The Next Gaza War Has Been Postponed, but For How Long?

April 2 2019

Given the recent rocket attacks on Israel and the fact that Hamas planned a larger-than-usual mass demonstration at the border fence for last Saturday, there has been ample reason to fear that another military confrontation, like that of 2014, could begin at any moment. The IDF had called up reserve units and prepared them to enter the Strip if necessary. But the protests were far less violent than the weekly riots of the past year, only a few rockets were fired, and Israeli snipers fastidiously held their fire. There has been quiet since. Alex Fishman explains what he refers to as the “Gaza timebomb”:

The Egyptians were able to find a convergence point between Israeli and Hamas interests at least for the next few days, perhaps even until after the April 9 elections. But the detonator is still attached and the charge is still hot. . . . Therefore, the entire army is still on alert in the south, in the north, and in the West Bank. [But] both sides have assumed a gradual process of normalization, which could even be extended—incrementally—to last for more than a year. . . .

In the first stage, Hamas commits itself to stopping the firebombs sent by balloon, the nightly harassment, and the flotillas. The demonstrations can continue, but all the [terrorist] organizations active in the Gaza Strip have promised the Egyptians that they will create a security cordon to prevent demonstrators from reaching the security fence—as was the case on Saturday. It turns out that of the tens of thousands who took part in the demonstrations [that day], almost 20 percent were “stewards” whose job was to prevent the masses from nearing the fence. . . .

As for the “mistaken” firing of long-range rockets into Israel, Hamas has promised the Egyptians—and has already launched—a comprehensive review of the firing locations and to correct all the “mishaps” and check the “procedures.” Failure to do so, the Egyptians declared, would mean settling accounts with [Cairo] after the next so-called mishap, and not with the Israelis.

For its part, Israel committed itself to restoring the border crossings into Gaza to normal operations and to send in fuel in order to restart the electricity turbines in the Strip. . . . Hamas has also been pledged $30 million per month for the next six months [from multiple third parties], which will go toward public works as part of UN projects, and Israel has promised to allow Hamas to export agricultural goods not only to the West Bank but also to Israel and Europe.

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Read more at Ynet

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