In a rush to state what he believes should take place in Gaza “the day after” the Israel-Hamas war is over, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken outlined several ideas, including a role for the Palestinian Authority and a move towards a “two-state solution.”
President Joe Biden has echoed this, saying, “As we strive for peace, Gaza and the West Bank should be reunited under a single governance structure, ultimately under a revitalized Palestinian Authority, as we all work towards a two-state solution.”
While Biden and Blinken are assessing the situation through the lens of US interests and perhaps the needs of the Palestinians, they ignore the changed needs of a traumatized but sobered Israeli public.
As we all know and have been told over and over since the war began, “something has changed” in Israel. Trauma has consequences, including cognitive consequences, and it may be prudent for Blinken to consider what this means for the people of Israel.
Consider the words of one resident of Kibbutz Be’eri, perhaps the “ground zero” of the Hamas massacre. When asked if she would return to the kibbutz, she answered, looking westward out the window towards her Palestinian neighbors, “When I will be able to see the coast of Gaza.”
She is not alone. The residents of the Gaza envelope communities are hardly right wing “settler” types. But at least for some, what peace would look like appears to have changed.
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Activism for coexistence may now have to be changed to activism for existence. Caring for the souls of Gazans may now need to be replaced with caring for the souls of Israelis. What these souls need more than anything is a renewed feeling of confidence in their country, built on the assurance of personal safety and security.
Can a “two-state” entity provide this? Perhaps, but it would depend on the nature of the entity. While Fatah and the PA it dominates may not be the political twins of Hamas, they are, in many ways, ideological clones.
Both have rejected and denied Jewish history, both continue to claim title to the entire Land of Israel, both glorify and celebrate the murder of Israelis, and both turn a blind eye to a culture of hate based on teaching children that violence is an acceptable means of “liberation.”
It has been more than two-and-a-half years since Blinken said of the Palestinian educational system, “We are determined to pursue very necessary reforms in terms of some of the abuses of the system that have taken place in the past, particularly … in disseminating in its educational products antisemitic or anti-Israel information.”
Yet Palestinian children are still educated to hate, to reject Israel’s existence and to honor and glorify terrorists. The US apparently wants the PA that underwrites this educational system to govern a post-war Gaza.
Moreover, all the Palestinian parties involved have armed wings that actively promote and engage in killing Israelis. Both benefit from the PA’s “pay-for-slay” policy, which hands over huge sums to imprisoned terrorists — including Hamas members — and survivors’ benefits to families of dead terrorists.
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The US cannot be unaware of the sentiment on the Palestinian street in favor of Hamas. Polls by Palestinians themselves have shown overwhelming support for the Oct. 7 massacre and the various terrorist factions, especially Hamas.
While nothing has changed in the Palestinian attitude, however, something has changed in the Israeli attitude.
Many Israelis now appear to have woken up. They now see who their neighbors are, what those neighbors have been taught, what they believe and what they are prepared to do to realize their dream of “freeing” Palestine “from the river to the sea.”
For many Israelis, the PA does not need to be “revitalized” and brought back to life. It needs to be dismantled and replaced. It would be prudent for both Biden and Blinken to reflect on that and consider what type of entity Israelis are now prepared to live with.
It is legitimate to discuss what will happen “the day after,” but Israelis definitely should not accept what we already had “the day before.”