Israel Must Seek to Come Out Ahead in Its New Battle with Hamas

March 27 2019

Early Monday morning, militants in Gaza launched a rocket that hit a home in the vicinity of Tel Aviv, injuring several residents, including two small children. Israel responded with extensive airstrikes at Hamas targets in Gaza, returned by dozens of Hamas rockets aimed at communities near the Strip. On Tuesday the terrorist group announced a ceasefire even as balloons with explosives attached were still being launched into Israel. It is too soon to know whether the rocket fire will resume. Yoav Limor comments:

If Hamas acts with [some] degree of restraint, perhaps this round of escalation—the umpteenth such round over the past year—will not become war. [However], Hamas’s rocket attack on Monday was a message to Israel. It was a warning that the terrorist group could have just as easily hit the Ben-Gurion International Airport and other strategic assets. Another terrorist group, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, can also do the same. . . .

Israel [should] try to make sure this latest escalation ends with actual gains. It cannot let Hamas’s repeated harassment of border communities with airborne incendiary devices go unpunished. Israel must also change the rules of the game by creating a secure perimeter near the border fence that would be off-limits to rioters. And above all, Israel must extract a clearcut statement from Hamas pledging not to engage in rocket fire and to prevent others from doing so.

Such a statement would be issued only if Hamas feels it has something to lose. Israel must not yield on this because otherwise the hostilities will erupt again.

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Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security

Who Changed the Term “Nakba” into a Symbol of Arab Victimization?

April 19 2019

In contemporary Palestinian discourse, not to mention that of the Palestinians’ Western supporters, the creation of the state of Israel is known as the Nakba, or catastrophe—sometimes explicitly compared with the Holocaust. The very term has come to form a central element in a narrative of passive Palestinian suffering at Jewish hands. But when the Syrian historian Constantin Zureiq first used the term with regard to the events of 1948, he meant something quite different, and those responsible for changing its meaning were none other than Israelis. Raphael Bouchnik-Chen explains:

In his 1948 pamphlet The Meaning of the Disaster (Ma’na al-Nakba), Zureiq attributed the Palestinian/Arab flight to the stillborn pan-Arab assault on the nascent Jewish state rather than to a premeditated Zionist design to disinherit the Palestinian Arabs. “We [Arabs] must admit our mistakes,” [he wrote], “and recognize the extent of our responsibility for the disaster that is our lot.” . . . In a later book, The Meaning of the Catastrophe Anew, published after the June 1967 war, he defined that latest defeat as a “Nakba,” . . . since—just as in 1948—it was a self-inflicted disaster emanating from the Arab world’s failure to confront Zionism. . . .

It was only in the late 1980s that it began to be widely perceived as an Israeli-inflicted injustice. Ironically, it was a group of politically engaged, self-styled Israeli “new historians” who provided the Palestinian national movement with perhaps its best propaganda tool by turning the saga of Israel’s birth upside down, with aggressors turned into hapless victims, and vice-versa, on the basis of massive misrepresentation of archival evidence.

While earlier generations of Palestinian academics and intellectuals had refrained from exploring the origins of the 1948 defeat, the PLO chairman Yasir Arafat, who was brought to Gaza and the West Bank as part of the 1993 Oslo Accords and was allowed to establish his Palestinian Authority (PA) in parts of those territories, grasped the immense potential of reincarnating the Nakba as a symbol of Palestinian victimhood rather than a self-inflicted disaster. In 1998, he proclaimed May 15 a national day of remembrance of the Nakba. In subsequent years, “Nakba Day” has become an integral component of the Palestinian national narrative and the foremost event commemorating their 1948 “catastrophe.”

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Read more at BESA Center

More about: Arab World, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, New historians, Yasir Arafat