In a courageous Yediot Ahronot article, Ray Hanania wrote
that a way must be found to bring forth moderate leadership and moderate policies in the Israeli-Palestinian struggle. There can be no doubt in the mind of any decent person that Ray Hanania is right. The question we have all been asking is what people of good will can do to bring about this miracle. More particularly, what should Zionists do when a Palestinian moderate speaks out?
The reality is that until we find leaders on both sides who have a vision for a just and fair peace, things will worsen.
There's going to be more violence. More killing. More frustration. More parents crying over the death of their children. More families weeping at the loss of their land. More communities despondent as violent events darken their hopes for peace.
But as things do get worse, hope becomes more powerful.
One of the big problems in this conflict is that the extremists have always had so much power. Instead of seeking peace, they play to public emotions to "settle scores." But when you settle one score, you create new scores to be settled on the other side.
Palestinian extremists have always used violence as a response to Israeli actions. Israeli extremists have always used the violence to justify more violence, more home demolitions, more land confiscation and more illegal settlements.
It's just a part of the vicious circle of life that dominates Palestinian and Israeli relations.
Is there an Israeli leader who has the courage to do what needs to be done? Is there a Palestinian leader who has the courage to do what needs to be done?
To which, as I noted elsewhere, I think we must say for the most part, "Amen, Amen and Amen," even if we do not agree with every word. It is no secret to anyone that moderate views are not well received (to say the least) in Palestinian society. Sari Nusseibeh proposed that Palestinians should give up Right of Return for refugees and make peace with Israel, and was branded a traitor by fanatics of the BADIL lobby and others. Nusseibeh also spoke out repeatedly against academic boycotts of Israel.
One would like to hope that Palestinian moderates would get at least an understanding reception from our, Zionist side, but that is not always the case. Sari Nusseibeh's peace initiative was greeted by a campaign to prove that he is not a moderate, and that he was involved in anti-Israel activities ranging from Arabization of Jerusalem to calling down scud missile strikes on Israel. Given that Sari Nusseibeh is a member of the Fateh, it is hardly surprising that he was involved in Arabization of Jerusalem. Fateh is not a Zionist organization. Obviously, if there is going to be peace, it requires that former enemies moderate their positions. It is not to be expected however that either Nusseibeh or Hanania or any other Palestinian will champion the cause of Israel.
Hanania's article in Yedioth was greeted with a host of comments to the effect that all Palestinians are terrorists and that Hanania is not sincere. Martin Sherman wrote a rebuttal in Yediot Ahronot that made the claim that there is no symmetry between us nice Zionists and the evil Palestinian terrorists, in an attempt to discredit Hanania. Instead of shaking the outstretched hand of peace, Sherman launches into a diatribe that takes a rather one-sided view of the conflict, beginning with the sub-head:
Israel produces science, hi-tech; PA produces martyrs, corruption
Modesty is becoming. We can remember that Israel also produces settlers who uproot olive trees, Omri Sharon who is going to jail, Greek island scandals, and some other unsavory things. In any case, Hanania is not the Palestinian Authority.
Many of Sherman's claims have some justice behind them, but even if they were all correct, is it wise or courteous to turn away kindness with hard words? And, from the Palestinian point of view, there was not a little justice in Hanania's point of view.
However, Sherman's attempt to prove "false symmetry" as he called it - was really based on false information. Sherman wrote:
There is nothing new in Palestinian attempts to draw parallels between mainstream Israeli politicians (both right- and left-wing) and Palestinian terrorists. For instance it is certainly true that most Palestinians believe Yitzhak Rabin was a terrorist, and compare the Likud to Hamas, but the Palestinians who make this obscene comparison, conveniently ignore the fact that no Likud suicide bombers have blown themselves up in crowded casbah-cafťs yelling "Jabotinsky is Great."
What is certainly true, is that Martin Sherman "pulled a fast one" here. Ray Hanania never wrote that Yitzhak Rabin was a terrorist, and Ray Hanania never compared Likud to Hamas. This is what Ray Hanania wrote about the Hamas, as I discussed elsewhere:
Like all religious movements, Hamas is driven by faith and therefore cannot compromise.
The belief that Hamas will moderate and renounce violence, embrace peace based on compromise and recognize Israel is naive and will lead to an escalation of violence.
In fact, those who claim Hamas will "moderate" are basically arguing that Hamas engaged in years of suicide bombings and violence against Israel simply to wrest government power from the rival Fatah organization.
A Hamas Palestinian State is no state at all.
The inevitable escalation of violence will be as painful and as costly in lives not just for Palestinians, but for Israelis, too.
That is what Ray Hanania wrote about Hamas. It is about as clear as can be. Sherman knows quite well that this is Hanania's view of Hamas, since it was published not long ago in Yedioth Ahronoth, in the same column where Ray Hanania published his article on moderation.
It is also certainly true that Sherman has no statistics whatever about what Palestinians believe. It is really a cheap shot to smear a person because of the supposed beliefs of other people in his ethnic group: "For instance, it is certainly true that all you Jews..." For instance, it is certainly true that some Jewish settlers uproot olive trees of Arab Palestinians, but Martin Sherman would not like it if I accused him of doing that. For instance, it is certainly true that most Israelis say they would not like to live in the same building as an Arab, but it would not be fair to automatically accuse Martin Sherman of being prejudiced, would it? Martin Sherman did not answer objectionable points of Hanania's article. Instead, he is trying to discredit Hanania and all Palestinians by attributing to them automatically beliefs that might be held by some Palestinians. How could any Arab Palestinian moderate ever be heard, if the Martin Shermans will automatically pop up every time and say "all you Palestinians equate Likud and Hamas" no matter what the Palestinian actually said?
It is also well to approach dialogue with some humility and introspection. Sherman continued:
...but the Palestinians who make this obscene comparison, conveniently ignore the fact that no Likud suicide bombers have blown themselves up in crowded casbah-cafťs yelling "Jabotinsky is Great."
That is literally true, but can anyone tell us what Baruch Goldstein yelled when he shot all those Arabs in the Cave of the Patriarchs? And can anyone tell us what members of the Irgun yelled when they placed bombs in the Arab market in Haifa in 1938? Does it matter if they yelled anything at all?
Hanania's plea was very simple. If we are ever going to get out of the mud, we have to stop thinking about each other in the same old way and generating the same old propaganda and reacting in the same way. Sherman's response was to react in the same old way.
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