Can Arab-Jewish peace survive the ongoing violence in Israel? – The Jerusalem Post

Posted By on May 20, 2021

Delegates to the 16th Socialist International were milling about the Montechoro Hotels lobby in Albufeira, a sleepy resort town off of Portugals Algarve coast, when a gunman nailed five bullets into Palestinian cardiologist Isam Sartawis chest and head.

The assassin vanished under a hail of police bullets. His target, the first PLO leader to advocate recognition of Israel, and also to openly hold talks with Israelis, was soon pronounced dead, along with his message.

Sartawis Israeli interlocutors came from the thick Left, people like Maj.-Gen. (res.) Matti Peled and former Labor Party secretary-general Arieh Eliav, but when shot he was but one wall away from Shimon Peres, who would become prime minister the following year.

Rumors of a planned meeting between the two were probably unfounded, but to the assailants the Abu-Nidal terrorist group that didnt matter; Sartawi spoke peace, and that made him anathema and his death foretold.

It was part of a pattern, one that neither began nor ended on that sorry day in April 1983, and in fact laces Israels history almost from its birth to these very days of awe; days which make many assume fatalistically that peace-killers will always defeat the peacemakers. Well they havent, and they wont.

THE FIRST of the peacemakers to fall in the line of duty was Jordans King Abdullah, who was shot in 1951 at the Mosque of Omars entrance after holding secret talks with David Ben-Gurions emissaries.

Two years before Sartawis murder, Anwar Sadat was mowed down by four Islamist gunmen who emerged from a truck during a military parade and emptied their Kalashnikovs at the presidential podium killing, besides Sadat, another 10 men. The young peace treaty with Israel, though only part of a broader Islamist agenda, was a key element in the squads motivation.

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The following year Lebanese president-elect Bashir Gemayel, who had been dialoguing with Israel for a while and was widely expected to make peace with Menachem Begin, was blown up along with 26 others during a political meeting in Beirut. The assassin, widely believed to have been activated by Syrian agents, cited the alliance with Israel as the cause of his act.

The common denominator among all these assaults is the belief that Arab-Jewish peace, no matter how limited or embryonic, is an abomination that must be nipped in the bud.

The extraordinary Bennett-Abbas-Lapid government was set to inspire a great Arab-Jewish reconciliation, a prospect that from the viewpoint of Hamas was intolerable. Like Sartawis evolving dialogue and like Gemayels burgeoning peace it had to be preempted. Hence the rush, scope, and total abandonment of measure with which Hamas unleashed its wrath.

Worse, in terms of its immediate aim the ploy worked. The breathtaking move Naftali Bennett had already introduced with the inspiring statement that a broad government is not a default, its an aim, was summarily shelved.

Like that peace with Lebanons elected president which Israel was already touching and smelling only to see him and his gospel murdered, the great reconciliation that Bennett and Mansour Abbas seemed ready to launch was trampled, overnight, by thugs who lynched pedestrians, shattered storefronts, and torched synagogues.

The question this plunge from utopia to dystopia raises is therefore this: Can peace survive its murder?

STRATEGIC SURPRISES are good at what they announce surprise but their planners often fail to plan for what their surprises uncork.

Hitlers invasion of the Soviet Union, Japans attack on Pearl Harbor and Egypts crossing of the Suez Canal were stunning. All three, however, were ultimately defeated. Hamass strategic surprise is headed the same way.

The Germans disparaged the Russians industrial ability, the Japanese underestimated Americas fighting spirit, the Egyptians didnt calculate Israeli improvisation, and Hamas doesnt understand what the sight of a torched synagogue does to a Jew, any Jew, even a leftist, an agnostic or a convert.

On this front the counterattack is already underway, with hundreds of arrests that will be followed by harsh indictments that will produce lengthy jail terms.

Equally swift will be the physical restoration that the peace-murderers carnage demands. It will take months, but every ruined synagogue, hotel, restaurant and shop will be repaired, as will all the vandalized parks, playgrounds, plazas and bus stops, not to mention ransacked police stations.

Much more difficult will be the rehabilitation of the surprise attacks big target: communal relations that were built over generations.

Yes, the struggle ahead of us is daunting, the civic version of defending Stalingrad and wresting Iwo Jima, but like those battles, it will end in evils defeat.

Anwar Sadat was murdered, but the peace he struck survived him, and lives to this day.

Mansour Abbass emergence in an Israeli coalition has apparently been derailed, but he still showed up at the burnt Beit Yisrael Synagogue and, with Lod Mayor Yair Revivo (Likud) alongside him, denounced the arson as anti-Islamic and vowed to participate in its reconstruction.

Yes, the Arab-Jewish coalition which Middle Israelis crave, the situation begs, and nearly half the Arab electorate endorsed is dead. Its spirit, however, lives on.

Amotz Asa-Els bestselling Mitzad Haivelet Hayehudi (The Jewish March of Folly, Yediot Sefarim, 2019), is a revisionist history of the Jewish peoples leadership from antiquity to modernity

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Can Arab-Jewish peace survive the ongoing violence in Israel? - The Jerusalem Post

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