The Israeli President Had Every Reason to Celebrate Hanukkah in Hebron

On the first night of Hanukkah, President Isaac Herzog—a former leader of the Labor party—visited the city of Hebron to take part in a public menorah lighting at the cave of the Machpelah, traditionally held to be the resting place of the biblical matriarchs and patriarchs. Because Hebron was occupied by Jordan between 1948 and 1967, and because its Jewish population tends toward the Zionist religious right, the move was roundly condemned by left-wing Israeli leaders, and their criticisms echoed in the Western media. Jerold Auerbach comments offers some context:

Currently, 700 Hebron Jews inhabit a tiny, enclosed, and shabby neighborhood surrounded by 200,000 Muslims in the modernized and prosperous Arab sector. Indeed, Jews are outnumbered by Arabs in their own constricted quarter. The notion that Hebron Arabs live under the rule of Jewish “settlers” is a striking demonstration of ignorance and bias.

The millennia-old Hebron Jewish community was destroyed in 1929 by Arab rioters who rampaged through the Jewish Quarter, savagely murdering men, women, and children because they were Jews. Three children under the age of five were slaughtered, one of whom had his head torn off. Teenage girls, mothers, and grandmothers were raped. Yeshiva students had their throats slit. Sixty-seven Jews were brutally murdered; six synagogues were desecrated; dozens of Torah scrolls were mutilated. Not until Israel’s victory in the 1967 Six-Day War nearly four decades later did Jews begin to return to live in their ancient holy city.

The irrefutable facts of Jewish history affirm Herzog’s choice of the Machpelah burial site to light the first Hanukkah candle.

Read more at JNS

More about: Hanukkah, Hebron, Isaac Herzog, Israeli politics

How to Turn Palestinian Public Opinion Away from Terror

The Palestinian human-rights activist Bassem Eid, responding to the latest survey results of the Palestinian public, writes:

Not coincidentally, support for Hamas is much higher in the West Bank—misgoverned by Hamas’s archrivals, the secular nationalist Fatah, which rules the Palestinian Authority (PA)—than in Gaza, whose population is being actively brutalized by Hamas. Popular support for violence persists despite the devastating impact that following radical leaders and ideologies has historically had on the Palestinian people, as poignantly summed up by Israel’s Abba Eban when he quipped that Arabs, including the Palestinians, “never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”

Just as worrying is the role of propaganda and misinformation, which are not unique to the Palestinian context but are pernicious there due to the high stakes involved. Misinformation campaigns, often fueled by Hamas and its allies, have painted violent terrorism as the only path to dignity and rights for Palestinians. Palestinian schoolbooks and public media are rife with anti-Semitic and jihadist content. Hamas’s allies in the West have matched Hamas’s genocidal rhetoric with an equally exterminationist call for the de-normalization and destruction of Israel.

It’s crucial to consider successful examples of de-radicalization from other regional contexts. After September 11, 2001, Saudi Arabia implemented a comprehensive de-radicalization program aimed at rehabilitating extremists through education, psychological intervention, and social reintegration. This program has had successes and offers valuable lessons that could be adapted to the Palestinian context.

Rather than pressure Israel to make concessions, Eid argues, the international community should be pressuring Palestinian leaders—including Fatah—to remove incitement from curricula and stop providing financial rewards to terrorists.

Read more at Newsweek

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Palestinian public opinion