Arab-Jewish Harmony Is Alive and Well in Haifa

Last month, Diana Buttu—an Israeli resident of Haifa and former adviser to the Palestine Liberation Organization—wrote an article for the New York Times arguing that the good relations between Arabs and Jews in her city are a “myth.” Combining lies, distortions, and half-truths, she concludes that her seven-year-old son has no future to look forward to in the Jewish state. Menachem Kellner, a prominent scholar of Maimonides who has lived in Haifa for 40 years, presents a different view of his hometown:

My wife and I . . . enjoy walking on Haifa’s beautiful beachfront. I cannot identify whether the large majority of the people enjoying the sunny stroll with us are Arab, at least not until they speak. The other morning we noticed a pair of armed security guards at the beach, speaking Arabic to each other. Despite [the outbreak of interethnic violence a few weeks ago], we discerned no tension in the air, or on people’s faces.

One of our Arab friends, . . . told us that his mother praises God every morning for living in the state of Israel. Her deceased husband had a brother who chose to flee Haifa in 1948. . . . Her husband, who chose to stay in Israel, made a successful life for himself and his family here and raised a son (our friend) who earned several academic degrees and is a highly regarded professional. Her husband’s brother, on the other hand, the one who had elected to flee to Lebanon, spent the rest of his life in a Palestinian refugee camp, denied by his Lebanese Arab brethren the rights of legal residence, not to mention citizenship.

It is true that Haifa suffered from one night of clashes between hooligans, both Jews and Arabs, at the beginning of the most recent round of fighting. Everyone in the city was shocked, embarrassed by the outliers in each side, and quickly came together to put a stop to it. . . . No doubt Buttu would reply to all this that it is easy for me, a Jew, to see Haifa through rose-colored glasses. Yet it is no less true that her own hatreds make it impossible for her to see beyond her falsehoods.

Read more at Algemeiner

More about: Haifa, Israeli Arabs, Israeli society

Hamas Has Its Own Day-After Plan

While Hamas’s leaders continue to reject the U.S.-backed ceasefire proposal, they have hardly been neglecting diplomacy. Ehud Yaari explains:

Over the past few weeks, Hamas leaders have been engaged in talks with other Palestinian factions and select Arab states to find a formula for postwar governance in the Gaza Strip. Held mainly in Qatar and Egypt, the negotiations have not matured into a clear plan so far, but some forms of cooperation are emerging on the ground in parts of the embattled enclave.

Hamas officials have informed their interlocutors that they are willing to support the formation of either a “technocratic government” or one composed of factions that agree to Palestinian “reconciliation.” They have also insisted that security issues not be part of this government’s authority. In other words, Hamas is happy to let others shoulder civil responsibilities while it focuses on rebuilding its armed networks behind the scenes.

Among the possibilities Hamas is investigating is integration into the Palestinian Authority (PA), the very body that many experts in Israel and in the U.S. believe should take over Gaza after the war ends. The PA president Mahmoud Abbas has so far resisted any such proposals, but some of his comrades in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) are less certain:

On June 12, several ex-PLO and PA officials held an unprecedented meeting in Ramallah and signed an initiative calling for the inclusion of additional factions, meaning Hamas. The PA security services had blocked previous attempts to arrange such meetings in the West Bank. . . . Hamas has already convinced certain smaller PLO factions to get on board with its postwar model.

With generous help from Qatar, Hamas also started a campaign in March asking unaffiliated Palestinian activists from Arab countries and the diaspora to press for a collaborative Hamas role in postwar Gaza. Their main idea for promoting this plan is to convene a “Palestinian National Congress” with hundreds of delegates. Preparatory meetings have already been held in Britain, Lebanon, Kuwait, and Qatar, and more are planned for the United States, Spain, Belgium, Australia, and France.

If the U.S. and other Western countries are serious about wishing to see Hamas defeated, and all the more so if they have any hopes for peace, they will have to convey to all involved that any association with the terrorist group will trigger ostracization and sanctions. That Hamas doesn’t already appear toxic to these various interlocutors is itself a sign of a serious failure.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Palestinian Authority