Bio: Max, originally from St. Louis, is an Ex-Israeli soldier and a current soldier in the IDF Reserves. During his service, Max served in Operation Protective Edge, and spent 2014-2015 working in the West Bank until he was honorable discharged in 2015. Max’s team has been openly acknowledged and awarded for their excellence during their service. He is currently attending Columbia University GS program for undergrad.
Hashtag “Israelisburning” became a new trend over Arabian social media outlets during this past November 2016. The State of Israel was in flames during the worst arson attack in its history. 1800 fires ravished across the State of Israel. That’s over 225 fires a day. The Israeli police suspected the majority of these fires were arson. Israel is about the size of New Jersey. Can you imagine if 1800 fires were started in New Jersey in one week? How could the fire department cope with a disaster of this magnitude; even with all of Israel’s resources, they too had to ask for help. To everyone’s surprise, one of the many leaders to offer help was Mahmoud Abbas from the Palestinian Authority (PA). The contradiction between the hashtag and Abbas’s actions is astounding.
Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdal Liberman and Education Minister Naftali Bennet both believe that Israel should expand settlements in response to the arsonists’ attacks. Others believe this would dampen relations between the two, which could cause more attacks against Israel. Many Israelis insist that Israel should increase security along the security fence. Others like myself and Reserves Brigadier General Rami Zur believes that since Abbas decided to help the Israeli people during this time of crisis, this is an opportunity for Israel to take a chance and come to the negotiating table to work out a peace solution.
The Israeli police have already arrested many suspected terrorists from these acts of arson and to no one’s surprise, most of them were Palestinians. Liberman and Bennet believe that Israel should punish the Palestinians for committing these acts of terrorism by expanding settlements. They believe this because, as was seen in Arabian social media, Palestinians and others were celebrating the fact that Israel was burning. However, the situation was not so simple, some Israeli Arabs opened their homes to help shelter fire victims throughout the country. Moreover, Abbas helped Israel by sending over Palestinian firefighting teams to combat the fires. These acts of kindness seem to disprove the general notion that the Palestinian people and their leader Mahmoud Abbas were rejoicing Israel’s destruction. Thus, if the Palestinian people are not celebrating the potential death of Israelis and the burning of their cities and homes, there is a chance for peace. A notion of progress is being made between the relations of these two peoples. This progress should be expanded upon and allowed to flourish. In the end, that is what the majority of Israeli’s want: peace with their neighbors.
Thus, expanding settlements is not the right idea. Furthermore, increasing Israel’s security would only heighten tensions between the two peoples. As a soldier who has personally guarded Israel’s borders, I can say with first-hand experience that there is no current full proof method to increase security in a way that would prevent such attacks. In the end, the equipment a person needs to start a fire can be innocently bought at any local gas station. There would be no practical way to stop this from occurring. It could be argued that, increasing security measures on a more permanent basis, like adding more checkpoints, would increase hostilities between the two peoples and increase the likelihood of more Palestinian people acting out and committing acts of terror against Israel.
Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu has already taken the first step by thanking Mahmoud Abbas for his help. I believe he should go even further and take the next step, offering to sit down at the negotiation table to discuss a peace agreement. Israel should use Abbas’s actions as an opportunity to open up discussion towards peace. The Reserves Brigadier General Rami Zur of the Israeli Defense Forces also believes that this is an opportunity for Israel to come to the table to talk to the Palestinians about peace: “We always need to try and make peace, we can never give up on it. Not all of the Arabs committed acts of terrorism, so not all of the Arabs should be punished”. This is the way Israelis have thought for their entire existence, (68 years to be exact), and has brought them peace with Egypt and Jordan. Hopefully, Bibi Netanyahu will take this tragedy not as a sign of despair between two peoples but as an opportunity to create a peace that would better the entire world.