Ron Weiser’s February column

News and Views

The question we need to address at some point is, how does the narrative get so upended that history, facts and logic are simply tossed aside?

Especially in regards to two of the major themes today.

Yes, antisemitism plays a large role. And, yes, to some lesser degree, the Israeli government’s public relations efforts are being hampered by the need to play to domestic coalition concerns.

However, even these factors do not completely explain the blindness of Western political leaders and media.

The first instance is in regards to the defensive war in Gaza, started by the murderous brutality and barbarity of Hamas on 7 October.

As Amotz Asa-El writes in the Jerusalem Post,

“Palestinians are getting killed because they started a war and the Israelis are fighting back. You care for the Palestinians’ civilian losses? So do we, but your Palestinian heroes deliberately hide among and under their population, along with the arms they clearly plan to use to massacre us. If you have a better method for saving civilian lives while fighting this, tell us what it is. Since you have no such advice, we conclude that what you are out to prevent is not Palestinian death, but Israeli victory.”

After supporting Israel in an entirely unprecedented way, both in terms of the length of any war Israel has fought since the War of Independence and the sheer amount of materiel provided, US President Joe Biden is increasingly signalling that Israel has a limited time in which to achieve its twin aims of defeating Hamas and freeing the hostages.

Holding Israel to a different standard than they would themselves, some of Israel’s allies are playing into Hamas’ hands, whilst calling it by other names.

There is one way to end the war.

Free the hostages and for Hamas to surrender.

That is where world pressure should concentrate.

It is important to note that, for now, notwithstanding the verbal gymnastics, the US continues its flow or arms and logistical support to Israel.

The second inversion of credible thinking is when it comes to the so-called two-state solution.

After a hundred years of rejectionism by the Arab/Palestinian side to each and every two-state proposal by the United Nations, Israel and various US presidents, it is Israel that is being painted as the naysayers.

Western and Israeli understanding is that two states mean a Jewish state alongside a Palestinian state. And, critically, an end of conflict.

The yawning deficit within this paradigm is that this is what Israel’s allies intend, but it is not what the Palestinians mean by the term two states.

While Israel and her allies debate the theoretical borders of such an arrangement, those discussions are divorced from the Palestinian reality.

Many – arguably most – Palestinians themselves reject a Jewish state of any size.

That’s what “75 years of occupation” means.

And as they and their supporters continually tell the world “from the river to the sea”.

They seek a one-state result.

Another Western disconnect is that this is not the position of Hamas alone, but also of the Palestinian Authority.

The Palestinian Authority as is, is part of the problem. Not the solution.

This is recognised by Israel’s Western allies from time to time and then promptly overlooked, or totally ignored.

In November last year, Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong wrote in an article regarding who might ultimately oversee Gaza, that it should be a “reformed, legitimate Palestinian Authority that disavows violence.”

Last week, British Foreign Secretary David Cameron said virtually the same thing.

Over the weekend, US Ambassador to Israel Jacob Lew, said “engaging in a process of working to reform, revamp and revitalise the Palestinian Authority, so that there can be a demilitarised Palestinian state that could live side by side in peace with Israel.”

Halevai! If only!

This is a recognition by all, that the current Palestinian Authority is not fit for purpose, needs to be reformed, needs to stop educating to violence, celebrating violence and paying stipends to the families of terrorists.

Most Israelis might still hold to a genuine two-state solution, if they could be guaranteed security and an end of conflict.

The fickle West cannot provide any such guarantees.

It wants Israel to take it on trust.

That trust was only further and deeply impacted by the events of 7 October, the celebrations thereof and the promises to repeat and repeat the atrocities.

A mistake President Biden et al make is to fail to understand that, in this matter, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does indeed reflect the vast body of Israeli public opinion.

Here’s a radical suggestion for the US, UK, Australia and indeed the political leaders of the Western world generally: The place to begin to build trust and credibility is by firstly reforming the Palestinian Authority, which as they already claim to recognise, is absolutely necessary.

Turn the Palestinian Authority into the entity Foreign Minister Wong says it needs to be.

Without that reform, Israel is being sold a poisoned chalice.

The one potential bright light is that multiple Arab leaders, even more than the Western world, understand the real core issues, which are destroying Hamas and dealing with Iran.

This past weekend in Germany at the annual Munich Security Conference, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said, “Virtually every Arab country now genuinely wants to integrate Israel into the region to normalise relations, to provide security commitments and assurances so that Israel can feel safer.”

Blinken at heart understands that for Israel to agree to any deal, it requires a serious and implementable security framework that makes Israel ‘feel safer.’

For most Israelis, some form of separation from the Palestinians is less of an ideological question and rather more the practical matter of security.

Of real security. Of life and death.

Seeing as Palestinian rejectionism and an inability to guarantee the security of Israeli citizens is the underlying cause preventing any long-term resolution between Israel and the Palestinians, it would be good to see the Western world start by tackling these questions at the source, rather than trying to pressure Israel into some form of national suicide.

In large part this also depends on all of us getting the overall narrative back on track.


Dr Ron Weiser AM

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