A sad, sad day
On November 29, I realized that peace is further away from us than ever before, but we cannot lose hope.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas at the UN. Photo: Screenshot Al Jazeera
November 29, 2012, was a very sad day for me. I was waiting for President
Mahmoud Abbas to address the UN General Assembly, prior to the vote on accepting
the Palestinian Authority as a “non-member observer state.”
strongly opposed the move, as circumventing direct negotiations is in effect
negating the Oslo Accords. Also, granting the PA access to international bodies
may lead to Israel’s harassment by false war-crime allegations.
frankly, I didn’t feel that the mostly symbolic status would have substantial
negative effects. So the resolution was not what saddened me the most that
I was hoping that the Palestinian leader would talk of
reconciliation and peace. Instead I heard venomous words constructing a twisted
and hateful agenda filled with false accusations.
Claiming to be the
sole, legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, Abbas preposterously
described the latest events as a murderous spree meant to kill the children of
Gaza. He did not mention the fact that Israel was defending its civilians
against notorious terrorists firing thousands of rockets at Israeli cities and
He even brazenly claimed that Israel carried out this “barbaric
and horrific” attack as a means of punishing the Palestinians for their appeal
to the United Nations.
Abbas slandered and accused Israel of ethnic
cleansing, war crimes, racism, hatred, incitement and aggression, and called for
the rescue of the Palestinian “victim” from the demonic Israeli
It was mind boggling to hear terms connected with known
Palestinian methods, used against the only democracy in the Middle
There was nothing in his speech about blowing up buses, bombing
coffee shops, or stabbing woman and children in their beds.
historical themes, promoting his ongoing narrative that the Jews have no
connection to the land. At least he spared us his Holocaust
Abbas ludicrously described the Palestinian struggle as
“harmonious” and conforming to international and humanitarian law, and even
claimed that high “moral values” were upheld, all despite the “horrors”
committed by Israel.
In what I considered to be insinuating that terror
is an acceptable tool, Abbas said that Palestinians “cling to the right to
defend themselves against aggression and occupation,” and then absurdly stated
that they will continue their “popular, peaceful resistance.”
Yeah right. The audacity! In a few positive remarks, Abbas referenced the
two-state solution and claimed that he did not wish to delegitimize Israel. He
also expressed a need to “breathe new life into the negotiations,” and said he
strove “to live in peace and security alongside the State of
Analysts on Israeli television were debating if he actually
uttered the word “Israel.”
It was a despicable, deplorable and
contemptible speech, and supporting it by a standing ovation and approval of the
resolution was shameful and hypocritical.
But this was not what saddened
me the most that day.
Answering Abbas, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Ron
Prosor, talked about peace, good neighborliness, bonds of cooperation and mutual
help. He spoke of our history and dreams for the future.
It was a good
speech. So what? Everybody knows that a Jewish state, with Jerusalem as its
capital, existed 3,000 years ago. Listening to Abbas, one might think that the
Jews came out of nowhere and stole the land from a Palestinian state. The truth
is that a Palestinian state never existed.
Prosor talked a lot about “the
truth,” but the truth doesn’t seem to matter anymore – only artificially
constructed narratives. And the Palestinian narrative of victimhood is
We fight terror just as Great Britain, Germany and France do,
but our methods are more focused at minimizing collateral damage. We use the
world’s highest percentage of precision-guided munitions and achieve the lowest
rate of innocent casualties.
I’ve participated in endless international
seminars on urban warfare, analyzing tactics, techniques, procedures and actual
missions. Everyone knows how moral the IDF is.
Most people know about the
constant import of goods to Gaza, and that Israelis risk their lives to keep the
crossings open. Israel also supplies electricity to Gaza from a power plant that
is regularly targeted by Gazans.
It is also obvious that with a common
border with their brothers in Egypt, Hamas’s Gaza cannot be referred to as
“under siege,” and the existence of the Iranian-supplied rocket stockpile
clearly proves this.
Contrary to Abbas’s claim to high moral values,
Hamas and other terrorists use human shields, deliberately sacrificing
civilians. If there aren’t enough “victims,” they stage and distort incidents or
just use photos of other dead children to promote their cause. They are experts
at driving the media and the international agenda, as demonstrated at the
It is easy to see who is the aggressor, violating all moral codes and
using cowardly terror against civilians, and who is defending and protecting
civilians while upholding the highest moral standards and obeying international
law and norms.
But who wants to see? If an Israeli child is killed,
Palestinians rejoice. If a Palestinian child is harmed, Israelis regard it as a
tragedy. Don’t forget who danced in the streets on 9/11.
But this is not
what saddened me the most that day.
Listening to Abbas, I realized that
he is not seeking reconciliation. It seems that he wishes to achieve
internationally imposed statehood, as a phase in realizing the ultimate vision
of annihilating the Jewish state.
This is not a mere “territorial
dispute” and has nothing to do with 1948 or 1967. They have never accepted the
fact that Jews live here, and they certainly do not accept the existence of the
State of Israel.
So what did sadden me most that day? It was the thought
that Palestinian children were listening to the speech and believing every word.
It conformed to the horrific incitement they receive at school, glorifying
suicide bombers and preaching the destruction of Israel. The Palestinian
education system promotes and perpetuates hate and violence, not reconciliation
So what should Israel do now? I believe we should
minimize tension and refrain from harsh retaliatory measures. It is important to
continue to foster good security cooperation with the PA and support their
economic growth. Prosperity is a good motivator for stability.
also carefully manage our oversensitive international relations, but consider
doing what is right for Israel and not necessarily what is demanded of
Is there still a chance for peace? The conclusion should be
pessimistic, but I must say yes. Hoping and striving for peace is a moral
calling for us. But peace will only be achieved if the Palestinians, as a united
entity, accept the course history has taken and relinquish their dream of
possessing the entire land. They must renounce terror as a means of promoting
their goals, stop the incitement and commence direct negotiations with
Even if all this does occur, a peace agreement must incorporate
robust mechanisms and guarantees for Israel’s security, for our very existence
is at stake. The last thing we need is another Iranian forward-operating- base
at our door step.
On November 29, I realized that peace is further away
from us than ever before, but we cannot lose hope. I would say to my Palestinian
neighbors: We have both suffered the horrors of war. We should let go of the
past, for we have a moral obligation to build a better future.
is a former Israel Air Force pilot and founder of Cross-Cultural Strategies