"Where are Israeli Arab voices?" an Israeli intellectual wonders. While a peace activist says, "I'm done."

Now being discussed: our future relations with the Palestinians, and even with Israeli Arabs. Nothing will be simple. Less complicated is this Eretz Nehederet spoof of BBC, a channel Israelis detest.

Who is Shlomi Eldar and why is the above interview particularly interesting?

Shlomi Eldar is an Israeli journalist and film director. He served in the Intelligence Corp, received his bachelor’s degree from Tel Aviv University in Middle Eastern studies and political science, and an MA at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He wrote his thesis on the role of security prisoners in the peace process with Israel, where he argued that the peace process began in the prisons, when the psychological barriers between the Israeli warders and the Palestinian prisoners were breached.

Eldar was the first Israeli journalist to interview Yasser Arafat and members of Hamas. He covered the Palestinians during the Second Intifada because he thought it was important to show the other side, and as a result of these activities, has stayed in touch with some on the “other side,” including members of Hamas, as he notes in this interview.

He’s the author of two books: Eyeless in Gaza (Hebrew) and Getting to Know Hamas (Hebrew). Shlomi is also the director of the documentary, “Precious Life”, which was shortlisted for an Oscar and is a two time recipient of the Ophir Prize for Best Documentary.

Shlomi is considered a man of the left, which is important to remember as you listen to his interview.

THINGS TO LISTEN FOR as you listen to the interview:

  • The man known in Israel as the one who had actual contacts in Hamas will no longer speak to them. He explains why not.

  • During the Judicial Reform crisis, he says, he was getting ready to leave Israel. Now, “he’s never felt more Israeli.” What has the slaughter awakened in him?

  • Unlike his more right-leaning, religious interlocutor, Eldar believes that Israeli society can heal.

  • As f or “who is going to rule Gaza?” when this is all over? “We will. We will sink into the mud we’e created.”

  • Another thing to pay attention to is reference to Dr. Abuelaish and the video clip they show. This is from when Shlomi was the Arab affairs correspondent for Channel 10. In 2009, during Operation Cast Lead, Eldar was in the middle of a broadcast and he received a call from his friend, Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, a highly respected OB-GYB in Gaza. Eldar picked up the call and put him on speaker for viewers to hear Dr. Abuelaish’s cries. Three of his daughters and his niece were just killed, he said, after an Israeli tank shell hit their home in the Gaza Strip. For many years, in the minds of Israelis, the daughters of Izzeldin Abuelaish were the paradigmatic of the awful cost of collateral damage.

    But, as you will hear, something about even that relationship has given way in light of what Hamas did, as Shlomi Eldar explains.

Israelis are facing an unfolding crisis, but also an important opportunity to rebuild. If you would like to share our conversation about what they are feeling and what is happening that the English press can’t cover, please subscribe today.

The following Op Ed by Yair Sheleg appeared on Friday in Makor Rishon. Sheleg, a leading intellectual in the religious-Zionist world, writes for Makor Rishon every Friday—his column typically appears directly under Ari Shavit, week by week.

Yair Sheleg is a journalist, researcher and author, whose work usually focuses on the religious-Zionist world. Yair is a member of the editorial board of Makor Rishon, a Research Fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute and a research fellow at the Center for Religion, Nation and State at the Israel Democracy Institute.

Previously, Yair was a reporter for the newspaper Nekuda and was a member of the editorial board of Haaretz. He is the author of The New Observant Jews (Hebrew) and Old Passages for a New Jew (Hebrew). He lives in Jerusalem.

Where is the voice of the Israeli Arabs?

Yair Sheleg / Makor Rishon / Yair Sheleg / October 29, 2033

One of the biggest and talked about disappointments in recent weeks is the reaction of the intellectual and cultural community of the world to the Simchat Torah massacre in Israel. Too many of the people who preach morality to Israel about every minimal violation of Palestinian rights have fallen silent. Some even continued to express the same old identification with the Palestinian suffering, and by implication, there is a clear statement in this that even the horrific massacre is a legitimate reaction by the Palestinians to their suffering.

But aside from the outrage and protest over this reaction, which is stirring up the Israeli left and the pages of Haaretz, there is also room to look at a problematic phenomenon within our society: the almost complete silence of the leaders of [Israeli] Arab society in the face of a massacre unparalleled in the entire history of the country. Yes, there were some intellectuals who uttered clear and unequivocal words against the massacre. But by and large, the voice of Israeli Arabs has not been heard at this difficult time.

We have not seen any decisive press conferences by the Arab parties—with the exception of a poignant statement by Mansour Abbas, the permanent “tzadik” of the Arab Israeli sector, and former MK Issawi Frej—nor have we seen any press conferences by national organizations such as Va’adat Ha’Maakav/ The High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel. Arab intellectuals, including those who work daily with Jewish colleagues, did not publish condemnations. Arab activists in joint associations for Jews and Arabs have expressed themselves here and there, but the voice of activists in associations that work all year round for the rights of Arab citizens, such as Adalah and the like, have not been heard.

As someone who does not read the Arabic press, I may have missed some strong condemnations that appeared there, but I allow myself to assume that if a wave of shame had swept over the Arab leadership in Israel, we would have already known about it. It goes without saying that when three members of the Dawabsheh family were massacred in the village of Duma by a Jew, the Jewish sector—including people on the right—knew how to express their shock and protest against the act.

Those who remain silent will surely provide themselves with all kinds of justifications. There will be those who say: the occupation does not allow us to condemn the act. These people should be reminded that in the last century the Jewish people suffered the massacre of a third of their children, and it never occurred to them to behave in a way that even approaches that of the Hamas murderers. As mentioned, every time a Jew dared to commit an act of terrorism, even after many acts of Palestinian terrorism, the shock and rage from the Jewish side was almost wall to wall.

Other people will say: the harm to so many residents of Gaza did not allow us to condemn. To these people it must be said that in the first two days after the massacre, there was no massive harm to the residents of Gaza, not to mention that there is no symmetry between those who deliberately slaughter innocent civilians and those who aim their weapons at the murderers, which can sometimes result in harm to others. Some will say that Israeli Arabs, especially those who see themselves as having a Palestinian identity, find it difficult to condemn their own people. If so, then let them no longer expect Jews to condemn their own people. And on the last possible argument, the fear of the reaction of the extremists, it is unnecessary to elaborate on this at all. Those who are afraid should not pretend to be leaders.

This situation [DG-the silence of Israeli Arab leaders] is intolerable and unforgivable. If there is anything that could have eased the terrible feeling of masses of Israeli Jews in the face of the massacre; if there is anything that could have alleviated the feeling that there is no future for peaceful coexistence between the nations—it would have been a clear and unequivocal cry of shock and outrage on the part of the Arabs of Israel as well. The absence of that response strengthens the painful feelings in the face of the massacre itself, and the feeling that there is no chance of a peaceful life together [between Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs].

Particularly wounded [by this silence] is the legitimacy of Israeli Arabs’ speaking from a humanistic perspective. There is no humanist in the world, and this is of course also true of the Western “humanists,” who would not condemn the massacre of 1,400 men and women, children and the elderly; barbaric acts of rape, beheading, opening the stomach of a pregnant woman alive and beheading her and her fetus.

At least for a few decades, until the current generation passes away, those who are silent now cannot expect any attention to their moral preachings regarding the injustices of the "occupation" or any Jewish injustice. You lost this moral mandate; it is the Jews who will now exclusively determine the correct moral standard in their eyes. And if you still have some remnants of conscience, at least for the coming decades, please direct it to the education of your people. There is really a lot of work to do there.

Eretz Nehederet (“Wonderful Country”) is perhaps Israel’s best-known evening comedy show. It’s terrific, and highly popular. But usually, much of the humor is “inside” humor, and giving all the background and providing all the context takes all the fun out of watching it. “Too long to go to get there,” as is commonly said of jokes.

But this week, they did it in English (it’s obviously usually in Hebrew), their subject—the BBC in general and the international coverage of the conflict— is something we have all read about and seen. So no background needed for this one.

It’s OK to chuckle … Israelis need to laugh, too, and even in these darkest of dark times, Eretz Nehederet is doing its work for precisely that purpose.

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