What Palestinians Can Learn from Martin Luther King, Jr.

Jan. 24 2022

Last week, Americans celebrated the life and legacy of the great civil-rights leader Martin Luther King. The veteran Palestinian activist Bassam Eid, who has dedicated much of his career to criticizing Israeli policies in the West Bank and Gaza, reflects on what his own people can learn from this great man:

Dr. King would have been proud to see the progress Israel has made toward making his dream of a free, equitable society a reality in the Middle East. In his legendary “I Have a Dream” speech, King shared his vision for a world in which his children would be judged “not for the color of their skin, but for the content of their character.”

Today in Israel, one can see the manifestation of Dr. King’s dream. Israel is a sprawling, diverse nation, where diverse communities coexist peacefully. Regardless of their background, Israelis—be they Jews or Arabs—can practice their religion freely, serve in government, and raise their children without fear of retribution.

Dr. King also recognized that there can be no justice and equality without democracy and economic opportunity. The event where he gave his 1963 speech was called “The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.” Israel has internalized this message with its booming economy, and it is sharing at least some of that wealth. Every day, thousands of Palestinians are allowed to cross the border into Israel to work side by side with Israelis.

Meanwhile, the feckless Palestinian leadership has rejected this vision for decades, to the detriment of our people. The Palestinian Authority (PA) is currently led by a president who just celebrated the seventeenth anniversary of his election to a four-year term. Rather than use his position to improve life for ordinary Palestinians, Mahmoud Abbas has spent his nearly two decades in office enriching his cronies. He has blocked fair elections, hindered peace with Israel, and done nothing to create jobs and opportunity in the West Bank. Things are even worse in Gaza, where a terrorist group runs the show and economic opportunity is nonexistent.

Read more at Newsweek

More about: Israeli Arabs, Martin Luther King, Palestinians

Syria’s Druze Uprising, and What It Means for the Region

When the Arab Spring came to Syria in 2011, the Druze for the most part remained loyal to the regime—which has generally depended on the support of religious minorities such as the Druze and thus afforded them a modicum of protection. But in the past several weeks that has changed, with sustained anti-government protests in the Druze-dominated southwestern province of Suwayda. Ehud Yaari evaluates the implications of this shift:

The disillusionment of the Druze with Bashar al-Assad, their suspicion of militias backed by Iran and Hizballah on the outskirts of their region, and growing economic hardships are fanning the flames of revolt. In Syrian Druze circles, there is now open discussion of “self-rule,” for example replacing government offices and services with local Druze alternative bodies.

Is there a politically acceptable way to assist the Druze and prevent the regime from the violent reoccupation of Jebel al-Druze, [as they call the area in which they live]? The answer is yes. It would require Jordan to open a short humanitarian corridor through the village of al-Anat, the southernmost point of the Druze community, less than three kilometers from the Syrian-Jordanian border.

Setting up a corridor to the Druze would require a broad consensus among Western and Gulf Arab states, which have currently suspended the process of normalization with Assad. . . . The cost of such an operation would not be high compared to the humanitarian corridors currently operating in northern Syria. It could be developed in stages, and perhaps ultimately include, if necessary, providing the Druze with weapons to defend their territory. A quick reminder: during the Islamic State attack on Suwayda province in 2018, the Druze demonstrated an ability to assemble close to 50,000 militia men almost overnight.

Read more at Jerusalem Strategic Tribune

More about: Druze, Iran, Israeli Security, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy