Guest columnist Barry Hirsch: Palestinians should turn to Israel for real path to peace

Israeli armored personnel carriers move near the Israeli-Gaza border as seen from southern Israel, Wednesday, April 17, 2024.

Israeli armored personnel carriers move near the Israeli-Gaza border as seen from southern Israel, Wednesday, April 17, 2024. AP PHOTO/OHAD ZWIGENBERG


Published: 04-22-2024 5:03 PM

Last month, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas appointed Mohammad Mustafa to be the new prime minister. Here is the speech I would love to hear him give:

It is time that we admit that we made a mistake in 1948 when we decided that Israel was our enemy, and our neighboring Arab states were our allies. In 1948 the goal of our Arab neighbors was not a Palestinian state but to acquire as much land for themselves as they could. From 1948 to 1967, when Egypt and Jordan controlled Gaza, the West Bank and east Jerusalem, there was never a proposal to create a Palestinian state on this land.

In 1967, Nasser’s declared goal of pushing the Jews into the sea was not for the creation of a Palestinian state but for him to be the leader of a pan-Arab state. Sadat made peace with Israel so that he could get the Sinai back but did not demand a Palestinian state. And now the UAE and other Arab states are cutting deals with Israel not to help Palestinians, but because it serves their own self-interests.

Do you really think that Iran and Hezbollah care about Palestinians? The past six months have shown us that Hamas only cares about their own self-interests and will sacrifice as many Palestinian civilians as necessary to stay in power. The sexual violence and abduction of toddlers that occurred on Oct. 7 disqualified Hamas from the leadership of any state including one that purports to represent the interests of Palestinians.

For the past 76 years we have allowed ourselves to be pawns in a geopolitical chess game and all it has brought us is poverty, misery, and death. This is not the future I want for my children and grandchildren.

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It is time for us to face the reality that there is only one country that can bring us peace and prosperity and provide a real future for our children, and that is Israel. The Israelis are a creative and innovative people who have made unparalleled contributions to the world in the fields of science and technology.

As our enemies, they have made it clear that they will do whatever it takes to keep their own population safe and to show the world that they are not now, and never again will be the passive victims that walked into the gas chambers in World War II. It is time we tell Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran to get lost and let them know we are not interested in the future that they are offering. The last thing we want is to model ourselves after a country being led by an unelected medieval totalitarian theocrat who has no qualms about executing women who don’t conform to his standards of morality.

We need to make it clear to the Israelis that we are ready to partner with them in a real future. For now, we should demand respect and dignity — the Palestinian state will come when we build trust and cooperation and eliminate the extremists from any positions of power on both sides of the conflict. This will take time, but it can be done. Once there is a true peace, borders will be easy to draw, and Jews will live in Palestine with same freedoms and rights as Palestinians living in Israel.

I hope that one day there will be a Jewish supreme court justice in Palestine just as today there is a Muslim supreme court justice in Israel. I would aspire for a single unified military that doesn’t need to protect us from each other but will protect us from those outside the region who will be enraged by seeing Muslims and Jews, Arabs and Israelis living side by side in peace.

I believe in the Jewish people and know when they see a real chance for peace, they will grab it and live up to the ideals upon which Israel was founded.

In Ecclesiastes it says, “for everything there is a season.” It is time to move on from war and hatred. And as the Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari so wisely said, those who demand “no justice, no peace” will get neither. It is time to make the future more important than the past.

Since Oct. 7 life has been a nightmare for everyone in the region. Let’s work together and show the world that we can create our own future and honor all those who have died by declaring that the only armed resistance we support is to those who stand in the way of peace. And yes, we should demand an immediate cease-fire, in exchange for the release of all hostages and a one-way ticket out of Gaza for all Hamas fighters and supporters.

Barry Hirsch lives in Northampton.