On a regular basis, Blitz, the most influential anti-militancy newspaper has been interviewing various prominent individuals in the world. We are particularly interested in interviewing Israeli and Jewish individuals who already enjoy acclaim in their areas of activities. To research scholars around the world, Blitz is considered as the most valuable source of information especially on Middle East issues as well as issues related to radical Islamic militancy, anti-Semitism, Zionism etc.
Barry Shaw is a research scholar, popular columnist, and Senior Associate for Public Diplomacy, Israel Institute for Strategic Studies. Recently he has accorded an exclusive interview to Blitz editor Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury. Here are the excerpts:
Blitz: Thank you very much for kindly agreeing to this interview. Being a powerful writer, a research scholar and the director of the View From Israel newspaper, would you kindly tell us, what is your opinion on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ceasefire decision with Hamas?
A: Much of the Israeli population, particularly those living in the south of Israel that had been subjected to hundreds (actually thousands, if you take into consideration previous Palestinian Hamas and Islamic Jihad attacks) of rockets and missiles launched from the Gaza Strip. They wanted a more robust response against Hamas, not just targeting empty buildings but a campaign that hit the leadership where it would hurt them most, even their lives.
The Israeli public, however, are hesitant about a full scale and prolonged land operation in Gaza. They know it would be bloody and costly on the lives of our sons and brothers.
The ceasefire was unpopular among certain members of the Israeli Cabinet. Avigdor Liberman, the Defense Minister resigned. Naftali Bennett wanted that job, but the Prime Minister refused to give it to him, temporarily taking the portfolio for himself. Netanyahu has always projected himself as a strong leader for Israel’s security and he projected his soft approach to Hamas as being responsible leadership.
Blitz: Radical Islam has been spreading fast in the Western countries including Canada and the United States. Unknown numbers of Muslims are turning into ‘Lone Wolf’ mostly being indoctrinated from the internet. Although governments are spending billions of dollars in combating militant Islam and militancy, there really is no visible achievement in combating either. In your opinion, what are the key reasons behind such failures?
A: I am more concerned about the encroachment of radical Islam infiltrating Western countries disguised as secular civil and human rights groups. This is far more insidious than open and violent hostility.
We are beginning to see the results of this with the advancement of a hard left Labour Party in Britain bring encouraged and supported from the outside by groups such as the Palestine Solidarity Movement and the ill-named Islamic Human Rights Council that invites radical preachers and speakers to spread their poison and is bent on introducing Sharia into Britain yet who Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party and potentially Britain’s next Prime Minister, calling the IHRC “all that is best in Islam.”
This is as deeply disturbing as the rise to centers of power in America by American Muslim Israel-haters in the recent United States mid term elections. We are already hearing the cry of a world without Israel by emboldened hard left agitators. These people who oppose Israel also oppose traditional American ethics and values.
Blitz: While we have been witnessing the rise of antisemitism in a number of countries in the world, there is an argument saying anti-Zionism actually leads to antisemitism and Israel bashing. While others say criticizing Israel is not anti-Zionism. They also say, one can remain Semitic while being denouncing Zionism. What is your opinion on it?
A: The premise of the question is wrong. It needs to be reversed to understand the truth. It is anti-Semitic (simply put, hatred of Jews) that leads to anti-Zionism. And anti-Zionism is really an attack on anyone who supports Israel, the Jewish State. So, if you follow the chain, anti-Semitism is at the heart of every anti-Israel campaign, slogan, allegation, and lie. Attacking anyone who supports Israel by calling them “Zionists” are attempting to stain a genuine liberation campaign for Jewish self-determination after centuries of the most heinous and prolonged racism in world history, and turn it into a nasty word that accuses, say, pro-Israel Zionists living in London or Manchester as not being quite British, somehow disloyal to that country.
At it’s heart, it is a hatred that is ashamed to show its face so they attempt to capture the moral high ground by pretending to support the Palestinians. Read my book, ‘Fighting Hamas, BDS, and Anti-Semitism.’ It reveals how and why support for the Palestinian cause derives from Jew hatred.
Blitz: According to historical fact, Palestinian’s statehood is illegitimate. Arabs adopted the Roman term “Palestine”, a word which is has no meaning in Arabic. Palestinians claimed indigenous status as “Palestinians” who lived in the area for generations. A review of history though, shows that from the time of the expulsion of the Jews by the Romans, the inhabitants of the area fluctuated. Yasser Arafat’s full name for example, is Yasser Yusuf Arafat, Al-Qudwa, Al-Husseini. While he claimed he was born in Jerusalem, he was born in Cairo and his father’s family originates from the tribe of Al-Qudwa, which is in Syria. His mother, Husseini, was an Egyptian citizen, though the name exposes her roots in the region between Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Considering these facts, one can easily say – the so-called statehood of the Arabs is false. What is your opinion on this?
A: Both sides of the deep political Palestinian chasm, Hamas in Gaza and the PLO Palestinian Authority in Ramallah hate each other with a vengeance. Truth be told, they exist because Israel allowed them to exist and to take hold, and the reason they did that was to allow the germ of Palestinian statehood to take root. The original definition of a Jewish State and an Arab State should have led to a Jewish State west of the River Jordan and a Hashemite Arab state to the east of the river. In a geo-political sense, it was to have been a reward from the major world power, Britain, following the defeat of the Turks whose Ottoman Empire collapsed in defeat in World War One. The Turks had governed a Palestine that covered Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and what had once been the ancient Land of Israel. During the war, the Hashemite Arabs had fought skirmishes for the British on their side of the river, and they never had any strong claims to Palestine across the river. On the other hand, it was Palestinian Jewish soldiers and espionage agents that had fought and died for the British against the Turks and Germans west of the River Jordan (indeed, they fought with the British and Australian troops across the river at the Battle of Salt in today’s Jordan). See my book ‘1917. From Palestine to the Land of Israel.’
So a Jewish State west of the river and an Arab state east of the river would have been, and should still be, a fair and equitable solution. After all, the vast majority of people in Jordan call themselves Palestinian Arabs. The Hashemites constitute barely 15% of Jordanians.
A different and final point about the Arab, demographically Palestinian, Jordan. A tactic widely used by Palestine supporters and the BDS is to accuse Israel of being an Apartheid State. Not only is Israel the most diverse country in the whole of the Middle East, a nation that respects and permits freedom of religion and culture, but it is the least apartheid state in the region.
As I argue in my book ‘BDS for IDIOTS’ if you want to see a state that practices heinous apartheid against Palestinians, try Jordan!
Jordan is a country in which over a million Arabs, who call themselves ‘Palestinians.’ have been kept in refugee status for 70 years, since 1948, into their 4th and 5th generation. There are no refugees anywhere in the world with that longevity. This is true apartheid.
Furthermore, most of them are prevented from working or serving in high governmental positions, even those born in Jordan. That’s apartheid. Many are unable to enjoy higher education. That’s anti-Palestinian apartheid, but you never hear protests against this from the BDS organisations, groups, and individuals who claim they support Palestinian grievances.
And the reason they do not do so goes back to your third question. At the deep heart of Palestinian protest movement is an anti-Semitism that dare not speak its name. But it reveals itself in what they do not do on behalf of the Palestinians which is to protest the Arab regimes that persecute Palestinian “disproportionately.” There have, for examples, been more Palestinian killed by Assad in Syria than those killed in Palestinian Hamas in their decades of futile wars with Israel in Gaza.
This statistic and inconvenient truth remains buried by anti-Israel protesters.
Blitz: Do you see the conflict between Israel and Arabs as a political one or religious? Or it is a conflict created by the occupant Arabs and nourished by the antisemitic and anti-Israel forces?
A: The conflict has never been about Israel and the Arabs, but always about the Arabs against Israel.
The truth lies in this perspective of past, current, and future problems. The cause has always been Arab and Muslim rejection of anything Jewish not only in the region but also within their own societies.
That is why vastly more Jews were ejected from Arab lands than Arabs that fled the conflict when Arab armies invaded the nascent State of Israel. Had they not done so the local Arabs would have been absorbed into Israeli society, as 20% of the current population have done, to live prosperous and peaceful lives practicing their faith and their culture undisturbed and protected by the state.
Compare the living standards of Israeli Arabs to that of Arabs living under either the PLO in Ramallah or Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Compare the free lives of Israeli non-Jews to the awful fate of Christians in Arab and Muslim lands.
The problem that the Arabs have towards Israel, and that includes the Arabs who call themselves Palestinian, is anti-Semitic at its core. There is an expression we hear both in Israel and in Europe from contemporary experience that Jew hatred is fed into Arab babies with their mother’s milk. We see evidence of that in Muslims who have never seen or met a Jew yet harbor a deep and dangerous hatred of Jews. It is all invasive in their environment. They hear it at home, in their schools and universities, in their mosques, in the jingoistic political rants of their leaders who blame their failures on the non-existing Jews. They read about it in their newspapers and on their TVs. Generations are being raised to hate, and kill, Jews.
To the contrary, there is no state-sponsored, religiously-inspired conspiracy within Israel to hate Arabs or Muslims. And Israel is the one country in the Middle East where the Christian population has increased.
In truth, Israel is the most tolerant and diverse nation in the region.