Transcript: How do Palestinians Envision the Future of Gaza - with Khaled Elgindy

Ori Nir  00:10

Hello, everyone, welcome to this Americans for Peace Now webinar, I'm Ori Nir. Today we're going to discuss an important aspect of this crisis that we've been following, with heavy hearts obviously, since October 7. We will discuss the Palestinian perspective on the future of the Gaza Strip and, more broadly, the impact of the current crisis on Palestinian politics and the Palestinian arena. You were originally invited to hear Zaha Hassan, who is a scholar at Washington's Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Zaha couldn't make it, she asked me to apologize on her behalf and generously offered to reschedule, and we will do so hopefully very soon. Thankfully, in short notice, another Washington based scholar of Palestinian affairs, Khaled Elgindy, agreed to join us today and share his analysis with us on this topic. Khaled is a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute here in Washington, and he's also the director of the Middle East Institute's program on Palestine and Israeli-Palestinian affairs. He is the author of "Blind Spot: America and the Palestinians." It's a history of 100 years or so of US policy on Palestine and the Palestinians. I actually read the book and I recommend it warmly. Some of you may remember that when the book came out, about four years ago or so, we hosted Khaled on our podcast for a conversation on the book. And just to complete Khaled's bio, before joining the Middle East Institute, he was a fellow at the Foreign Policy Program at the Brookings Institution. And before that he served as an adviser to the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah, on permanent status issue negotiations with Israel. I don't expect to agree with everything that Khaled will say, you may also take issue with some of what he has to say. But as we always point out, we're here to learn, to hear a variety of views and perspectives. And we're grateful to our guests for sharing their views and wisdom with us, particularly when they do it in such short notice, as Khaled is doing today. So with this long introduction, Khaled, thank you for joining us.

 

Khaled Elgindy  02:33

Yeah, thanks for having me.

 

Ori Nir  02:35

I wanted to start by referring to an expression that you used in a recent Foreign Affairs article, where you wrote about the current crisis as a cataclysmic events in Palestinian history. You describe the situation in the Gaza Strip, as well as the political disarray in the Palestinian arena, and the economic crisis in the West Bank and the possibility of a violent eruption in the West Bank. The question is, before we discuss the proverbial "day after", which is the topic of our conversation today, can the Palestinians at all arrive at the "day after" in any reasonable shape to function as a collective?

 

Khaled Elgindy  02:35

Yeah, I mean, this is the million dollar question that everybody's asking. So before getting into the "day after" discussions, such as it is, I think it's important to put in perspective what's happening in Gaza now. I think it's impossible to overstate the scale and significance of the ongoing catastrophe in Gaza. I think it is on a par with, and in many ways even surpasses, 1948 and 1967. For Palestinians, of course, 1948 being the Nakba, you know, the catastrophe that kind of defined everything that came after and that shaped Palestinian political consciousness. What's happening now, I think, in many ways surpasses that. It is the deadliest event in Palestinian history. The deadliest single event, at least between 25,000 and 30,000 had been killed already. We know there's another 8,000 or so buried under the rubble. So that number is very much tentative. At least 10,000 children, 1.9 million people internally displaced, repeatedly displaced, particularly in the south, they're constantly being moved. Many have been moved 5, 6, 7 times in the last three months. And this is the largest forced displacement in Palestinian history, including, of course, 1948. We're seeing most of Gaza's infrastructure has been destroyed, 70% of Gaza's housing stock has been damaged or destroyed. We're seeing mass starvation and disease. 93% of Gaza's population is facing crisis levels of hunger and malnutrition. More than half a million are facing catastrophic conditions of hunger. This is an entirely manmade famine. We're seeing videos of mothers picking weeds to feed their children. It's really quite, quite devastating. We're seeing wanton destruction - schools, universities, hospitals, whole apartment blocks are being destroyed. Many of you may be seeing the videos of soldiers, in some cases gleefully destroying an entire university or apartment block, sometimes even doing sort of, you know, as a gift to loved ones back home. Kind of the the equivalent of snuff videos in the Israeli-Palestinian context. I think, that Israel is using starvation and disease as a weapon is now indisputable. Of course, we have the statements by Israeli officials, including the defense minister himself, who said that he's ordering a complete closure of food, electricity, fuel, and so forth. And Israel has been quite restrictive in what has been allowed. We're talking about on average, about 3% of what was entering Gaza before October 7, is is now being allowed in. And of course, we're seeing the effects of that. Human Rights Watch, B'Tselem, and other groups have accused Israel of using starvation as a weapon of war. Save the Children, the World Food Program, Senator Van Hollen and his colleagues, Senator Merkley, have come to the same conclusion that this is based on a political decision by the Netanyahu government. In other words, it is not a consequence of war, but a deliberate act. We can talk about the specifics of that. But I think that's important to say. So it's hard for people to hear. But I think the conclusion that I've drawn and that many people are drawing, and probably the impetus for things like the South Africa genocide case, is that the mass suffering that we're seeing is, in a very, very large measure, deliberately created. I know that's hard to hear. But I think the evidence bears that out. So let's talk about the "day after." I think, in a very real sense, there is no "day after." Because, one, we simply don't know where, when, or how this war ends, or what's left of Gaza, or what it looks like. Israel is waging an open-ended war. We may, in fact, never see a ceasefire. Even if the intensity of this particular phase dies down or is diminished, we're going to see fighting on and off for quite a while. And I think that is also deliberate. I think the last thing Israel wants to do is arrive at a ceasefire, even in three months or six months, because it will mean that it's two main objectives of destroying Hamas - that won't be achieved, right? You can't sign a ceasefire with someone who doesn't exist, or who will no longer exist. So there's a kind of fundamental contradiction built in there. The second thing I would point out is that the scale of death and destruction and dislocation is just so massive, that it's impossible to imagine at this stage, what it would take to meet the immediate subsistence needs of the population, much less to think about how to make Gaza livable again. Whole sections of Gaza have been rendered unlivable. Again, this very much looks like a deliberate plan. We've seen bakeries bombed, we've seen universities bombed, we've seen infrastructure destroyed, we've seen agricultural crops destroyed. All of that seems to give the indication that Gaza is being purposely rendered unlivable. So really, the best that we can do is not talk about a "day after," but about a "what now?" You know, what do we do now? What do Palestinians do? What does the international community do? What do the Arab states do? And that's where there's very, very little consensus. The American view of the so-called "day after" is very different than the Israeli view and is also very different than the Palestinian view. So we have three or four, at least, very different visions of what should come next. And that will complicate things, even when the intensity of the fighting stops.

 

Ori Nir  03:24

So can you talk about the Palestinian view? You mentioned that it's different from the US and Israeli one? What is it, actually, what is it comprised of?

 

Khaled Elgindy  10:42

Well, the Palestinian view is, well, it depends on which Palestinians, you ask. Officially, the view of Mahmoud Abbas and his leadership is that the PA does not want to go back to Gaza on the back of Israeli tanks. They cannot do that, for their own domestic political reasons. They've resisted doing that in the past under much less devastating conditions. And they're not going to do that now. I think what they're saying is, they are willing to go back, provided: A, that there is sufficient international and especially financial support for rebuilding Gaza, and B, that Gaza's reconstruction and the return of the PA be linked to a pathway toward a Palestinian state. And so that means what the Palestinians and the Arab states are now talking about are irreversible. gestures on the part of Israel toward Palestinian statehood. That's a tall order, of course, given the composition of this government, or, frankly, any conceivable Israeli government. That will be a very difficult thing to achieve. But that's the price that they're requesting is -

 

Ori Nir  12:09

Can you give a couple of examples of such irreversible gestures?

 

Khaled Elgindy  12:13

Well, the big one that the Palestinian Authority is seeking is recognition by the United States, by Western European powers, of a Palestinians state. And I think they see that, that would be a game changer, that would kind of bookmark a two-state solution. It would not radically change the situation on the ground, but it would demonstrate seriousness on the part of the United States and others to work toward that goal. Because you can't, even if - I mean, I suppose anything is possible. But even if there were a change in administration, let's say, a Trump administration, it would be very difficult to undo. I think, of course, that doesn't mean that he wouldn't undo it. But those are the kinds - of course nothing is - everything is reversible, theoretically, right? So they're looking for, for gestures that can be made that would signify a seriousness about a Palestinian state. And another thing that I can think of is, you know, again, along the declarative lines, would be something on Jerusalem. You know, a statement to the effect that Jerusalem will be the capital of two states or that Jerusalem will, in fact, be divided. Because, you know, the current US policy is a bit of a contradiction, where everyone understands that there needs to be a Palestinian capital in Jerusalem, but Jerusalem should never be redivided. And those two things are incompatible. If you're going to have a sovereign Palestinian state with a capital, there needs to be, you know, a territorial division in Jerusalem. So that's one, you know, that's another idea. Those things, I think, are highly, highly unlikely at this stage.

 

Ori Nir  14:27

So I'll go back - you said, depending on which Palestinians you ask, right, when we talked about the "day after," or the Palestinian thinking about the "day after." Let's, if you may, if you'd like, talk a little bit about Hamas, about what is Hamas' vision, I don't know if long term, but you know, looking forward. But also, and I see that we have a couple of questions about it already in the Q&A, what was Hamas thinking? Why isn't Hamas crying uncle? Why don't they surrender? Why don't they seek a ceasefire?

 

Khaled Elgindy  15:12

Well, I mean, of course Hamas has been calling for a ceasefire, just not one that involves their surrender. I think it should be understood, although I'm not sure that it is. You know, part of the problem that we're in is that ever since October 7, we've been in this kind of zero sum frame of mind. Everything is absolute. Netanyahu and others in his coalition keep talking about the total dismantling of Hamas, and "we will fight on and continue regardless." And, you know, that's maybe, you know, understandable from the standpoint of domestic consumption. But it's not realistic. So the goal of destroying Hamas was never a realistic one, and, you know, it took almost three months for the Biden administration to finally climb down from that perch, even if the Israelis, you know, have not. So that's one thing, Hamas is not going to be destroyed. Nor are they going to come out with, you know - you won't see Yahya Sinwar waving the white flag surrendering, because that's not what resistance movements do. He would rather die, and I think a lot of people in leadership would rather kind of go down with the ship, you know, die as heroes and martyrs rather than, you know, surrender. Because the surrender is not just - it wouldn't just be seen as the surrender of Hamas, it would be this sort of, would be a capitulation of any and all resistance. So that's not going to happen. And even frankly, if it did, if Hamas said, okay, you know, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, they quit, well, you'd simply have new resistance movements that would emerge in the vacuum. And so -

 

Ori Nir  17:07

Because the idea of resistance, of an armed struggle, is very popular in the Palestinian arena, right?

 

Khaled Elgindy  17:14

Yeah, it's, of course, because you have an armed occupation. And so when you have an occupation that is enforced militarily, and that is maintained through brute force and coercion and violence, structural violence, well then of course you're going to get armed resistance. And that armed resistance will be glorified and praised, and they're seen as heroes. In the same way, you know, every national liberation movement has gone through that. And so it's not reasonable to expect the Palestinians to behave in ways that no other national liberation struggle would behave. If Hamas were to, you know, as I said - if Hamas were to surrender, that would not just be a surrender of one organization, that would be, essentially, a surrender and a capitulation and the surrender of all Palestinians. It would essentially mean, look, we lost, we are content to live as a lesser-than people, without rights, indefinitely. And that's not going to happen. So it was never a reasonable - you know, it's kind of upsetting what I keep, we keep hearing, even someone who I think is quite reasonable, like Secretary Blinken, talking about, you know, "this could end tomorrow if Hamas surrenders." And I mean, come on. I mean, this is just not a realistic expectation. And so it was never on the table in the past, I mean, no one expected in the Second Intifada that Hamas would, you know, disband and disarm unilaterally and say, okay, yeah, we lost. You need to find an accommodation with armed groups in the political realm, right? They have political objectives. Whether we like their methods or not, these are political groups with political objectives. But, you know, the question of what was Hamas thinking? That one is, that's a question that I think people will be grappling with probably forever. You know, I think a lot of us in the analyst community have the sense that, you know, October 7, probably was, as an operation, was more "successful," quote unquote, than they had imagined or originally set out. Don't think they were planning on this level of death and destruction in a single day, I think they had much more modest aims. It was still bold, obviously. But we don't know, we don't know what happened or, you know, was it  once the border fence was breached, and you know, anyone could could crossover. And so you add a bit of chaos, you had all kinds of armed and unarmed elements entering, you know, through the fence. And so how much of the violence that we saw on October 7, how much of it was planned, was under orders, and how much of it was chaos and unplanned? I don't have a good sense of that. But I imagine it's more than zero.

 

Ori Nir  20:51

And I assume that as a result of that, because the success, Hamas' success was such, they probably also did not expect the strength of Israel's response.

 

Khaled Elgindy  21:08

Right. I mean, I'm sure they expected a response. But, you know, again, I don't know exactly what the plan was, as it was drawn up. But if it was originally planned, as, you know, to be focused much more on the military versus civilian targets, then we would have had a different response. You know, they would have had, if, let's say, you know, they killed 200 soldiers and police and a dozen civilians and took back 20 hostages. I mean, I don't know that that was the plan. But somewhere between that and what actually happened was the plan. But, you know, that would have elicited a very different response internationally, but also from Israel. It was the scale of civilian deaths and attacks and the brutality of it that elicited such a strong, strong response. That said, we also don't know the full picture on the Israeli side. We know that many of the deaths were inflicted by Israeli forces, we don't know how many, we don't know how wide it was. But that picture is also unclear, maybe that will become clearer over time. But regardless, we know that Hamas, or people who entered with Hamas and Islamic Jihad and other armed groups, carried out massacres of civilians, hundreds and hundreds of civilians. So that much we know for certain. We may never know the exact motivation or what the exact plan was. But in its most basic form, the goal was to deliver a shock to the Israeli system, and to shatter the sense of complacency that Israelis had kind of immersed themselves in, and the hubris and arrogance that went with it. And so in that sense, it was very similar to almost exactly 50 years earlier, the surprise attack in on October 6, 1973. That was also designed to shock the Israelis out of the sense of, you know, "we were victorious in six days, and now we, you know, we're masters of the region, nobody can touch us. And we don't have to compromise. We don't have to think about diplomacy." So I think that was the, kind of, core objective. Which happened, but it was different, right? It was a very different outcome than 1973.

 

Ori Nir  24:02

Right. I want to relay a question that I've seen, again, in the Q&A, several people related to it. And I know that it's relevant to the discussion that we're going to have in a few minutes. And that is the following question people are asking. It's "one shouldn't even be talking about ceasefire, as it relates to Hamas. Because Hamas does not want to cease fighting Israel, because its goals, its ideology talks about the full destruction of the State of Israel. They don't want an accommodation, in other words, what they want is to continue fighting." How do you see that? Is that Is that a correct statement?

 

Khaled Elgindy  24:45

Yeah, no, I have a different understanding of Hamas' mission and objectives. I don't think Hamas is waging a war of extermination, or they're trying to destroy Israel. I think Hamas has reconciled itself long ago to the reality that is that Israel is a reality. Even if it's not something that they will accept morally, they accept it physically, as a political, military, physical reality, economic and otherwise. And you know, people forget this, but the reality is that Hamas has accepted the concepts, the principle of a Palestinian state in the West Bank in Gaza and a capital in East Jerusalem. Sheikh Ahmed Yasin, the founder of Hamas, his successor, al-Rantisi, and virtually every leader of Hamas since then, has affirmed their acceptance of that principle within the Palestinian political consensus, right? So there are the basis of a Palestinian consensus, of the PLO, and even though Hamas is not part of the PLO formally, they have adopted, or they've accepted, the basic pillars of anti-Israeli occupation, a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, a capital in Jerusalem, right of return for the refugees, and so on and so forth. These are matters of political consensus among, across the Palestinian factions, and Hamas is part of that. But there's another reason why I don't believe Hamas is engaged in that. We don't have to take them at their word. I think as a matter of political relevance, as a matter of political pragmatism, if their goal is to rule, is to be, you know, the number one political -  the leaders of the Palestinian national movement, they're not going to do that if their goal is to liberate from the river to the sea, right? They're not going to preside over a Palestinian state from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River. If that's their goal, then they're never going to rule. And that's not their goal, their goal is to be politically relevant. Now, if Palestinian public opinion shifts - and it is shifting against the two-state solution - but it hasn't shifted toward anything concrete, like a one state solution, that's been fleshed out and, you know, has a political constituency and has a, you know, vision and strategy and the kind of ideological coherence, that hasn't emerged yet. But if that were to happen, then sure, Hamas and maybe even Fatah as well could evolve in that direction. But for now, I think Hamas absolutely would accept, and is probably hoping for, a diplomatic process that would eventually lead to a genuine creation of a Palestinian state, from their standpoint, minus the recognition of Israel, right? That can be Fatah and Mahmoud Abbas, and they can recognize Israel. But from their standpoint, morally, that's not something that they will, that they would concede. But I do think they would concede and live within a two state solution de facto.

 

Ori Nir  28:40

Now, you know, that many people are saying, Okay, this is something that we would have believed on October 6, but after October 7, you know, we can't accept this, because they've just proven the contrary. But you do still think that they are pragmatic enough to reach, to seek some kind of accommodation?

 

Khaled Elgindy  29:06

I do. I mean, look, we have to distinguish between extremist methods and extremist goals. And sometimes groups have both, have extremist methods and extremists goals. Sometimes groups have very reasonable goals, but extremist methods. So I think that's the case here with Hamas. I think Hamas, since the Second Intifada, but particularly since 2006, when it won a surprise election victory, I think they've been struggling to kind of find the right balance. You know, how do we maintain our resistance credentials and our identity as the resistance group, as distinct from Fatah and their very accommodationist approach. And at the same time, you know, they want international legitimacy, they want to be accepted as a normal political party and movement within the Palestinian landscape, right? They have a diplomatic strategy, they've had one. And so they've tried different approaches. They tried running in elections, which they had previously opposed. They tried to say, okay, you know, we'll join the PLO, we'll be part of that framework. That didn't work. They tried, they modified their charter. They distanced themselves from the Muslim Brotherhood, mainly to accommodate the Sisi regime, which, obviously, in Gaza, they had to have a good working relationship with. So they would make all these kind of pragmatic gestures. Meanwhile, you had this more militant wing within Hamas. Like all movements, there are different factions. There are moderates, there are militants, there are extremists. And the more militant and extreme faction was always there saying, all that stuff will get you nowhere, it's only force, force violence, and armed struggle that will achieve results. And conditions eventually bore that out, where there was consistently these dead ends, right? They even got to a point where they were being perceived, as you know, the PA is the security contractor in the north, and Hamas was now the security contractor in the south, almost replicating the same kind of dynamic. They would prevent people from firing rockets, you know, other groups, from firing rockets at Israel, because they didn't want to disrupt the status quo that was, somewhat, you know, bearable and useful for them while they bided their time. So they had tried all these different avenues, and everywhere was a dead end. And so the militant - you know, this is my interpretation, this isn't like, again, I don't have inside information. But, you know, over time, the militant wing got stronger and stronger, and they said, Look, all you guys tried, you know, your political, diplomatic, pragmatic efforts, and they didn't work. We need to deliver a significant blow. And so they came out on top, but I don't think it was inevitable. I think lots of things would have and could have avoided October 7. I think about, sometimes, what if Palestinians held elections in 2021, as originally scheduled, and Hamas might have been fully integrated into the body politic, maybe joined the PLO formally. Maybe, you know, Israel wouldn't have liked it, but they would have acquiesced in it on some level, the Americans would have, you know, something similar. That could have avoided October 7, lots of things could have avoided October 7, including Palestinian reconciliation. Many of us have been saying for a long time, this division is not only bad for Palestinians. It's destabilizing and it's dangerous. And it will backfire. And it's only a matter of time before it explodes, and of course, it did. So now everybody understands, "well the PA has to come back." Well, the PA can only come back as a matter of internal Palestinian consensus. If Hamas doesn't approve of the PA going back, the PA will not go back, whether or not Hamas is still in control in Gaza. That's just a, it's not necessarily a military reality, but it is a political reality.

 

Ori Nir  34:07

So let me ask you about that. I was intending originally to get through it later, but since you referred to it. In the article that I mentioned earlier, you write, and I quote, "it is extremely difficult to see a way forward for Palestinian politics with Hamas, but equally, there is no way forward without it." Now, I think most of our listeners, our viewers, would probably understand what you mean by the first part of that statement, of that assertion. But what about the second one? Could you explain why Hamas is necessary for Palestinian politics to function? Isn't there a way for Hamas to cease being a political player in the Palestinian arena?

 

Khaled Elgindy  34:56

So it's a good question. So it's not a about Hamas being necessary for Palestinian politics to function, or to exist, it's about the fact that it exists. Right, Hamas exists. And you won't, Israel won't bomb it out of existence. That's just not an achievable goal. This is a movement, it has support in the West Bank, Jerusalem, you know, not just in Gaza. You certainly can't kill everyone who sympathizes with or supports Hamas. So that's just not feasible. So it will continue to exist. And so if it exists, in what form does it exist? Does it capture 1% of the, you know, public support? 20%? 50%? It's clearly at least the second most influential Palestinian political faction. At this point, it may be the most popular, I think after October 7, it has grown in its popularity. I think a lot of people you know, are - there's enormous support for Hamas everywhere, inside and outside of Palestine, but particularly inside. It's hard to know exactly what people in Gaza are thinking, because they're still, they're just, they're in survival mode. They're just trying to stay alive and keep their families alive. They're not really thinking about politics as such. So the question is, if we know Hamas exists, and we know it has a significant following, well then what you do with it? Do you pretend - do you do what we've done the past 30 years and pretend that it doesn't exist, then just try to exclude it not only from a peace process, but from internal Palestinian politics? That doesn't seem reasonable, or tenable. And that is very destabilizing, because that's what got us into this mess, in very large part. So, you know, and then there's the question of who gets to decide, right? I mean, who gets to be a political actor in someone else's politics? The answer should be Palestinians get to decide. How? So let's say there's an election, okay? Not now, but let's say in a few years, when it becomes feasible to hold an election. Should Hamas be allowed to participate? Israel and the United States, probably, and many, some, you know, the UK and others might say, absolutely not. Hamas is disqualified itself from from ever being a legitimate political actor. Okay, well, you can exclude a major political actor from elections. But will those elections be legitimate? Probably not, they will not be seen as legitimate. So that's the conundrum, is if you exclude Hamas, you have an illegitimate outcome. If you include them, there are also risks. But I think the risks are much more manageable, because then Hamas is part of the political process. They have a stake in Palestinian politics, in Palestinian political institutions, even as an opposition movement. And so yes, that would complicate, greatly, future negotiations, because now you have Hamas, an opposition group, they could veto the whole process, right? They could, but they're doing it in a way that would be through politics, through, you know, negotiations or internal politics. And that's just, that's the norm. Right? You know, we can't pretend that they don't exist. In the same way that, how many Israeli prime ministers have said, I can't talk about those things. Because there's these guys behind me in the opposition, who will have my head if I talk about dividing Jerusalem and, you know, settlement freeze or all of these things. And so yes, it complicates the negotiation process. But it also makes the outcome much more durable, because now Hamas has bought into the game, they have a stake in the success of the process that they're a part of. And so no one is saying that Israel has to negotiate with Hamas directly. But Hamas should be part of the political landscape, either as an opposition, or perhaps someday they may be the dominant force. If they are the dominant force in Palestinian politics, then it still makes sense. Because at the end of the day, you don't negotiate peace with your friends, you negotiate with your enemies, people who've done terrible things to you, and that you will have, frankly, also done terrible things to. You know, inducing mass starvation in Gaza is not a nice thing to do. And so there's deep, deep, deep trauma that will be generational for Palestinians coming out of this, in the same way that that Israelis suffered trauma on October 7, and are suffering trauma because of the hostages. That's why you have peace processes. That's why you have negotiations, is to reconcile these two sides that have done terrible things to each other. It doesn't make sense to exclude them otherwise, because then they will always play the role of a spoiler, as they've done. So to me, it's just not logical to to exclude them. You have to take the good with the bad.

 

Ori Nir  41:06

Before we get to the to the next questions, I just wanted to take a moment and relate to some of the questions that have been asked here. Many of them are vexing questions that show me, tell me that people are not quite happy with what they're hearing. Some of those questions have to do with facts, with facts that relate to the past. I'm thinking that maybe in a column or something sometime soon, I will address some of those, because it is important to talk about things like the positions, the historic positions of Hamas, and I think that Khaled has depicted them correctly. Other questions are just vexing questions that are trying to pick a fight, and I'm not going to relay them to Khaled.

 

Khaled Elgindy  42:04

It's good that I can't see the questions.

 

Ori Nir  42:06

I'm looking for ones that are more a matter of just seeking facts. And one of them that I just saw a moment ago here and I wanted to relay to you is: what could could make the PA a viable representative of the of the Palestinians, and could the recognition of a role for Hamas, as you pointed out, serve that goal?

 

Khaled Elgindy  42:31

So here's the thing, there's two different political entities that Palestinians have. One is the Palestinian Authority, and the other is the PLO. My own view, and I think the view of a lot of Palestinians, maybe most Palestinians, is that the PA is not the political address, it's not the proper place to be the political address of the Palestinian national movement. Historically, that has been the PLO. The PA was supposed to be a vehicle toward, you know, initially self-governing and then eventually would graduate to a state, and then both the PA and the PLO would be merged into that state. But that never happened. And so the PA was kind of frozen in its development and is, at this point, I think, a, you know, it operates as a kind of glorified municipal authority. So there's a difference between governance and leadership. What Palestinians need now -  well, I mean, Gaza needs governance and aid and rehabilitation and so forth. So you need a governance body. That body should be de politicized, in my view, as much as possible. It should not be the representative of the Palestinian people, because the Palestinian people are not located only in the West Bank and Gaza. They are in the diaspora as well. And they are, they are a constituency that have a stake in the outcome. So, my own view is to sort of downgrade the PA to a technical body that does service provision, and can also be responsible or oversee Gaza's reconstruction, but operates in both the West Bank and Gaza, under the political guidance of a revamped PLO, which would be inclusive and genuinely representative. So historically, the PLO was a representative body, I mean, it represented people inside the occupied territories, in the refugee camps, in the diaspora - in general, it included all the political factions. That ceased to be true after the late 1980s, it hasn't been true since Hamas' creation. The fact that Hamas and other groups have been outside the PLO has denied the PLO that legitimacy that it used to enjoy. So we're talking about two different institutions here. I think it's much more important for Palestinians to to have a political leadership, that is representative and that is legitimate. And that should be vested in the PLO, in a revamped, reconstituted PLO. The PA is a different matter. There may never be a Palestinian state. And so that needs to be something that people grapple with as a matter of reality. So if there is no future for a two state solution, then again, you still have a political leadership in the form of the PLO that is not tied to some imaginary two state solution, like the PA, right? So the PA could could exist, or could not exist. The Palestinian national movement should not be, and the Palestinian leadership, should not be a function of whether or not there is or isn't a two state solution around the corner. And I think Palestinians have suffered because of a lack of political leadership. And so it's a complex, it's a complex situation.

 

Ori Nir  46:27

Yeah. And again, you relate to it in the article that you've written. I can't at the moment put the link to the article in the chat. But if people go and Google it, it'll come up, it was in Foreign Policy.

 

Khaled Elgindy  46:48

Foreign Affairs.

 

Ori Nir  46:49

Foreign Affairs, sorry, Foreign Affairs, that's it. I wanted to ask you a question that is controversial, it may even be provocative. But it has to do with something that you mentioned earlier, and that is how the events that have unfolded after October 7 on the Palestinian arena, evoke the founding Palestinian trauma, which is the Nakba. By the way, for Israelis, October 7 also evoked a trauma, which is the Holocaust, and we've seen many, many references to that. My question has to do with what, for Palestinians, is the most dominant characteristic of the Nakba, which is dispossession. And so, I fully understand why Palestinians, and others, would be opposed, vehemently opposed, to relocation of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip. But bear with me for question that is not - that tries to find the way to do it that is not dispossession. And that is the following: Most of Gaza's residents are refugees. They're descendants of refugees or refugees themselves, who do not consider Gaza as their permanent home, but rather a temporary home. Would it be possible at all to have Gazans temporarily settle in the West Bank, or maybe somewhere else, but I think in the West Bank, which is the other lobe of the Palestinian political entity, at least temporarily, while Gaza is being rebuilt? So that there's a little bit of, kind of, a pause, if you will, in the civil efforts to rebuild Gaza. Is that something that could happen? That - and I'm not talking at the moment about possible Israeli objection, which I think will be there, but let's just suppose for a moment that that's not going to be an impediment.

 

Khaled Elgindy  49:05

Yeah, I mean, I this is a difficult issue, because anytime you're talking about relocating Palestinians, it brings up that old trauma. And I mean, look, I think the West Bank is at least a better option than the Sinai. But history has shown, regardless, that any time large numbers of Palestinians have been uprooted and forced out of their homes and land, they've not been allowed to return. So there's no precedent, really, for any significant return. The only, you know, there was the returnees during the Oslo process after 1993. And you know, those were, I forget exactly how many thousand. But there's no precedent other than that. And that was in the context of, you know, returning police forces and you know, things like that. So, realistically, it's hard to imagine, particularly if they were displaced outside of Palestine, that they would ever be allowed to return, and I think that's where the resistance to the idea comes from. I think the question is - a couple of questions. One, if Gaza has been rendered unlivable, why has it been rendered unlivable? And shouldn't the solution be to stop rendering it unlivable? And to, even, start compelling Israel to pay the costs for the problems that it's created, right? I mean, these are, you know - one of my great frustrations is, people tend to treat Israel and its actions as though it were a kind of meteorological event. You know, it's just how it is, you have to brace yourself, you bring an umbrella, but you can't stop it. And, you know, we're forgetting that there are choices, Israel's making choices. Israel's making a choice to dislocate 90% of the population, is making a choice to deny food and water and fuel, it is making a choice to bomb densely populated civilian areas with the most powerful bombs ever created. Those are choices. Those are not - they're not inevitabilities. And so Israel can make different choices, people can make choices to compel Israel to make different choices. I think if Israel believed that it would have to pay the price for making Gaza unlivable, it might think twice about doing so. And so what concerns me, and I think what would concern a lot of Palestinians, is the precedent that this would set. And so, I mean, first of all, I don't know where you put 2 million people in the West Bank, you know -

 

Ori Nir  52:11

Not 2 million, let's say, several, I don't know, a couple hundred thousand, 300, 400 - I'm just throwing out numbers.

 

Khaled Elgindy  52:18

Okay, a couple of hundred thousand. Okay, but sure, maybe the West Bank can hold some, but why not Israel? Why isn't Israel also - part of the question is, well, why can't they be temporarily relocated to Israel? There's a lot of space in the Negev, they could build housing, temporary housing. And after all, Israel did create this problem, Israel did give these people orders to evacuate, and they destroyed their homes. And so, I think what people find objectionable is this idea that Israel will create this human and humanitarian catastrophe, and then others will pick up the tab and pay the, you know - and clean up the mess, whether it's the PA or the Saudis, or the Egyptians, or whoever. And, you know, but they're not even really thinking about the "day after," right? They're not particularly concerned with where they end up or go or don't go, or if they have homes, or they don't have homes. This is one of the frustrations of the Biden administration, is they have not given any real thought to what happens next, even though it has enormous consequences, even for them. So if you could change that calculation, then why not? You know, if you could change Israel's calculation that not everything is, you know, a mess that other people have to clean up.

 

Ori Nir  52:46

So we have three minutes left, and I'm counting the questions that we have here. They're 63 questions, and I have some questions of my own, but we really don't have the time to entertain them all. Maybe to end, I will just ask you, if you could think of three main things that should happen immediately in order to, let's say, alleviate the dire situation that we're in, what would you say? It can be more than three, but just a few things that can be done immediately, now.

 

Khaled Elgindy  54:27

I think the ceasefire is absolutely the first one, and maybe one two and three. I mean, nothing is more important than ending the damage that's being done, some of which, most of which, part of which is irreversible. And so the first step is to stop doing more damage. The continued bombing - this same dynamic could go on for months with very little impact on Hamas. And the real impact is on the Palestinian people in Gaza. The running joke now, which of course is not at all funny, is that Israel is fighting a war against Palestinian civilians and that Hamas is the collateral damage. Occasionally they, you know, they do some damage to Hamas, but there is no good that can come out of continuing even for another day what is happening now. There is only degrees of disaster. So that's number one. I think number two would be for Palestinians to put their internal house in order. It is precisely in this kind of moment, when Palestinians have a weak and not very credible leadership, that bad things happen to them. That was true in 1948, that is true now. You know, having a credible leadership is not a failsafe against annihilation and catastrophe, but it's impossible to confront those, what is a real existential threat to Palestinians, without a credible leadership. So this has been absolutely catastrophic, this lack of political leadership. So whatever that takes, revamping the PLO, you know, a succession process for post-Abu Mazen, a lot of people are talking about, you know, Marwan Barghouti as a kind of unifying figure. That's for Palestinians to decide, but that needs to happen immediately. And then the third thing is for the United States and the international community to lay out a very clear process for ending - not just a pathway to a Palestinian state, but for deoccupation, and decolonization. Those are dynamics that have to be begun on the ground with actual steps. So not just freezing settlements, rolling back settlements. You know, concrete steps toward for dealing with the driver of this conflict, which is Israel's occupation, and the repression and violence that goes with it. Those are the most important three things, and they're everything. You know, it's like, I don't actually see anything else beyond those three.

 

Ori Nir  54:28

Thank you very much. This was truly eye opening. Khaled, thanks again for joining us.

 

Khaled Elgindy  56:55

Yeah, thanks for having me.

 

Ori Nir  57:04

All right. Goodbye now.

 

Khaled Elgindy  57:28

Good bye.

Legislative Round-Up- January 19, 2024

Produced by the Foundation for Middle East Peace. Views and positions expressed here are those of the writer, and do not necessarily represent APN's views and policy positions.

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Defeat Hamas or Rescue the Hostages? (Hard Questions, Tough Answers- January 22, 2024)

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Yossi Alpher is an independent security analyst. He is the former director of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University, a former senior official with the Mossad, and a former IDF intelligence officer. Views and positions expressed here are those of the writer, and do not necessarily represent APN's views and policy positions.

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Statement: APN Welcomes Senate Vote on Resolution Regarding Israel's Human Rights Practices

Americans for Peace Now (APN) welcomes tonight’s scheduled vote on Senator Bernie Sanders’ resolution under section 502B of the Foreign Assistance Act requesting information on Israel’s human rights practices, and urges the Senate to adopt it.

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Legislative Roundup - January 12th, 2024

Produced by the Foundation for Middle East Peace. Views and positions expressed here are those of the writer, and do not necessarily represent APN's views and policy positions.

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With Government Support, Violent Settlers Escalate Tension in the West Bank 

By Ori Nir

Leaders and supporters of the ideological settlers in the West Bank are disputing the veracity of a leaked IDF report which shows a 54% increase in settler violence since the beginning of the current Gaza war on October 7th. One right-wing Israeli columnist called the report “a blood libel,” arguing that the data have been manipulated or even fabricated and that in actual fact there has been a recent drop in incidents of settler violence.

I follow reports by human rights organizations, both Israeli and international. I noticed that Israel’s Yesh Din organization, which documents settler violence, found that 2023 was a record year in settler violence. I am also closely familiar with the dynamics of settler violence and Palestinians’ tendency to avoid reporting such incidents for fear of retribution. I would be surprised if the figures are not significantly higher than the IDF reported.

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Action Alert- Oppose Any Forced Displacement of Palestinians

The October 7 Hamas attack and the months since have been devastating for both Israeli and Palestinian societies. After months of war in Gaza, Israel has begun to signal a shift in strategy towards a new phase of this conflict. This shift has raised questions of what comes next for Gaza. Far-right ministers in Netanyahu’s government, such as Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir, have made concerning remarks calling for the expulsion of Palestinians. Ben-Gvir even asserted that such a move would pave the way for Israel to rebuild Jewish settlements in Gaza. 

The Times of Israel reported last week that the “voluntary” resettlement of Palestinians from Gaza is slowly becoming an official policy of the government, with conversations taking place with several countries about the potential absorption of Palestinians from Gaza.

Any ideas of expelling Palestinians from Gaza or establishing Israeli settlements within the strip are unacceptable. The Biden administration has called such rhetoric “inflammatory and irresponsible,” and Vice President Harris’ has stated that “under no circumstances will the United States permit the forced relocation of Palestinians from Gaza or the West Bank, the besiegement of Gaza, or the redrawing of the borders of Gaza.” Still these comments have done little to curb the far-right. 

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Reps. Pressley and Raskin's Letter to Secretary Blinken

Dear Secretary Blinken,

We write to support the Biden administration’s continued strong opposition to any consideration of the idea of forced transfer of Palestinians out of Gaza. We appreciate President Biden’s clear commitment, in calls with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and Jordanian King Abdullah II, to ensure that Palestinians in Gaza will not be displaced to any other nation.[1] We also welcome Vice President Harris’ assurance that “under no circumstances will the United States permit the forced relocation of Palestinians from Gaza or the West Bank, the besiegement of Gaza, or the redrawing of the borders of Gaza.” [2] Additionally, we were glad to see you reiterate the administration’s firm opposition to the forcible displacement of Palestinians during a recent press conference in Doha.[3]

We urge you to continue to reiterate the United States’ firm commitment to this position and ask that you provide clarification regarding certain provisions of the administration’s supplemental humanitarian and security funding request. Any forced expulsion of Palestinians from Gaza would only exacerbate the trauma and pain Palestinian civilians in Gaza are already experiencing as a result of this conflict and cause more regional tension and conflict for decades to come.

We have serious concerns both about extremist rhetoric from some Israeli officials and about proposals being floated by some in the Israeli government for the transfer of Palestinian civilians out of Gaza. For instance, the Israeli Ministry of Intelligence, in a document dated October 13, 2023, proposed the forcible and permanent transfer of 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.[4] The document understandably raised fears among Palestinians of permanent displacement from Gaza. These fears were exacerbated by a report in November that the Israeli government “has quietly tried to build international support in recent weeks for the transfer of several hundred thousand civilians from Gaza to Egypt for the duration of its war.” [5] Continued extremist rhetoric by Israeli government officials, such as calling for “Nakba 2023,” is also deeply alarming and further heightens concerns that some members of the Israeli government support forcibly transferring Palestinians out of Gaza. [6]

Due to the ongoing conflict, over 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza, nearly 80% of the population, have been internally displaced in the Gaza Strip. Worsening sanitary conditions, shortages of food, water, fuel, and medicines, and thousands of cases of acute respiratory infections, diarrhea and chicken pox reflect an increasingly dire humanitarian crisis.[7] The Israeli government must urgently increase the amount of humanitarian aid entering the Gaza Strip in order to address this humanitarian catastrophe. If Palestinian civilians choose to leave Gaza voluntarily in search of safety, they must be guaranteed to be allowed to return. Many in Gaza fear that any temporary displacement would become permanent. The United States must ensure that there is no question that Palestinian civilians who wish to remain in the Gaza Strip have the right to do so.

In light of these concerns, we are also seeking clarity around President Biden’s supplemental humanitarian and security funding request transmitted to Congress on October 20, which asks for funding to “address potential needs of Gazans fleeing to neighboring countries.”[8] In light of the President’s recognition of the importance of preventing Palestinian displacement, we aim to prevent any confusion or misinterpretation that this funding request could in any way signal U.S. support for potential transfer of Palestinians out of the Gaza Strip. We ask for a clarification of the U.S. position on this question and that you continue to make clear American opposition to any forced transfer of population to both the Israeli government and the Palestinian people.

The United States must remain committed, as you have stated on many occasions, to a future in which all Israelis and Palestinians live in peace with equal rights, dignity, and freedom. We thank you for your time and consideration, and we look forward to your response.

Rep. Ayanna Pressley (MA-07)

Rep. Jamie Raskin (MD-08)

<additional signatures>

 

[1] Readout of President Biden’s Call with His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan, White House, (October 2023) https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2023/10/31/readout-of-president-bidens-call-with-his-majesty-king-abdullah-ii-of-jordan-2/

[2] Harris says US will ‘under no circumstances’ permit forced relocation of Palestinians, CNN, (December, 2023) https://www.cnn.com/2023/12/02/politics/harris-cop28-israel-gaza/index.html

[3] U.S. Opposes Displacement of Palestinians, Blinken Says, Reuters, (January, 2024) https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/blinken-presses-arab-states-discuss-future-gaza-2024-01-07/

[4] An Israeli ministry, in a ‘concept paper,’ proposes transferring Gaza civilians to Egypt’s Sinai, Associated Press, (October, 2023) https://apnews.com/article/israel-gaza-population-transfer-hamas-egypt-palestinians-refugees-5f99378c0af6aca183a90c631fa4da5a       

[5] Israel Quietly Pushed for Egypt to Admit Large Numbers of Gazans, New York Times, (November, 2023) https://www.nytimes.com/2023/11/05/world/middleeast/israel-egypt-gaza.html 

[6] ‘Erase Gaza’: War Unleashes Incendiary Rhetoric in Israel, New York Times, (November, 2023) https://www.nytimes.com/2023/11/15/world/middleeast/israel-gaza-war-rhetoric.html; Israel’s Ben-Gvir: ‘Voluntary’ Transfer of Gazans Is the Solution, Israelis Should Resettle Trip, Haaretz, (January 2024), https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/2024-01-07/ty-article/ben-gvir-voluntary-transfer-of-gazans-is-the-solution-israelis-should-re-settle-strip/0000018c-e2f0-d751-ad8d-fff4fb4d0000

[7] Hostilities in the Gaza Strip and Israel – OCHA Flash Update #52, United Nations, (November, 2023) https://www.un.org/unispal/document/hostilities-in-the-gaza-strip-and-israel-ocha-flash-update-52/

[8] Letter regarding critical national security funding needs for FY 2024, White House, (October, 2023)  https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/Letter-regarding-critical-national-security-funding-needs-for-FY-2024.pdf

Recording: Mending our Broken Hearts with Rabbi Sharon Brous

At a time when we direly need to collectively heal our broken hearts, we were joined by one of America’s leading rabbis, Sharon Brous, for a conversation on humanity, human connection, compassion, and community.

Rabbi Brous is the author of a new, highly acclaimed book, The Amen Effect, Ancient Wisdom to Mend Our Broken Hearts and World. The book pairs heart-driven anecdotes from Rabbi Brous’ experience building and pastoring her faith community over the past two decades with ancient Jewish wisdom and contemporary science.

Sharon Brous is the founding and senior rabbi of IKAR, a trail-blazing Jewish community based in Los Angeles. A leading voice at the intersection of faith and justice in America, she has been named #1 Most Influential Rabbi in the U.S. by Newsweek/The Daily Beast.

Watch the recording on our YouTube channel- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4KGF4BZWeA

Listen to the audio on PeaceCasthttps://peacenow.libsyn.com/310-mending-our-broken-hearts-with-rabbi-sharon-brous

Read the transcript- https://peacenow.org/entry.php?id=42789

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Webinar Transcript- The End of Israel: A Book Talk with Bradley Burston

Hadar Susskind 00:00 

Welcome to our first webinar of 2024. For those of you who are regulars with us, you know, first of all, I'm Hadar Susskind. I'm the president and CEO of Americans for Peace Now. And this is the part of the webinar where I participate in the time honored Washington DC tradition of filibustering, because it takes a moment or two for everyone to join the webinar room, the Zoom Room. So again, happy New Year. Lord knows we all need it. Welcome to our first APN webinar of 2024. One more time, I see our numbers are still ticking up. So I'll keep rambling for a moment or two. Again, I'm Hadar Susskind. I'm the president and CEO of Americans for Peace Now. I'm very pleased to be joined by our guest today, Bradley Burston, and I think I am going to go ahead and get us started. So, I know that many if not all of you are familiar with Bradley and his work. But on the off chance someone's joining us who isn't you get a little intro. For almost four decades, he has been a reporter and a columnist, documenting Israel's conflict with the Palestinians and commenting on it. He has written for many different sources that all of us have read for years and years from the Jerusalem Post, Reuters in Israel, and of course, Haaretz in English, and recently has come out with his new book entitled, The End of Israel. The book is a roadmap, really, to the current crisis in Israeli society, in many ways, culminating with the events of October 7 and the following months. You know, the book really was introduced as a documentation of the consequences of the choices that Netanyahu has made over the years to really prioritize himself and his own political longevity over the country. And it says here as Burston writes: "He chose, Israel lost, end of story." But it is not the end of story. It's a much longer story than that, obviously. And, Bradley, thank you for joining us today. I really appreciate it. I appreciate your taking time out of your evening there in Israel. So please, I think I just want to hand it off to you. Tell us more about the book. Tell us a little bit about how you're doing now. We've got a lot to talk about. Let's jump in. 

 

Bradley Burston 02:30 

Okay sure. Okay, so the question the book is looking at is: how did Netanyahu's policies and behavior enable and invite the war that began on October 7? To me, what's astonishing is in how many ways and for how long Hamas benefited directly from Netanyahu's words and actions, and in fact, Netanyahu benefited from Hamas' declarations and actions almost from the beginning of his political career. I mean, Hamas served Netanyahu's purpose because he believed and he still believes in a balance of terror. And Hamas was useful. First because its charter was flagrantly antisemitic. Its fundamental goal was the annihilation of the State of Israel in its entirety, and the expulsion or worse of the whole of the Jewish population. And in other words, Hamas was Netanyahu's dream example of why Israel needed to block, obstruct, and if possible, kill off the struggle for a Palestinian state. And if I may add, on a personal note, when I was starting out as a reporter, I was the Gaza reporter for The Jerusalem Post. And Gaza was a sleepy place until December of 1987 when the First Intifada began, and also in the same week, Hamas was founded. So I thought it would be a good idea to talk to Hamas people to see what they were interested in doing, what their plans were because Hamas set itself up as a social welfare organization. It was part of the Muslim Brotherhood, and the idea was that it would set up soup kitchens, and it had schools and and all kinds of welfare facilities and health clinics under its aegis. And so I went to a mosque in North Gaza with my colleague and translator who was a stringer for the Jerusalem Post and for the New York Times. And he was a very personable fellow and he spoke to the Imam, the religious leader who was Hamas through and through, even though Hamas was brand new. And he told them what I was interested in knowing, about the social welfare work and what their plans were and what people said about them. And is it true that they actually were tremendously militant and fanatically religious and blah blah? Sure enough, his answer to this long, long, detailed question was: he looked at my colleague, and he said in Arabic (it was fairly clear what he was saying), "Is this guy a Jew?" Meaning me. And then he looked at me. And there are times when you realize that an expression is not only an expression, because suddenly, for the first time in my life, never before or since, did I understand what if looks could kill, had to do with. This guy was not going to abide my presence anywhere in the Holy Land. And he made that very clear. And my colleague said, "Look, you know, he's an American, right?" But this was definitely the end of the conversation. And that was my introduction to Hamas. And over the years, even though the charter has changed a bit, and here and there they've modified their point of view about Jews, I'm still of the belief (and this is as a fairly decided leftist and certainly as a proponent of an eventual peace between Israelis and Palestinians), I've truly decided that if you're wondering whether Hamas is antisemitic and murderous, from my standpoint, you can stop wondering. So anyway, so that's an introduction to the book because the book weaves back and forth, it's an arc. We're all familiar with the suitcases stuffed with cash that came in from Qatar with billions of dollars for 10 years so that Hamas could build up, turns out, build up its infrastructure. It turned out it wasn't such a great social welfare agency, because there was food insecurity and water insecurity beforehand, to some extent, also because of Israel. But it's instructive that one of the things we found out, one of the things we gleaned from this absolutely horrific war campaign that Netanyahu has compacted, is the extent of what Hamas was doing underground. And just to give you an idea, the Gaza Strip is 25 miles long and about six miles wide. And there are at least 310 miles of tunnels underneath, some of them two levels. And so we're facing an extremely industrious and also an extremely hateful foe. And I think that they kind of have their mirror in the Israeli government, except that it's not industrious. So with that, I think I'll turn it back over to you by me. 

 

Hadar Susskind 08:35 

Quite, quite aligned. Thank you. Thank you for also sharing that story. Somebody asked, by the way, I think you said it was 1987 when you started reporting in Gaza? 

 

Bradley Burston 08:46 

Yeah, I started the year before, but then it was really sleeping. 

 

Hadar Susskind 08:50 

Yeah. That reminds me, and I of course neglected to do so at the beginning, because it's beginning of year and you know, we're all still waking up. Please do use the Q&A function for questions. And again, we will get to as many of those as we can, and we will share them with Bradley afterward if we don't get a chance to get to any of them. But you know, those technical details that I neglected: the webinar is being recorded, we will share it both as the webinar and Ori will of course make a podcast episode out of it. And please do use the Q&A function for questions. But I am going to kick off the first question actually, which is sort of picking up where you left off talking about Hamas and the Israeli government and the current iteration of the conflict. You know, obviously after the atrocities of October 7, the Israeli government, and I think it's fair to say, many in Israel, said that Israel had no choice but to respond and respond in the fashion in which they did. Do you agree with that? What do you think about that assertion? 

 

Bradley Burston 09:59 

My answer is absolutely not. Okay, so in general war is a three letter word for failure. And this war is a synonym for catastrophic failure. One of the options, that had this been a different government - and you can say that Israel couldn't have responded differently - you can say that this government couldn't have responded differently because of its makeup. I mean, that I would understand because considering that they're speaking in terms of, at this point, a genocidal future for 2 million Gazans, maybe there wasn't, they didn't see an alternative. But I think that had it been a government of a modicum of rationality, one option would have been to immediately leverage the overwhelming international sympathy for Israel amid the October 7 atrocities. Netanyahu certainly had the skills and the intelligence to have been able to (along with Biden, the EU, even the UN, and certainly many of the Gulf states) craft a coalition that would have been able to carry out some form of combined diplomatic, economic, political offensive that would have delegitimized Hamas, dried it up, undermined it, and dismantled it while causing a minimum harm to noncombatant Gazans. And they would have, I believe, they would have first of all demanded immediate return of the hostages, and forcefully so. And I think that there would have been overwhelming international support for that. And I think there's a very, very strong possibility that it might have worked. There would probably have had to have been some sort of prisoner exchange, but it would have saved many lives, which have already been lost among the hostages. But again, this is the government that is coming out with a new statement every day about what to do with the Gazans. And it becomes more and more dire, you know, as they go on. And there's new members of the coalition joining because they feel they need to say something. So for example, this guy, Moshe Saada for the Likud came out with a statement saying, say, "Well, you know, even the kibbutznikim now say to me: 'Get rid of all of them', you know, 'destroy them all.' The state prosecutor says, you know, 'destroy them all,'" which is actually not true, but he's saying his friends in the prosecution that used to argue with him politically are now saying, you know, "Yeah, you're right, destroy them all." And he was speaking on what's called the poison station, Channel 14, it's Bibi's station. And what he was saying was that this proves that the right wing was right all along, that you shouldn't have a Palestinian state, and that you should treat them just like this, right. And they're all, you know, they're all worth killing. And we're in a terrible position now. But we're making our terrible position worse. It's not bad enough what we've already done in this bombing campaign, and the, you know, the number of civilian casualties and casualties among children is enormous. But the idea that there is a case, there's going to be a case before the International Court of Justice that's being brought by the South African government, accusing Israel of genocide. It's very significant that one of the elements of a judgement about a government being interested in genocide is intention, intent. And if one after another of the members of the coalition comes out with these statements about "flatten Gaza" and "kill them all," "finish them off," the future is as bleak as it gets. 

 

Hadar Susskind 14:53 

Yeah, it is. I mean, just the conversations that so many of us are part of with people who are not always deeply engaged in this. Where you see people saying on the one hand: here is not one or two, but series of Israeli government ministers (not, you know, just some yahoo out on the street), ministers calling for, you know, pushing them all into Sinai, calling for genocidal actions, things like that. And then people defending that by saying, "Oh, those guys aren't serious, they're just, you know, ridiculous people." But those ridiculous people are ministers in this government. We have a lot of questions coming in about, you know, sort of the politics afterwards, so to speak. But before we get to that, I want to ask you a little bit about your thoughts on, really, what comes next, because unfortunately, we're not finished with the war. I mean, we've seen two phases, basically: the airstrikes and then the ground invasion. So we're at what I think is sort of the waiting period for Phase Three right now. What do you expect to see next? 

 

Bradley Burston 15:58 

Alright so it's indicative of this government, I think, that today is the 90th day of the war, and only tonight, for the first time since the beginning of the war, the government is meeting to discuss the day after, how this could possibly end. After three months, this is a real indication of them having gone about it the wrong way to begin with. In any case, I think that because we know that the third phase will have to do with massive - my English is failing me - but there are 360,000 reservists. And they've been there for a long time, and they're going to start, I forget the word, but they're gonna start freeing them to go back home. Yeah, releasing, right, fair enough. Anyway. So when that happens, this is the thing that Netanyahu has been dreading. So there's a number of possibilities. I think you can bet that a lot of these guys (I think chances are both you and I have some experience of going through the military and being disgruntled, I'm guessing) - when these guys come back, they're going to be mad as hell. Some of them are going to be mad because they were not told that they were supposed to be killing large numbers of civilians, or possibly paving the way for mass expulsions and a second Nakba. Or maybe renewing Jewish settlement in the Gaza Strip, for example, stuff that the government has talked about. Some people are going to be very, very upset about that. Others will be upset because there isn't an immediate move to settle Gaza. So there's going to be - and these guys have had plenty of time to collect their thoughts, because I have done a 60 day reserves then, I did it in Lebanon. And I remember what my mood was like when I came back. And so alright, so here's what I'm thinking if Bibi is really threatened. Okay, so nobody smells blood like the far right, the Israeli far right, especially the veterans of the settler movement, the militant settlers. And so what you could have is a palace coup. If Bibi is scared enough, he could become a figurehead. And what we've seen as just declarative moves by one after another of the extreme right wingers could turn into facts on the ground, because facts on the ground is how the settlement movement (nobody knows this better than Peace Now) - that's how the settlement movement works. Alright, so that's one possibility. But I think another possibility is the overwhelming power that we saw earlier this year, of hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of 1000s of Israelis taking to the streets. I think you can be assured that that's going to come back in some form. And it's going there and they're going to be calling for Netanyahu's ouster before anything else. And it's going to be very, very, very difficult for Netanyahu to navigate this. That's why he's trying to keep the war going as long as possible. 

 

Hadar Susskind 15:59 

So I'm gonna ask you two questions together here that have come in a variety of versions through the Q&A. So one is actually just people asking for you to explain the title of the book. Obviously, it's pretty dramatic. So what do you mean by that? And then I'll ask you the second one, because maybe it'll lead into this. There are a number of questions here that are around the topic of - like when Ben Gvir and company say outrageous and dangerous things about the future of Gazans, when they're talking about genocide and forced migration, etc. - is there a response from the opposition? And if so, why aren't we hearing about it here in the US or outside of Israel? And then I have like 11 questions that are all basically: when are there going to be elections? And how do we get to that? And I think they'll all connect, so I'll throw them all at you. 

 

Bradley Burston 20:12 

They're definitely connected. Alright, which would you like to hear first? 

 

Hadar Susskind 20:50 

Start with the book title. 

 

Bradley Burston 20:50 

Okay, so, alright. So I will reveal to you that the book title, I came up with the book title during the summer. This book was supposed to be a book about the judicial reform, and that being the end of democracy in Israel. But the idea of the title was twofold. Because it's the idea, first of all, that the ideals that were embodied in the Declaration of Independence, primarily democracy, equality, and peace with your neighbors, were - starting in 2018 with the nation state law and just with the slippery slope, you know, gradually gaining momentum and ending with a judicial reform - that was the end of Israel as we knew it. But there was another explanation for the title, which is what is the end of Israel, which is to say, what is the goal of Israel? What is the idea? What does Israel exist for? And if Israel exists for the ideals embodied in the Declaration of Independence, that's one possibility. The other possibility is Israel exists to make it possible for certain sectors of the electorate to live unsustainable lives paid for by the rest of us. Especially illegal settlements, yeshivas where they don't serve in the army or do national service of some other kind, and finally the Likud, which Miki Zohar, a Likud member of Knesset (he's actually a cabinet minister now, Culture and Sport) - 

 

Hadar Susskind 20:58 

They're all ministers. 

 

Bradley Burston 21:10 

And he's actually become one of the more affable and honest of the Likud people, which is a low bar, but he said on an interview, he essentially said: "What the Likud is after is Koach, Kesef and Kavod”. In other words, power, money, and respect or honor in a in a kind of a sleazy, you know, 

 

Hadar Susskind 23:26 

Mafia kind of way. 

 

Bradley Burston 23:28

Bidiuk, exactly. So those are the three wings of the government, right? And if that's the be all and end all of Israel, that will probably be the end of Israel. 

 

Hadar Susskind 23:41 

That's quite an answer. Oh, boy. Okay, so let's go from there into the second part of that question, which again, was about, you know, starting with the opposition. Are they really speaking out in opposition, pardon the pun, to what's happening in Gaza, to what this government is doing? We know, obviously, they were very clear, they were unequivocal in their views around, you know, the judicial coup, etc. But when it comes to the war, you know, one of the things that I think people here in the US have been feeling increasingly, is the distance between, let's call it the left in the US and the left in Israel. I'm not even talking about the right, I'm talking about the left. And so, you know, has the opposition been acting as an opposition and where do you see that going? And how do we get there in terms of, you know, the electoral process? 

 

Bradley Burston 24:30 

Right so I think because part of the opposition is in the government (Bibi co-opted Gantz and Eisenkot), it's kind of emotional blackmail because these are guys who will, you know, rally to the flag. You know, they really believe sincerely that it's their job to serve the country and to serve this government and to make it - I realize it's gonna sound ludicrous - more moderate, you know, given what's happened. 

 

Hadar Susskind 25:10

 I agree that they believe that. 

 

Bradley Burston 25:11 

I think they believe it. Oh, by the way, I think it's fair to point out, in their defense, that a lot of the terrible bombing went on before they joined the government. If you look at, just really briefly, the statements that were made by Bibi and by Gallant and by the IDF spokesman the first three days of the war, you see what they were planning. And you also see - by the way, in terms of the question of could it have been different - Bibi on the evening of October 7 is talking revenge, and he's talking about flattening Gaza, turning it into rubble. Gallant is talking the next day about cutting off water, electricity, food supplies. 

 

Hadar Susskind 26:00 

Not just talking about it, he did so. 

 

Bradley Burston 26:02 

Yeah, and then on October 10, the IDF spokesman uttered this, I can't believe that he said this. They were asking him about the bombing. And because for years, since the Goldstone Report, the Air Force had been trying to limit civilian casualties, and they've done all kinds of things to try to limit them and they did to some degree. But he said, the IDF spokesman, that the emphasis is more on damage than it is on accuracy. Which is kind of one of these laundered statements and hiding behind it is horror. You know, it was an absolute, you know, monstrous thing to say. Alright, anyways. So Gallant and Eisenkot and Matan Kahana, and many other people who are very reasonable people, in fact, joined the government and to some extent had a modifying influence in helping with Biden to try to, you know, keep down the killing, but it doesn't help very much. But they're restricted in what they can say. I think Lapid is restricted in what he can say. I think other people have been restricted by the government in what they can say. So what you're seeing now is a number of statements that are coming out as private initiatives. So for example, a statement just came out from artists, saying that they should really think about pursuing the war differently. A statement came out from human rights lawyer, Michael Sfard. And that was a statement to the Attorney General asking them to go after this incitement to genocide and expulsion from the highest level of government - full disclosure, I am a signatory to that letter. And so there are private initiatives. But I don't think anything's really going to blow apart until the reservists come back. Because as long as you have that enormous number of army people in Gaza, nobody wants to appear to be undermining them. The problem, of course, is that the hostages are really suffering from this directly. Because the more Bibi says push on, push on, push on, almost every day, we learn of another hostage who died in captivity, and that's just unbearable. It's absolutely unbearable. Okay, so in terms of an election, clearly, it's in the interest of almost everybody in the government to keep this government going forever. They thought, actually, with the judicial reform, that they could keep it going forever. And there was this feeling that, you know, Bibi would wind up being a president for life. You know, he kind of toyed with the idea. They can go on until October 27, 2026, depressingly enough, because even though 2023, you know, it seems like it lasted for about 10 years - 

 

Hadar Susskind 26:06 

It was one year. 

 

Bradley Burston 29:32 

- but the government is a year old. 

 

Hadar Susskind 29:51 

Sorry to interrupt, I want to clarify for folks. When he said they can go on until 2026, that's the term for which they were elected. So obviously, in a minute we'll talk about how to get to early elections. But if there are not early elections, that's when the next election is scheduled. 

 

Bradley Burston 30:04

 So the best hope for an election is, ironically enough, the fact that Ben Gvir, the most, you know, maniacal and ridiculous person in the government, has been gaining some support, as opposed to almost every other party the Likud is bottoming out. And most of the others - Shas is hanging on and the ultra-Orthodox kind of stay the same. But the only party that you can imagine would sink this government is Ben Gvir. He's crazy enough to do it. Or he's Machiavellian enough to do it, take your pick. Or both. But, the government's strong. What Bibi is thinking is "we've got to stay in here so long, that something else will happen. Maybe we will be hit by an asteroid. And you know, and we'll have to deal with that. And we'll forget about you know, October 7." He wants people to forget. So that's the problem. He wants to stay in office as long as he can.

 

Hadar Susskind 31:18

Because in office, of course, also means not in jail. 

 

Bradley Burston 31:21

In office means not in jail, oddly enough. Just for added spice, the High Court wasn't finished this week with reinstating the unreasonableness laws, forgive me, which was, which is one of only two pieces of legislation that the judicial reform actually managed to pass. The other one was to limit the ways that you can get rid of a prime minister who is unfit to serve and the High Court just got rid of that thing by postponing it. So it'll only apply after the next election. So in other words, if the Attorney General, which I don't think is going to happen, but if the Attorney General makes a determination that Bibi is unfit for office, he can still be declared unfit. 

 

Hadar Susskind 31:37

At least we have that. So let's come back for a minute to the current conflict, to Gaza. One of the things that I think I'm getting asked a lot from people in this country is that, you know, you've got this unbelievable, as you said, horrific humanitarian catastrophe taking place in Gaza. And you're hearing, of course, obviously, Netanyahu is supporting it. We're hearing all these horrific statements from people in his government, we're hearing, here at least, very minimal opposition statements. So there's, you know, there are a lot of people saying that the Israeli public is in general, either unaware of it, there's been some things written saying that people in Israel aren't really hearing what's happening in Gaza, or that they frankly are, you know, in support of it. What do you think? Do you think it's one of those two? Is it something else? 

 

Bradley Burston 33:22

Well, first of all, I have to say, and it saddens me to say, that journalists have done a poor job of letting Israelis know the consequences of what they've done. The humanitarian crisis - you don't see it, except for Haaretz, +972, and a few other media outlets, but you don't see it. But there's something much deeper than that. We can't see it because we can't heal. It hurts too much. Still. We're still too deep in mourning, and we're deeper in mourning every single day, people go from funeral to Shiva to funeral to Shiva. And that hurts tremendously. They have no sense that anyone in the world sees their suffering. They see Hamas as monsters, which is not necessarily untrue. The world sees Israelis as monsters. And in general, they're not. They didn't ask for this bombing campaign. They didn't ask for the Gazans to be starved. No one asked. Right? It's true that there are Israelis who are mad as hell, and they are out for revenge. That's true. But it's a mistake to think that the reason that Israelis seem insensitive, as a whole, to the suffering going on in Gaza is simply because they want these people to suffer. I don't believe that that's true, I think that they are suffering themselves. I think nobody can imagine how absolutely wounded the Israeli public is at this point. And they can't apologize, because it hurts too much. 

 

Hadar Susskind 35:51

I think that is very true. And it's very, I think, you know, for a lot of us on this call who I think share or at least feel like we understand a lot of those feelings, it's very difficult to explain that to other people here. That, you know, if you didn't know anything about this before October 7, or even if you did, but you're just reading an article here or there, or you're seeing the very real, very horrible things that are happening you know, in Gaza - I think that one of the things that we have been spending a lot of our time talking about to folks (you know, elected officials and others) is trying to really understand how people on both sides of this are suffering and how that's impacting the the decision making. You know, there's a piece of it that's the cynical politics of how Bibi wants the war to go on because he wants to stay in office. But there are also parts of it that are not cynical, they're still horrible, but they're very real in terms of people's pain and suffering, trying to deal with all of these issues going forward. 

 

Bradley Burston 37:02 

Yeah, I think that what you're looking at here - and this is hard to see from a distance - what you're looking at here are millions of people in the Holy Land whose main interest is in their family, and the safety and the well being of their family, and who are people with huge hearts for one another. And then they are, unfortunately, led by two men who are Sinwar and Netanyahu, who have proven themselves in this war to be completely heartless. And I don't know how we got to this. I mean, I have an idea mechanically. But the idea of these people with so much heart and so much feeling being led by these guys that are, you know, heartless is beyond me. 

 

Hadar Susskind 37:59 

So what's next? How do we get out of that? That connects, obviously, to the electoral question but there's no order.

 

Bradley Burston 38:10 

Alright, so there are ways to look at it that are not completely bleak. Because I think that for the first time in maybe 10 years, people have started to discuss the possibility of a two state solution not as some kind of, you know, Marvel Comics fantasy, but as a situation which actually could come about. But again, it would require regime change, both in Gaza and in Israel. And because you cannot have a two state solution with these leaders who are only interested in one state and that state is their side and not the other one. And you need a leader, also who's willing to get killed for peace. That's what we've seen. And Bibi is not that leader. That's one of the recurring themes of the book, is that there were a number of times when Bibi was exactly the guy that could have put a two state solution over the top along with the American administration, which was very, very supportive. He could have done it - first of all, you had to have a Likud guy to do it. You know, and the entire rest of the electorate would have gone along. There was a great deal of support at the beginning for the two state solution. He could have done it, but he wasn't going to do it because his way of thinking is, well, you know, if there's terrorism, then you can't really make peace. And if there's no terrorism, there's no point in making peace. And that's how he operates. 

 

Hadar Susskind 40:03 

Yeah, I mean, I think, you know, as we all look for shreds of hope, right - how do we get to something better? - one of the conversations that I've had with people is about the fact that I do think there are a large number of Israelis who are feeling (and as you were talking about, maybe more as the reservists are released and come home) that October 7 and the persecution of the war afterward has demonstrated the failure of Netanyahu. In the literal sense of, you know, government's first and primary role is protecting its citizens, and they failed in that, but also in the broader sense of the failure of Netanyahu's worldview. The failure of the idea that, you know, this conflict can just be managed: we can build a wall here, we can build a wall there, most of us can ignore it, and we don't have to worry about it, you know, in an extremely horrific, horrific way it has been made clear that that's not true. And so I think, to your point about the two state solution, there are people who haven't said that word in a decade, or who thought that that was, oh, just off the table, who are coming back and saying, Look, you know, what Netanyahu has been selling us, that this is sustainable, is not true. So what are we going to do? And we're seeing, you know, our own colleagues at Shalom Achshav, others in the grassroots, you know, coming together and saying: we have to find a way out of this war, out of this horror, not just back where we were on October 6, but towards something better. 

 

Bradley Burston 41:39 

So I want to return to that idea of this disgruntled soldier coming back, because I think what we're seeing now is, you know, that during the year until October, there were these huge, huge, huge demonstrations for democracy that barely mentioned the occupation. But now Netanyahu and his friends Ben Gvir and Smotrich are shoving the occupation in our face and down our throats, and they're saying: not only are we going to occupy the West Bank, but we're going to go on, and we're going to be in Gaza forever, right? And I think the occupation - one of the reasons there's been no move toward peace, until now and for years, was that the idea was: you can't say that word, you can't talk about what we're doing. You can't talk about occupation because it's divisive. But if it gets shoved down your throat by a minority that makes you go out there and risk your life, and if they find out that they're risking your life in order to extend the occupation, that the occupation will come back to be a huge issue in Israeli life - and it should be, and this is the worst way I can imagine doing it, at the expense of 1000s of lives. But this is one thing that could happen, you won't be able to avoid it. They shove it down your throat. There it is, you've got to do something about it. 

 

Hadar Susskind 43:13

Yeah, and I think, you know, we've seen over this past year, that parallel here in the United States. I mean, we talked about how this government has been in office for a year. January 2, 2023, we hosted a protest in front of the Israeli embassy, protesting the then incoming Israeli government, right, and Netanyahu and Ben Gvir, and Smotrich and all of the gang. And that first protest a year ago, we had, you know, a lot of great people join us, but we did not have other organizations join us. It was an APN event and other organizations that were invited, said, "Oh, we don't know if we want to do that or not." And then as the year went on, and certainly as the protest movement built in Israel, obviously, you know, it carried not only across the United States, but around the world, there were people protesting. And I think that same issue of occupation, we're seeing the parallel in the American Jewish community, we're seeing the parallel in the American political world as well. And it's one of the obviously, for us, core pieces of our work. And the question a lot of people are asking here is, you know, do you think that this war and the way this war has been carried out, do you feel it on the Israeli side that it's changing the US-Israel relationship? And I'll sharpen that to two parts, both at the political level when we're talking about President Biden and Prime Minister Netanyahu and his government, but also with the American Jewish community. 

 

Bradley Burston 44:41

I'm sorry, it blipped out a bit here. If you could just repeat the question. 

 

Hadar Susskind 44:45

Sure, I think, the question - and it's a little bit vague too, so maybe it didn't blip out and it was just I didn't ask it well - but, you know, there's a lot of conversations. There's the Israeli conversation that's changing around the occupation, right, and there's a parallel American conversation, but there's also the Israeli-American conversation. And how is that changing because of this war, and there's multiple levels of that, but the two I was asking about were the political, or, you know, government to government, but then also people to people, and I would say specifically the American Jewish community. Although one of the other pieces that's actually been very interesting, in good ways and bad ways, is how much more engaged the rest of America is around this issue right now. So I'm just curious from your seat there, are you feeling that change and how? 

 

Bradley Burston 45:31

You know, I've never felt more distant from America, in general. Because I've been watching it as if from the wrong end of a telescope. I find myself completely unqualified to figure out what's going on in the American Jewish community. And I really, really, really sympathize. I think that the idea that many people are scared to death of antisemitism, and also are sickened, actually, by what's happened here - I feel for them, but I don't know if I have a sense for what's going on at all. Somebody told me there's gonna be a wave of Aliyah, you know, and immigration, and I thought, well, that could happen. Or we could just wind up with, you know, more people going to the settlements. I think there has to be - you know, the tragedy for me (part of the tragedy, one tragedy among many) is that during the summer, I felt for Americans who were coming to kind of join us in protests, I felt a tremendous commonality and a tremendous sense of moving in the same direction. And finally, I was almost like, there's some kind of weirdly messianic, not in the Orthodox sense, but kind of some kind of messianic thing of people who are yelling and screaming and came all the way over here to march for democracy. And it was just, it was better than I could have hoped. And then of course for Bibi maybe it was the worst thing. So then October 7, it just shut it down. And then shut down also, I think, that commonality, which I feel sad about, because there are many, many people here who have shared values (I realize that's a term that nobody wants to use anymore). But there are many people here with shared values with liberal Jews in the States. It's just that the government doesn't share any values with anybody except for Trump that I can think of, I think they've even gone, you know, past Trump into the overt right-wing-land. 

 

Hadar Susskind 48:08

Yeah, I mean, you know, we have some experience with that, as you just mentioned. When you talk about that concept of shared values, you know, and again, we spend a lot of time telling people here that Israel and the Israeli population is not a monolithic thing. When people say, "Oh, well, Israel is supporting this," you know, the government of Israel is doing it and has that responsibility. But obviously, the people, you know, have a diversity of views just as we do here. So, I want to try to bring us back around to coming out of this, and we know that this war is going to end not as soon as we would like, but it will come to an end. And when it comes to an end, there are still going to be millions of Israelis, both Jews and Muslims and Christians and others, there are still going to be millions of Palestinians, and they're going to need to find a way to live together, right? I do not believe, thankfully, that the population of Gaza is going to be expelled. And obviously, we still have everyone else in the West Bank, there needs to be a better answer. I think the resurgence of the conversation around the two state solution is part of that. But I think there's, you know, there are a lot of different steps. So I mean, what's the hope that you see for change? Can you imagine a scenario, or imagine for us the scenario that is better, that ends in peace, that brings us toward a direction of our shared values? 

 

Bradley Burston 49:39 

Oh, yeah, no, I really can. But unfortunately, the timeline is tremendously distressing. Because you know, there's a chapter in the book about how we'll all be better off when my generation has died out. Israel will be better off. But it's going to take more than that. Unfortunately, it's going to take more time than that because of the tremendous pain that everybody feels and the tremendous anger that everybody feels. And it's driving people apart. But I really believe that the pendulum will swing back. I always say that, I mean, I grew up at a time when we managed to change the country, because a huge number of young people realized that their parents were idiots. And what it's gonna take here is a huge number of young people on both sides saying, "Our parents were idiots, we have to find a way to live together." And it could be, by the way, any number of combinations of things, including climate change, which could have an effect, where we actually have to work together or we won't survive. There could be a situation in which women take power. I have a feeling that if women took power, we might have a better chance for peace. There are all kinds of things that could happen. But it's going to be very gradual, because nobody gives up, especially these guys. They don't want to give up power. If they can help it, I think they would literally rather die. And some of them, in some cases exactly that. 

 

Hadar Susskind 51:33

They'd certainly rather let many other people die. 

 

Bradley Burston 51:35 

You know, no that's for sure. Yeah, that's for sure. And, but I think the problem - I'm very hopeful, but the timeline is distressing. I am a grandfather, and I could see my grandchildren doing this, I can see my children doing this too. But I think that their generation, unfortunately, for my children's generation, they grew up at a time of suicide bombings. And they were very injured by that psychically. And it's very hard for them to take that leap of faith, especially now after October 7. It's very hard to take that leap of faith and say, "Alright, so let's, you know, let's try this, this thing." But I think, you know, the more that Bibi lies and says, "Oslo was the mother of all sins," and when this guy Saada is basically saying "Peace kills, and it's about time you figured it out leftists." Right? I think people are getting tired of this rhetoric. I think that the idea that peace is the problem is wearing thin, but it rides on this current of anger, which, you know, is going to be with us for a long time. So it's like, you know, it's like this Dor Midbar idea that, you know, that people have to - the generation of the wilderness. And we've been, you know, when they left Egypt, a lot of them didn't want to leave Egypt, and they thought, you know, "Slavery wasn't that bad, and I don't want to listen to this guy Moses," and all this, because they had a certain mentality. And we have a certain mentality, and I'm not proud of the mentality of my generation at all. But I really think that time could heal us. It's just going to take too much time. 

 

Hadar Susskind 53:37 

Yeah. And I mean, I think you're right, because again, I think there is, in many ways, there's no other option, right? There is not an option but to live together. And it's just a question of, you know, who are the people, which is the generation that's going to be able to, to actualize that, to make it real? All right, I'm gonna ask you the really unfair question. 

 

Bradley Burston 54:04 

Oh good.

 

Hadar Susskind 54:04

Because, you know, nobody makes money betting on, you know, elections and electoral results, or at least not consistently. I was having a conversation with some people here the other day, you know, we've got a US election coming up, as you I'm sure are aware of, and this is, in fact, this conversation is going to play a not insignificant role in that, I believe. But do you think there's going to be an Israeli election before the US election? And obviously, all the polling right now, like you said, shows, you know, Likud being decimated, the right wing, you know, the current members of the government getting, you know, 37 seats or 41 seats or very low, low numbers. But take a crack at it. I promise not to hold you to this for posterity. But what do you think is the timeline for that and what it will look like? 

 

Bradley Burston 54:58 

I think that this government is going to do everything it possibly can to make Biden look bad, for as long as they can. To do that, they have to stay in power until November. Right? And because I think this government really wants the Republicans to come in and certainly would love to have Trump come in, and it doesn't have to be Trump. And if Trump winds up going to jail, they've got this whole other roster of other people who they can find valuable. So I think the government will do everything in its power to stay in power through the American election in order to influence it, which is terrible. And I'm not enjoying saying this, but that's what I would say. And then depending on the result of the election, that might have an effect on what would happen here. It wouldn't be the first time, depending on what happens, depending on who wins, depending on how Congress goes. We'll see. But that would be my bet, that they will do everything they can to stay in power until at least until after November. 

 

Hadar Susskind 56:20 

We shall see. Yeah, I mean, I have no doubt you're right about that. They will do everything they can to stay in power. 

 

Bradley Burston 56:26

 I think they will. I mean, I think chances are, if you want me to bet, you know, I would bet that they would. But of course, you know, an asteroid could hit in the meantime. It's been happening regularly lately [laughs]

 

Hadar Susskind 56:41 

We just had an earthquake here the other day, which is very weird. 

 

Bradley Burston 56:45 

Oh, I'm from California. That's not that weird. 

 

Hadar Susskind 56:47 

Yeah well, in Washington, it's weird. It was a small one. All right, listen, I wanna thank you. I want to thank you for being with us for this hour. And thank you for the book. For those of you, if you didn't see it, Ori put a link to the book in the chat, but I'm sure it can be found. I know Ori put an Amazon link, I'm sure it can be found in a variety of other ways as well. But I would encourage folks to check it out. And, you know, I thank you for all your continuing writing and your continuing work. 

 

Bradley Burston 57:20

Thank you. 

 

Hadar Susskind 57:21

And hopefully we'll see you when we're there. We're coming, we're bringing an APN trip, for those of you on the call if anyone wants to join us, we will be visiting in March and hopefully we'll see you. 

 

Bradley Burston 57:32

Oh, good love that. Thank you. 

 

Hadar Susskind 57:34

All right. Thank you everyone for joining us and talk to you all soon. Goodbye. 

 

Bradley Burston 57:37

Bye bye.

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