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A letter to a friend in Gaza

Our demand to demilitarise the Strip is not only for Israelis; it’s also for you, Fathi. We prefer happy neighbours to suffering neighbours.

We need hope. We will not solve all of the conflict’s problems now. Let’s begin with something a bit more modest. Imagine, Fathi, taking to the streets to demand a ceasefire and an end to the siege under the Quartet conditions. The Islamic Jihad and Hamas will refuse. That’s what they know how to do. But you must not give up.  Source: CR Sasikumar We need hope. We will not solve all of the conflict’s problems now. Let’s begin with something a bit more modest. Imagine, Fathi, taking to the streets to demand a ceasefire and an end to the siege under the Quartet conditions. The Islamic Jihad and Hamas will refuse. That’s what they know how to do. But you must not give up. Source: CR Sasikumar

Our demand to demilitarise the Strip is not only for Israelis; it’s also for you, Fathi. We prefer happy neighbours to suffering neighbours.

Hello, Fathi. This week, for just a few minutes, we managed to establish contact again. You told me about the great suffering, the bombings, the dead. It pained me. We have known better days. We had dreams.

The years go by. In the meantime, several things have happened in the Muslim world — in Somalia, in Nigeria, in Pakistan, in Syria, in Iraq. This is the rule, Fathi: Every place where one of the extensions of jihad grows stronger turns into a centre of bloodshed. Taliban, Hamas, Boko Haram, al-Qaeda, ISIS, al-Shabab, jointly and severally, promise you nothing but bloodshed and suffering.

And one more thing happened: Hamas violently seized the Gaza Strip. Article 7 of the Hamas charter talks about annihilating the Jews. Annihilation, no less. When we see what the jihadists are doing in the world — to Muslims, not to Jews — we are entitled to be afraid. Those who have adopted a Nazi ideology should not complain that the other side is trying to defeat them.

A week ago, Fathi, a suicide bomber detonated explosives at a busy market in Urgun, Afghanistan. A Muslim who killed 89 other Muslims. Over the weekend, ISIS killed 270 people in the Syrian city of Homs. In the beginning of the week, 121 people were murdered in Damboa, Nigeria. Another 16 were murdered on the Egypt-Libya border. I could go on, Fathi. The list is long.

They join thousands of others who have been murdered in recent weeks. Muslims murdering Muslims. The jihad is massacring you, Fathi. It happens wherever it is. It’s happening in Gaza as well. It has been happening for more than 10 years now. It’s becoming worse. Where are the Muslims, Fathi? Why are they keeping quiet? Why is the world silent? Where are the world’s left-wing protesters? Why haven’t they burned jihad flags? How is it possible that no one has taken to the streets, neither in Paris nor in London, neither in Casablanca nor in Amman? So please, Fathi, don’t say occupation, don’t say Israel, don’t say blockade. Enough with the lies.

The regular excuse, Fathi, is that you are still furious over the original sin — the 1948 Nakba. Are you serious? Tens of millions of people became refugees in the 1940s. Arab countries deported Jews too, although they did not declare any war. No one has built their entire identity on misery, revenge and terror. Only you. Do you want more, Fathi? In the past few years, Muslim states have created millions of refugees. The jihad organisations not only kill. They also turn millions into refugees. In Somalia, in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in Syria. Where is the Muslim protest? Where is the global protest?

Those who take to the streets and burn Israel’s flag, those who call the Israeli soldiers murderers, those who dismiss your responsibility and provide you with excuses and justifications, the members of the “forces of progress” from the Israeli and global left, are part of your problem. When they are told that you oppress women, kill innocent people incessantly and fire at population centres, they reply that “there is no comparison.”

Do you get that, Fathi? They forgive you because they think you’re inferior. Is that what you want?

In the past few years you have been complaining that the siege is suffocating you, that because of the siege there is no construction, no industry, no hope. The siege is a lie, Fathi. Not only does Israel transfer every week, even these days, hundreds of trucks carrying supplies to the Strip. Why, you even had a completely open border with Egypt during the time the Egyptian president was a Muslim Brotherhood member. And what did you do? It turns out that you actually managed to develop two industries: One of rockets and another of tunnels.

Hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested in the Strip, despite the Hamas rule. Where did it go, Fathi? To weapons, to ammunitions, to rockets. Where did thousands of tonnes of cement go? Not to the construction of factories or schools. It was all wasted on tunnels, in order to kill more Jews. So don’t say siege. Because Hamas could have invested in welfare, in prosperity. It chose to invest in the industry of death and destruction.

And despite all that, Fathi, I want to hold on to a glimmer of hope. Several days ago, a survey was conducted among the Strip’s residents, commissioned by the Washington Institute. The result is incredible: An overwhelming majority, 70 per cent, supported a ceasefire and an end to the violence. This is a sign that the majority is sobering up while the foolish, murderous and destructive stubbornness of the jihad organisations continues.

The millions in the Arab countries will not go out to protest for you this time. You know why, Fathi? Because they already know what could happen in their countries if Hamas remains strong. They see the massacre in Iraq and Syria. They know there is no big difference between ISIS and Taliban and Hamas.

We need hope. We will not solve all of the conflict’s problems now. Let’s begin with something a bit more modest. Imagine, Fathi, taking to the streets to demand a ceasefire and an end to the siege under the Quartet conditions (an end to violence and recognising past agreements). The [Islamic] jihad and Hamas will refuse. That’s what they know how to do. But you must not give up. They say you are afraid of Hamas. Afraid? Then why are you more excited about terror organisations, which promise you bloodshed?

Please Fathi, listen to what Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said this week on the Al-Aqsa channel: “We aren’t leading our people today to destruction. We are leading them to death.” Listen to the things aired on your television regularly, on days of calm: “Kill Christians, Jews and communists to the last one.”

The Hamas and jihad people don’t only threaten and promise, they also keep their promises. In recent years, the jihad has turned into a monster massacring Muslims incessantly. Destroying the jihad, Fathi, is in your best interest. It is first of all a Muslim interest. You know how to fight, but it’s time to change direction. Otherwise, the jihad will continue using you as cannon fodder.

Fathi, Israel is forced to defend itself, because no other country would tolerate a terrorist entity, with a Nazi ideology, launching rockets incessantly at a civil population. The majority in Israel does not seek any revenge, oppression or a siege. The majority in Israel sees the difficult images from Gaza, the victims, the innocent people getting killed because Hamas uses them. There is no joy in us, but real grief. We don’t want to kill and don’t want to be killed. The demand to demilitarise the Strip is not only for the Israelis, it’s also for you. We prefer to have happy neighbours rather than suffering neighbours. We want to be partners, not enemies.

So show some responsibility, Fathi. You can either live with endless suffering under the rule of the jihad (like in Mosul) or you can flourish (like in Kurdistan). You hold the keys. Self-deception won’t help you. You are not inferior, Fathi. You deserve more. So start acting and, for a change, do something for yourselves rather than against others.
With pain, and hope for better days.

This article has been excerpted from the original, published on July 25, in ‘Yedioth Ahronoth’,  Tel Aviv

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