The Middle East needs a Palestinian Anwar Sadat — someone who can convince enough Palestinian Arabs that continuing to wage war against Israel has been and will remain futile. Instead, if peace is to come one day, the Palestinian Sadat must direct his people to accept that a settlement with Israel is the only way towards a future where their children will know a better life than the one war has brought them thus far.
This thinking is not so far-fetched and not very different from what led Arab signatories to the Abraham Accords. Once acceptance of Israel’s legitimate right to exist was settled, everything else was possible, including economic development and mutual defense against a common enemy – Iran.
Perhaps, in the despair and chaos after the October 7th pogrom and Israel’s military response, there can also be an opportunity for a Saudi initiative. Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud (MBS), the Crown Prince, could make the grand deal to change thinking completely. Could MBS assume a leadership role on behalf of like-minded Palestinian Arabs ready for a reset of governance? Are there Israeli Arabs – who have lived a completely different life as citizens of Israel – ready to take on a leadership role if MBS is in charge of the transition?
One thing is certain: nobody will step forward unless there is a convincing and united effort to replace the old-line Palestinian governance. Control must be set by the new players, and Israelis should be part of the transition to the new normal, where there is greater integration with the Arab population. Separation barriers and security checkpoints that were responses to terror attacks could be reduced and eventually removed. The question is, can the first step be taken now?
As the exchange of Israeli and foreign hostages captured during the nightmare of October 7 begins, the discourse has already moved on to proportionality and the comparative statistics concerning deaths, injuries, and suffering by each side.
Protest rallies around the world demonstrate support for Gazans who are suffering. However, new levels of antisemitism, which until recently lacked a catalyst for the torrid outpourings of Jew-hatred displayed on campuses, have emerged through social media and the streets of cities around the world.
Only a few weeks have passed since the Hamas terrorist attack on Israeli soil that resulted in over 1200 Israelis killed and 240 civilians taken hostage. Already, the world is quickly moving on to dismissing the horrors inflicted by Hamas.
The Israeli toll is already greater than that suffered during any previous armed conflict with hostile regional neighbors. The pogrom carried out by Hamas has ignited a global review of the history of hostilities between Jews and Arabs and perhaps finally, the contribution made by global antisemitic attitudes.
The atrocities which have been openly celebrated by Hamas and its supporters on social media have shocked the world. How does any human being do what the Hamas terrorists did on October 7th to other human beings? Is there a rational explanation for the killing of babies? What are the rest of us to think and, more importantly, what do we do about this barbaric military movement that threatens the very existence of millions of Israelis and Jews around the world? Not since the rise of Nazi Germany and global fascism has the free world had to contemplate a strategy to halt this growing threat to our Western civilization.
The world has entered a dark period. If there is any brightness to be seen, it is that some hostages are finally being released, and relief supplies are being allowed into Gaza to stave off another humanitarian crisis.
The early phase of the war to eradicate Hamas in Gaza is well underway with Israeli aerial bombardment and ground operations. So far, the war has remained isolated to Gaza alone and has not expanded to include additional Iranian-backed players that surround Israel. Two American aircraft carriers in the eastern Mediterranean are present to ward off Iran and its proxies in Lebanon and Syria. At this time, nobody knows what will unfold or who will make the next strategic move.
Regardless of how long this war lasts, expectations are for an eventual Israeli military victory over Hamas. But if Hamas is dethroned from its rule over Gaza, the question many are asking is – what then? Who replaces Hamas? Where are the future leaders of Palestinian Arabs in Gaza, Judea, and Samaria that can stop the wars? Thirty years after the signing of the Oslo Agreement, what will happen next?
At a webinar [link below] recorded on October 13, 2023, with ISGAP Chair Natan Sharansky and other scholars looking for a greater understanding of unfolding events, a question was asked as to why Israel has had such difficulty finding Palestinian leaders that would comply with the spirit of the Oslo agreement and move forward towards a negotiated settlement. He replied that the decision to make the deal with Arafat – to make peace with a dictator – was an error that was made because Israel’s leaders hoped that it would be a shortcut to peace. Peace would come in three years, not thirty. But the results are clear for all to see. There can be no successful peace negotiations with dictators. Thirty years of propaganda and teaching of Jew hatred to children who have now become adults has produced a generation that will not be easily swayed.
The focus should pass to those who have not yet been poisoned, and perhaps a search can begin to find leadership within the greater Arab community that can help build the bridge to a future peace. Surely, it is time to completely disregard the old guard and find a new generation of Arabs – whether they are in Gaza, the West Bank region of Judea and Samaria, Jordan, or elsewhere in the world.
Or perhaps that new generation of leadership is already sitting in plain view – Israeli Arabs. These citizens make up 20% of Israel’s population and have lived with freedom, democracy, and the opportunity to thrive in Israel. Can the Sadat of the Palestinian Arabs be living today within Israel?
“Friends and Enemies in the Time of War” with Natan Sharansky, Chair of ISGAP, recorded October 13, 2023
Watch the webinar here