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’s Hostage Diplomacy

Ron Ben-Yishai explains Hamas’s current calculations:

Strategically speaking, Hamas is hoping to add more and more days to the pause currently in effect, setting a new reality in stone, one which will convince the United States to get Israel to end the war. At the same time, they still have most of the hostages hidden in every underground crevice they could find, and hope to exchange those with as many Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners currently in Israeli prisons, planning on “revitalizing” their terrorist inclinations to even the odds against the seemingly unstoppable Israeli war machine.

Chances are that if pressured to do so by Qatar and Egypt, they will release men over 60 with the same “three-for-one” deal they’ve had in place so far, but when Israeli soldiers are all they have left to exchange, they are unlikely to extend the arrangement, instead insisting that for every IDF soldier released, thousands of their people would be set free.

In one of his last speeches prior to October 7, the Gaza-based Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar said, “remember the number one, one, one, one.” While he did not elaborate, it is believed he meant he wants 1,111 Hamas terrorists held in Israel released for every Israeli soldier, and those words came out of his mouth before he could even believe he would be able to abduct Israelis in the hundreds. This added leverage is likely to get him to aim for the release for all prisoners from Israeli facilities, not just some or even most.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security