The Conspiracy

Palestinian reconciliation: Good or Bad for the Jews?

It has been buzzing in the news for awhile, and today we all got our confirmation: the PLO and Hamas agree to a “historical Palestinian reconciliation deal“.  After years of bitter rivalry and disagreements, they have come together to begin to form a “unity government”.  And even though Abbas has more or less told Israel to mind its own buisness, (his spokesman Nabil Abu Rdainah said the reconciliation was not Israel’s concern) we all know that this is our business.  And so at every milestone we ask: is it good for the Jews or bad for the Jews?

The initial response is to say bad.  Aluf Benn, in his recent Haaretz Op-Ed piece believes that the future of the Palestinian nationalist movement is with Hamas, if this is so than any “unity” governed will simply be Hamas dominated, and therefore terrorist dominated.  This leads him to fall down a pessimistic slippery slope asserting that this will push Israeli society behind Netanyahu in his claim that if there is a West Bank withdrawal it will be taken over by Hamas, and thus be an Iranian satellite full of terrorist attacks (he’ll point to the Ashdod bombings and the recent school bus bombing to back the terrorist attack claim) , and this will push Livni to therefore join a Netanyahu led unity government to stand strong against Palestinians and international pressure. To sum up: the bad is a Hamas takeover masked by a unity government, therefore international pressure will continue to mount against Israel pushing Israel far more right, and stifling any hope for peace.  Oh, and then a third intifada is probably inevitable.

Seems bleak.  So is there any good for the Jews?  There must be because the answer to the question, ‘is it good for the Jews or bad for the Jews’, is always answered with both good and bad.

For some time now, as Abbas has been trying to find support to independently declare a Palestinian state, critics have been urging Netanyahu to come up with his own clear and serious peace plan that would force Abbas to deal with Netanyahu as well.  Last year at Netanyahu’s foreign policy speech at Bar Ilan, Netanyahu pledged to forge peace.  He said, “We do not want to rule over them. We do not want to run their lives. We do not want to force our flag and our culture on them.”  Later in his speech he said, ” Friends, in order to achieve peace, we need courage and integrity on the part of the leaders of both sides.”  This is our opportunity to show our courage and our integrity.  If we don’t want to rule over them, then we don’t have to.  Perhaps this reconciliation will provide us the opportunity not to shut out the left, but to listen to it.   While Hamas and the PLO are drafting a new government, we can draft a vision for peace.  We don’t need to wait to see what they will do, but rather force them with an option they can’t turn away from.  And so instead of leaning on our pessimistic instincts we can hope that Hamas will not corrupt the PLO, but rather the PLO will influence Hamas.  If we can prove we are standing strong for peace (by a big option or a concrete drafted idea for peace) we can perhaps gain some lost control.

In any case, good or bad, history has proved to me in times of crisis Jews are their most creative. So if Hamas and Fatah want to start a fresh page- maybe we all can too.

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10 Older Responses to “Palestinian reconciliation: Good or Bad for the Jews?”

  1. Max Elstein Keisler
    April 28, 2011 at 10:09 am #

    Noooo, this is what I was going to write about today…

    I don’t think the PLO is going to influence Hamas toward nonviolence, if anything, this suggests that the PLO is back to their pre (and arguably) post Oslo tricks…great post btw

  2. Max Elstein Keisler
    April 28, 2011 at 10:11 am #

    I’m seeing something kind of like Gaza, where militant groups which the government “can’t control” do the actual terrorism, the political figures deny they had anything to do with it, but it never stops…it’s worrying

  3. pheldermaus
    April 28, 2011 at 12:00 pm #

    @ Hailey

    Thank you for this post.

    First, I wanted to comment on the use of ‘good for the Jews’ phrase. I assume you probably meant ‘good for Israel’, or (Jewish) Israelis. the equation of ‘Israel = Jews’ needs to be looked with critical eyes. certain Israeli actions may seem great for Israel but not so great for Jews in general and vice versa.

    About the Hamas – Fatah agreement: “We” don’t choose who sits across the table from ‘us’ to negotiate with. Israel can only chart a path for itself that is right and just and strategically bring it to where it wants to be.

    In that sense I think that even if Kim Jong Il were to lead Palestinians, Settlements are still bad and immoral, Israeli abductions of Palestinians are still inhumane (yes, just like Shalit’s case is) and the occupation is still unjust.

    the Palestinians look at the Israeli government and see liberman, Yeelon, Barak, Vilnai and Yishai (just to mention few) – all of them right wingers, some ex-generals, some extreme nationalists – and might think “these are the people we need to negotiate with??”. My answer to them is the same. You don’t get to choose the people across the table.

    I’ll conclude with the inevitable Israeli response to any development around it: “There is no partner” and “Now is not a good time”

    Peres in 2008: “It’s is going to be very hard to reach an agreement with the palestinians” (because of the Pal split up) (sorry couldnt find the english piece)


    Peres yesterday: Palestinian unity deal could be barrier to statehood

  4. Ben Sales
    April 28, 2011 at 2:25 pm #


    Extremely well-said comment, especially regarding the idea that Israelis and Palestinians don’t get to choose who sits across from them at the table.

    Two notes, though, on the “good for the Jews” issue:

    1. You’re entirely right that Jews and Israel are not the same thing. There are plenty of Israelis who are not Jews, and plenty of Jews who are not Israeli. I think, however, that in this case Hailey is right. Because Hamas is not just anti-Israel but also anti-Semitic, and because their bombs target Jewish towns and citizens, this could be very bad for the Jews if it results in more Hamas attacks. Most Israelis are Jews, so when Israel gets attacked, by and large the victims are Jews.

    2. I may be wrong, but I’m pretty sure that Hailey was referencing a very old and well-known question: “Is such-and-such good for the Jews?” As a rhetorical device, it works.

  5. Hailey Dilman
    April 28, 2011 at 3:19 pm #

    Hey- thanks for all your comments. Ben is right with the “good for the Jews or bad for the Jews” – it has been used as an old saying for a long time when talking about Jews in history (in such and such words- also people say, “yes- but is it good for the Jews?”–my grandmother is a big fan of that line 😉 ) but recently people are referencing Ezra Mendelsohn’s famous essay, “Interwar Poland: Good for the Jews or Bad for the Jews”. Whenever you study any time period in Jewish history you generally ask this question.. If you read his essay, his basic conclusion is- both, like i conclude in my post.

    And yes I did hesitate in using the line because I didn’t want to throw all Jews into the mix, but as Ben also pointed Hamas’ business is all Jewish business, as they are also anti-semitic, and it worked.

    Pheldermaus, your reply of the “inevitable Israeli response” is the exact type of attitude that Aluf Benn has in his article: this is the most common perception today (although some people see this as the good or “right” response aka there will never be a time for peace and therefore we must keep the status quo, vs some people seeing it as exasperating.) The sadder reality is not that people believe that this is the inevitable Israeli response, but that it is becoming the only Israeli response- a true left has been pushed to the side. The right are strong in Israel right now, esp now that Labor has broken, and Meeretz is weak. I’m finding more and more in Israel that I’m almost on the fringe as a left leaning. People that are center left are being perceived as more radical. Blind support for Israel right now, even in Israel, is popular. It is quite depressing. HOWEVER, one positive thing to think about is that one of Israel’s most groundbreaking peace initiatives was made in a right government (and think about how radical right Begin was too in his early years!) So, I guess you just never know.

  6. pheldermaus
    April 28, 2011 at 3:32 pm #

    @ Ben

    I’m not so sure Hamas is antisemitic (it is anti-Zionist for sure, but that does not qualify you as AS), but that’s arguable. Also it is bas for EVERYONE if another cycle of violence will start – especially for Palestinians, as they historically suffer much greater losses than Israelis.

    That is why I think Israel’s immediate, almost reflective “we will not deal with you” response to the Hamas-Fatah deal is wrong.

    A: you don’t choose the guys across the table
    B: who is Israel kidding? How do they plan to release Shalit without negotiating with Hamas? if they can do it for one soldier, they can do it for the sake of Israel’s future.

    I completely accept your second comment. the “Is it good for the Jews?” question is part of our Jewish lingo by now. It did work well in this post!

    I’m trying to suggest that when Israel screws up, it is currently seen as a ‘Jewish’ screw up, when the reality is different. Israel is a sovereign state with its own interests and challenges, and as much as I love it, as an american Jew I cant take credit for its successes or take blame for its screw-ups.

    Doesn’t it seem wrong to you that American-Jews and american-Arabs find it hard to even sit down and talk? there are powerful players who Like to make that ‘Israel=Jewish’ link, to justify blind and automatic support for anything and everything that Israel does. in that context it is obvious how anything “anti-Israel” is suddenly “New Antisemitism”…….. We should be critical of this notion.


  7. pheldermaus
    April 28, 2011 at 3:46 pm #

    @ Hailey

    just missed your comment while writing mine….

    you’re %100 right when you describe Israel’s current political climate. it is beyond the politics of the ‘conflict’: Israel is rapidly drifting right on anything from human rights to religious freedom to political freedom to social gaps etc.

    If you’re a right wing, orthodox Jew, Israel is still everything they told you about it – a Jewish dreamland! Unfortunately for the rest of us liberal, non orthodox Jews Israel is changing its face.

    This is a wake up call for american Jews to start re-defining our Jewish identity.

    Less of the old “Doing/supporting Israel = doing Jewish” but discovering how “doing Jewish = being Jewish” (and Vice versa) and pouring some your own meaningful content into this equation.


  8. anon
    April 28, 2011 at 5:12 pm #

    Article 22 of the Hamas Charter: “The enemies have been scheming for a long time … and have

    accumulated huge and influential material wealth. With their money,

    they took control of the world media… With their money they stirred

    revolutions in various parts of the globe… They stood behind the

    French Revolution, the Communist Revolution and most of the

    revolutions we hear about… With their money they formed secret

    organizations – such as the Freemasons, Rotary Clubs and the Lions –

    which are spreading around the world, in order to destroy societies

    and carry out Zionist interests… They stood behind World War I …

    and formed the League of Nations through which they could rule the

    world. They were behind World War II, through which they made huge

    financial gains… There is no war going on anywhere without them

    having their finger in it.”

    Hamas is calling the zionists out.

  9. Jehudah Ben-Israel
    May 18, 2013 at 7:29 am #

    Shouldn't, before dealing with the various Muslim-Arab organizations, local and regional, define for ourselves: Who are "the Palestinians".

    Generally, when we refer to "the Palestinians" these days we do so in reference to Palestinian Arabs. But, of course, this has not always been the case. The term Palestinian Arabs, or in short "the Palestinians" is a term that took root only in the 1960s, and only as an act of political expediency.

    Palestine – a European coined term of a territory, never a nationality, state or even a people – was legally partitioned in 1921/22. Consisted of Arabs, Jews, Armenians, Circassians, Greeks and even Roma (Gypsies); all "Palestinians". The Arabs who were handed 77% of the territory, located between the Jordan River and the Arabian desert, renamed their part of Palestine Jordan. The Jews were assigned the rest, only 23% of Eretz Israel (Land of Israel)/Palestine, located between the Jordan River and the Med. Sea. The Jews resorted to the ancient name of the country, Israel.

    The Arabs, or more precisely the Muslim-Arabs, not the Christian-Arabs or the Druse-Arabs, have, all along, categorically, objected to the independent existence of ANY Jewish political entity on ANY parcel of land of the Jewish people's ancestral homeland, hence the on-going attempt to "cleanse" the Land of its Jewish population – an attempt that commenced in April 1920 and is yet to cease – and a drive to bring about the Jewish people's nation-state's very demise.

    Part of this attempt to eliminate Israel, by stages if necessary, has been to create a new people, "the Palestinians", who are truly the Palestinian Arabs, most Muslims, who had already been assigned by international law 77% of the territory of Palestine, but can't live peacefully with the idea that on a tiny portion of the territory is also situated a sovereign nation-state of the Jewish people: Israel.

  10. Leeada Johnson
    May 19, 2013 at 4:24 am #

    OH Puleeeze…
    You must have come down in the last shower, and be unaware of 1400 years of Islamic history to believe that they can be moved to make a real peace. Any cessation of Hostilities will always be for a limited time.
    There is no answer to israel's lack of a strategic depth to absorb an enemy attack, except never ending pre-emptive action.
    While islam exists, violent anti-semitsm exists.
    Get real

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