In one of our frequent conversations over wide-ranging issues, we asked how the present, or future, Israeli ambassador to the United States and the United Nations might address an audience in the context of the recent events in Israel. We imagined that we were tasked to draft such a speech. Here, then, is the draft of a speech we would like to hear, given by the Israeli ambassador.
My job is to represent the State of Israel as Ambassador to the United States and Ambassador to the United Nations.
To the citizens of the United States of America among whom I now live and work, I say to you that the recent attack on Israel by the terrorist group Hamas is in their own words a “Jihad,” or medieval holy religious war sanctioned by their religious authorities.
According to this world view, there is no room for an independent Jewish State in the land of Israel, recognized by international law. Instead, they argue that the land of Israel should be under the exclusive authority of Muslim rulers and governed according to Sharia law. That is why they recently attacked Israel and why they will try to do so again, if we and our allies do not prevent them from doing so repeatedly.
Most Arab and Muslim states do not recognize Israel; instead, they share the same world view of the Hamas. But some have broken with this tradition and, I believe, more will follow. This is because as modernization deepens, education has made more and more people in the region and beyond aware and accepting that people of other faiths cannot be denied equal respect, nor denied the national rights they claim for themselves.
It is worthy and imperative to note that an increasing number of Muslims and Arabs, even though they are presently a small minority, in recent years have begun to openly question and repudiate the deeply embedded anti-Jew, anti-Israel jihad-driven narrative of the Muslim Brotherhood that fuels the politics of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, and of the clerical regime in Iran. They do so by critically re-examining Islamic history and by boldly reading their sacred text, the Koran, with fresh new understanding.
From a Jewish perspective, one of the most interesting aspects of this enlightened approach and the question it raises is whether Islam is inherently anti-Jewish or not. I believe it is not.
There is no doubt in my mind, as the renewed understanding by Arabs and Muslims of their own history and of the original, universal message of peace and justice the Koran advocates, spread within the world of Islam, that we together as Jews and Israelis and Muslims, Arabs and non-Arabs, can inaugurate an entirely new era inspired by our commonly shared values of Abrahamic monotheism for the Middle East and beyond.
The above optimism on my part is not wishful thinking. It is supported by evidence, the most recent being the diplomatic surge of agreements between Israel and the Gulf states of the U.A.E. and Bahrain, followed by Morocco and Sudan, that President Donald Trump rightly characterized as the “Abraham Accords.”
We must recall the basis of this recent development was laid by President Anwar Sadat of Egypt more than four decades ago when he took the world by surprise and journeyed to Jerusalem in November 1977, ending war between the largest Arab state and Israel. Sadat embraced Prime Minister Menachem Begin and other Israeli leaders on arrival in Jerusalem and then when addressing the Knesset, as the leader of Egypt and as an Arab and Muslim who drew upon the imperatives of his faith to make peace with Jews whom the Koran describes respectfully as the “people of the Book.”
The path of peace and mutual recognition that Sadat eventually took in 1977 was always there, except it was hidden by the debris of contemporary anti-Jewish bigotry in the region and layers of unexamined past history.
Israel is the history of Jews reborn and revived after two millennia of dispersal, abuse, and persecution; and the history before the destruction of the Jewish homeland by the Romans is recounted in the Hebrew Bible and referenced in the Koran.
This present Jewish history of rebirth and renewal, or Zionism, is not one of aggrandizement and hostility against Arabs and Muslims, but recognition by the international community represented in the League of Nations and its successor, the United Nations, of the historic rights of Jews to a homeland in Palestine.
It is not difficult to understand how centuries of habits and unexamined thinking influence the political response of rulers and their people to new developments when viewed as threatening to their interests. The Arab and Muslim response to the re-establishment of Israel in the aftermath of World War II and the Holocaust was not surprising and even today can be rationally explained.
But it need not have been, if what eventually guided Sadat to make peace with Israel had a wider appeal and support in the region. It can be said, therefore, that the hostility of Muslims against Jews, of Arab states against Israel, is an effect predominantly of Muslim and Arab misconception of the rights and need of Jews for a state of their own in the land that bears the record of their history in the sacred scriptures of both Jews and Muslims.
As a diplomat, I see my role both to represent Israel among the council of nation-states at the U.N., and to deepen and widen Jewish and Israeli relations with Muslims and Arabs that Sadat initiated and for which he became a martyr.
Israelis without exception seek and desire peace and, as a diplomat, I take my task as a duty and a privilege to help wipe clean Muslim and Arab misconception of Jews and Israel in the inspiring manner Sadat conducted himself at the risk of his life so that our children are assured peace.
After World War II, the U.N. inherited the mandate of the League of Nations and welcomed the newly independent states of the developing world as full U.N. members, in the hope that by doing so, they would welcome democratizing and modernizing societies. It has not turned out this way.
There are few fully functioning liberal democracies in the United Nations today, and so the vector of the organization has been away from liberty and freedom espoused by its mid-20th century founders. But that is changing as people in the developing world rise up against “one-party” states and demand some form of democracy. When they do, their leaders often open relations with the Jewish State.
So why do I, as ambassador to the U.N. and the United States, not reasonably suggest that we pull out of an organization that has largely failed to live up to its ideals? Is the U.N. just one big broken promise? Maybe it is.
We will not pull out because the ideals of the U.N. ensured that another Holocaust would not happen, and that the horrors that the Axis powers visited upon the Jewish people and the allied nations would never be allowed to happen again. This is the deepest meaning of “Never Again.”
The foundational U.N. mandates are based on secular versions of the ethical monotheism of the Abrahamic tradition of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and exemplified by the recently U.S. brokered Abraham Accords. Increasingly, Arab states are recognizing that denying the rights and equality of Jews, Judaism, and the Jewish state is counter-productive to their interests and, more pressingly, contrary to Islam’s fundamental message as originally revealed in the Koran.
For some time, the Israeli mission to the U.N. has been and will remain a “voice in the wilderness.” But this voice is of Jews affirming their history once again as a free and sovereign people. It is the voice of the former slaves of the Pharaoh. It is the voice of the descendants of the prophets who gave us the modern notion of justice, and the words of the prophet Isaiah that are displayed in the halls of the U.N.
And it is the voice of the citizens of the fiercely democratic Jewish State, which it is my privilege to represent. We cannot deny that voice a platform, no matter how many other member states of the U.N. try to silence or censure us. We will never again be silenced, nor will we silence ourselves.
To Americans, I say, that the Constitution of the United States of America, the Declaration of Independence, and the constitutional amendments, are all Biblically inspired, as America at its best tries to live up to its political values.
It is the Biblical foundations of America that has made it the enduring friend of the State of Israel, despite the enormous and confusing discussion of pundits with their “proximate causes” and geopolitical explanations that so muddy the air. Israel and the United States exist and prosper because their respective mights emerge from their respective right to exist, and not the other way around.
As more and more Islamic states come to recognize Israel, the U.N. too will incrementally return to its basic values, and reflect the hopes of the victorious Americans and their allies who brought it into existence after World War II.
That is why each day, I wake up with faith in a just God and give thanks for the position that he has bestowed upon me during these troubled times, to speak the truth about Jews, Judaism, and the State of Israel and its continuing struggle for recognition and liberty, not only to Americans here in the United States in this land of liberty, but to the representatives of all countries of the world, who send their representatives to the U.N. That is what I do for a living.
Geoffrey Clarfield is an anthropologist-at-large who has spent 20 years traveling, living, and working in East Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.
Salim Mansur is professor emeritus of political science at the Western University, in London, Ontario, Canada.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.