Friday, September 5, 2014

Sorry to Remind You Once Again (but Golda Meir was Right) Parts I-IV

...Golda Meir, the fourth prime minister of Israel, had a perfectly realistic point when she said that peace in the Middle East would only be possible "when Arabs love their children more than they hate us." I now think her line was incomplete: Peace won't come just when Arabs love their children more than they hate Jews; it may come when they also love their children more than they hate 'other' Muslims.

The late Israeli Prime Minister
Golda Meir famously remarked,
"Peace will come when the Arabs
love their children more than they
hate us."
Burak Bekdil..
Hürriyet Daily News and Gatestone Institute..
July-August 2014..

This four-part series of articles was written by Burak Bekdil, a fellow at the Middle East Forum, between July 16 and August 30, 2014.

Part I (published in Hürriyet Daily News on July 16, 2014)

"Why Golda Meir was right" – parts I and II (Aug. 23, 2011 and March 7, 2012) and their sequel, "Sorry to remind you again [but Golda Meir was right]" (Nov. 23, 2012) lured into my inbox dozens of what any sensible legal text would view as hate mail. Angry Turks and other Muslims were, in fact, unwillingly confirming what they protested. I knew the "sequel" would not be final.

Once again, half the world is fighting alongside the Hamas jihadists and their Jewish nemesis. First, some facts:

1. Last month, when there were no bombs and rockets travelling between Israel and the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, three Israeli teenagers, Gilad Shaar, Eyal Yifrach and Naftali Fraenkel, were kidnapped. Eighteen days later their bodies were found.

2. The kidnapping was a cause for celebrations in Gaza where crowds cheered. Palestine's experimental unity government handed out sweets in celebration. Palestinian youths brandished a new salute, raising three fingers and showing joy at the kidnapping. Hamas' political leader, Khaled Mashal, also Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's ideological next of kin, said: "We congratulate the kidnappers."

3. After the killing of the Israeli teenagers, a young Palestinian, Muhammad Abu Khdeir, disappeared, but was later found to have been brutally murdered. Israel acted quickly and arrested six radical Jews as perpetrators, three of whom confessed to their crime. Israel labeled the murderers as murderers. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Khdeir's father to offer him condolences. Strong expressions of condemnation were heard across the political spectrum, including from Rachel Fraenkel, the mother of Naftali, one of the murdered Israeli teenagers. Israelis had woken up to a new world in which Jews, too, could act like terrorists. Most Israelis agreed that the murderers should get the most severe punishment for their barbaric act. The father of one of the suspects said: "I am ashamed of him."

4. Then came the usual war. Hamas, which does not hide the fact that it stores, stockpiles and launches rockets from the midst of Palestinian civilian concentrations, or using Gazans, often elderly women or children, as human shields, fired (as of July 14) over 500 rockets into Israel where a majority of the population is within range of the missiles. Israeli air defenses successfully intercepted most of the enemy rockets and the Israeli Defense Forces counter attacked by bombing what it claims to be the homes of terrorists or homes where enemy weapons could be hidden. Despite warnings for the evacuation of these declared targets, Hamas keeps, instead, on locating civilians whom its ideology believes would be martyrs when killed. More than 150 martyrs so far…

5. Meanwhile, Hamas spokesman, Sami Abu-Zuhri said: "All Israelis are legitimate targets." What would the Palestinian death toll be if Mr. Netanyahu's spokesman declared all Palestinians as legitimate targets? But no, the cliché and boring underdog nation romanticism tells us Israel should not respond when under rocket attack because it is capable of intercepting the rockets.

But would, for instance, Erdoğan, who thinks a 15-year-old boy is a terrorist and should be shot by a gas canister, tolerate over 500 rockets over Turkish skies? Would he advice restraint if any group, party or country declared that all Turks are legitimate targets? Would he ignore it if any group, party or country pledged to fight down right to the last Turk?

But he has finally exhibited some honesty and admitted that: "We are never neutral when it comes to the Palestinian cause." Thank you, prime minister, for confirming this columnist when he wrote in 2009 that Turks as honest brokers between Arabs and Israelis sounded much like Greeks as honest brokers between Turkish and Greek Cypriots.

All the same, Mr. Erdoğan's rhetoric was not equally honest when he said, "there were no rockets fired into Israeli territory because there were no Israeli deaths." Was Mr. Erdoğan denying Hamas, who says it happily fires scores of rockets? The fact that there are no Israeli casualties does not mean Hamas does not want to kill; it just means Hamas, for the moment, cannot kill.

(Continue Parts II-IV)

Burak Bekdil is a columnist for the Ankara-based daily Hürriyet and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.

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