Israel at War Update with Bassem Eid
As Israel fights a physical war against Hamas terrorists, it also finds itself battling to defend its public image. Many people and institutions, particularly universities, have hitched their wagon to Hamas as a symbol of Palestinian resistance and hatred for Israel. Palestinian human rights activist Bassem Eid, founder of the Jerusalem-based Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group, offers invaluable analysis of the reality in the Middle East and the suffering Hamas has inflicted on Gaza.
Bassem speaks with Chris about the hypocrisy of those who say they want to free Gaza yet support their overlords, Hamas terrorists. He believes an Israeli victory over Hamas will bring Gazans the freedom they have never enjoyed under Hamas. As a Palestinian who advocates for the human rights of his people, Bassem’s insight into the situation in Gaza makes a significant impact on how we can defend Israel from those who attribute Hamas’s crimes to the Jewish state. Find assurance in your support of Israel this week from Bassem, whose words make it clear that Israel’s victory is the greatest path to peace.
If you feel called to help Israel find hope in these dark times, you can help save lives with a gift by visiting foi.org/standwithisrael. Thank you for your faithful support for Israel and the Jewish people.
Steve Conover: Welcome to The Friends of Israel Today. I'm Steve Conover, with me is our host and teacher, Chris Katulka, and we once again focus in on the war in Israel on today's program.
Chris Katulka: Steve, today we have our good friend, Palestinian Bassem Eid. Bassem lives in Jericho, and he's a Palestinian human rights activist. He currently works as a political analyst and commentator for Israeli TV and radio. Bassem has received awards for his human rights and advocacy work and has traveled widely to lecture on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In 2016, he became the chairman of the Center for the Near East Policy Research. Well, listen, Bassem's going to give us great insight into the Palestinian side of all of this. What does it mean to be a Palestinian today? How many Palestinians are actually supporting Hamas in their endeavor to wipe out Israel? Bassem's going to give us some great insights that you're not going to hear anywhere else, so you're going to want to stay tuned.
Steve Conover: But first in the news, tens of thousands of pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli protestors took to the streets in London, Paris, Washington, and Berlin, this in early November, calling for a ceasefire in Gaza as Israel continues its mission to destroy Hamas. Protestors can be heard praising Hamas and chanting, quote, "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free."
Chris Katulka: Steve, here's my take. "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free" is an antisemitic slogan calling for the eradication of the state of Israel from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. These chants are not out of concern for innocent Palestinians. It's a call to destroy the only Jewish state, Israel. The western world must wake up to the rise of antisemitism that has taken root in all of our countries.
Bassem, thank you so much for joining us on The Friends of Israel Today radio program. Bassem, you woke up on October 7th, like Israelis and Palestinians do normally on a Saturday morning, but on October 7th, you heard about what happened when 1,400 Israelis were murdered in a brutal, brutal way and all of the attacks, the abductions, all of these things. I want to know, as a Palestinian human rights activist yourself, what were your thoughts when you woke up that morning and you read the news and heard the news?
Bassem Eid: Yeah. First of all, I must have to admit that it was a very sad day. I think that everybody considered the Saturday morning of October 7th can be considered as a Black Saturday for everyone, not only for the Jews, but for all humanity. I think that what the Hamas did against the humanity on Saturday, 7th October, that was a kind of a genocide. They remind us with the genocide. They remind us with the Holocaust. They remind us with every bad single thing that happened to the humanity in the past. Now, what makes me more nervous on Saturday, that on the news I hear that there is a couple of thugs and gangsters in Sweden dancing and celebrating the massacre of the Jews and considering it as a Palestinian victory. I think that if massacres became a victory in the 21st century, this is the end of humanity. I think that those people must have to be shy. I think those who are calling themselves pro-Palestinians, they almost cause damage to the image of the Palestinians and to the reputation of the Palestinians while they are celebrating the Jewish massacre on October 7th.
Chris Katulka: Bassem, I want to ask... You bring up an interesting point. You yourself are a Palestinian human rights activist. You're a Palestinian yourself. You live in Jericho, I believe, still living in Jericho. What does that make you feel inside when you see people who carry the same badge that you do calling themselves pro-Palestinian, but celebrating? What words do you have for them?
Bassem Eid: I think that those people are not really pro-Palestinians at all. I think that these people are pro-terrorism and I think that governments around the world should have to be very careful from these people because these people are completely terrorists and trying to hide themselves under the umbrella of the Palestinians by calling themselves a pro-Palestinian. I think that the governments should have to take measures against these people because these people today are going to be the coming terrorists in the near future.
Chris Katulka: I want you to talk about this for a moment. I was surprised, Bassem, when I saw the reaction of how many pro-Hamas... pro-Palestinian, I understand... but pro-Hamas advocates there are on college campuses around the world. Were you surprised to see that many that are coming out of the woodworks now, or do you feel like you've seen it coming? I know that you travel globally. You speak about Palestinian human rights. Were you surprised as much as I was?
Bassem Eid: See, Chris... Chris, first of all, these people has no principles in their lives, first of all. And those people use you to jump every time on any incident happen in term to secure their own income, not to secure the future of the Palestinians, not to secure the future of the peace between Israelis and Palestinians. These people want to secure their own income, so you can call them jumpers. They are jumping on incidents, on horrible incidents, like the massacre happened on October 7th. I think that those people, while they are supporting Hamas, they are denying the rights of the Palestinians while we, the Palestinians, calling all the time to free Gaza from Hamas. So while these people supporting Hamas, I can understand what exactly these people meaning here.
Chris Katulka: Can you explain to our audience, Bassem, as a Palestinian, what is Hamas' intent? What is their goal in what they were trying to accomplish on October 7th? What were they trying to accomplish by what they did that morning? Can you share with our listeners?
Bassem Eid: I think through the secret information that the Israeli security forces almost reached was that the Hamas planning here for a huge massacre, a huge, let's say, genocide, a huge genocide against Jews. Listen, these people killed 1,400 within two hours, within two hours. Imagine if those people as more and more time and were able to enter to the big cities of Israel. I think that was really, really can be considered as a genocide. That's exactly the plan of the Hamas in that day. Hamas is well-known that they are denying the right of Israel to exist. Hamas charter is saying how to erase Israel from the map and Israel has no right to exist. So those people trying to commit a such kind of genocide in term not to allow the Jewish state to exist in the future.
Chris Katulka: Bassem, I feel like I'm getting two stories when it comes to support for Hamas within Gaza and within the Palestinian world. I feel like I hear one side that gives statistics like 80+% supported what Hamas did, and then I hear another side that says, "No, a large swath of the Palestinians want nothing to do with Hamas. You're going back to old statistics," things of that nature. Can you give some clarity on this? Where do the Palestinian people stand with Hamas?
Bassem Eid: I think if we will take right now the 100% of the population of the West Bank, which is around two million people, no one of them, no one of them want to live under the Hamas regime. Secondly, if we can look today to the West Bank and to the Israeli Arab, by the way, I think that things are very, very quiet right now. I believe that the Hamas expected much more reaction from the West Bank and from the Israeli Arab. But why the Hamas committed such kind of massacre, I think that everyone start talking about it and everyone tried to deny such kind of activity by saying that this is not the principles of the Islam. So I think that the Hamas looks like that they calculate this round very wrong, very wrong. Look what's happened now in Gaza. Half of Gaza is completely destroyed. Hamas never, ever expected that. We are talking about thousands of killed Palestinians inside Gaza. Hamas never, ever expected that, and I really hope that Israel will continue with its battle right now against the Hamas until Gaza will be free from the Hamas.
Chris Katulka: If you're just tuning in, we are speaking with Bassem Eid, a Palestinian human rights activist. We're going to take a quick break, and then we're going to come back with Bassem because he had just mentioned that he wants to see Israel complete its task against Hamas. I want to hear more from him about that, so stick around.
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Welcome back, everybody. We are speaking to Bassem Eid, a dear friend of The Friends of Israel Today radio program. Bassem, I think I've known you for probably almost nine years now. I met Bassem many, many years ago in Washington DC as he was actually there advocating for the US Congress to remove funds from, I believe, the UNRWA because it was teaching kids to hate Israel and the Jewish people, and he was saying this as a Palestinian human rights activist. And the moment I heard Bassem, I said, "I got to get him on the radio program." We've been good friends ever since.
Bassem, you said something very fascinating before we closed out the last segment, which is that you'd like to see Israel complete the task against Hamas. Can you explain that more?
Bassem Eid: Yeah, I think that probably the Palestinian people in Gaza right now, I believe that they are suffering from what's really going on, from the destruction and the killing, which unfortunately has been caused by the Hamas itself, not by Israel, because Hamas is the one who already forced such kind of war in Gaza like the other rounds of wars in the past. So I believe that they are suffering probably for a moment, but I am quite sure one day the population of Gaza will wake up and will start celebrating their freedom from the Hamas very soon.
Chris Katulka: I'd like your take on this, Bassem, because I think this is the million-dollar question, and it is what happens when Israel finally does eliminate Hamas, which I think will happen in Gaza? What should Israel do? I want to start with it there. What should Israel do? Should they get out immediately, or do they need to maintain a presence in Gaza for some time? What's the best route in your opinion?
Bassem Eid: I think that any future solution will be taken towards the Gaza Strip, Israel should have to be the first one. Israel is the one who should have to choose which kind of solution under which kind of regime the Gaza Strip should have to continue afterwards. I used to say, Chris, all the time that one of the historical mistakes that Israel did since the foundation of the state of Israel in 1948 was the 2005 withdrawal from Gaza by Ariel Sharon. I think that that's a historical mistake. If Israel didn't do it in that time like that, I don't think that the Gaza Strip will became so strong like these days. That was the biggest mistake, and if Israel will release Gaza again from the Hamas, then Israel should have to be involved in any kind of a future solutions towards the Gaza Strip.
Chris Katulka: I'm interested, what are your thoughts on what President Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian people, is thinking right now in relationship to Gaza, and not in the relationship and understanding of what's going on with the war right now, but the results of it and where he plays in this picture?
Bassem Eid: Mahmoud Abbas is the last one who has the right to open his mouth towards what's going on, the last one. I don't think that we should have to take him seriously. I think that this guy is very sick. He is very old. He couldn't think about which future is waiting for, sorry, which future is waiting for the Gaza Strip, and I believe that Mahmoud Abbas is completely out of the context of the Gaza Strip. Let us focus on Israel. Let us focus on Egypt. Let us focus on the United States. These three countries can lead for a much better future for the Gazan people possible.
Chris Katulka: Okay, so I'm glad that you said that because I'm interested your thoughts on Turkey and President Erdogan's feelings about Gaza, and even threatening to send troops into Gaza. When you hear that, what thoughts come to your mind as a Palestinian? If I could read your mind, I'm sure you're saying, "Bad idea," but what does the rest of the Middle East think about that?
Bassem Eid: I think what Erdogan trying to do is just to ignore the existence of the Palestinians here. I think that the issue of the Gaza Strip is completely related to the Palestinians. That's reminding me, Chris, when the foreign minister of Iran one day said that the Hamas is ready to release the hostages and to send them to the Haran, looks like that the Haran want to negotiate Israel on behalf of the Palestinians. I think that that's really so bad idea and I think that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will remain as a conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians and only the Israelis and the Palestinians who can decide when to solve it and how to solve it.
Chris Katulka: Will Hezbollah attack? Do you believe that they will take action, or do you think that they feel threatened by the US presence off the coast of the Mediterranean?
Bassem Eid: I don't believe that Hezbollah will impose a war. I think that the Hezbollah has been already warned by Iran not to be that serious, not to be inside of the war, and that's in the meantime showing you that the Hamas is going to be alone in this war until Israel will get its victory on them.
Chris Katulka: Let's go back down south then, Bassem. Egypt took quite a while for Egypt to open up the Rafah crossing into the Sinai to release that pressure of the Palestinians moving south. Why did they take so long? You would think that as an Arab Muslim country in North Africa, they would open that for the Palestinians. Why have they been so reluctant?
Bassem Eid: I must have to tell you, Chris, that most of the Arab countries are totally against the existing of the Hamas in the Gaza Strip, and I think that there is a kind of coordination between Israel and some Arab countries how we can get rid from the Hamas and how we can erase the Hamas from the man, and I think that Egypt is a part of that security coordination between Israel and those other Arab countries.
Chris Katulka: So are you saying that when Egypt is pressuring Israel to hold off and to build a ceasefire, when Jordan, when King Abdullah is saying, "You need to do a ceasefire," are you saying that's all just hot air that really they too want Hamas gone and they know Israel will take care of it?
Bassem Eid: When Jordan and Egypt are talking, I can consider this as a kind of designation for politics, but I don't believe that they meant what they are declaring.
Chris Katulka: Bassem, we have a few moments left. I want to know, what's the end game? What will happen with Israel in Gaza? What will happen with the Palestinian people in Gaza in your opinion?
Bassem Eid: See, I think that people right now never, ever expect what's really going on over there. People are praying to God to end this war as soon as possible, and I think that this war makes the Palestinians in Gaza more and more angry towards the Hamas, and I believe that the people are not going to sit so quiet after this war. And if anything remains from the Hamas, I believe that the population of the Gaza Strip are going to destroy it.
Chris Katulka: Bassem, thank you so much for being with us. If you'd like to connect with Bassem, you can go to @RealBassemEid. You can look him up online and there you can contact him. Bassem is a public speaker when it comes to issues of Palestinian human rights and its relationship to Israel. I've always loved our conversations with Bassem. He just got done speaking at Yale University. He'll be down on Capitol Hill soon and he'll be speaking all around the country on the realities of what's going on between Israel and the Palestinian people. And I always like to say it's from a perspective that I think many of you might agree with on, and so I really hope that you get a chance to not only listen to Bassem Eid, but to also see him in person at some point, so be sure to keep up with him. Bassem, thank you so much for being with us. We really appreciate it.
Bassem Eid: Thank you, and all the best, Chris. Thank you very much.
Steve Conover: Thank you so much for joining us for today's episode of The Friends of Israel Today. We're so grateful for those of you who have reached out to us at this time to pray for us and stand with us as we stand with Israel. Plan to be with us again next week. We'll have more information on what's happening in Israel.
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Giving gifts of stock, cryptocurrency and IRA distributions can help reduce your taxes and allows you to claim a charitable contribution. If you have a donor-advised fund, you can use the funds that have already been set aside for ministry purposes to support The Friends of Israel.
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