers may have justified Israel’s pre-emptive strike; he referenced Article 51 and Article 2 of the United Nations Charter regarding acceptable uses of force

After 90 minutes of back-and-forth, I carefully strode across the proverbial debate stage and asked the question most often considered taboo in academic circles.

“Do you think,” I asked gingerly, “that our respective debating positions are a function of our ethnic allegiances?”

“Yes and no,” he offered. “On one hand, opposing Israel taking others’ land and holding it indefinitely whenever it feels it will serve its security purposes is not about being Palestinian; it is about believing in the international rule of law, and I’m an international law scholar.

“On the other hand,” he continued, “I’ve lived in Egypt and so I certainly recognize that my sympathies affect my tendency to see some acts that are unlawful as being justified. And so while I see how some people defend Israeli acts as justified even if they are unlawful, the same goes for me and Egypt. For instance, Sadat violated the ceasefire in the first place.”

Where does all this leave me? I suppose it served as a healthy reminder that we — analysts, scholars, writers, and human beings — have a set of complex commitments that stem from our understanding of how things are and how they ought to be. While we hope that those commitments are free of tribal ties, sometimes that’s just not possible.

At least Omar and I both agree that the most pressing contemporary humanitarian issue in Israel-Palestine is that of the grinding occupation and the human rights abuses that flow from it. We also both see Israel’s current judicial crisis as in part a reflection of those circumstances. And ultimately we agree that to be human is to care deeply about both one’s own and about the other, whoever they are. I suppose that’s a start.


The post One Palestinian, one Jew, and two very different impressions of ‘Golda’ appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Jordan Reaffirms Commitment to Peace With Israel After Iran Attack, Says Ending Treaty Would Hurt Palestinians

Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Al Safadi attends a press conference after a meeting on the Gaza situation in the government’s representation facility in Oslo, Norway, Dec. 15, 2023. Photo: NTB/Stian Lysberg Solum via REUTERS

Senior Jordanian officials recently reaffirmed the country’s commitment to maintaining peace with Israel, despite protests erupting across Jordan against their treaty amid the ongoing war in Gaza.

Pro-Hamas protesters have been actively campaigning to end the Israel-Jordan peace treaty, which the two countries signed in 1994 to end the state of war that had existed between them for decades and establish diplomatic relations. The treaty followed the signing of the Oslo Accords, a historic agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

However, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Al-Safadi said on Sunday that the peace deal was best for not only his country but also the Palestinians.

“The treaty actualized all our rights and served our interests. Revoking it would not be in Jordan’s or the Palestinians’ interest,” Al-Safadi told Jordan’s official news channel Al-Mamlaka in remarks flagged by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). “If we thought even for a moment that revoking it would be in the interest of Jordan or of the Palestinians, we would have done so without hesitation.”

Revoking the peace treaty, he continued, would “harm both Jordan and Palestine and greatly limit our ability to continue fulfilling our main and primary role in providing aid to the Palestinian people … The peace treaty is a source of strength for us and allows us to continue our role of aiding the Palestinian people while protecting our interests.”

Al-Safadi’s comments came one day after Jordan — along with the US, Britain, and France — helped Israel repel an unprecedented direct attack by Iran against the Israeli homeland. Iran fired over 300 drones and missiles at the Jewish state, nearly all of which were shot out of the air. Only one injury was reported in Israel.

The chief diplomat’s defense of the peace treaty also came amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, which has fueled anti-Israel animus across Jordan. Thousands of protesters have been routinely gathering for weeks to lambast Israel, express solidarity with Hamas, and call for an end to the peace treaty. Al-Safadi addressed such opposition in his comments.

“We respect Jordanian public opinion,” he said. “Back in 1994, when [the treaty] was signed, it protected our interests. We regained all our occupied lands, and the treaty enshrined Jordan’s special role in administrating the places holy to Islam and to Christianity in Jerusalem. Were it not for this role, there would have been a vacuum, and Israel would have exploited this to impose its own sovereignty and administration on the holy places rather than granting them to the Palestinians.”

Al-Safadi wasn’t the only official to recently articulate Jordan’s commitment to the peace treaty amid calls to revoke it and mass anti-Israel protests over the Gaza war.

Jordan’s government spokesman, Muhannad Mubaidin, told Sky News Arabia late last month that Hamas was inciting the Jordanian people against their leadership. The Palestinian terrorist group and its supporters in Jordan, he said, were trying “to force Jordan to choose different options,” but “peace is our strategic choice and the peace treaty [with Israel] is what allows us to fulfill our role of easing the pressures on the people in the West Bank.”

MEMRI was first to report Mubaidin’s comments in English.

The post Jordan Reaffirms Commitment to Peace With Israel After Iran Attack, Says Ending Treaty Would Hurt Palestinians first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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US Stops UN From Recognizing a Palestinian State Through Membership

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks to members of the Security Council during a meeting to address the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, at UN headquarters in New York City, New York, US, April 18, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

The United States on Thursday effectively stopped the United Nations from recognizing a Palestinian state by casting a veto in the Security Council to deny the Palestinian Authority full membership of the world body.

The United States says an independent Palestinian state should be established through direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and not through UN action.

It vetoed a draft resolution that recommended to the 193-member UN General Assembly that “the State of Palestine be admitted to membership of the United Nations.” Britain and Switzerland abstained, while the remaining 12 council members voted yes.

The Palestinians are currently a non-member observer state, a recognition that was granted by the UN General Assembly in 2012. But an application to become a full UN member needs to be approved by the Security Council and then at least two-thirds of the General Assembly.

The Palestinian push for full UN membership comes six months into a war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, and as Israel is expanding settlements in the West Bank.

“Recent escalations make it even more important to support good-faith efforts to find lasting peace between Israel and a fully independent, viable, and sovereign Palestinian state,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the council earlier on Thursday.

“Failure to make progress towards a two-state solution will only increase volatility and risk for hundreds of millions of people across the region, who will continue to live under the constant threat of violence,” he said.

Israel‘s UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan said Palestinians failed to meet the criteria to become a full UN member, which he outlined as: a permanent population, defined territory, government, and capacity to enter relations with other states.

“Who is the council voting to ‘recognize’ and give full membership status to? Hamas in Gaza? The Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Nablus? Who?” Erdan asked the Security Council earlier on Thursday.

He said granting full UN membership to Palestinians “will have zero positive impact for any party, that will cause only destruction for years to come, and harm any chance for future dialogue.”

The Palestinian Authority, headed by President Mahmoud Abbas, exercises limited self-rule in the West Bank. Hamas ousted the Palestinian Authority from power in Gaza in 2007.

Ziad Abu Amr, special envoy of Abbas, earlier asked the US: “How could this damage the prospects of peace between Palestinians and Israelis? How could this recognition and this membership harm international peace and security?”

“Those who are trying to disrupt and hinder the adoption of such a resolution … are not helping the prospects of peace between Palestinians and Israelis and the prospects for peace in the Middle East in general,” he told the Security Council.

Abu Amr said full Palestinian UN membership was not an alternative for serious political negotiations to implement a two-state solution and resolve pending issues, adding: “However, this resolution will grant hope to the Palestinian people hope for a decent life within an independent state.”

The post US Stops UN From Recognizing a Palestinian State Through Membership first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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The value of Jews to Canada today: What would the cost be if the community packed up and left?

Jonathan L. Milevsky is an author and educator. Raphi Zaionz is the founder of mygoals Inc. Both live in Toronto, for the moment. (The latter’s children either have left or are planning to leave Canada.) Towards the end of the film Schindler’s List, there’s a scene in which the famous non-Jewish philanthropist, who saved over […]

The post The value of Jews to Canada today: What would the cost be if the community packed up and left? appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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