Wednesday, December 30, 2015

  • Wednesday, December 30, 2015
  • Elder of Ziyon
A very insightful post at OpenDemocracy from a dovish Israeli, Efraim Perlmutter, who is now a teacher at a Bedouin high school:

About twelve years ago I participated in a conference in Cyprus that was co-sponsored by an American and Spanish NGO. The conference brought together Israeli and Palestinian educators to discuss introducing peace-oriented study in their respective school curricula.

We were all asked to bring material relating to peace already in use, which would be reviewed and from which either side could borrow creative ideas. Palestinian educators had no such material so the time at the conference was spent reviewing Israeli material.

During a discussion about, if I remember correctly, problems of teaching peace in the classroom, one of the Palestinian teachers raised an issue that was quite unexpected by the conference sponsors, and by me for that matter. She, being a Christian Arab from Jerusalem, expressed discouragement at the increasing gap between Christians and Muslims within the Palestinian community. As a lifelong Palestinian nationalist she was disturbed by the fact that her teenage son had more in common with Israeli teenagers that he met on the beach in Tel Aviv than he did with Muslim Palestinian teenagers who were his lifelong neighbors.

After she had expressed her concerns the room went dead silent. It seemed to me that we all recognized that the discussion had taken a sudden turn in a direction that could easily lead the entire conference into an orgy of mutual recrimination, which was definitely not the intention of the organizers nor the participants.

The silence was broken when one of the other Arab participants announced that the problem was obviously caused by “the occupation”. No one, including me, contradicted him. We were all just relieved that the comment gave us an avenue of escape back to the subject of educating for peace.
I recalled this incident when reading a recent opinion piece in the Jerusalem Post about “honor” killings in Israeli Arab society. The author made some valid points but couldn’t help writing, “The government is also responsible for the fact that the unnecessary occupation has caused bloodshed to become a routine and everyday occurrence for Israel’s Arab community.”

One again, the “occupation” allows problems in Arab society, like an unwanted foundling, to be placed at Israel’s doorstep. To the author’s credit, after genuflecting to “the occupation” a pretty good analysis of the phenomenon of the murder of women in the Israeli Arab community followed.

When I first began commenting on articles here at openDemocracy, I was motivated to answer a writer who contended that the State of Israel had intentionally opened the flood gates on one of its dams in order to flood some villages in Gaza.

The article was simply one of many examples where Palestinian leadership misfeasance brought tribulations to Palestinians that were blamed on the Israelis. I have come to refer to such observers as “Israel Firsters”.

The first time I saw the term “Israel Firster” it was used as an anti-Semitic canard by a writer in reference to the alleged dual loyalty of all Jews to their countries of residence and to the State of Israel, with the latter taking precedence.

I have also seen “Israel Firster” used to describe American neo-cons and others of the Jewish faith or Jewish ethnicity. Despite its unfortunate prejudicial origins it seems to me that the term quite accurately describes Jews, Christians, Muslims, Arabs, Europeans and all others who blame the problems and misfortunes of Palestinians (and others) on Israel first. This has had a detrimental effect mostly on Palestinians because it has retarded valid criticism of Palestinian leadership which might have motivated them to do a better job for the Palestinian people. Instead “Israel Firsters” have had the effect of letting Palestinian leadership off the hook, allowing them to go on their way extracting what they can from the situation for their own personal benefit.

For the past few months we (Israelis and Palestinians) have experienced a wave of terrorist attacks mainly on civilian targets. These have mostly been knifings but have also included using vehicles and guns as weapons. For the most part the attackers have been young people, including a few pre-teens, who are inspired to express their nationalism by killing random passersby on the streets. Most of the attackers have been killed in the act, glorified as “shaheed” (martyr) and have become part of the pantheon of Palestinian heroes.

“Israel Firsters” reflexively blame the actions of these young terrorists on “the occupation”. I would suggest that the absence of peace education in most Palestinian Authority schools may have something to do with the motivation of these young people to kill and be killed. A recent article on openDemocracy about reforming education in Egypt, in my opinion, has a great deal of relevance for the Palestinian educational system.

Until Palestinian schools seriously engage in educating for peace rather than glorifying conflict, waves of youthful suicidal terrorism should not be unexpected whether or not “the occupation” continues.
This is similar to the point I have made in the past that many people have "occupation glasses" where everything Israel does, good or bad,  is filtered through those lenses.

It isn't just the "absence of peace education in most Palestinian Authority schools" that causes the problem, it is the open incitement to murder in Palestinian schools and on TV and in music videos.

An exchange between exactly one of the people Perlmutter describes and himself is instructive as well:

Michael Hess: Obviously this place has little to do with "democracy" and quite a bit to do with defending Apartheid Israel. It's ironic how you don't even realize that you are carrying on the Israel Firster tradition. The one that says no matter what Israel does, it's the victim's fault, the Palestinians.

Efraim: Every political leader, whether dealing at the international or domestic level, is dealt a set of cards which are almost never equal to the cards dealt his opponent. The success or failure of political leaders usually depends on the value of the cards they are dealt and the skill with which they play their hand. It is my opinion that the Palestinian leadership have mostly overplayed their hand and have, as a consequence, done poorly. In part because observers like you cannot bring yourselves to criticize the Palestinian leadership which remains unaccountable for their failures. Instead you contend that everything is Israel's fault and therefore the Palestinians are never to blame.

Do you think that the Palestinian leadership have played their cards well or poorly?
(h/t JW)

We are doing everything we can to fight for Israel with hard work, research and - above all - the truth. We need your help.
Please donate today.
If you have other skills you can volunteer for EoZ, send an email to

EoZTV Podcast

Podcast URL

Subscribe in podnovaSubscribe with FeedlyAdd to netvibes
addtomyyahoo4Subscribe with SubToMe

search eoz




follow me

Follow by Email


Elder: elder -at- elderofziyon dot com
Mrs. Elder: mrs.elder -at-



For $18 donation

Sample Text

EoZ's Most Popular Posts Ever


Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 12 years and over 25,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


Donate to fight for Israel!

Monthly subscription:
Payment options

One time donation:

subscribe via email

Follow EoZ on Twitter!



The Jerusalem Report:"A seemingly indefatigable one-man operation, armed only with a computer, chutzpa and stamina."

Algemeiner: "Fiercely intelligent and erudite"

Omri: "Elder is one of the best established and most respected members of the jblogosphere..."
Atheist Jew:"Elder of Ziyon probably had the greatest impression on me..."
Soccer Dad: "He undertakes the important task of making sure that his readers learn from history."
AbbaGav: "A truly exceptional blog..."
Judeopundit: "[A] venerable blog-pioneer and beloved patriarchal figure...his blog is indispensable."
Oleh Musings: "The most comprehensive Zionist blog I have seen."
Carl in Jerusalem: "...probably the most under-recognized blog in the JBlogsphere as far as I am concerned."
Aussie Dave: "King of the auto-translation."
The Israel Situation:The Elder manages to write so many great, investigative posts that I am often looking to him for important news on the PalArab (his term for Palestinian Arab) side of things."
Tikun Olam: "Either you are carelessly ignorant or a willful liar and distorter of the truth. Either way, it makes you one mean SOB."
Mondoweiss commenter: "For virulent pro-Zionism (and plain straightforward lies of course) there is nothing much to beat it."
Didi Remez: "Leading wingnut"

Interesting Blogs


Abbas liar Academic fraud administrivia al-Qaeda algeria American Jews Amnesty analysis anti-semitism apartheid arab refugees Arafat archaeology art ASHREI B'tselem bahrain bbc BDS BDSFail Bedouin Beitunia beoz book review breaking the silence Cardozo Chanukah Christians conspiracy theories Cyprus Daphne Anson Davis report DCI-P double standards Egypt Elder gets results ElderToons Electronic Intifada EoZNews eoztv Erekat EU Euro-Mid Observer Fake Civilians 2014 Fatah featured Features fisking flotilla Forest Rain free gaza freedom of press palestinian style future martyr Gary Spedding gaza Gaza Platform George Galloway George Soros gideon levy gilad shalit gisha Goldstone Report Good news Grapel Guardian gunness Haaretz hamas Hamas war crimes hasbara Hasby 2014 Hasby 2016 Hebron helen thomas hezbollah history Hizballah Holocaust denial honor killing HRW Human Rights Humanitarian crisis humor Hypocrisy ICRC Ilan Pappe impossible peace incitement Indonesia international law intransigence iran Iraq Islamic Judeophobia Islamism Israel Loves America Israeli culture Israeli high-tech J Street jabalya jeremy bowen Jerusalem jewish fiction Jewish Voice for Peace jihad jimmy carter John Kerry jokes jonathan cook Jordan Juan Cole Judaism Judea-Samaria Kairos Karl Vick ken roth khalid amayreh Khaybar Lebanon leftists Linkdump lumish mahmoud zahar Malaysia max blumenthal McGraw-Hill media bias Methodist Miftah Mohammed Assaf Mondoweiss moonbats Morocco music Muslim Brotherhood Nakba Natural gas Nazi News nftp NGO NIF norpac NYT Occupation offbeat Omar Barghouti Opinion oxfam PA corruption PalArab lies Palestine Papers pallywood pchr PCUSA Peter Beinart Petra MB poll Poster Preoccupied Prisoners propaganda Proud to be Zionist purimshpiel Qaradawi Qassam calendar Rafah Ray Hanania real liberals reference Richard Falk rogel alpher roger cohen roger waters Saudi Arabia saudi vice self-death self-death palestinians sex crimes SFSU shechita sheikh tamimi Shujaiyeh Simona Sharoni SodaStream South Africa Speech stamps Syria Tarabin Temple Mount Terrorism This is Zionism Thomas Friedman Tunisia Turkey UCI UK UN UNDP unesco unhrc United Arab Emirates Unity unrwa UNRWA hate unrwa reports UNRWA-USA Varda Vic Rosenthal Washington wikileaks work accident X-washing Yemen zahran zionist attack zoo Zvi

Blog Archive