Hard Truths About Hatred and Incitement


Some Hard Truths about Incitement & Hatred

  • Hatred, incitement, and racism are all serious obstacles to Israeli-Palestinian and Israeli-Arab peace. Combating this must be an important element of U.S. relations and policy in the Middle East and around the world. All sides must work to contain and eliminate them.
  • A tenet of democracy is that discrimination and incitement against any people based on their religion or ethnicity is unacceptable.  Political grievances, claims of historical injustices, or ideological disagreements never justify incitement to hatred or violence, or discrimination.
  • Incitement against Israel and Jews is a serious problem that can’t be ignored, particularly in light of the Jewish people's history. In Israel's short history, it has seen more than its share of hatred and violence. It has seen wars and terrorism, and faced people insisting that Israel has no right to exist or should be destroyed.  Anti-Semitism and incitement against Israel exists among Palestinians and in the Arab world, and often taints legitimate criticism of Israeli policies.  While some amount of anti-Semitism of anti-Israel incitement would certainly continue to exist even if there were peace, the flames of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel incitement are today fanned by images of violence and injustice that are part and parcel of the occupation. 
  • Incitement and hatred go both ways, and both anti-Arab and anti-Muslim incitement must also be rejected.  Friends of Israel tend to focus on Arab inflammatory rhetoric, but there is no shortage of inciting rhetoric on the Israeli side as well. This is in addition to Israeli policies toward the Palestinians that the Arab world (and many others) views as discriminatory, racist, or unjust.  The “price tag” phenomenon, involving attacks by Israeli settlers against Palestinians and their property – and increasingly spreading inside the Green Line, with attacks against Arab, Muslim, and Christian targets inside Israel – is an example of incitement and hatred transformed into concrete actions.  The failure of Israeli authorities to effectively deal with the “price tag” phenomenon – taking strong action only when the targets of attacks are the Israeli military – sends a signal that such “price tag” actions are tolerable, if not acceptable.
  • Continuing the status quo of Israeli occupation only deepens Palestinian and Arab resentment, while feeding Israeli demonization of the Palestinians. The implementation of a two-state solution will mean a reduction in friction and, over time, decline in enmity. Without peace, we can expect violence to continue, feeding anti-Israel sentiment far beyond Israel's neighborhood.  Peace can provide security and stability to both Israelis and Arabs; in doing so, it is the only serious path to changing negative attitudes and perceptions on both sides.
  • Many who argue that peace is impossible due to implacable Arab hatred also reject Israel taking the steps necessary to achieve a two-state solution, namely, ceding most of the West Bank and East Jerusalem so that it, along with Gaza, can become a Palestinian state. Making the total elimination of hatred and incitement a condition for peace negotiations is a prescription for making things worse, not better. Anyone who cares about fighting anti-Semitism and anti-Israel incitement should be fighting to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace. Moreover, anyone who cares about Israel's future will refuse to hand anti-Semites veto power over a peace agreement.
  • Peace is possible even if the parties to a peace agreement still harbor prejudice and hatred toward each other.  Anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sentiments held by many Egyptians and Jordanians – and anti-Arab sentiments held by many Israelis – have not prevented durable peace agreements from taking hold. 
  • Similarly, an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement can deliver huge benefits for Israel. It can help Israel better defend itself and normalize its presence in the Middle East. It can also dramatically improve Israel's standing internationally and pave the way for broader peace between Israel and the Arab world.
  • Yes, many in the Arab and Muslim worlds hate Israel, hate Jews, and want to see the Jewish state disappear. Yet, Palestinian leaders have repeatedly recognized Israel, expressed readiness to live side-by-side in peace, and committed themselves to non-violent means. There are signs that the Arab world is ready to accept Israel, including the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, offering Israel full peace and normal relations with all of the Arab states if Israel will first embrace a realistic two-state solution to its conflict with the Palestinians.
  • A peace treaty cannot instantly erase Arab and Palestinian anti-Semitism or hatred of Israel.  It cannot erase either the deep-seated Israeli suspicion of Palestinians and Arabs or the often racist attitudes Israelis hold towards them. Decades of anger, fear, and hatred will not disappear overnight. But it will be significantly easier for Israelis and Arabs - for Jews, Christians and Muslims - to overcome these challenges in the context of a peace agreement and normalized relations.
  • Peace with the Palestinians and the Arab world is an Israeli vital interest, and Israel cannot afford to wait for the day when its enemies first love it to seek peace. Peace is something you make with your enemies, not your friends.


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