NEWSHAM: The Palestine paradox

Better Dead Than Red

It’s not often that the Israeli government and Hamas agree on something. Sure, each has sought to assassinate members of the other, neither of them much fancy pork, and they both thought that the United Nations inquiry into the Gaza flotilla raid was “unjust,” albeit for completely different reasons. But today, they speak with one voice: the UN vote on Palestinian statehood is a terrible idea.

They even phrase their reasoning similarly: both insist that security must precede statehood. The way Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put it before the UN — “Israel wants peace with a Palestinian state, but the Palestinians want a state without peace” — isn’t that divergent in its assertiveness from the stance of Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas leader and disputed Palestinian Prime Minister. He bashed the UN move on Friday, explaining that “states liberate their land first, and then the political body can be established.”

Obviously, Netanyahu isn’t talking about Palestinian security, much less security in Hamas’ claims to the entirety of “historical Palestine,” and Hamas isn’t talking about Israel “liberating” Gaza and the West Bank. But that doesn’t change the fact that demanding security should precede statehood is incredibly unrealistic. The new state of South Sudan is hardly secure, but no one opposed their admission to the UN last week or insisted they guarantee the security of northern Sudan beforehand. Most states — even Israel and the United States — are born of conflict. It’s completely delusional to expect peace to reign in a situation where spoilers, from Hamas to the extreme rightists of Israel, abound.

Nor do their diametrically opposed goals diminish Hamas and Netanyahu’s shared opposition to Abbas’ UN appeal. The status quo of stymied negotiations and failed diplomatic overtures benefits Hamas by proving Fatah to be ineffective. Netanyahu is also aided by a stagnant Palestinian drive for statehood; it is what holds his coalition together and keeps the right-wing crazies who threaten to dissolve the government, like Avigdor Lieberman — who has implicitly called for Gaza to be nuked — at bay.

So where does America find itself amidst all this?

Frankly, we don’t have many options. In spite of our sending Israel crateloads of so-called “bunker buster” bombs and imploring them to halt settlement construction, Netanyahu snubbed us to hold his far-right friends close. Several members of the American defense establishment — most notably former Defense Secretary Robert Gates — haven’t been too happy with this behavior, either, according to a report filed by Bloomberg. This at least partially contributes to the predicament we face in the UN today.

Despite its unlikelihood, the prospect of a yes vote is tempting: it would strengthen our image among Palestinians and in the Arab world, and deal a potentially fatal blow to Hamas. But at the same time, the declaration of statehood submitted by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, defined by the 1967 boundary lines, leaves nearly 400,000 Israelis within Palestine. A conditional vote like the one proposed by former Israeli cabinet minister Isaac Herzog is simply not feasible. Yet our seemingly inevitable no vote leaves us in terrible shape; as Prince Turki al-Faisal of Saudi Arabia wrote in the New York Times, a no vote “would further undermine [America’s] relations with the Muslim world, empower Iran and threaten regional stability.” Israel is redoubling its guard, preparing for massive crowds to march on its borders — bad news for a country that secretly admits it doesn’t “do Gandhi very well.”

Stuck between siding with an illiberal thug who spits in our face and forcing a chaotic and violent paradigm shift upon Israel, the choice isn’t a good one. And whatever we end up doing, the results won’t be pretty, either.

Jack Newsham is a sophomore in Morse College.


  • Arafat

    Page 1.

    It’s interesting how pundits ignore the real basis for the problem.

    In the core Islamic texts, there is a great deal that drives the Arab world to reject compromise with Jews and Israel
    For example, Muhammad says the earth belongs to Muhammad and Allah, warns the Jews to accept Islam if they wish to be safe, and tells them he wants to deport them:
    In Sahih Muslim, a canonical hadith collection:
    Book 019, Number 4363:

    It has been narrated on the authority of Abu Huraira who said: We were (sitting) in the mosque when the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) came to us and said: (Let us) go to the Jews. We went out with him until we came to them. The Messenger of Allah [Muhammad] (may peace be upon him) stood up and called out to them (saying):
    O ye assembly of Jews, accept Islam (and) you will be safe.
    They said: Abu’l-Qasim, you have communicated (God’s Message to us). The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said:
    I want this (i. e. you should admit that God’s Message has been communicated to you), accept Islam and you would be safe.
    They said: Abu’l-Qisim, you have communicated (Allah’s Message). The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: I want this… – He said to them (the same words) the third time (and on getting the same reply) he [Muhammad] added:
    You should know that the earth belongs to Allah and His Apostle, and I wish that I should expel you from this land. Those of you who have any property with them should sell it, otherwise they should know that the earth belongs to Allah and His Apostle (and they may have to go away leaving everything behind).
    More core Islamic texts that explain why the Muslim Arab world rejects Israel
    From page 464 (690 in the Arabic) of the earliest Muslim biography of Muhammad, Muhammad presides over the beheading of 600 to 900 Jews:
    Then [the Banu Qurayza tribe] surrendered, and the apostle [Muhammad] confined them in Medina in the quarter of d. al-Harith, a woman of B. al-Najjar. Then the apostle went out to the market of Medina (which is still its market today) and dug trenches in it. Then he sent for them and struck off their heads in those trenches as they were brought out to him in batches. Among them was the enemy of Allah Huyayy b. Akhtab and Ka`b b. Asad their chief. There were 600 or 700 in all, though some put the figure as high as 800 or 900. As they were being taken out in batches to the apostle they asked Ka`b what he thought would be done with them. He replied, ‘Will you never understand? Don’t you see that the summoner never stops and those who are taken away do not return? By Allah it is death!’ This went on until the apostle made an end of them.

  • Arafat

    Page 2.

    On page 369 (554 in the Arabic) of the earliest Muslim biography of Muhammad, Muhammad says “kill any Jew who falls into your power”:
    It’s a “beautiful” story of two brothers, Muhayyissa and Huwayyisa: (To avoid confusing the two brothers, keep in mind that the brother whose name begins with M is the Murderer in the story.)
    “The apostle [Muhammad] said, ‘Kill any Jew that falls into your power.’ Thereupon Muhayyisa bin Masud leapt upon Ibn Sunayna, a Jewish merchant with whom they had social and business relations, and killed him. Huwayisa was not a Muslim at the time though he was the elder brother. When Muhayyisa killed [the Jewish merchant] Huwayyisa began to beat [his brother Muhayyisa], saying, ‘You enemy of God, did you kill him when much of the fat on your belly comes from his wealth?’ Muhayyisa answered, ‘Had the one who ordered me to kill him ordered me to kill you I would have cut your head off.’…[Huwayyisa] replied, ‘By God, if Muhammad had ordered you to kill me would you have killed me?’ [Muhayissa] said, ‘Yes, by God, had he ordered me to cut off your head I would have done so.’ [Huwayyisa] exclaimed, “By God, a religion which can bring you to this is marvellous!’ and [Huwayyisa] became a Muslim.”
    In core Islamic texts, Muhammad says that one day the very trees and stones will help Muslims to kill Jews.
    He says it both in Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim, Islam’s two most canonical hadith collections:
    Sahih Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 56, Number 791:
    Narrated ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar:
    I heard Allah’s Apostle saying, “The Jews will fight with you, and you will be given victory over them so that a stone will say, ‘O Muslim! There is a Jew behind me; kill him!’ ”

  • Arafat

    Page 3.

    Sahih Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 52, Number 176:
    Narrated ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar:
    Allah’s Apostle [Muhammad] said, “You (i.e. Muslims) will fight with the Jews till some of them will hide behind stones. The stones will (betray them) saying, ‘O ‘Abdullah (i.e. slave of Allah)! There is a Jew hiding behind me; so kill him.’ ”
    Sahih Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 52, Number 177:
    Narrated Abu Huraira:
    Allah’s Apostle [Muhammad] said, “The Hour will not be established until you fight with the Jews, and the stone behind which a Jew will be hiding will say. “O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, so kill him.”
    Sahih Muslim, Book 041, Number 6981:
    Ibn ‘Umar reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: You will fight against the Jews and you will kill them until even a stone would say: Come here, Muslim, there is a Jew (hiding himself behind me); kill him.
    Sahih Muslim, Book 041, Number 6983:
    Abdullah b. ‘Umar reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: You and the Jews would fight against one another until a stone would say: Muslim, here is a Jew behind me; come and kill him.
    Sahih Muslim, Book 041, Number 6984:
    Abdullah b. ‘Umar reported that Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: The Jews will fight against you and you will gain victory over them until the stone would say: Muslim, here is a Jew behind me; kill him.
    Sahih Muslim Book 041, Number 6985:
    Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger [Muhammad] (may peace be upon him) as saying: The last hour would not come unless the Muslims will fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and a stone or a tree would say: Muslim, or the servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him; but the tree Gharqad would not say, for it is the tree of the Jews.
    There is much, much more.

  • jm252

    Interesting article. Thanks Mr Newsham.

  • jnewsham


  • River_Tam

    The recycled Krugman column strikes again!

    • jnewsham

      Who’s Krugman?

      • River_Tam

        The inventor of the Hep B vaccine.

  • The Anti-Yale

    Arafat makes me look taciturn

    Good luck with solving the land disputes over the former Garden of Eden.

  • BaruchAtta

    Funny, but isn’t the “Settlements” issue absurd while there is still no treaty? As soon as there is an agreement, and the borders are set, then I am sure the Israelis will not be building any houses, roads, schools or hospitals in Palestinian land. But until an agreement, and borders are agreed, then there are no agreed borders. The cease fire lines of 1949 are not borders, they are just the limit of what the five legions of Arabs could conquer in war away from the Jewish Holocaust survivors. So – the Arabs should sign on the dotted line first and foremost.

  • Jaysonrex

    One wonders to what extend Hamas was humiliated by the “exchange rate” of 1024 to 1.
    I am sure they believe it was a smashing victory in their war against Israel and democracy. So be it!
    Soon, most of those Arabs will be dead or back in jail. And the Arab Muslim world will again try to destroy the Jewish state. In fact, after failing five times in a row, there is no reason not to try a sixth or a seventh or a nth time – just to keep the so-called believers (in Muhammad, God’s last prophet on earth – in his own ‘modest’ opinion) focused.
    By the way, there will NEVER be peace in the Middle East or anywhere else where Islamists are present. Not in the Christian world nor in any other one (Hindu, Buddhist, etc.), since the basis of Islam is the Jihad – the endless war against “non believers”. The day Islam abandons this concept, it will disappear forever.