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The Struggle for the Soul of Israel
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Israel has been torn for decades by an internal war of vision. Its outcome will determine the future of the region for centuries to come.
There are three Israels whose visions for the future clash furiously. If you don’t understand them, you can’t understand Israeli politics, you can’t understand the different paths they envision for their country, you can’t understand Israel’s conflicting and confusing actions, and you can’t predict the fate of the region, or what it would take for Israel and Palestine to coexist.
The Israeli Narrative
These three Israels do share part of a common narrative. We’ve already sprinkled some of it across our last six articles. It’s time to summarize it in one short narrative. What do most Israelis believe?1
We lived in present-day Israel/Palestine 3,000 years ago—what today is Israel, the West Bank, and parts of Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan.
The Babylonians kicked us out; they destroyed our sacred temple.
We came back. We formed our kingdom again. We spent centuries there.
But we revolted against the Romans, who massacred us, destroyed our temple again, called the region Palestine to spite us2, and condemned us to the diaspora.
For thousands of years, we scattered around Europe, Asia, and Africa.
But we never fully left. A small minority of us remained in the Land of Israel throughout the centuries and millennia. Empires came and went, states and religions fought for the land, but a few of us never relented. The rest of us were exiled by the diaspora, but we never forgot who we were, or where we came from. As Antiquity was followed by the Dark Ages, followed by the Middle Ages, the Age of Discoveries, the Industrial Revolution… We stayed together—one religious, ethnic, linguistic nation, dispersed but distinct, with our ancestral homeland in our hearts, dreams, and daily prayers.
Through all these ages, we were persecuted.
We suffered pogroms; we were routinely massacred. By the late 1800s, we were in serious danger.
At that time, nationalism was emerging around us in Europe, and we started dreaming: Could it apply to us too? Could we have a homeland again? A place we can call home? Where we won’t have to hide because of our beliefs? Where we will be safe?
And in those dreams, we thought: We should return to where we belong, where we started.
So we started working towards it. Hard.
We bought land in Palestine with the sweat on our brow and the calluses on our hands. We paid well for it.
We turned barren lands into Edens.
We just wanted our own little piece of land where no one would threaten us anymore.
Initially, this was during the Ottoman Empire.
Then the British Empire promised us our own land during World War I. But it didn’t uphold its promise. It did let us organize ourselves and elect our leaders, at least.
The local Arabs who sold us their land were happy with us. Many of our neighbors were too. But not all of them were. We clashed sometimes. Sometimes, we were persecuted, even massacred. So the Brits tried to split us.
All we wanted was a land to call home, so we said yes to what they proposed. But Arabs said no.
Then WWII exploded. And the Holocaust. The Nazis exterminated six million of us—more than half of Jews in Europe.
And we said never again.
At the end of WWII, the Brits realized they couldn’t figure out a way for us and Arabs to coexist, for one simple reason: We just wanted our state. Arabs didn’t want us to have that.
So the Brits told the UN: “We’re out of here, you figure it out”, and they left.
The UN proposed a partition plan. We just wanted one piece of land to call home, so we said yes. The Arabs said no again.
When the Brits left, we declared our independence. The next day, all the powerful Arab countries that surrounded us attacked in unison, to exterminate us.
So we fought. And by some miracle, we won. We won more than we imagined.
We wanted peace, so we tried to find some agreement with our neighbors. But they were not interested. The only thing they would accept is that we disappear.
So we held onto our new land.
Until 1967, when our Arab neighbors tried to annihilate us again. We struck first, and again won more than we expected. We took over some lands that were never part of Israel, like Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula. Others had been ours for a thousand years—Samaria and Judea, what today is the West Bank.
But we preferred peace. So we tried to find an agreement with our neighbors. The UN proposed that we give up the conquered land in exchange for peace. We said yes. Our neighbors said no. Again.
We were attacked again in 1973, and fortunately for us it turned out the same way. Fortunately, because if we lose, we disappear. For us, every war is existential.
After that one, Egyptians decided they would rather have the Sinai back and peace with us than keep fighting, so we signed peace with them.
Jordanians would follow 15 years later.
But we still had most of the Arab and Muslim worlds against us, even if we only have 0.4% of the land they have. We didn’t want their hatred. We’d rather have a smaller homeland and peace. So we tried to find an agreement with our other neighbors and with Palestinians.
But Palestinians never budged.
So we moved on, because we’d rather exist in conflict than be exterminated in peace.
Hopefully, one day they’ll decide they want to live with us instead.
What happened? What did Israelis offer? Why did Palestinians refuse this offer again? To figure this out, we need to understand what was going on in the part of Israel that wanted peace through a Palestinian state.
Idealist Israel: The Peace Camp
Many in Israel are sensitive to the Palestinian plight. They empathize. They see their constant loss, the humiliation, the exodus, and now decades of living stateless in their land, subject to Israeli force.3 They get why they’d be angry. Heck, it happened to Israelis too, and not just thousands of years ago when they were expelled by Babylonians and Romans! It has continued, when they lived in Europe, were expelled, suffered pogroms, suffered the Holocaust, and more recently when they had to leave their countries in Africa and Asia.
They understand that giving up the dream of an Arab-Muslim Palestine is an impossible pill to swallow. That even giving up a chunk of it is hard to stomach. That if they’re going to ask Palestinians to give up so much, Israelis should give up many things too. It has to be painful on both sides, or it’s probably not enough.
These idealistic Israelis have always pushed for peace with Palestinians. They think if an agreement can be found, it’s worth it—even at the cost of huge sacrifices. And for a brief period of time, an agreement might have been at their fingertips.
The Oslo Accords
The golden era of pacifist Israelis was the 1990s. In 1993, there was a huge breakthrough: Israel recognized the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) as the representative of Palestinians to negotiate peace, and the PLO recognized Israel’s right to exist, gave up terrorism, and accepted at a high-level to focus on Gaza and the West Bank.4
This triggered the Oslo Accords process, which was supposed to find a solution within five years. Israel accepted leaving Gaza and the Jordan Valley city of Jericho, then expanded this to many other cities in the West Bank. It created a Palestinian civil authority to manage the day-to-day affairs of Palestinians, and transferred to it the security management of a chunk of the West Bank.5 These are the A, B, and C areas we discussed in the previous article.
This was real, substantial progress from what was there before—nothing! So much so that the leaders of Palestine and Israel, Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin, won the Nobel Peace Prize.
The next step was toward self-determination for Palestine. That would prove harder than they thought. Radicals on both sides worked to undermine the process. On the Israeli side, a radical opened fire on hundreds of Muslims praying, killing 29 and wounding over 100. Another radical assassinated Yitzhak Rabin in 1995 at a rally in support of the Oslo Accords.
The pressure was not just external. More insidiously, it was internal. Benjamin Netanyahu—the current Prime Minister of Israel who is the polar opposite of Rabin—became Prime Minister in 1996.6 What did he do as the country’s new leader? Among other things, he resumed the construction of houses in Israeli settlements in the West Bank. To understand what was going through his mind, we can use his recorded words when he didn’t know he was being recorded, a few years later, in 2001:
They asked me before the election if I'd honor [the Oslo accords]. I said I would, but ... I'm going to interpret the accords in such a way that would allow me to put an end to this galloping forward to the '67 borders. How did we do it? Nobody said what defined military zones were. Defined military zones are security zones; as far as I'm concerned, the entire Jordan Valley is a defined military zone. Go argue.7
My interpretation is that one of the main ways he stalled the process was by considering Area C a fair place to do as he wished to provoke Palestinians, like increasing settlements, or condoning violence against Palestinians.
Palestinians in general and the PLO in particular had radicals in their midst; it was mightily hard to pull them back towards a moderate position.
If all of this sounds like an uphill battle, it wasn’t even the hardest part. The hardest was nailing down the details of the negotiation. What would happen with Jerusalem? What about the Palestinian right to return? Jewish settlements in the West Bank? Security?
The ''peace process'' involved considerably more process than peace. The mediators devoted themselves to inching the effort forward as the region withstood assassinations, terrorist attacks and countless political crises. The inching, which produced several interim agreements, went on for more than seven years, however, and always the big final-status issues -- the fate of Jerusalem, of Palestinian refugees and of Jewish settlements and the future borders -- were deferred. The de facto Palestinian foreign minister said: ''The lingo during all those years was 2 percent territory here and 3 percent there. Release 20 prisoners today and 30 prisoners next week. Open this dirt road. It was bits and pieces. This did not create any deep understanding between the parties on the big issues.
Many Israelis were not in much of a hurry to get to the endgame. They simply wanted the terrorism to stop. Right-wing Israeli politicians complained that the Palestinian leadership was not educating its people for peace, not collecting illegal weapons and not acting to reduce incitement against Israel. But many Israelis chose to focus instead on the relative quiet that they eventually came to enjoy as a result of the Israeli-Palestinian security relationship.
The Palestinians, however, while they began the process of building a state, lost faith as land transfers were routinely delayed and as they watched the West Bank and Gaza sliced up by Israeli bypass roads and expansion of Jewish settlements. The settler population increased by 80,000 between 1992 and 2001. The expected economic dividends of the peace path did not materialize; the Palestinian standard of living dropped by 20 percent. The Palestinian Authority proved increasingly corrupt. And Mr. Arafat kept setting and postponing dates for declaring Palestinian independence.—AND YET SO FAR: A special report.; Quest for Mideast Peace: How and Why It Failed, Deborah Sontag, The New York Times
'If the fundamental equation had to be land for peace, how can it have any meaning and any relevance when, on the one hand, land was being taken away on a daily basis and, on the other hand, the peace was being maligned on a daily basis.—Rob Malley, the National Security Council's Middle East expert under Mr. Clinton, at a public forum in Washington, 2001
Between external strife, internal pressure, violence, and the difficulty of negotiating the details, the five years to find an agreement elapsed.
Camp David Summit in 2000
But there was still a will to find a compromise. In 2000, Palestinians and Israelis made a heroic attempt at a final agreement in what’s called the 2000 Camp David Summit, which harked back to the Camp David Accords between Israel and Egypt. I’d say this is probably the most important point in the history of Israel and Palestine in the last 50 years.
Israel had a new leader, Ehud Barak, elected in 1999. He was much more open to an agreement, but his support at home was dropping. If he wanted a deal—which would increase his support—he needed it fast.
Bill Clinton, President of the USA at the time, was in the last months of his second term. If he wanted his name written in the annals of history, he needed a breakthrough in the Middle East, and fast.
Speed was actually positive: It would facilitate reaching an agreement before anybody could interfere. So Bill Clinton asked Yasser Arafat, leader of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), to put aside any piecemeal approach from the past and spend two intense weeks with him and Barak to hash out a full peace agreement. An all-or-nothing. Arafat was hesitant, but went.
They tried. They failed.
What happened at Camp David? Ehud Barak, pressured by time, made an offer to Yasser Arafat. Yasser Arafat made no counter-offer and walked away.
They tried again a few months later at Taba in Egypt, but by that time George Bush had already been elected to replace Bill Clinton, and Ehud Barak was two weeks away from elections he would lose to Ariel Sharon, a more nationalist prime minister. They didn’t reach an agreement.
To tell you how close they were to reaching an agreement, Arafat said he was prepared to accept the Taba plan proposed by Israel 18 months later. It was too late; the opportunity had passed.
As I read about all these events, sadness and anger overwhelmed me.
I started studying this thinking there was no way the demands from both sides could be met. I was wrong. They seemed so, so close on paper!
Why did Arafat walk away from Camp David without even a counter-offer? Why was he so wary of the negotiations to begin with? One of the hypotheses is that he didn’t want peace. Maybe it’s linked to the billions of dollars he controlled in personal accounts, or the arms deals he might have been involved with, or the Palestinian preference for violence at that time.
Palestinians claim that they did want peace, but the terms of the negotiation were still not acceptable. What was actually proposed? There were still some points of friction about the West Bank, Jerusalem, the right to return, and security concerns. We will explore these issues in the next article.
The result is that the Peace Camp was weakened. Israel thought: Barak offered too much, and yet it was not enough? Palestinians don’t want peace.
Historically, the Israeli parties who pushed the most for peace were those of the left, Labor and Meretz. But as time passed, the political affiliation to the left started shrinking, while the right started to grow.
This support was reflected in election results, with the left shrinking from nearly 45% of the vote in the 1990s to about 7% in 2022.8
The side that would take the lead in Israeli politics was the Nationalist Bloc.
Realpolitik Israel: the Nationalist Bloc
Israel’s Nationalist Bloc, led by the Likud party, wants to move forward without Palestinians. Remember all the things we discussed about settlements in the previous article? That’s all led by this bloc. When it’s in power—as it is today—the peace process with Palestine stalls or even backslides. Why would a majority of Israelis want that? Because of a combination of strategy and emotions.
Us vs Them
Here’s what Israelis supporting the Nationalist Bloc think:
First, Arabs have been trying to kick us out of the region for over a century, even kill us. They’ve gone to war many times to eliminate Israel. They don’t care about us. Why should we care about them?
Arabs don’t really care about other Arabs. If they did, they would worry about the hundreds of thousands who died in Sudan or Syria. They don’t even care about Palestinians, as they’ve kept them as refugees for 70 years. The only thing they care about is eliminating us. They’re antisemitic. Why would we deal with people who want to exterminate us?
Each time they’ve had an opportunity to sign a deal, they’ve walked away, attacked, lost, whined, and started all over again. They gambled and lost, but each time they lose, they want the play erased and start over again! Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.
For example, what Israel offered in Camp David in 2000 was incredible for Palestinians, unacceptable for us.9 How did Palestinians react? They walked away! And a couple of months later, they launched the Second Intifada, which killed over a thousand of us.10
In the 1990s, we withdrew from Zone A of the West Bank and violence has been much worse since then.
In 2005, we unilaterally withdrew from Gaza, without asking for anything in return. This was all Palestinians had ever wanted for the region. What did we get in return? The radical terrorist organization Hamas took over and spent the next few decades focused on killing us and hoping to erase our country from the face of the Earth.
Meanwhile, for years, we haven’t had a proper counterpart on the Palestinian side:
Hamas, in power in Gaza, is a terrorist organization who wants to eliminate Israel. Hard to negotiate with somebody who wants to kill you.
Fatah, in power in the West Bank, is corrupt, weak, and unpopular. Even if it were to reach an agreement, it wouldn’t be able to drag its population along.
None of these are anywhere near democracies. What kind of legitimacy do they have?!
None of these parties publicly recognizes Israel’s right to exist anymore. Palestinian authorities think the creation of Israel was a crime, they erase Israel in maps, teach children that all Israel’s land belongs to Palestine, have a long-term goal of conquering all of Israel in stages, and want to expand Hamas’s attacks to the West Bank.11 Why would we negotiate with people who don’t even agree with the fundamentals?
So why bother? Palestinians don’t really want peace with us!
This Us vs Them thinking has a direct ramification on Israel’s views on security:
And since they want to fight us to eliminate us, we need to preempt it.
In Gaza, we no longer have a presence because we gave it to them. So the only thing we can do is to blockade them—along with Egypt, which sees eye to eye with us on this. This prevents Hamas from sourcing the money, weapons, and materials to attack us, and pressures them to stop the violence.
In the West Bank, our presence ensures that we can control who is doing what, what plans they have against us, and what weapons they’re sourcing. We can stop most threats before they materialize.
This has another benefit: Controlling the West Bank makes it much harder for an invasion to come from the east, since the Jordan Valley and hills of the West Bank are perfect defenses.
Remember: Israel is extremely exposed without the protection of the mountains of the West Bank! Most of it is a flat coastal plain, extremely narrow, and easy to attack from the mountains.
Controlling the West Bank also allows us to deploy early warning platforms, in case there are incoming missiles or air fighters, so we can intercept them more easily.
This is also why keeping the Golan Heights is imperative.
As long as our neighbors want us dead, we must be able to defend ourselves.
The world has a track record of trying to eradicate Jews.
Arabs have tried it several times in the last few decades.
A majority of Palestinians want to eliminate Israel.
Palestinian leadership doesn’t officially recognize Israel and doesn’t give up the right to eradicate it.
Given these circumstances, I think it’s logical for Israelis to want to prioritize their security in a Jewish nation-state that ensures they will always be protected, no matter what. You can disagree with how they’re achieving this security and how they do it at the expense of other reasonable goals, but not with the goal of prioritizing it. I actually think that the fact that Palestine doesn’t have a state runs against Israel’s security, as we’ll see later.
In any case, this focus on security for Jews leads to the next step in their thinking:
Right to Return
So we can’t really give Palestinians a state, because they would use it to destroy us.
But we also can’t accept them in our state, because they’re more numerous than us! There are about 7M Jews in Israel and 2M Arabs. If you add the 14M Palestinians in the world, they would overwhelm us. Even if you just add up the Palestinian refugees, they would form a majority in Israel. Even if you don’t let any refugees come, but you only count the ~2M Arabs in Israel, the ~2M Palestinians in Gaza, and the ~3M in the West Bank, we would be approximately equal, and as a result Israel would not be the land of the Jews anymore. We would lose the one place on Earth that makes sure we’re never eliminated. So Palestinians will never be able to return.
This means we don’t want a one-state democracy. But as we said, we also don’t want a two-state solution. So we stopped focusing on solving their problems, because they just threaten us too much.
When you take apart each step of their thinking, you can understand the logic. But when you put them all together, that’s when it breaks. Indeed, the Nationalist Bloc in Israel does not want Palestine in a one-state solution, nor in a two-state solution. In other words, the Nationalist Bloc cannot see a solution.
This is why it undermines Palestinian Leadership.
Undermining Palestinian Leadership
The strategy of the Nationalist Bloc is to undermine whoever is a powerful leader in Palestine and prop up weaker parties, so nobody can strongly lead Palestinians to independence. Originally, this meant weakening Fatah or the PLO while supporting Hamas, which would further split Gaza and the West Bank, making a two-state deal really difficult.
Netanyahu had a flawed strategy of keeping Hamas alive and kicking… so he could use them [Hamas] to weaken the Palestinian Authority so that no-one in the world could demand that we hold negotiations [with the Palestinians]—Ehud Barak, former Prime Minister and Defense Minister of Israel, and former commander of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), via The Economist.
Early on, Israeli governments of the Nationalist Bloc supported the creation of Hamas to undermine the secular Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO): It approved of its creation as an association, and endorsed the establishment of the Islamic University of Gaza (a hotbed of militancy).
Over the last few years, Israel facilitated millions of dollars in direct or indirect funding to Hamas, and indirectly supported the regime by drastically increasing the number of worker permits in Gaza.12
When the Nationalist Bloc is in power, Israel punishes Palestinian leadership by doing things that inconvenience it. For example, Israel collects taxes on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, and at times it strategically withholds them.
As we saw in the previous article, none of this would be possible if Israel was against the clock. But it’s not: Palestinians are against the clock.
Israel is growing demographically and establishing facts on the ground in the West Bank. All the policies we saw support this: approving more settlements, piercing the West Bank, allowing outposts, supporting settlers financially…
Tension with Arabs started 150 years ago, and the conflict exploded 75 years ago. What if this continued for 100 more years? What if no Palestinian had ever seen Israel, if they were a minority compared to Jews, and 60% of the land of the West Bank had slowly been settled by Jews, who were as numerous as Palestinians? What if all that part of the West Bank was full of infrastructure and manufacturing plants and tourism spots for Israelis, and had been so for a century? Does that make the Palestinian position stronger or weaker?
What if 100 more years pass, nationalistic feelings increase in the Middle East at the expense of Arabic ones, reducing the will of Arabs to support Palestinians? What if values in the Middle East shift, and prosperity becomes more important than ethnic fraternity? What if oil gets replaced by solar power, and the source of Islamic money that came from Saudi Arabia or Iran dries up? What if the regional economy needs to rebalance itself towards trade and international openness to counter the loss of oil income? Wouldn’t most Muslim countries sign peace agreements with Israel? Wouldn’t they shun terrorism and violence more? Wouldn’t they have less money to fund it?
Time devastates Palestinian positions, and Israelis know it. So they’re not in a rush to solve the problem.
One of the reasons why time favors Israel is because they can rely on the reproduction and settlement of the ultra-orthodox Jews or Haredim, so they support them.
Mandate from Heaven Israel: the Religious Bloc
Of course, the religious Israelis belong to their own bloc. Many see the present-day state of Israel as a new instance of the biblical Land of Israel. They want to instantiate it again on Earth.
Depending on who you ask, the Land of Israel includes more or less territory from countries like Lebanon, Syria, andJordan. But the part it always includes is Judea and Samaria—that is, the West Bank.
For the religious bloc, the West Bank is simply a Jewish land according to scriptures. One of their goals is to make that scriptural promised land a reality. Naturally, they are assertive settlers in the West Bank.
There are two types of religious people in Israel13:
22% of Jews identify with religious Zionism: those who want a strong Jewish state in the Land of Israel.
13% of Israelis are Haredim, an ultra-orthodox group who is more interested in the spiritual side.
[Our settlement] is a city of Torah and a good place to raise our children in a religious environment. Also, buying apartments here is cheaper, and that's important. Families have a lot of children, and most of the men don't work but study Torah all day, so the money is important.—Osnat Fema, mother of six in an ultra-orthodox settlement in the West Bank, through a translator. Source.
The ultra-orthodox support the Nationalist Bloc by having children, and the religious Zionists by becoming settlers. Meanwhile, the Nationalist Bloc supports the ultra-orthodox community by exempting them from military service14, financing them to study the Torah all day long15, giving them power over housing policy, reducing their taxes, or providing additional subsidies, like funding their schools where they frequently don’t study science.
I don’t have a religious opinion on the topic. I’m sure the Haredim contribute to their community and Israel in general. But from a strictly economic standpoint, having a population segment that works less than the rest, pays fewer taxes, receives more benefits, costs billions to the government, doesn’t participate in defense, spends more time studying yet learns fewer pragmatic things, and grows faster than the average Israeli community sounds economically parasitic to me, and since a strong economy creates a powerful country, it sounds like the Nationalist Bloc is trading its country’s vitality for votes and prayers.
The Struggle for the Soul of Israel
A Jewish friend told me once that if you ask two Jews, they’ll give you three opinions. Push that to the level of a state, and you get a lot of very colorful debate with a mosaic of positions, which translate into different visions for the country. The three main ones are the Peace Camp, the Nationalist Bloc, and the Religious Bloc.16
These three visions are incompatible.
Of the three, it sounds to me like the most incompatible with the others is the religious one:
The Peace Camp favors peace with Palestine, which necessarily means giving up most of the West Bank, which is not something the scripture-following Zionists of the Religious Bloc would accept.
A strong and safe Israel preferred by the Nationalist Bloc needs an educated population, a powerful economy and a strong army, but the Haredim of the Religious Bloc contribute the least to each. They just bring more Israelis, including settlers—which might be good for Israel in the long term, but in the short term just brings violence. The demographic rise of this group, along with its support by the Nationalist Bloc, poses a serious problem to the viability of Israel.17
But the majority groups are the Peace Camp and the Nationalist Bloc, and their visions are antithetical: The Peace Camp wants peace because it’s the right thing to do and will lead to an end to the violence. The Nationalist Bloc wants security first and thinks peace is an obstacle to that.
They’ve been debating this for decades, struggling for the soul of the country, trying to pull it in different directions until they nearly tore it apart.18
As long as the Nationalist Bloc is in power, peace seems unlikely. For peace in the Middle East to happen, Israelis need to believe it’s possible.
If the Peace Camp regains power, what would a potential peace plan with Palestine look like? This is what we’ll cover in next week’s article.
It doesn’t mean this is all the truth. This is their narrative.
Around 70 AC, the Jews rebelled against the Romans, who destroyed their second temple and destroyed Jerusalem to teach them a lesson. A few decades later, the Jews rebelled again. This time, they were massacred, and the Romans tried to erase links of the land to the Jews. They renamed Jerusalem to Aelia Capitolina, and Judea—the name of the region until then—to Syria Palestina. Why Palestina? It comes from Philistines, traditional enemies of the Israelis living around today’s Gaza Strip. An optimistic reading of the act is that the Romans simply took the name of a nearby people. Or maybe they chose an enemy people to spite the Jews. I haven’t seen an actual account of Emperor Hadrian’s decision, and I’m not sure it exists. But regardless, we’re talking about an Israeli narrative here, and this is part of it. So if you have a bad association with Philistines, and that name is the same as Palestine, this might not be a coincidence: You probably come from a Judeo-Christian tradition, where Philistines were seen as bad because they were the enemy of the Jews, and that might be the very reason why Emperor Hadrian used that label. When I said in the past that the Brits took the term from the Ottomans, I didn’t mean to say that the Ottomans created it. Everybody has been using this name since antiquity. I just meant to say that the Ottomans inherited it, and then the Brits inherited it from them. It’s been called this name for nearly 2,000 years now.
Arab-Muslims who live in the West Bank or Gaza and were from anywhere in Mandatory Palestine before 1948 can be said to live in their own lands, don’t have a recognized state, and live under Israeli rule.
When I read this exchange, it sounded a bit one-sided to me. Palestinians would recognize Israel AND give up the main leverage they have (violence) AND reduce their claims to Gaza and the West Bank, and in exchange Israel would accept to negotiate with the PLO? This is, in fact, one of the criticisms that the process received from the Palestinian side.
When I saw this, I realized why the initial step of the negotiation had been so one-sided: Israel needed the PLO to first say “I will be a proper negotiation partner”, which meant the PLO had to change a lot. Then it was the turn of Israel to give, and they did give a fair amount of autonomy to the majority of Palestinians. The PLO gave up a lot upfront, and then it was for Israel to do the same. People are so sensitive to this topic that they try to interpret everything a bit too much in my opinion.
He’s been in power on and off for over 25 years.
Smart contracts solve this.
The Arab parties would likely support peace too. They account for about 10% of the votes in the last elections. Meretz didn’t even pass the minimum votes in the last election and ceased to exist in parliament. Everybody shifted to the right in Israel.
As in the Nationalist Bloc
About 1,000 Israelis (~700 civilians) and nearly 5,000 Palestinians (~2,200 civilians).
The PLO officially recognized Israel in the lead-up to the Oslo Accords. According to Israel’s Nationalist Bloc, that recognition did not get implemented in their official communications: The Palestinian Authority still uses maps and school textbooks that show all of Israel as “Palestine”; some senior Fatah leaders and official PA organs talk about liberating the entire land from the river to the sea”, and refer to a “75-year occupation”—as in, started in 1948, not 1967— and the eradication of Israel (or “the Zionist entity” since “the elimination of Israel” sounds less politically correct). This information usually comes from sites like Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) and the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). PMW is an Israeli non-profit, and MEMRI is a US-based one. MEMRI has a long history of criticism for its bias, which includes cherry-picking and even misleading translations from Arabic into English. I don’t speak Arabic, so I can’t verify these independently. But we should take into account two things here: First, some of these allegations might be true. Second, the Nationalist Bloc believes them.
The goal was to give an economic incentive for Hamas to stop the violence.
These groups have some overlap.
If in the last few months you heard about intense political turmoil within Israel, it’s linked to this: The Nationalist Bloc wanted to reduce the independence of the judiciary, but needed the votes of the religious bloc, which in turn wanted to support this so that the judiciary couldn’t strike down a new law that would exempt the Haredim from serving in the military.
The work participation rate among Haredim males is half that of non-religious Jews. 77% of Haredi women work, but only 53% of men.
Add the Arab Israelis, who account for 20% of the population, and you get the four tribes of Israel.
This year, the country lived through its biggest internal political schism, as the Nationalist Bloc tried to push through radical reforms to the judicial system.