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Why peace in Israel failed Compromise has never seemed possible

Let's make peace? Yitzahk Rabin, Bill Clinton and Yasser Arafat, after signing the Oslo Accords. (J. DAVID AKE/AFP/Getty)

Let's make peace? Yitzahk Rabin, Bill Clinton and Yasser Arafat, after signing the Oslo Accords. (J. DAVID AKE/AFP/Getty)


October 24, 2023   9 mins

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Oslo Accords, a landmark moment in the pursuit of peace between Israel and the Palestinians. And yet peace in the region has never been more elusive, as events in Gaza makes dramatically clear. Why have all attempts to bring an end to one of the world’s bloodiest and longest-running wars failed?

To answer that, we have to go back to 1967, and the Six-Day War between Israel and its Arab neighbours, when the current Israeli-Palestinian status quo came into being. Israel captured the territories it had failed to occupy in 1948 — the Jordanian-controlled West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and the Egyptian-controlled Gaza Strip — putting all of historical Palestine under its control. This included, at the time, one million Palestinians in the West Bank and another 450,000 in the Gaza Strip.

Haaretz described the victory as “an event as monumental as the creation of the state of Israel in 1948”. Indeed, Israel’s military and political elite had been looking for the right moment to occupy the West Bank and the Gaza Strip since it had taken over most of Mandatory Palestine two decades prior, resulting in the expulsion of half of the country’s native population.

The decisions made in the immediate aftermath of this short war would define Israeli-Palestinian relations, and shape the Middle East, for the next half century — up until this very day. No wonder some have called it “the war that never ended”.

The immediate question for Israel was what to do with its newly occupied territories — and its inhabitants. There was widespread consensus that Israel should keep the West Bank and the Gaza Strip; however, a formal annexation would mean integrating Palestinians as equal citizens, thereby threatening the Jewish majority. At the same time, a 1948-style mass expulsion was not deemed a viable option, for domestic as well as international reasons.

So a different strategy was devised: one in which Israel would not formally annex the territories (except for East Jerusalem and parts of the West Bank), but place them — and the Palestinians living there — under military occupation. This satisfied both of the fundamental ideological prerequisites of Zionism: controlling as much of historical Palestine as possible, while maintaining a Jewish majority within Israel. There was only one problem: even though Israel promised to normalise the lives of the Palestinians in these territories, its political goals could only translate into a system of control and domination. The Israeli historian Ilan Pappé describes what emerged as “the largest mega-prison ever created”.

Only against the background of that 1967 decision can we understand why this regime has, in all but name, remained in place to this day — and why it has proved impervious to countless rounds of diplomatic negotiations. Not only was the decision made to effectively exclude the West Bank and the Gaza Strip from any future peace talks, but a policy of settler colonisation of the West Bank was also initiated that would make any prospect of turning it into an independent Palestinian state practically impossible.

The first time the issue of Palestinian autonomy was brought to the table was during the negotiations for the Egypt-Israel peace treaty of 1979. Israel agreed to return the Sinai Peninsula, which it had occupied in 1967, to Egypt — but also to grant a degree of administrative “autonomy” to the Palestinian inhabitants of the Occupied Territories, over which Israel would nonetheless continue to exercise significant control. The latter part of the agreement, however, was never implemented.

On the one hand, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), led by Yasser Arafat, rejected the deal engineered by the Israelis and Egyptians, and intensified its armed struggle against the occupation. On the other, even though there were segments of Israeli society that favoured withdrawal, the consensus among the Israeli political and military establishment was that the territories should remain under Israeli rule. Indeed, throughout the Seventies and Eighties, under both Labor and Likud governments, the strategy remained the same as always; intensifying the colonisation of the West Bank — and crushing the PLO.

For a long time, “peace” — or, better, some form of compromise — was never really an option for either side. The PLO was committed to “the liberation of all Palestinian soil”, while Israel saw no need to change the way it managed the territories. This changed in 1987, when violent anti-occupation riots broke out throughout the Occupied Territories and Israel. It came to be known as the First Intifada.

The uprising coincided with the appearance of a new political force on the scene: Hamas, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, which opposed the PLO’s new policy, adopted in the late Eighties, consisting in accepting the existence of the state of Israel and pursuing a two-state solution. Hamas proved to be a double-edged sword for Israel: on the one hand it posed a serious military threat, but on the other it allowed Israel to brand the Palestinian struggle as part of a global anti-Western Islamic jihad.

This helps explain why Israel actually played an important role in propping up the organisation. Brig. Gen. Yitzhak Segev, who was the Israeli military governor in Gaza in the early Eighties, told the Jerusalem bureau chief of the New York Times that he was giving money to the Muslim Brotherhood, the precursor of Hamas, on the instruction of the Israeli authorities. The funding was intended to tilt power away from both communist and nationalist movements in Gaza, and especially from Arafat (who himself referred to Hamas as “a creature of Israel”), which Israel considered more threatening than the fundamentalists. “Hamas, to my great regret, is Israel’s creation”, Avner Cohen, a former Israeli religious affairs official who worked in Gaza for more than two decades, told the Wall Street Journal in 2009.

The First Intifada lasted until 1993. Throughout that period, the Israeli response was ruthless, transforming the open-air prison model into an even harsher maximum security prison. This is when the infamous checkpoint system was implemented.

By the time a new round of negotiations, the Oslo Accords, began in the early Nineties, under the aegis of the US administration, the situation on the ground in the West Bank made the prospect of reaching lasting peace, through the establishment of a geographically coherent Palestinian state, appear remoter than ever. Nonetheless, following secret talks between Israel and the PLO, in September 1993 the two parties unveiled a “historic peace deal” on the White House lawn in the presence of US President Bill Clinton. Arafat and Israel’s Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres would later receive the Nobel Peace Prize for this.

Under the deal, Israel would withdraw its military from Palestinian territory, and Palestinians would obtain self-governance over parts of the West Bank (excluding the illegal settlements) and the Gaza Strip — not an actual state but rather an “entity”, as Rabin put it. Meanwhile, Israel would maintain exclusive control of Gaza’s borders, airspace and territorial waters. Specific issues — Israeli settlements, Jerusalem’s status, Israel’s control over security, and the Palestinian right of return — would be settled in future discussions. A transitional five-year period was established for the implementation of the agreement, but — again — little progress was made.

A crucial factor in the stalling of the peace process was Rabin’s assassination, in 1995. On 4 November, Rabin led a massive demonstration in support of the peace deal in Tel Aviv. “Let’s make peace” were his final words. As he left the venue, an Israeli ultranationalist shot him twice. Ever since the negotiations had started, Rabin had become the target of Israeli extremists. Some Right-wing rabbis even proclaimed a din rodef — essentially an authorisation to kill in traditional Jewish law — against Rabin. Rallies organised by Likud, by now led by Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as other Right-wing groups featured depictions of Rabin in a Nazi SS uniform or in the crosshairs of a gun. Protestors chanted “Rabin is a murderer” and “Rabin is a traitor”.

Netanyahu himself was often present at these rallies. In July 1995, a few months before Rabin’s murder, he led a mock funeral procession featuring a coffin and hangman’s noose at a rally during which protesters chanted “Death to Rabin”. Over the years, Netanyahu has often been accused of encouraging incitement that led to Rabin’s killing, or at the very least of contributing to the incendiary political climate that led to the murder. “Rabin was murdered in a political assassination with the cooperation of Benjamin Netanyahu,” Merav Michaeli, leader of the Labor Party, went so far as to say, last year.

After Rabin’s death, new elections were scheduled. It seemed like a mere formality: Shimon Peres, who had taken Rabin’s place, was way ahead of Netanyahu in the polls. Then, in the weeks leading up to the elections, Hamas, which was also committed to derailing the peace talks, committed a series of terrorist attacks that dramatically shifted public opinion towards Netanyahu and his ultranationalist Likud. Six months after the assassination, he won the election.

The new prime minister’s objection to the Accords meant it ground to a halt. Meanwhile, for Palestinians, the reality on the ground worsened in many respects. The West Bank was divided into the areas A, B and C, with Israel controlling any movement between, and within them, effectively formalising the “bantustanisation” of the West Bank; meanwhile, Netanyahu continued construction within existing Israeli settlements and put forward plans for the construction of a new neighbourhood.

The peace process only started moving again when the Labor Party, under Ehud Barak, returned to power in 1999. Barak was determined to land a final agreement, and he enjoyed the full support of the Clinton administration. This led to the 2000 Camp David summit. On that occasion, Israel made its final offer, explicitly aimed for the first time at a two-state solution: it proposed a small Palestinian state, with a capital in a village near Jerusalem, Abu Dis, comprising Gaza and parts of the West Bank, with no significant dismantling of any settlements.

Several aspects of the future Palestinian state — security and the management of certain resources — would remain under Israeli control. The offer also included a categorical rejection of the Palestinian right of return, a long-standing Palestinian principle that all Palestinian refugees, including their descendants, should be entitled to return to the land they were expelled from.

The summit, however, ended without agreement — and a few months later another major Palestinian uprising, the Second Intifada, broke out. Which party (parties) should be blamed for the summit’s failure remains hotly debated. The Israelis and the Americans have always blamed Arafat for his unwillingness to compromise on territory and, even more importantly, to give up on the right of return.

Others, however, including Shlomo Ben-Ami, then-Israel’s Minister of Foreign Relations, who participated in the talks, have challenged this view, arguing that the Israelis and the Americans were at least as guilty as the Palestinians for the summit’s failure. According to Robert Malley, a member of the Clinton administration, the terms of the non-negotiable, give-or-take deal, proposed by Israel in Camp David were impossible for Arafat to uphold: Palestinians would have opposed them regardless of what their leader told them.

Israel’s “best offer”, after all, was a state comprising only portions of the remaining 20% of the Palestinian land occupied in 1967, whose economic and foreign policy would have largely remained under Israeli control. It’s not hard to see why many Palestinians thought such a deal was unacceptable. Moreover, Palestinians had lost faith in the peace process in general: life in the territories had worsened since the start of the Oslo Accords. This is why, as the US State Department’s Hussein Agha and Robert Malley recount in their summit report, Arafat came to the negotiating table demanding an end to the daily brutalisation of normal Palestinian life as a way to restore faith in the benefits of the peace process. But the Israelis refused to budge.

To place all the blame on the Israeli government, however, would be too simplistic. At this point, a majority of Israelis actually thought the government had already compromised too much. So what was not enough for most Palestinians was too much for most Israelis. No wonder the two parties failed to find any middle ground.

The growing anger and frustration of Palestinians eventually led to the outburst of the second Palestinian uprising, in the autumn of 2000, which reignited the cycle of violence and reprisal. Israelis blamed Arafat for instigating the violence, but several observers agreed that Ariel Sharon’s provocative visit to the Temple Mount, a Muslim holy site, is what likely triggered the Second Intifada. Sharon, an ultranationalist, won the elections the following year and used the unrest, in which 1,000 Israelis and more than 3,000 Palestinians were killed, as an excuse to block any further negotiations — and to justify a brutal crackdown in the West Bank in 2002.

This quelled the revolt, but also sowed the seeds of future violence. From that moment onwards, the goal of peace has moved further and further away into the distance. A small spiral opened in 2004, when Hamas leader Ahmed Yassin offered Israel a 10-year hudna — a truce, or armistice — in exchange for a two-state solution. We’ll never know if Hamas was serious about the offer — they had broken previous attempts at unofficial ceasefires — or if it was a mere tactical manoeuvre to allow the group to buy time in preparation for future attacks; Israel murdered Yassin two months later in a targeted air strike.

Relations between Israel and Gaza, in particular, have been deteriorating ever since, particularly since the election of Hamas in 2005 and 2006. Israel’s disengagement plan, in 2005, in which it unilaterally dismantled its settlements inside the Gaza Strip, only made things worse. From that moment on, Gaza essentially became, in Israel’s eyes, enemy territory, leading to a dramatic militarisation of Israel’s policy towards the Strip. This included the besieging and blockading of the Strip, which led to violent retaliation by Palestinian armed groups, including rockets launched into Israel. Over the years, Israel responded with several bombing campaigns, which led to the deaths of more than 6,000 Gazans between 2008 and 2021.

This, then, is the backdrop to Hamas’s brutal October 7 attack, which killed around 1,300 Israelis and triggered Israel’s military response, which has killed more than 5,000 Gazans, and created a humanitarian catastrophe. The conflict has renewed calls for a two-state solution. But this would require a serious commitment from the international community, which is also as fractured as ever. The grim reality is that peace — let alone a lasting political sentiment — has never been further from reach.


Thomas Fazi is an UnHerd columnist and translator. His latest book is The Covid Consensus, co-authored with Toby Green.

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Marcus Leach
Marcus Leach
8 months ago

The piece is embarrassingly lopsided. towards the Palestinian perspective.
Just to take the example of how Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 “only made things worse”
Israel withdraws from Gaza, forcibly removes Israelis from their homes living within it and hands control over to Palestinians. Then, instead of taking the chance for peace, Palestinians use the opportunity to vote in to government, Hamas, a terrorist group committed in its Charter to the destruction of Israel . “From that moment on, Gaza essentially became, in Israel’s eyes, enemy territory, leading to a dramatic militarisation of Israel’s policy towards the Strip“. Well no s..t it did.
What would any country do whose neighbour had just elected a government committed to its destruction If they were able to impose stringent controls on the land and sea routes in to it? Like Israel they would set up strict controls to prevent arms and supplies getting to the enemy.
Of course it was Israel’s blockade that drove the elected, militant terrorist organisation committed to the destruction of Israel to begin firing rockets in to Israel. If after the 2006 election (once Hamas had finished its civil war with Fatah). Israel had just sent Hamas a big teddy bear with “Luv You” written on its belly, Hamas would have set about creating a peaceful. prosperous free democracy and in due course renounce its commitment is wiping Israel off the map through jihad. It’s just the most naïve nonsense that the author, Palestinians and their supporters trot out to portray Israel as an unreasonable, aggressor state.
It’s the same story again and again; Palestinians squander opportunities for peace, continue to attack Israel, and then play the oppressed victim for the useful idiots in the West ready to spin that simplistic narrative when Israel is forced to respond. .

Last edited 8 months ago by Marcus Leach
Rob C
Rob C
8 months ago
Reply to  Marcus Leach

I just read that the Netanyahu government was funneling Qatari money to Hamas a few years back to sabotage a two state solution. Apparently Netanyahu is on record as having said this. It’s all very complicated.

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
8 months ago
Reply to  Rob C

It makes sense. Those who want to retain power need the environment in which they can flourish.

Penny Adrian
Penny Adrian
8 months ago
Reply to  Rob C

Where did you read that? What if it’s a lie like the hospital bombing fiasco.

Kathy Hayman
Kathy Hayman
8 months ago
Reply to  Rob C

It seems this is well known in Israel and the Israeli Times recently did a piece on just that; that Hamas is netanyahu’s creation, so it’s obviously true it’s been stated over and over again, people just can’t get their head around it because they’re unknowingly biased towards Israel. if most people knew the true story of how Israel was given 55% of the Land of Palestine by the UN in 1947 that was inhabited by Arabs and Jews and Christians and then they continued to grab as much land as they could, expelling and murdering many thousands of Palestinians whereby by 1949 they already had stolen 78% of the land, they probably wouldn’t have the attitude they have today. You need to do your history and education on this topic without it you’re completely vulnerable to a massive cover-up that’s been going on for 70 years by a very clever Israeli lobby and the mass media of the West.

I don’t know why people’s imagination is so poor. Imagine your own country being taken over by another people culturally and ethnically different from yourself and then getting the key players in the Western world, notably USand UK to morally and financially support you to the point 70 years on where you’ve murdered or expelled hundreds of thousands of people in order then to say this is our land. The war continues because not all Palestinians have been exterminated which was and still is the wish of successive Israeli governments.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
8 months ago
Reply to  Kathy Hayman

Israel accepted the 1947 Partition Plan, which gave them a much smaller area than.they now have; the Arabs rejected it. They also rejected any negotiations over “land for peace” after 1967.

Your last statement is utterly ludicrous. Israel could have completely ethnically cleansed or exterminated the Gazans easily by now had it wished to. A large number of other states, most notably China, would have course done so in any remotely similar circumstances.

There is no “cover up” – all the key events are – or can be well known, not least in the Israeli pluralist media.

Israelis are not being taught to hate Jews, unfortunately many Arabs are, in both The West Bank and Gaza.

It is interpretation

Last edited 8 months ago by Andrew Fisher
Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
8 months ago
Reply to  Kathy Hayman

Arab nations via radio told arabs to flee so they could better defeat the Israelis. The Arabs could then move back once the Israelis had been exterminated. This did not happen and the arabs are in exile.
Ever since the Husseini Clan vanquished the Nashashibis Clan in the 1920s and 1930s, there has been violence against Jews. The violence against the Jews led Order Wingate to form the Special Night Squads the first Special Forces of the modern ERA. M Dayan was sergeant in the SNS and said O Wingate taught the Jews to fight. One could say Divine Providence placed O Wingate in Palestine in the late 1930s.
The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Al Husseini instigated a pogrom against the Jews in Iraq in 1941, was friend of Himmler, supported the Final Solution and raised Muslim troops for the SS. So when the Arab nations promised to exterminate Israel in 1948 they believed them. Do not promise to exterminate a people then lose the war; it puts one in a weak position..

Seb Dakin
Seb Dakin
8 months ago
Reply to  Rob C

I can’t see why the Qataris would need the Netanyahu government to funnel money to Hamas. Most of Hamas’s leadership live in Qatar anyway. Just send it round in a Mercedes if you don’t want it to be traceable. Seems unnecessarily complicated to send it via Israel.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
8 months ago
Reply to  Rob C

This is true. Realpolitik, which turned out to be an extremely misguided divide and rule policy. But remember that Britain in World War 2 was an ally of one murderous totalitarian government in order to defeat another.

Konstantinos Stavropoulos
Konstantinos Stavropoulos
8 months ago
Reply to  Marcus Leach

Thomas Fazi is openly leftwing. Nevertheless, he tries hard to be objective. You on the other hand, dear Marcus, don’t seem to make much of the objectivity effort Thomas F. makes, on approaching the complexity of the issue.

I do hope, we all share the wish that peace prevails. Against the odds that look very (big) war friendly at the moment. Manny factors in the West support these odds. Left wing groups and governments to make but a few. Thomas Fazi is not one of them.

Marcus Leach
Marcus Leach
8 months ago

How do you know he made an effort?
I took his account of the events subsequent to the 2006 election of Hamas as just one example of his clear bias, but there are plenty more in the piece,
But I would have thought that Fazi’s attempt to blame Israel for the consequences of Palestinians using the first opportunity after Israel left Gaza to vote in to government a terrorist organisation committed to the destruction of Israel, was enough to alert readers that he was acting in bad faith and obviously not trying to deliver a balanced piece,
To anyone with knowledge of the history, it reads like it was cribbed from watching Al Jazeera.

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
8 months ago
Reply to  Marcus Leach

You assume Hamas actually won an election. Elections are funny things. Groups with guns who are willing to use them tend to do well.

Last edited 8 months ago by Bret Larson
Cantab Man
Cantab Man
8 months ago
Reply to  Bret Larson

From The Guardian (January 28, 2005):
“The Islamist party Hamas has won control of seven out of 10 councils in the Gaza Strip, dealing a crushing blow to the Fatah party of the Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas.
Voters rejected Fatah’s corrupt image and endorsed Hamas for its opposition to Israel and for providing welfare, schools and nurseries to the impoverished residents of the territory. Hamas won 75 out of 118 seats, leaving Fatah with 39.”
It seems that the consideration of ‘guns’ weren’t part of the vote as you suggest.
Which raises the question: Why make unfounded excuses for the Palestinians’ choice of their duly-elected Government in the Gaza Strip? Is it perhaps because their choice of government makes them directly accountable for the holocaust-like atrocities recently committed against innocent Jewish men, women, children and babies?

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
8 months ago
Reply to  Cantab Man

Well, if I believed the Guardian Id probably be ready for a lobotomy.
Explain to me why there haven’t been more elections and why its cast as a competition between two narratives only.
I note, most of the people living in Gaza weren’t alive in and voting in 2005.
(that’s 18 years ago if you’re keeping track of facts, one of my weak points).

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
8 months ago
Reply to  Bret Larson

The Guardian isn’t exactly my favourite paper, but there were certainly elections in Gaza which Hamas won, which you appear to be disputing. At the time Fatah was in political control of the region.

Last edited 8 months ago by Andrew Fisher
Bret Larson
Bret Larson
8 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

My point s that now Hamas is in power and as a terrorist organization the people they terrorize the most are the citizens of Gaza.

Vern Hughes
Vern Hughes
8 months ago
Reply to  Marcus Leach

We need some Un-Herding of opinion on Israel-Palestine. It feels like UnHerd has reverted back to Herd thinking on this issue.

Penny Adrian
Penny Adrian
8 months ago

Fazi isn’t supporting war, he’s supporting terrorism.
It’s Hamas who played the biggest part in starting a war in the Middle East.
Fazi painted the Palestinians as the innocent little victims of the big bad Jews, when in fact it was the Palestinians initial refusal to share land along with decades of barbaric acts of terrorism against Israeli civilians -even when Israel makes concessions- that have put the Palestinians in the situation they are now in.
The Palestinians loathe Jewish people and want them exterminated. They are not shy about this. It’s written clearly in the Hamas Charter (and they voted for Hamas). They do not want to be Israel’s neighbor. If they did, the Palestinians would have had their own state decades ago. But they have proven to be too filled with hatred to live peacefully next to Israel.
If Israel had annexed the West Bank, there would have been October 7 pogroms every week. The Palestinians would never have accepted annexation, and they won’t accept a two state solution.
Hamas made me into something I never thought I’d be: a Zionist.

William Edward Henry Appleby
William Edward Henry Appleby
8 months ago
Reply to  Marcus Leach

And here was me thinking: “finally, a bit of balance to redress all the pro-Israel rhetoric in this site”.

Vern Hughes
Vern Hughes
8 months ago

Agree, William. I have been a fan of UnHerd since its inception, but I am genuinely shocked by the pro-Israel stance. It feels like a reversion to Herd thinking on the Right instead of an Un-Herding of opinion. Where has this come from?

Penny Adrian
Penny Adrian
8 months ago
Reply to  Vern Hughes

Fazi’s opinion was published. I’m sure they’ll publish other pro Hamas pieces. But all of legacy media is on the side of Hamas because Hamas is coded as “black” and Israeli Jews are coded as “white”(even though there are many Arab Jews in Israel.
I thought unherd was meant to be a break from legacy media and its biases.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
8 months ago
Reply to  Vern Hughes

You question a general pro Israel stand by many commentators on this site, when Hamas without any provocation whatever, launches a brutal murderous attack on Israeli citizens? Were they forced to carry out this action? Why don’t they use the huge amounts of Qatari and other aid they use to build up a civic infrastructure in Gaza rather than finding more and more ingenious ways to kill as many Israelis as they possibly can? Would any government on Earth just accept this situation?

There is being open minded, and then there is point blank refusal to see a moral evil. The Israelis have many faults, the state does not target Palestinians simply because they are Palestinians. There is no equivalence here.

Last edited 8 months ago by Andrew Fisher
Vern Hughes
Vern Hughes
8 months ago
Reply to  Marcus Leach

Good God, Marcus. This is the first non-partisan piece I’ve come across in UnHerd. The others have been disappointingly pro-Israel. It’s been like stepping back into the 1970s.

Penny Adrian
Penny Adrian
8 months ago
Reply to  Vern Hughes

Funny. Reading all the pro Hamas pieces and the justifications for the biggest genocidal attack on Jews since the Holocaust has felt like stepping back into the 1930’s.
Israel must destroy Hamas, for its own sake and for the sake of the Palestinians. Hamas are the oppressors of the Palestinian people, not Israel.

Cantab Man
Cantab Man
8 months ago
Reply to  Marcus Leach

If an unserious historian so desired, they could also make post-WWII Germany appear to be a victim that is suffering under the boot heel of “Occupation” (e.g. under Allied governmental administration for many decades and with the US still maintaining a large military presence in country, etc).
Such a historian would merely need to use their confirmation bias to reframe their version of history by limiting their assessment to events starting in or after May 1945. That is, after the Nazis had already capitulated in surrender to the Allied forces and Holocaust survivors were already released from the Labor Camps.
This article fails to recount Jordan and Egypt’s aggressions against Israel and the Palestinian guerrilla attacks on Israel from bases in Syria that led to the 1967 war. This was the reason that these countries and peoples lost governmental control of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, respectively.
Anyone can make aggressors appear to be victims by such a disingenuous historical move.
I’d suggest that the author retract his article in order to update his assessment of “why peace in Israel failed” – so that he can include the aggressions of Israel’s neighbors (that were in control the Gaza Strip and West Bank) that directly led to Israel fighting for its survival during the 1967 war and, after the war, Israel’s subsequent and necessary control of these two territories. No serious historian pays undue extra heed to after-war complaints from the aggressor countries and peoples that wouldn’t live in coexisting peace with their neighbors.
To paraphrase Nazi sympathizers in Germany after WWII:
‘They occupied our lands after we expressed the desire, intent, and effort to exterminate all of the Jewish people and were the aggressors in starting the war! How unfair!

Last edited 8 months ago by Cantab Man
Jane Awdry
Jane Awdry
8 months ago
Reply to  Marcus Leach

‘ “Hamas, to my great regret, is Israel’s creation”, Avner Cohen, a former Israeli religious affairs official who worked in Gaza for more than two decades, told the Wall Street Journal in 2009.’
The Israeli government has never liked to hear what its own historians, experts and sometimes its own people have to say about Israel’s role in this endless conflict.
Criticism of Israel’s actions is not the same as anti semitism, but anyone who suggests that Israel could try a different path in the conflict is branded with this awful term, which is pretty much guaranteed to shut them up.
The Occupied Territories were occupied by Jewish settlers long before Hamas came into being. Palestinians who tried to protect their homes from demolition were routinely picked off by Israeli soldiers. A trapped animal is always dangerous – add resentment and religious fervour and there is the perfect recipe for a psychotic group to grow. No one can deny the terrible history of the Jewish people and they are entitled to a place of safety, and of course to self defence. That doesn’t mean they are always in the right. And retaliation is not the same as self defence.
When two peoples on earth use their own deity as an excuse for claiming land there can be no way forward. This conflict will be resolved only by human co-operation, not by divine intervention.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
8 months ago
Reply to  Jane Awdry

Thousands of civilians in the West Bank and Gaza work in Israel. This sort of argument ends in justifying any murderous aggression at any time. Hamas’ brutal invasion of Israel, which is what it was, had nothing to do with the West Bank. It’s political objective was probably to detail the gradual Saudi-Israeli rapprochement.

Nik Jewell
Nik Jewell
8 months ago

Better late than never, Unherd. Thank you, Thomas Fazi, for providing the necessary historical context.

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
8 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

Pretty one-sided context. But I appreciate that it is closer to your view on the history.
I wrote a long piece late last night detailing what I think is the most recent background to this – namely Iran’s fear of the normalisation of relations between Israel and Sunni states (Saudi Arabia in particular). Thus, through their proxies they reignited the conflict to dash hopes of lasting peace.
Iran is clearly to blame – but so is Biden. But that is for the article I wrote last night that for some reason is cast into “Pending” limbo.
If you wanted to go through the longer history of the region we might be here some time. I note that Mr Fazi starts at 1948 – if that was really the beginning I think it would be easier to resolve. How about 3500 years earlier? In Judea, “Land of the Jews”.
When the State of Israel was declared in 1948 there were no Palestinians on the land, because no one had ever heard of the Palestinians. The local Arabs only started being referred to as Palestinians in the 1960s because other Arab states wanted to differentiate themselves from  the Arabs in Israel, or they might be expected to offer them a home within their borders. As the ancestral land of the Jews, who had no other Jewish state, who really has claim on the land, them or the local Arabs of the area who are surrounded on all sides by co-religionist, fellow-Arab states? You can’t just start with 1948 and then try and claim that Israel were colonisers.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
8 months ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

A good analysis. How do you think this all plays out – are we in end game territory (Devastating regional war, world turns on Israel etc) or this goes on for a month or so?

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
8 months ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

You mean that long diatribe about US internal politics dedicated to slagging off Biden and praising Trump? I skipped that. If you have something to say about the Middle East, how about cutting down the length, doing without all the bold text, and concentrating on Israel instead of Biden v. Trump?

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
8 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

If you want the most recent causes of war I would suggest you cannot ignore:
1: ….. Iran – and its appeasement by Biden,
2: ….. Saudi Arabia – and its snubbing by Biden
3: …..The Abraham Accords – and the threat posed to its chance of success brought about by points 1 and 2.
Setting those 3 factors against the age old enmity between Israel and the neighbouring Arab states who were/are sworn to its annihilation is kind of crucial.
I’m no Trump supporter, but there’s no doubt the Abraham Accords could and should have been the best chance for peace in the region in my lifetime.
Ignoring that to argue about the Balfour Declaration or the Six Day War is somewhat redundant.
(And the bold text, if you hadn’t noticed, was to pick out quotations by people amplifying the points made)

Last edited 8 months ago by Paddy Taylor
Nik Jewell
Nik Jewell
8 months ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

The only other time you replied to one of my posts, you made damaging personal claims against me that you failed to evidence on request. Let’s just steer clear of each other’s posts, please.

Art Markham
Art Markham
8 months ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

I don’t see how it matters whether they called themselves “Palestinians” or something else. They lived there. It is rather gross to suggest that it didn’t matter that they were evicted on the basis that they could just go and live somewhere else where Muslims live.

I’m not sure you’d accept that as a good reason for being booted out of your own house so that someone from another ethnic group can live there. I wouldn’t.

The right of return to Israel proper is dead, and it’s far too late to go back to that. But this all still matters for what is right and wrong now in the West Bank.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
8 months ago
Reply to  Art Markham

 They lived there. It is rather gross to suggest that it didn’t matter that they were evicted on the basis that they could just go and live somewhere else where Muslims live.

Do you have any idea of how many Jews were violently evicted from their homes in Arab countries during the hundred years prior to the foundation of the state of Israel? Google ‘Baghdad farhud’ or ‘Hebron 2029’ and you’ll just be dipping your toe in it.

Abe Stamm
Abe Stamm
8 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

850,000 Jews were expelled from their homelands in the Middle East and North Africa during and after WWII…these peoples now make up of the core of Israel’s citizenry today. The countries that expelled their Jews were: Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Morocco, Algeria, Turkey, Tunisia, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia. There were 80,000 Jews living in Egypt before WWII, today there are just a handful.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
8 months ago
Reply to  Abe Stamm

… and that’s just the tip of the iceberg of forced emigration that Jews have suffered for centuries in Arab lands.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
8 months ago
Reply to  Abe Stamm

Which is why Mossad is so effective.

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
8 months ago
Reply to  Art Markham

Arabs were offered a two-state solution on multiple occasions.
They turned it down in 1936, 1947, 1967, 2000 and 2008.
Even though the deals were always to the detriment of Jews they agreed to abide by a two state solution on each of those occasions.
Whereas the Arab League came to negotiations with their famous “Three No’s” : “No peace with Israel.    No recognition of Israel.    No negotiations with Israel”. Their successors in the shape of the Muslim Brotherhood, the PLO and Fatah were no more conciliatory.
Honestly, through the last 100 years who do you think has been the impediment to peace? Jews who want a homeland, or their neighbours who wished to see all Jews exterminated?
There really should be no moral equivalence here, none.

Andrew Salkeld
Andrew Salkeld
8 months ago
Reply to  Art Markham

You have hit the nail on the head, Art Markham. My wife, her brother and her parents were just four of thousands forcibly removed from their homes at the end of the British Mandate in 1948. With great difficulty, they managed to get to Jordan and then on to Egypt. They only ever said that they had once lived in Palestine. I also refer you to the UN Partition Plan of Palestine as it was labelled in 1947. Clearly, Palestine existed as an entity after the fall of the Ottoman Empire. With citizens living in their own houses and on their own property.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
8 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Salkeld

It was called British Mandate of Palestine after all, which would suggest the name was already in popular usage

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
8 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Salkeld

King Abdullah of Jordan tried to negotiate sensible arrangements but all the other Arab nations promised to exterminate the Jews in 1948. In the 18 th century European countries had battles without the threat of extermination; Napoleon changed all that.
As 6M Jews had been murdered, the Israelis faced either death or survival.
If someone threatens to kill someone , attacks them and loses, the reality the attacker is at the mercy of the victor. Threats of extermination may make an opponent surrender or fight to the death.

Penny Adrian
Penny Adrian
8 months ago
Reply to  Art Markham

Actually, the Jewish people are indigenous to the land of Israel. The Palestinians should be reading the Jewish people sanctimonious land acknowledgments, just like we do in the USA.
The Arabs of Palestine started a war with Israel and lost. More than once. They lost their land, just like the Indigenous people of the USA and Canada lost their land.
The Palestinians need to grow up, accept Israel’s right to exist, and give themselves a chance to have their own independent state.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
8 months ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Well I don’t think there is any piece of land on this planet that was not taken by force form someone else by the current occupiers, but at some point you have to accept the reality on the ground.
The Palestinians and their ancestors had been in occupation of the land for about 1900 years before the creation of the state of Is.rael so I would say that I, as a Brit, have a better claim to Normandy than the Jews do to the land on which Israel now sits which brings me back to my original point save that in this case the reality on the ground is never going to be settled if the last 2,000 years is anything to go by.
I thought the article as very informative. Amongst other things i learned that the Jews have there own version of a fatwah, a din rodef

Penny Adrian
Penny Adrian
8 months ago

The Jews lived in Israel 3000 years ago, at least a thousand years before the Arab Muslims colonized the Middle East. But the bottom line is, the Arabs fought the Jews for control of the land and lost. They lost. And they refused to share the land with Jews because they despise Jews just as much as the Nazis did.
The Palestinians are prisoners of their own hatred and nothing else.
If they would have accepted Israel’s right to exist, they’d have had their own state decades ago.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
8 months ago

How many Arabs moved to Palestine to work on Jewish farms from the late 19th century onwards? I have heard a figure of 250,000, some came from as far as Yemen.
What is being ignored is that Arab landowners who lived elswhere sold land to the Jewish settlers, often malarial swamps and dry desert. By the 1930s the British tried to persuade the Arab landowners not to sell to Jewsih settlers.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
8 months ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

So the Jews have more claim to the land due to some people sharing their religion living there 3500 years ago compared to the Arabs who have lived there for thousands of years since?
My surname (according to Google anyway) is apparently Saxon. Therefore if someone with a Celtic surname wanted my house, should I be obliged to simply hand it over, seeing as the Celts were in Britain a long time before the Saxons set foot there?

Last edited 8 months ago by Billy Bob
Alex Carnegie
Alex Carnegie
8 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

Neither side will be pleased with an attempt at an even handed analysis but, for the rest of us, this was a very useful summary. Thanks.

For encores, please could we have a summaries of the geopolitical background and the military balance. I suspect that I am not the only one who sometimes loses the big picture in the endless flow of detailed reports on the Middle East.

Marcus Leach
Marcus Leach
8 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

I don’t think Palestinians and their supporters would find much fault with it.

Sue Sims
Sue Sims
8 months ago
Reply to  Marcus Leach

Indeed. “Israel’s disengagement plan, in 2005, in which it unilaterally dismantled its settlements inside the Gaza Strip, only made things worse. From that moment on, Gaza essentially became, in Israel’s eyes, enemy territory, leading to a dramatic militarisation of Israel’s policy towards the Strip. This included the besieging and blockading of the Strip, which led to violent retaliation by Palestinian armed groups, including rockets launched into Israel.”
Mr Fazi seems to be ignoring the fact that Gaza became ‘enemy territory’, resulting in ‘the blockading of the Strip’, because of the continual attacks by Gazans on Israeli citizens, both by rockets and face-to-face murders. His phrasing makes it sound as though the militarisation was simply Israel being nasty.

Last edited 8 months ago by Sue Sims
Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
8 months ago
Reply to  Sue Sims

If Gaza is, as pro-Palestinians like to claim, an open-air prison then ask yourself, “Who are the Jailers”?
Gaza, with its port on the Mediterranean, could have easily become a commercial hub and a thriving tourist destination. An outcome that would have served the interests of Israelis and Palestinians alike.
There was nothing to stop Palestinians choosing peace and prosperity – except that, when given the option at elections, they chose Hamas, a terror organisation that wanted death and destruction of Jews above all other considerations.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
8 months ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Excellent points. There are many skilled Palestinian engineers. When Arafat came out in support for Hussein in 1990, many were expelled from GCC countries. What percentage of the money given to Palestinians has been stolen through corruption and used for military purposes against Israel. Suadis stopped funding Palestinians in 2016 due to corruption and incompetence.
Gaza could have become a cross between Singpore and Bangalore, being the Hi- Tech centre of the Arab world.

Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
8 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

Frustrated by confusing & contradictory information, I researched the history of the land we call Israel and Palestine today. Who lived on it first?Israelites lived on land 1658 years before the ancestors of Palestinians. Palestinian ancestral land is the Arabian Peninsula. Palestinian is a modern word from the 20th century.Only the Canaanites and Philistine predate the Israelites. The descendants of Canaanites and Philistine is complex and not entirely resolved.The Israelites arrived c1020 BCE and established the Israelite Kingdoms of Israel and Judah. The Kingdom of Israel fell to the Assyrians in 722 BC, while the Kingdom of Judah was conquered by the Babylonians in 586 BCE.Next the land changed hands many times, until Arab Muslims conquered it in 638 CE and established an Islamic Caliphate. The Arab population, increasingly identifying as Palestinian particularly in the 20th century, has been a significant part of the social and cultural fabric of the area, especially during the periods of Islamic rule and the Ottoman Empire..A timeline:Canaanite Period (c. 3000 – 1200 BCE): The earliest known inhabitants were Canaanites, a Semitic-speaking people. Philistine Period (c. 1175 – 604 BCE): Philistines settled along the coastal areas, mostly in the Gaza Strip.Israelite Kingdoms (c. 1020 – 586 BCE): The Israelites, also a Semitic-speaking people, established the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah.Assyrian and Babylonian Periods (722 – 539 BCE): Assyrians and Babylonians conquered the region.Persian Period (539 – 332 BCE): Persia conquered the Babylonian empire, including this area.Hellenistic Period (332 – 167 BCE): Conquest by Alexander the Great, followed by the Ptolemaic and Seleucid rules.Hasmonean Kingdom (167 – 37 BCE): Jewish rule restored after the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucids.Roman Period (63 BCE – 324 CE): The area became a part of the Roman Empire.Byzantine Period (324 – 638 CE): Christian rule under the Byzantine Empire.Islamic Caliphate Era (638 CE – 1099 CE): Arab Muslims conquered Jerusalem in 638 CE, introducing Arab rule and Islamic culture to the region. Arabic gradually replaced Aramaic and Greek as the dominant language.Crusader Period (1099 – 1187 CE): European Christians captured Jerusalem and established the Kingdom of Jerusalem.Ayyubid and Mamluk Periods (1187 – 1516 CE): Saladin, a Kurdish Muslim leader, defeated the Crusaders. The Mamluks, who were of various ethnicities including Turkic and Circassian, succeeded the Ayyubids.Ottoman Period (1516 – 1917 CE): The Ottoman Turks controlled the region, and the Arab populace lived under Ottoman rule.British Mandate (1917 – 1948 CE): British control after World War I. Increased Jewish immigration leads to tensions between Jews and Arabs.State of Israel (1948 – Present): Established in 1948, leading to ongoing conflicts with Arab Palestinians.

Last edited 8 months ago by Samuel Ross
Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
8 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

Thank you, Thomas Fazi, for providing the necessary historical context.

For this to be the ‘necessary historical context’ it would need to go back way, way further and deal with the historical treatment of Jews in Arab lands over the hundred years prior to the founding of the state of Israel. If you were a grandchild of Jews murdered or expelled during the Baghdad Farhud or the Hebron massacre, to provide one small example, I think you’d probably be very reluctant to risk allowing Arab Muslims to acquire any power over you at all. That needs to be explained, instead of which the article implies that the Israelis are unnecessarily ruthless in this regard.

Nik Jewell
Nik Jewell
8 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Not sure what the Baghdad Farhud has to do with Palestine; the Hebron massacre, where nearly as many Arabs ended up dead as Jews, led to the defeat of the 1930 white paper restricting Jewish immigration, and the notorious ‘Black Letter’ to Weizmann, that he credited for opening the door to the creation of Israel.
It would be hard to cover this and the Nakba within the word limit of an article here.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
8 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

Not sure what the Baghdad Farhud has to do with Palestine

I think you know perfectly well what the Baghdad Farhud has to do with Palestine.

Simon S
Simon S
8 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

Agreed – and I would add that amid the one-sided coverage of Unherd and the foggy bloodlust of many members of its usually sensible commentariat I have much appreciated the patience and calmness of your own balancing comments in the wake of the Hamas attacks. I have subscribed to your substack.

Nik Jewell
Nik Jewell
8 months ago
Reply to  Simon S

Thanks, Simon. I have noted your attempts at saying something reasonable have been rather rebuffed, too!

Nik Jewell
Nik Jewell
8 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

UPDATE: Thomas Fazi has been shadowbanned on X for posting this article & another thread with supporting material.
I’ve checked with a shadowban checker, and he has a Ghost Ban.
So much for free speech on X.

Last edited 8 months ago by Nik Jewell
Loco Parentis
Loco Parentis
8 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

Link to this so called shadowban checker, please?

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
8 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

When did Arabs first attack Jewish settlers ?

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
8 months ago

No need to go so far back. Just 3 years ago we were a good deal closer to peace across the region. What changed? …… Biden.
Seriously, how much longer can the world afford to have Joe Biden in office? Even before his obvious mental decline he was an accident waiting to happen. As Obama noted, “Don’t underestimate Joe’s ability to f*** things up”. Which rather begs the question, if Obama knew that, why did he inflict him on the rest of us? Biden’s long and ineffectual career in the Senate had been petering out and his latest run at the Presidency had just ended in embarrassment, getting less than 5% support, before he was plucked from the chorus as running-mate to Barack Obama, then serving two terms as his VP – and the rest is history … None of it good.
Since 2020 Biden’s administration has aspired to be an Obama tribute act – unsurprisingly as many insiders insist that Obama is still the de facto president pulling the strings whilst Joe stumbles and bumbles about the place as a barely sentient Weekend at Bernie’s stand-in quasi-corpse. The Biden agenda, from Day One, has been all about reversing every Trump initiative.
How has that gone? Is the world a better, safer place for it? Even the most partisan, Trump-deranged Democrat would struggle to make a convincing case for that particular idea.
With the Abraham Accords, Trump achieved more progress on the chances for Middle Eastern Peace than any President of recent memory. Far, far more than the Camp David or Oslo deals. Trump had torn up Obama’s appalling Iran deal, that was a straight-up appeasement of a rogue terror-sponsoring state, and applied pressure through economic sanctions. As a result he disempowered Iran and oversaw Bahrain and the UAE normalising relations with Israel – a previously unthinkable development. Far more importantly – and a potential game changer – he was on the verge of getting Saudi Arabia to do the same. No president of my lifetime came close to achieving more.
So, naturally, on gaining the presidency Biden, nominally in response to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, vowed to make Sunni Saudi Arabia “a pariah state” and instead focused on strengthening relations with the Shia regime of Tehran. Of course it wasn’t long before Biden was crawling back to the Saudis, fist-bumping the Crown Prince, begging him to increase fuel production so he’d have more favourable US gas prices in the run-up to mid-term elections. MBS turned him down, prompting Joe to threaten “consequences” including pulling military aid and troops from the Kingdom – in a far more obvious and flagrant quid pro quo than that which saw impeachment articles instituted against Trump.
How has cosying up to the Iranian regime gone? We are all agreed, presumably, that the Oct 7th atrocities were an Iranian proxy mission? Hamas couldn’t possibly achieve such an outrage without the arming, training and financing provided by the Iranians.
So what will Biden do now? Will he wake up to the disastrous Iran-facing policy that he and his Democratic predecessor followed? Doubtful – Biden has a long track record of glossing over his failures and simply refusing to see them. It was surely significant that Joe Biden, in all his supportive statements towards Israel, and his condemnation of Hamas, never once mentioned Iran. Why? Was it from a sense of guilt?
If you wanted to be uncharitable, you could easily make the case that Biden had both armed and financed the terrorists that attacked Israel. He recently gifted (unfroze) $6billion to the Iranian regime in a hostage release deal. Incredibly, for a Govt so tuned to “optics”, the money was freed up on September 11th. Republicans were quick to warn what might happen next –
A furious Senator Tom Cotton called it “Shameful” and accused Biden of “desecrating” the anniversary of 9/11 “by paying ransom to the world’s worst state sponsor of terrorism.” …Adding prophetically .. “I don’t think the radical Ayatollahs in Tehran are going to use this ($6Billion) for children’s hospitals. They’re going to use it to fund more attacks on Israel, more attacks on American troops in the region through their proxies.”
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Mike McCaul said he was “deeply concerned that the administration’s decision to waive sanctions to facilitate the transfer of $6 billion in funds for Iran, the world’s top state sponsor of terrorism, creates a direct incentive for America’s adversaries to conduct future hostage-taking,” adding that “The administration is demonstrating weakness that only further endangers Americans and freedom-loving people around the world.”
Trump took to his own social media platform to lambast Biden, “So, lets get this straight! We did a hostage TRADE with Iran. We gave them 5 very tough, smart people that they desperately wanted. We likewise got back 5 people BUT, we also gave them 6 BILLION DOLLARS! How much of a kickback does Crooked Joe Biden get? Does anyone realize how much money 6 Billion Dollars is?”
Sec State Anthony Blinken was quick to refute any suggestion that the $6bilion might fund further terror, insisting that the money was specifically going to the Iranians to buy food, medicine and other humanitarian items”. Oh yeah? The Iranians appeared not to have got that particular memo. 
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi announced that “This money belongs to the Iranian people, the Iranian government, so the Islamic Republic of Iran will decide what to do with this money,”
Asked by reporters if the money might be used for anything other than ‘humanitarian items’, Raisi stated: “Humanitarian means whatever the Iranian people needs, so this money will be budgeted for those needs, and the needs of the Iranian people will be decided and determined by the Iranian government.”
Critics of the Biden deal argued that simply by gifting the Iranian regime access to the funds that had previously been blocked by Trump, Biden was allowing the Mullahs to free up money that would be used to buy arms and support their terrorist proxies across the Middle East. 
And where did the Iranians source the weapons that their Hamas proxies used to gun down Israelis? According to several analysts the M4 rifles that Hamas terrorists were seen toting in their raids on Israel were from the $7billion cache of materiel left gift-wrapped for the Taliban after Biden’s panicked withdrawal from Kabul. Another unintended but woefully predictable consequence of Biden’s foreign policy disasters.
It seems clear to me that the timing of this attack on Israel was to destabilize the region and to sabotage the chances of Sunni Islamic states like Saudi Arabia normalising relations with Israel. Biden’s actions (and inactions) have played a major role in undermining the best chances for Middle Eastern peace we have seen in a generation. Another notable foreign policy failure of this most calamitous presidency.
As the world order shifts, what are the priorities of the Biden administration? Do they even recognise the dangers facing the West and its allies around the world? The day before handing over billions to Iran, Joe insisted that “The only existential threat humanity faces — even more frightening than a nuclear war — is global warming!”
Perhaps we should be grateful that, when he sat down with Netanyahu last week, Biden didn’t mention his concerns about the size of Israel’s carbon footprint.
Having stumbled his way through another excruciating public appearance, Biden just about managed to read the prepared statement from his cue cards, but still couldn’t avoid his usual gaffes, describing the murderous thugs of Hamas as “the other team”. But for sheer crassness he really outdid himself later, talking to reporters about the rocket fired from Gaza that landed on their own hospital, suggesting that Hamas “gotta learn to shoot straight”. Who, in their right mind, could ever say such a thing after the savage murder of 1400 Israelis?
In an increasingly dangerous world, we need strong leaders who project strength, resolve and good judgement. Biden’s obvious weakness emboldens the enemies of the West. Military power, now we are beyond the era of empire building, is mainly about deterrence. If the President truly is “The Leader of the Free World” then nothing about Biden’s presidency would deter anyone. Weakness merely invites attack – and Ukraine, Israel and potentially the rest of the free world are paying the price.

Walter Schwager
Walter Schwager
8 months ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Could you summarize your argument, please?

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
8 months ago

With respect, Walter, why?
Read it. Don’t Read it. Your call.
I wrote what I wanted to say, in full. You can read it as written, or precis it for those with a short attention span if you choose. I stand by what I wrote.

Iris C
Iris C
8 months ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

I agree with Walter’s plea for a summary. An Unherd article is RESEARCHED and written with knowledge. Any arguments arising from it should be made in no more than two succinct paragraphs.

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
8 months ago

Biden bad.

Mike Michaels
Mike Michaels
8 months ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Well said. He’s an embarrassment. Unfortunately Trump breaking the rules of woke was deemed more important.

Daniele Orner
Daniele Orner
8 months ago

I can’t believe UnHerd seriously choses to publish a piece which quotes the disgraced Illan Pappé as a Authority on this subject. Might as well quote the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Kieran P
Kieran P
8 months ago
Reply to  Daniele Orner
Billy Bob
Billy Bob
8 months ago
Reply to  Daniele Orner

Play the ball, not the man. Which specific parts do you disagree with?

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
8 months ago
Reply to  Daniele Orner

In some circles it would be equivalent to citing David Irving.

Dengie Dave
Dengie Dave
8 months ago
Reply to  Daniele Orner

Good point. I just looked Pappé up, and I don’t think he’s a source a writer searching for balance would cite.

George Locke
George Locke
8 months ago
Reply to  Dengie Dave

Perhaps Fazi could have been more balanced, but it’s important to remember that Fazi, and Unherd writers in general, don’t search for balance. It might help, but that’s not what they’re here for. They produce opinion pieces that are supposed to argue a point, of course they’re going to cite sources that fit what they’re arguing for; it’s up to you to leave or take it. If you’re looking for balance I would recommend reading the news (although, on second thought, I don’t think you’d find much balance there either. Ho-hum).

Last edited 8 months ago by George Locke
Sara Gon
Sara Gon
8 months ago
Reply to  Daniele Orner

Agreed. Ilan Pappé? Seriously? This is so incomplete it’s bewildering. It’s a sophisticated version of the dastardly West versus the victimised Palestinians. Right of return has never been a principle of resolving refugee crises. Never. What about the nations of the Arab world? Every war was a traditional war between 3 to 5 Arab countries. 1948, 1956, 1967 and 1973. 1967 was the turning point: the shame for those Arab countries and their sponsor the USSR. I’m stunned

Abe Stamm
Abe Stamm
8 months ago
Reply to  Daniele Orner

Pappe is proof that Israel is an open democracy. He’s a self-hating Jew, an over-the-top critic of a country that gave his family sanctuary after the Holocaust…YET, he’s allowed to speak as he pleases, write as he pleases, teach Israeli students as he pleases, enter politics without roadblocks, and be a general pain-in-the ass to the majority of the Israeli people. Pappe is an unpatriotic jerk…but expressing oneself as an unpatriotic jerk isn’t unlawful in Israel. He would be a deadman if he lived in any other Middle East country and tried to verbalize his disdain for the ruling government.

William Edward Henry Appleby
William Edward Henry Appleby
8 months ago
Reply to  Abe Stamm

Ignoring Pappé for the moment, can you comment on the other sources of support for Hamas within Israel? Also, Netanyahu’s alleged involvement of threats towards Rabin?

Simon S
Simon S
8 months ago
Reply to  Daniele Orner

Disgraced? Where do you get that idea from?

Last edited 8 months ago by Simon S
Guy Haynes
Guy Haynes
8 months ago

Interesting article for sure, but one whose primary narrative seems very dependent on the view that Israel effectively provoked the 1967 war in order to achieve their expansionist aims.

I have seen this asserted before, but haven’t seen a great deal of evidence to back this up. I’d be interested to see any such evidence.

Without evidence to the contrary, the facts are simply that the 1967 war was started against, not by, Israel, and that Israel’s primary focus was therefore defensive.

And if the narrative of Israel as the aggressor in the 1967 war falls apart, so does a lot of what follows.

Max Price
Max Price
8 months ago

“ Israel’s “best offer”, after all, was a state comprising only portions of the remaining 20% of the Palestinian land occupied in 1967……
This sentence wasn’t needed and detracts from the author’s argument. The State of Israel is not occupied land. Also, the emphasis on the right of return is an absurd since it’s implementation would essentially end Israel as a Jewish State. Insisting on this point brings the Palestinian desire for peace into question.
Decent article nonetheless.

R Wright
R Wright
8 months ago
Reply to  Max Price

Sheer hypocrisy. Either Palestinians should be integrated into Israel like any other ethnic group in any other ordinary country or be given their own state, which I should add is the stated position of the UK and US governments.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
8 months ago
Reply to  R Wright

And what would happen then? As this article explains, Hamas has a history of making terrorist attacks timed to scupper any attempt at making peace. Once either of your ‘solutions’ had happened, the Palestinians would be in a good position to prepare, start a war, win it and do whatever they wanted to the Jews. And Hamas would still be around. Is that what you want? Or how do you plan to avoid it?

R Wright
R Wright
8 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

An independent Palestinian state would never be able to defeat an American funded and armed Israel in a million years. Hamas only exists at all because Israel has allowed (and perpetuated) it as a tool. It’s just mad to me that people treat the Palestinians as a bogeyman when they’re hilariously impoverished and lacking in meaningful friends. An independent Palestine would essentially be an Israeli vassal anyway, just as the West Bank is right now.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
8 months ago
Reply to  R Wright

Shortsighted. Remember Hezbollah and Iran. They too are dedicated to wiping Israel off the map. The Transjordan Arabs are merely the fuse.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
8 months ago
Reply to  R Wright

Hamas isn’t ‘able to defeat an American funded and armed Israel‘ either, but even cooped within the completely embargoed Gaza strip they can do intolerable damage between continuous rocket attacks and occasional cross-border raids. If you give them an internationally recognised government and open borders they will be able to do much more. And that is before they invite in the Iranian army.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
8 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Set the date for partition as 2030, give Israel time to build fortifications and a demilitarised zone similar to Korea

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
8 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

The DMZ is 4km wide. The distance from the West Bank to the coast is about 15km at the narrowest point – and Jerusalem is on the actual border. Not a lot of space to give away. Besides, the existing high-cost, high-tech border fence did not really help much, did it? Hamas can just do what they are doing now – sit on their side of the border and shower Israel with rockets – only they will be bigger rockets. What would improve in this scenario – except the combat strength of Hamas?

Last edited 8 months ago by Rasmus Fogh
UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
8 months ago
Reply to  R Wright

Two million Palestinians live in Israel. They have representation in the Knesset. They own land and commerce. How is that not assimilation? Those who live in Gaza, Judea and Samaria have been radicalized from birth by Hamas and the PA to kill all Jews. Would you like them as your neighbors? Even Egypt refuses them.

Last edited 8 months ago by UnHerd Reader
Walter Schwager
Walter Schwager
8 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Would you deny that Israeli Arabs are treated as second-class citizens?

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
8 months ago

If you go to Israel you’ll find that 22% of the entire population is Arab. They have their own political parties, they enjoy freedom of speech, they’re prosperous. Across Egypt, Jordan, Syria or Iraq there is no equivalence, it’s not even close.
No Arab citizen anywhere across the Middle East enjoys the freedoms that their counterparts do in Israel, as a simple matter of fact, it is not even debatable.
Yet Liberals in the West decry Israel’s treatment of Arabs? It defies observable reality.

Iris C
Iris C
8 months ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Doesn’t Netanyahu want to change that equality with his pending “Justice” legislation. One needs to keep an eye on this.

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
8 months ago

…(Deleted as duplicated)

Last edited 8 months ago by Paddy Taylor
Abe Stamm
Abe Stamm
8 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Why is that anti-Israelis and anti-Zionist don’t realize that 20% of Israel is non-Jewish Arab… and, that these folk have 100% of the rights of their Jewish countrymen. Answer: Because it ruins of the “apartheid” narrative that the liberal western media embraces.
If you’re an Muslim-Lesbian Israeli living in Tel Aviv, you can openly party in gay bars and walk hand-in-hand with your lover without getting thrown in jail by the government, or “honor killed” by your family. Israel is one of the few countries in the ME where honor killing is illegal.

Arthur G
Arthur G
8 months ago

The fundamental problem in this analysis is that it assumes the Palestinians get to negotiate from a position of equality with Israel, like they both accepted the 1948 partition and then fought to a standstill.

Reality is that the Arabs with the full-throated support of the Palestinian Arabs, have been trying to wipe out Israel from day one, and have lost every war fought over that question. They rejected the 1948 partition, and reject the right of Israel to exist. They have continuously engaged in terrorism killing innocent Jews. Given that background they don’t get to dictate terms. If they won’t accept a state as part of a “loser’s peace” they don’t get one at all.

Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
8 months ago
Reply to  Arthur G

It’s easy to sit in the comfort of our armchairs and call for “restraint” when we pay no price for Hamas’s savagery. Calls for restraint or peace after one side has been attacked reduces the costs of launching such an attack. Hamas can attack Israel at will, murder, torture and kidnap its women and children, rape them and parade their dead bodies naked through the streets whilst “innocent” Palestinians desecrate their bodies and take selfies safe in the knowledge that the international community, immune from such violence, will call for “restraint” or a “proportionate” response.Before the age of the international community or world opinion, countries which were attacked as Israel has been would annihilate their enemy and that would be the end of it.If America had retaliated with a proportionate response after Pearl Harbor and merely bombed a single Japanese harbor before withdrawing, do you think that would have ended the war in the Pacific and Japan would be the peaceful and prosperous nation it is today? No. Japan paid a heavy price for its belligerence and then chose a different path.Hamas cannot be negotiated with. It seeks the destruction of Israel. There is no middle ground for them. But it is “restraint” and a “proportionate response” that incentivizes Hamas to continue its battle, safe in the knowledge that it cannot be wiped out. The Palestinians themselves could get rid of Hamas and choose a path of peace but they don’t.

Martin Johnson
Martin Johnson
8 months ago

Starting in 1967 is absurd. Any useful analysis has to start no later than the arrival of the first Zionist settlers in Ottoman southern Syria a couple decades before the Great War, though a deep understanding should go back to Mohammed and the writing of the Koran and Hadiths.

Last edited 8 months ago by Martin Johnson
Ian Wray
Ian Wray
8 months ago
Reply to  Martin Johnson

For historical context, some excerpts from the (published in 1998) book ‘Foundations of Islam’ by Benjamin Walker (pp185-186):
“In April 627, following what became known as the Battle of the Ditch, Muhammad captured the stronghold of the Jewish tribe of Korayza, after a siege lasting twenty-five days. The Jews offered to depart on the same conditions as the Nadhir tribe, but Muhammad refused. Their lives would be spared, he said, if they accepted Islam. Only one Jew agreed.

In order to mitigate Muhammad’s culpability in the atrocity that followed, tradition relates that the fate of the people was left by the Prophet to be decided by Saad ibn Muad… Saad decided that the men of the Korayza should be slain, the women and children sold as slaves, and their palm-groves and other property distributed in the usual manner.

In spite of protests by some Arabs against the harsh decision, Muhammad commended it as a judgement inspired by Allah from the seventh heaven…

A trench was dug in the market place and in Muhammad’s presence more than eight hundred captives with their hands tied behind them were led to the brink in groups of five and there beheaded… This ghastly massacre… went on all through the day and continued by torchlight into the night…

The lands, chattels, weapons and cattle of the Korayza were apportioned as booty among the Muslims. After making certain presents of concubines and slaves to his friends, Muhammad kept a concubine for himself…

Muhammad sold the remaining women and children, about thirteen hundred in all, to the neighbouring tribes…”

Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
8 months ago

“Indeed, Israel’s military and political elite had been looking for the right moment to occupy the West Bank and the Gaza Strip since it had taken over most of Mandatory Palestine two decades prior, resulting in the expulsion of half of the country’s native population.” ‘Native population’ of Israel were and are the Jews. The ‘Palestinians’ are Arabs, who moved into this region over the last 100 years or so. When travelers moved through Israel in the last 200 years, they saw a land desolate of inhabitants.

Alex Carnegie
Alex Carnegie
8 months ago
Reply to  Samuel Ross

I believe that the growth in DNA studies in the last fifteen top years has provided a more nuanced view. My understanding is that

a) the Palestinians appear to be predominantly descendants of the ancient population but with the admixture of “Bedouin” genes (probably after the Arab conquest and not in the last two hundred years) and, on the female side, of African genes probably resulting from the importation of slaves from Sudan and elsewhere.

b) the Israelis also are predominantly descendants of the ancient population but with even greater admixture of other genes than the Palestinians – mostly from whatever area the various Jewish communities settled in e.g. Ashkenazi Jews are on average about one third along the line between Jordanians and Western Europeans on a PCA analysis.

I do not think this has much bearing on the present situation beyond suggesting that arguments about which group has the best claim to be descendants of the inhabitants of the Roman province of Palestine are probably best avoided.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
8 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

Aha, information! Thanks.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
8 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

The question that is NEVER addressed is how many of the indigenous population converted to Islam after the Conquest of 636 AD.

Frankly whilst conversion was ‘voluntary’, there were distinct tax advantages! And in many ways Islam was just another monotheistic Semitic faith, that acknowledged both God, Abraham, Jesus & Co. It also had almost identical social mores, such as horror of nudity, misogyny on an epic scale, self mutilation*, various apposite dietary restrictions, and very restricted personal hygiene. All features one would expect from those unfortunate enough to live in a semi-desert, sand blow, fly ridden environment.

Perhaps DNA will solve will conundrum and thus the so called Palestinians including Hamas & Co will turn out be Jewish converts of long standing?

.Certainly some of the recent atrocities committed by Hamas do remind me of certain passages of the Old Testament, where God, Jehovah, Yahweh or whatever he is/was called, comes across a distinctly vengeful, homicidal maniac, to put it mildly.

(*Circumcision.)

Peter Samson
Peter Samson
8 months ago

To wit, Exodus 32:27-28:  “And he [Moses] said unto them, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour.
And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men.”

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
8 months ago
Reply to  Peter Samson

QED.
Thank you.

William Edward Henry Appleby
William Edward Henry Appleby
8 months ago

I think I read somewhere that Muslim Palestinians from the Nablus area have ancient Jewish ancestry. Just like there are Muslims in South East Europe who are descendants of Christian converts during the Ottoman empire. My readings on Al-Andalus also suggest that many Iberians converted to Islam, in name only, for the tax advantages, and carried on their life of drinking and gambling, as before. Perhaps apart from Mizrahi and some Sephardic Jews in Israel, the remainder have a very tenuous genetic claim on the land.

Last edited 8 months ago by William Edward Henry Appleby
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
8 months ago

Sadly there are so many raging bigots of this site as to make rational conversation about this vexed issue almost impossible.
To whit :- Messrs Smith, Calhoun, Rees, Pigache, Boris, Jessop, Strugnell and last but not least Carroll.

They ALL qualify, without exception for that wonderful Irish expletive: GOBSHITE.

Last edited 8 months ago by Charles Stanhope
A Reno
A Reno
8 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

Interesting analysis and I agree with you that “arguments about which group has the best claim to be descendants of the inhabitants of the Roman province of Palestine are probably best avoided.” Unfortunately, the Holy Books and the interpretations of adherents will beat DNA every time.

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
8 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

I cant stand colonizer vs indigenous narratives.
All they do is lead to stuff like this.

David Barnett
David Barnett
8 months ago

To understand the intractability of any peace compromise you have to go back more than a century, when the Arab elites, like Amin al-Husseini, weaponised dar-al-Islam against the Jewish presence.
*
To be sure, Jewish economic activity was destabilising by providing the Arab Felahin with some economic resources with which to liberate themselves from the yoke of their Arab elite landlords.
*
The British gave Amin al-Husseini a platform when they appointed this known fanatic as Mufti of Jerusalem. He used it to silence (often with violence) all dissent from his hate-mongering. He was the instigator of the various “revolts” and massacres of Jews during the mandate, and was one of architects of the “Final Solution” implemented by his buddy, the Fuhrer in Berlin (to whom he fled during WW-2).
*
The vile anti-Jewish upbringing given to Arab kids in the region has never abated, making any political compromise impossible to sustain.

Last edited 8 months ago by David Barnett
Dengie Dave
Dengie Dave
8 months ago

Interesting. I like having my point of view challenged because it helps me shape and scrutinize my own views to gain a better understanding. Thomas Fazi’s column/opinion piece challenged my views, though my initial reaction was that it read more like a polemic. Many of the comments below challenged his views and addressed what they saw as imbalance in his argument. Result: my views remain the same, but I feel better able to argue them as a result of Unherd readers’ comments, which seemed to me to provide the balance and context missing in the column. Now I know better why I disagree with Thomas Fazi. Just subscribed to Unherd and loving it.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
8 months ago

Hamas wants genocide, Israel does not. Next.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
8 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Hamas wants genocide, Israel wants LAND. QED?

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
8 months ago

Not entirely true. israel has tried to give away land in return for peace on multiple occasons – each time rebuffed by those who wish them driven to extinction.

Benjamin Dyke
Benjamin Dyke
8 months ago

Good article but you cannot persist with the phrase ‘the Temple Mount, an Islamic holy site”, without being accused of a staggering bias! The Jewish temple was there 1500 years before Islam existed! And interestingly on this very point, Arafat during the Camp David talks astounded the Israelis and Americans when he declared the Jews had never even had a temple there! (Since then the Islamic proprietors have done all they can to ‘make’ their ‘truth’ become ‘reality’ by destroying and removing all traces of Jewish history from the temple area they control. )

Justin Clark
Justin Clark
8 months ago

The Lex Fridman interview of Jared Kushner was fascinating wrt this. Peace was possible but unwanted. Highly recommended: https://youtu.be/co_MeKSnyAo?si=2Z_4ooUaFAkeoVYP

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
8 months ago

“Why have all attempts to bring an end to one of the world’s bloodiest and longest-running wars failed? ¶ To answer that, we have to go back to 1967….”
Yet another total failure from UnHerd essayists. The ethno-religious conflict between Jews and Muslims was being violently expressed in Palestine for many decades before this. Going back only to 1967 conveniently allows the author to ignore the profound religious motivations of Muslim anti-Semitism.

David Barnett
David Barnett
8 months ago

The most important feature of “Oslo” (and the peace treaty with Egypt) was never implemented: the cessation of the teaching of anti-Jewish hatred to the Arab children.

Jane Awdry
Jane Awdry
8 months ago
Reply to  David Barnett

The only peace deal that was ever agreed upon ended with the Israeli leader being assassinated by one of his own.
How many people do you have to viciously slaughter before you become a grotesque & vicious abomination?
Hamas is a group of murderous psychos with no conscience. Is the man who killed Rabin any better for killing the only person who made a real attempt to broker a peace deal?

David Barnett
David Barnett
8 months ago
Reply to  Jane Awdry

There is a great deal more to the Rabin Assassination than the naive narrative would suggest.
*
There were signs that Rabin was having second thoughts about the headlong one-sided implementation of the Oslo accords that somehow never insisted that the PLO fulfil commitments before receiving anything more from Israel. On this reading Rabin was killed for wanting to inject realism and reciprocity. The Avishai Raviv connection heightens the suspicions of an “inside job”.
*
Who benefitted from Rabin’s death? Peres and the camp promoting Israeli further “Oslo” implementation regardless of the lack of meaningful PLO reciprocation.

Andrew Horsman
Andrew Horsman
8 months ago

The fearless, peerless, Hannah Arendt wrote in July 1966, when invited publicly to “take sides” on the escalating war in Vietnam:

“the way to resolve an armed conflict is always the same: cease fire – armistice – peace negotiations – and, hopefully, peace treaty”.

It was as true then and as it is true now. No matter how improbably ridiculous, outrageously offensive, or historically naive it may sound to some, humans should never, ever give up on striving for peace.

There is always more that unites any people than that which ostensibly divides them: Shalom Aleichem and Assalom Alaikum.

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
8 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Horsman

Why do the calls for ceasefire come straight after the massacre? Hamas has just carried out the worst atrocity against Jews since the Holocaust, and suddenly liberals call for a ceasefire. Why (uniquely) deny Israel the right to defend itself?
If people actually wanted peace then they ought to suppoirt Israel crushing Hamas, destroying their ability to launch attacks and killing or capturing their leadership.

Last edited 8 months ago by Paddy Taylor
Andrew Horsman
Andrew Horsman
8 months ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

It’s quite simple. “Crushing Hamas” would only be achievable at the cost of enormous levels of destruction and human suffering. And, unless it also involved what would amount to a genocide of an entire population, it’s going leave a lot of people (young ones especially) with grievous sense of injustice, which will result in more future attacks by whatever replaces Hamas. Already, more than 5,000 are dead in Gaza and millions are suffering. The cycle of vengeance and mutual hatred and resentment has to stop somewhere. Short of a literal annihilation of the Palestinian people, the only way to do that is through painstaking negotiation of a sustainable peace.

Abe Stamm
Abe Stamm
8 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Horsman

Chicken or the egg? You can’t even complement peace between Israel and Gaza without the annihilation of Hamas. A lot of innocent eggs will end up breaking before peace is a possibility…which is the nature of war. This is a war that Hamas started and Israel will end. The Arabs (originally from Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan) that call themselves ‘Palestinians’, who are the mothers, sisters, fathers, grandparents, and children of the Hamas (Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, PA) fighters, will bear the burden of this war.

Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
8 months ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

It’s easy to sit in the comfort of our armchairs and call for “restraint” when we pay no price for Hamas’s savagery. Calls for restraint or peace after one side has been attacked reduces the costs of launching such an attack. Hamas can attack Israel at will, murder, torture and kidnap its women and children, rape them and parade their dead bodies naked through the streets whilst “innocent” Palestinians desecrate their bodies and take selfies safe in the knowledge that the international community, immune from such violence, will call for “restraint” or a “proportionate” response.Before the age of the international community or world opinion, countries which were attacked as Israel has been would annihilate their enemy and that would be the end of it.If America had retaliated with a proportionate response after Pearl Harbor and merely bombed a single Japanese harbor before withdrawing, do you think that would have ended the war in the Pacific and Japan would be the peaceful and prosperous nation it is today? No. Japan paid a heavy price for its belligerence and then chose a different path.Hamas cannot be negotiated with. It seeks the destruction of Israel. There is no middle ground for them. But it is “restraint” and a “proportionate response” that incentivizes Hamas to continue its battle, safe in the knowledge that it cannot be wiped out. The Palestinians themselves could get rid of Hamas and choose a path of peace but they don’t.

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
8 months ago
Reply to  Samuel Ross

Exactly right, Samuel. I wrote the following the day after the attack, when liberals were already calling for a ceasefire before the bodies of the massacred Israelis were even cold.

The bien pensant Left seem keen to push the idea of proportionality and restraint. They wail that Israel has a choice in how they react, and that the Palestinians didn’t choose this war. Okay, many didn’t – but plenty did. They voted in Hamas and have supported the years of almost daily rocket attacks against Israel. No Israelis wanted it. None.
If Hamas laid down their weapons, there could be peace. If Israelis laid down their weapons, there would be a genocide. See the difference?
So, to those who call for a proportionate response – Will you do the reckoning? How many Gazans should the Israelis kidnap and hold hostage, so as to be proportionate? How many women should the Israelis beat, rape, sodomize and kill? How many babies should they butcher?
Please identify the streets in Gaza where you think Israeli soldiers should go door to door to murder the occupants and take women and children hostage. Let us know which of the hostages you would select, so you can broadcast their murder over their own social media channels to ensure their families get to witness the depravity.
There is a sense among many on the left that the visceral reaction most have us have felt in the wake of such barbarity is somehow unsophisticated. That the more nuanced and progressive view should be to conjure reasons why Israel is at fault – to justify some moral relativism in the face of evil.
How the hell does one confront such attitudes? – Honestly, if your immediate gut reaction, alongside your more considered reaction, is not entirely with the Israelis and condemning the murderous thugs of Hamas, then I struggle to know how to start a conversation with you – without simply shouting “For Shame!” in your face. 

Andrew Horsman
Andrew Horsman
8 months ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Paddy, I see your point. I really do. What Hamas did was a moral outrage, abominable, inhuman (or, perhaps, all too human). If I were on the ground in an Israeli border settlement would I have a different view? Perhaps I would.

But I really don’t think it’s helpful to suggest that a “proportionate” response means “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”. It doesn’t, at all. Doing to the Palestinians exactly what Hamas did to Israelis wouldn’t be proportionate, it would be equally as evil. They are two entirely different things. And, besides, if you believe official estimates already four times more Palestinians have been killed than the number the evil Hamas slaughtered on October 7th. Some of them are children, babies, people who are sick, alone, confused, elderly. But many are young adults or teenagers. Their friends and relatives – many of them young men in a stage of life where they have high testosterone and little wisdom – will, naturally, wish to avenge their deaths.

I’m not an expert in international relations, peace negotiations, or military operations. I don’t have a particular dog in the Arab / Israeli fight. But I do have an innate sense that making people suffer because of their membership of one or other particular group is simply fundamentally wrong. I find it hugely upsetting, whoever the people concerned might be. People should do whatever they humanly can to stop that happening.

My fear is that it benefits powerful and rich people who actually don’t care about the suffering of individuals to have people divided and hating each other like this; it benefits them to have intelligent and articulate people reduced screaming “for shame” in the faces of other simply because they have a different opinion or see the world a little differently.

So, with the very greatest of respect and humility, I implore you please to try and think again about this. Thank you.

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
8 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Horsman

Hamas could not be clearer that their end goal is the death of every Jew. The Jews that Hamas killed in the Kibbutzim were not combatants. They would, almost entirely, have been voters for Left wing parties. Yet the (frankly unforgivable) apologists across the West for Hamas terrorist atrocities claim that the conflict is down to the intransigence of those dastardly Jews.
You have a country that simply wants to be allowed to exist, standing against a group or terrorists and their various state sponsors who want to see the first group dead. Every man, woman and child of them. No equivocation. Murdered. Every single one of them. And what is the response from the West? Oh, that Israel must meet them halfway.
It is morally reprehensible, yet those who think themselves inclusive and progressive all seem to believe this moral equivalence in the two combatants’ sides. The only excuse for promoting this concept of equivalence is either Ignorance or Evil.
Call Gaza an open-air prison? If it is then Hamas are the Jailers.
Suggest there are war-crimes being committed against Gazans? There are. Committed by Hamas.
After Israel left in 2006, Gaza, with its port on the Mediterranean, could have easily become a commercial hub and a thriving tourist destination. An outcome that would have served the interests of Israelis and Palestinians alike.
There was nothing to stop Palestinians choosing peace and prosperity – except that, when given the option at elections, they chose Hamas, a terror organisation that wanted death and destruction of Jews above all other considerations.
The best chance for longterm peace – the only chance – is that the leaders of Hamas are captured or killed and that their ability to wage war is destroyed.
Those on the Left who support Ukraine need to stop and consider why no one ever suggests that Ukraine (or any other nation facing attack) has a responsibility to hold itself to a proportionate response, to try and limit casualties as much as possible. Which western leader has come out publicly to suggest to Zelensky that he ought to consider a ceasefire after a massive Russian atrocity?
It would be utterly absurd to even suggest such a thing, and would be condemned by all corners of the media, yet that was exactly the stance taken about Israel even before the bodies of 1400 Israelis were cold.

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
8 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Horsman

Neville Chamberlain and Hannah Arendt, together at last. Rubbish!

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
8 months ago

Neither side wants a two-state solution but the West keeps pushing it.

R Wright
R Wright
8 months ago

The alternative is extermination of one or both sides. The locals have lost sight of rational thought.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
8 months ago
Reply to  R Wright

Israel’s 1948 border would be extremely difficult to defend. Tel Aviv would be only twelve miles from the new Palestinian state. Haifa twenty miles. Ben Gurion airport only six miles. The West Bank will never be returned.

Abe Stamm
Abe Stamm
8 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

For the same reason, the Golan Heights will never be returned to Syria.

Jane Morris-Jones
Jane Morris-Jones
8 months ago

The UN proposal of 1947 offered the only viable two state solution there has ever been for Israel/Palestine, with a roughly equal distribution of territory and a contiguous (just) Palestinian state. It was comprehensively rejected by the Arab world who at that point were in complete denial about the legitimacy of an Israeli state. 75 years later, after a series of existentially threatening wars for Israel, it is clear that such an offer could never be made again, but the Arab world cannot bring itself to accept a lesser offer. Somehow an integrated solution must be attempted—the Northern Ireland situation may offer some pointers here.

simon mcgregor-wood
simon mcgregor-wood
8 months ago

Oh dear. Only proving how hard it is for writers on this to conceal their bias.

Derek Smith
Derek Smith
8 months ago

What is the difference between a ‘nationalist’ and an ‘ultranationalist’?

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
8 months ago

Why can’t we all just get along, once lamented a man who was brutally beaten by police. We too can lament and wonder why we can’t all get along, but the fact remains, as established by centuries of history and our lived experience, that we clearly cannot all get along all the time. There will be conflict, and sometimes those conflicts will be violent. There are disagreements that cannot be solved by any amount of negotiation. Whatever the historical reasons, whoever is to blame, here is where we find ourselves and must decide what to do. It should be obvious to anyone and everyone that there is no two-state solution. There never was. Our choices are to support Israel, or to support the Palestinians, and by extension, Hamas. Given what Hamas did over the past month, the choice seems clear to me. Regardless of their historical excuses, the fact remains that Gaza has become a stronghold for terrorists committing the worst crimes imaginable. Fazi has written an excellent explanation of the current situation and how we’ve gotten here from the perspective of a Palestinian sympathizer. An explanation is, however, not an excuse unless it is accepted as such, and we should not accept this excuse. We don’t pardon criminals and send them on their merry way because they grew up poor, or because they had a difficult and abusive childhood, because part of running a society means accepting imperfect solutions in order to keep civil order. We cannot excuse criminals regardless of background, and there can be no excuse for the acts committed by Hamas. Not even in an outright war, and this is a war, would these acts be acceptable. Some differences can’t be reconciled. Two nations can’t occupy the same territory. If there can be only an Israel or a Palestine, I know which one I’m picking.

Last edited 8 months ago by Steve Jolly
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
8 months ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

Well put. I concur.

Guillermo Torres
Guillermo Torres
8 months ago

I feel dumber having read this. Anyone who gives UnHerd kudos for supposedly balancing their coverage—I pity you.

Fazi’s context starts with the canard of the “Nakba.” Israel didn’t expel 750k Palestinians in 1948. The Arab armies told them to leave, confident that they would return once the Jews were annihilated. The Israelis asked them to stay and build a state in peace. They lost. The ones who stayed are now the only Arabs living in a democracy.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
2 months ago

2nd para – could you tell me the source of what you say please? Many thanks

John Hope
John Hope
8 months ago

The article doesn’t address the fact that Hamas’s and Hezbollah’s charters are to remove Israel from the map, “from the river to the sea.” Both organizations receive millions if not billions of dollars from Iran and other Arab countries in de facto support of this charter. How does Israel make peace with entities who are sworn to their destruction?

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
2 months ago
Reply to  John Hope

What you say is true. But how do Palestinians make peace with Israel when some people say the Arabs are living in Judea and Samaria and they have no right to be there?

Pip G
Pip G
8 months ago

This article is highly tendentious, suggesting that the current state has been Israel’s fault throughout.
For balance: Arab nations and Palestinians started the 1948 war to destroy Israel; and the 1967 & 1973 wars. Palestinians have never revoked their objective to destroy Israel – hence the ‘useful fools’ chant “from the River [Jordan] to the Mediterranean] Sea.”
Palestine & Gaza have received millions of Euros in aid which has disappeared into the leaders’ private bank accounts (not least Arafat’s in his time).
Certainly there are faults on both sides, not least Israel building settlements. Nothing will change until the Palestinians accept Israel’s right to exist. With hatred on both sides, this is unlikely to happen.

Victoria Cooper
Victoria Cooper
8 months ago

If the Hamas they were dealing with were not so intent on obliterating the Jews, could there then be a chance of co-existence?

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
8 months ago

Last edited 8 months ago by Paddy Taylor
Dermot O'Sullivan
Dermot O'Sullivan
8 months ago

The most informative and balanced article on the situation in here so far. Even the conclusion, depressing as it is, reflects where things stand.

Mike Michaels
Mike Michaels
8 months ago

Mask off moment for the writer. How embarrassing.

Mel Kreitzer
Mel Kreitzer
8 months ago

“Israel’s disengagement plan, in 2005, in which it unilaterally dismantled its settlements inside the Gaza Strip, only made things worse.”

As many have pointed out, this pretty much says it all. This disengagement utterly gobsmacked the Israeli Left, particularly since it was Sharon’s doing.

The author would have saved many of us a lot of time had he begun with this. But I understand his historical sequencing.

Nancy Kmaxim
Nancy Kmaxim
8 months ago

Hate is destructive. Despair is a sin. Building something good for your family and community is an indispensable part of a good life. It seems that the goal of Hamas is to deprive the children of Gaza of all that’s good in life. They emotionally manipulate children down a path of hate, teaching them that the best thing in life is to die murdering whom ever they don’t like. They deprive the populace of the tools needed to maintain a decent life (munitions are after all expensive). There may be victims in Gaza, but I think this author has the wrong perpetrator.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
8 months ago

This is a biased article which simply fails to mention the ongoing fundamental Arab / Muslim (both are relevant) rejectionism of any Jewish state in the area. Unfortunately, if understandably, one or other party of the Arab, Muslim side has always rejected Zionism tout court. This political movement was a peaceful migration (ironically left wingers think this is just fantastic when considering migration into the West) involving the purchase of land, not a military conquest. I

In 1929 there were violent pogroms against the Jews. They were nearly always the aggressors. In 1947 they rejected a partition plan which Israel accepted. In 1948 the neighbouring Arab states launched a war to destroy Israel. I am pleased they didn’t succeed. There were atrocities in both sides but the greater ones committed by the Arabs. Most Arabs fled under advice from the Arab armies and fear – but it is certainly true they were not allowed back by Israel. Let us also recall however the usually ignored event of the same number of Jews from age old communities being driven from their homes, attacked and murdered in several Arab countries at the same time, including Iraq. Many of the refugees made their home in Israel.

Between 1948 and 1967 all the lands now demanded for a two state solution were in the hands of the Arabs, including East Jerusalem. West Bank Palestinians were given Jordanian citizenship. Jordan was the only Arab force that had performed creditably in 1948 (expelling the Jews by the way from East Jerusalem) and had in fact been part of the original Palestinian mandate. This could have been a basis for an eventual settlement. But Egypt tried to economically throttle Israel by closing the Straits of Tiran and this precipitated the 6-Day War. Even then Jordan could have stayed out if it and was warned to do so, in which case the West Bank and East Jerusalem would have remained Arab territory.

Then we had the rejection of land for peace deals (the 3 No’s) by the Arab side, the rise of the PLO, the civil war in Jordan, the recourse to hi jacking and terrorism (not excluding the murder of Israeli citizens etc. This was all under the auspices of social democratic governments in Israel.

It is true that Israel has been moving further to the Right and becoming itself more intransigent for a number of reasons, including the increasing proportion of the population of Sephardic Jews (ironically closer culturally to the Arabs) but also that Israelis are just giving up on any chance of a peaceful settlement. The Gaza disaster does tend to support this position.

Last edited 8 months ago by Andrew Fisher
rob clark
rob clark
8 months ago

Thanks for this historical background, Mr. Fazi. This article and many others like it keep me coming back to Unherd.

David Barnett
David Barnett
8 months ago

Rabin Assassination Qui Bono: Shimon Perez and other Oslo die-hards who wanted to press ahead with cash-in-advance concessions to Arafat absent any evidence of meaningful concrete reciprocation.
Rabin, the realist, was rumoured to be having second thoughts about how Oslo was being pursued. The “sympathy” caused by the the shock of Rabin’s death allowed the insane, unreciprocated Oslo process to proceed with all questions silenced.

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
8 months ago

“To place all the blame on the Israeli government, however, would be too simplistic. At this point, a majority of Israelis actually thought the government had already compromised too much. So what was not enough for most Palestinians was too much for most Israelis. No wonder the two parties failed to find any middle ground.”
This is the reason why you need leadership. Leadership by opinion poll means you will never come to terms.

El Uro
El Uro
8 months ago

The conflict has renewed calls for a two-state solution.
I apologize in advance, but having said that he wants to see tomorrow, the author does not think for a second what he will see the day after tomorrow. I understand that images of millions of people killed may confuse the tender young imagination, but the author is old enough to allow himself at least a little intellectual honesty

Andrew Boughton
Andrew Boughton
8 months ago

Plenty in Israel support Thomas’s argument, though not my erstwhile conservative friends who gave me a personal sense of how the Palestinians must feel. https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/2023-03-23/ty-article-opinion/.highlight/israelis-know-that-true-democracy-will-spell-the-end-of-zionism/00000187-0b26-d1cf-a7af-fffe6f6a0000

j watson
j watson
8 months ago

Good historical summarily of how we got here. Was expecting the Author to convey some view on potential next course of action, but on this subject he seems as stumped as most of us. Understandable.
There is no defence of course for the brutal murder and torture carried out by Hamas on 7/10 and for a few days subsequent, but an understanding of the history here helps explain why the complexity does not make it easy to be entirely on one side or the other.
Some over the years have suggested the Palestinian leadership change strategy, junk the 2-State vision, and press for a one state solution with universal equal rights. Israeli objection would be a form of apartheid and overtime internationally untenable and undefendable. Demographics explain why many Israeli’s would fear this. And for many Palestinian’s the end of a vision of a Homeland for themselves inconceivable too. Arab neighbours too may have concerns about what message on universal rights a one state solution might portray that they fail to uphold. And thus an integrated alternative has many forces aligned against it. But tactically and morally is it not the only possible way forward long term?

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
8 months ago
Reply to  j watson

The smart thing for the Palestinians to do would be to follow your suggestions. If they ever get their one-state solution they could then enforce the right of return, cut the military budget, insist on making up half the army – and then trigger a civil war and ask for help from Hezbollah and Iran. Basically a re-run of the 1948 war, except the Arab side would be much better prepared and likely to win this time. Do you think that scenario is “tactically and morally […] the only possible way forward“? If not, how do you propose to avoid it?

rob monks
rob monks
8 months ago

A good anslysis

rob monks
rob monks
8 months ago
Reply to  rob monks

A good anslysis

rob monks
rob monks
8 months ago
Reply to  rob monks

Analysis

Sue Sims
Sue Sims
8 months ago
Reply to  rob monks

Nice to see that other people have finger-trouble when typing, and it’s not just me! But you’d be better off editing than sending corrections: the Edit button is far right of the ‘Reply’ one.

Mike Michaels
Mike Michaels
8 months ago
Reply to  Sue Sims

Everything’s Far right these days.

Walter Schwager
Walter Schwager
8 months ago

Let’s be clear: the current Israeli government has made it clear that it plans to confiscate all of the West Bank and add ever more settlements. All those Western governments who babble on about a two-state solution are either stupid or disingenuous, or both. No Palestinian state ever, at best a one-state apartheid state

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
8 months ago

” … the current Israeli government has made it clear that it plans to confiscate all of the West Bank and add ever more settlements”.
That is categorically false. Which I presume you know.
Why lie?

Kathryn Dwyer
Kathryn Dwyer
8 months ago

One of the clearest historical analyses of this terrible conflict I’ve read.
You can condemn the appalling actions of Hamas but you have to also condemn the systematic domination and aggression of Israel towards their Palestinian neighbours which has made this war never ending, aided by the US and Iran.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
8 months ago

A good, readable article written by Fazi. Unexpected, to say the least.

Vern Hughes
Vern Hughes
8 months ago

At last, UnHerd has published a non-partisan historical overview of the historical background to these complex issues.Thank you Thomas Fazi. But why did it take so long? We have had to endure some very disappointing emotional and partisan pro-Israeli commentary from people who should have known better.

Last edited 8 months ago by Vern Hughes
Victoria Cooper
Victoria Cooper
8 months ago
Reply to  Vern Hughes

I wouldn’t say non partisan, but yes, we need to hear both sides

Vern Hughes
Vern Hughes
8 months ago

Actually, no. We can hear both sides on any street corner. What we need is some non-partisan, solutions-oriented thinking. That has been as rare as hen’s teeth.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
8 months ago

And people wonder why the Palestinians resort to violence….

Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
8 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

It’s completely dishonest to consider only 5% of history.Frustrated by confusing & contradictory information, I researched the history of the land we call Israel and Palestine today. Who lived on it first?Israelites lived on land 1658 years before the ancestors of Palestinians. Palestinian ancestral land is the Arabian Peninsula. Palestinian is a modern word from the 20th century.Only the Canaanites and Philistine predate the Israelites. The descendants of Canaanites and Philistine is complex and not entirely resolved.The Israelites arrived c1020 BCE and established the Israelite Kingdoms of Israel and Judah. The Kingdom of Israel fell to the Assyrians in 722 BC, while the Kingdom of Judah was conquered by the Babylonians in 586 BCE.Next the land changed hands many times, until Arab Muslims conquered it in 638 CE and established an Islamic Caliphate. The Arab population, increasingly identifying as Palestinian particularly in the 20th century, has been a significant part of the social and cultural fabric of the area, especially during the periods of Islamic rule and the Ottoman Empire..A timeline:Canaanite Period (c. 3000 – 1200 BCE): The earliest known inhabitants were Canaanites, a Semitic-speaking people. Philistine Period (c. 1175 – 604 BCE): Philistines settled along the coastal areas, mostly in the Gaza Strip.Israelite Kingdoms (c. 1020 – 586 BCE): The Israelites, also a Semitic-speaking people, established the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah.Assyrian and Babylonian Periods (722 – 539 BCE): Assyrians and Babylonians conquered the region.Persian Period (539 – 332 BCE): Persia conquered the Babylonian empire, including this area.Hellenistic Period (332 – 167 BCE): Conquest by Alexander the Great, followed by the Ptolemaic and Seleucid rules.Hasmonean Kingdom (167 – 37 BCE): Jewish rule restored after the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucids.Roman Period (63 BCE – 324 CE): The area became a part of the Roman Empire.Byzantine Period (324 – 638 CE): Christian rule under the Byzantine Empire.Islamic Caliphate Era (638 CE – 1099 CE): Arab Muslims conquered Jerusalem in 638 CE, introducing Arab rule and Islamic culture to the region. Arabic gradually replaced Aramaic and Greek as the dominant language.Crusader Period (1099 – 1187 CE): European Christians captured Jerusalem and established the Kingdom of Jerusalem.Ayyubid and Mamluk Periods (1187 – 1516 CE): Saladin, a Kurdish Muslim leader, defeated the Crusaders. The Mamluks, who were of various ethnicities including Turkic and Circassian, succeeded the Ayyubids.Ottoman Period (1516 – 1917 CE): The Ottoman Turks controlled the region, and the Arab populace lived under Ottoman rule.British Mandate (1917 – 1948 CE): British control after World War I. Increased Jewish immigration leads to tensions between Jews and Arabs.State of Israel (1948 – Present): Established in 1948, leading to ongoing conflicts with Arab Palestinians.

Last edited 8 months ago by Samuel Ross
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
8 months ago
Reply to  Samuel Ross

The was NO such thing as the Byzantine Empire, as you well know!

You also failed to mention that the Romans renamed the place SYRIA PALAESTINA in the 2nd century AD.

I very much doubt that Ze’ev Hertzog & Co would agree with you in dating the establishment of the “Kingdoms of Israel and Judah to c 1020 BC”. Knock off two to three hundred years then perhaps.

Aphrodite Rises
Aphrodite Rises
8 months ago
Reply to  Samuel Ross

We live in very confusing times. The Jews/Israelis are not indigenous. There is no such thing as an indigenous Brit. But other parts of the world do have indigenous people whose claims to land are based on their being indigenous. Who makes up the rules?

Last edited 8 months ago by Aphrodite Rises
Gorka Sillero
Gorka Sillero
8 months ago

Liberals, always

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
8 months ago

What does “indigenous” even mean? It’s thought that North American Indian tribes, for instance, crossed the Baring Strait when it was possible to do so due to climate change (now there’s a novelty!). DNA evidence also supports this theory. So, does that make them all Russkies?

Last edited 8 months ago by Steve Murray
Aphrodite Rises
Aphrodite Rises
8 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Precisely. If the term indigenous is to be used to allocate land and power, it ought to be rigorously defined. The enclosures act could be interpreted as theft of land from the indigenous people.

Last edited 8 months ago by Aphrodite Rises
Radu Ionut
Radu Ionut
8 months ago
Reply to  Samuel Ross

Isn’t the name Palestine directly derived from Philistine(s), though? I’m not taking their side but the Philistines are mentioned throughout the Bible several times, I think.