Letter to Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu

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Dear Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu,

After greetings,

I would like to begin by checking on your son Yair, who is following the Gaza war from the beautiful shores of Miami, Florida.

 

Thankfully, he hasn’t been called up to reserve forces like tens of thousands of Israeli youth. However, I am sure he is closely monitoring the situation with a sympathetic heart for the victims of Hamas’s attack on October 7. He must also regret the fate of the reserve soldiers who were not fortunate to have him with them. But who knows, maybe he’ll have his share in the next war?

I previously addressed my first letter to Mr. Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of Hamas residing in Qatar. I directed my first message to him because Hamas initiated this war on October 7. I have some questions for you:

1. Firstly, you set three goals for your war on Hamas: the first goal is to completely eliminate Hamas, the second goal is to release all Israeli hostages, and the third goal is to ensure that Israel will not be attacked again, as happened on October 7. In my opinion, the only achievable goal realistically is to release the hostages with the condition of achieving a complete ceasefire and subsequently reaching a final settlement, including the disarmament of Hamas in exchange for a Palestinian state. You cannot eliminate Hamas and free the hostages simultaneously, as Hamas fighters are likely to harm the hostages before being eliminated.

2. Secondly, don’t you feel guilty about the shortcomings on the part of your intelligence agencies and the delayed Israeli response to the attack, which increased the number of casualties? This negligence might cost you your position, and it could be in favor of peace.

3. You often emphasize the “Jewishness of the state,” which is strange for several reasons. Israel, despite having a majority of Jewish inhabitants since its establishment, has always been a secular state that separates religion from the state. If you truly want the “Jewishness of the state,” what will you do with over 1.7 million Israeli citizens, including Muslims and Christians (20% of Israel’s population)? Will you expel them from Israel? Doesn’t the concept of the “Jewishness of the state” remind you of the racist ideology started by Adolf Hitler in the last century, leading to the tragedy of the Holocaust?

4. I hope you reconsider the historical lessons of wars. A regular army has rarely defeated militias. America failed to defeat the Viet Cong in Vietnam, and Russia failed in Afghanistan. Even with all its might, America failed to defeat the Taliban, and after twenty years of the Afghan war, the United States handed over power to the Taliban.

5. You decided not to launch a sweeping ground attack to eliminate Hamas, fearing an increase in casualties among the Israeli ground forces in their fight against Hamas. Instead, you decided to strike all possible targets of Hamas from the air, resulting in the deaths of thousands of innocent people. I learned during my service in the Egyptian army that wars are won by infantry forces, not air forces. Your air force killed thousands of civilians due to what I consider indiscriminate bombing. According to Israeli statistics, the number of Hamas fighters killed reached 6,000, and even if we accept the accuracy of this number, the number of civilian casualties, including children, women, and elderly, has reached about 9,000. You know well that Hamas fighters can protect themselves, but civilians have no recourse. Therefore, civilian casualties have exceeded one and a half times the number of Hamas fighters.

6. I expected a strong Israeli response, but I did not expect it to be this violent. The disproportionate reaction between unequal forces, coupled with forced displacement and the blockade, has created an atmosphere of hatred in the region and hostility towards Israel. Even the voices calling for normalization with Israel and working towards peace have faded or almost disappeared. There are voices in Egypt and Jordan calling for the cancellation of peace treaties with Israel and cutting ties with it. What Israel has done in the past half-century of attempting to coexist with its neighbors is now threatened with collapse.

7. In one of your speeches, you referred to a passage from the Torah: “Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.” It is clear that you are implementing this passage from the Torah perfectly, and you did not stop there; you also followed another passage: “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.”

8. I offer you valuable advice as someone slightly older than you: “One day older, one year wiser.” If you truly want Israeli citizens to live safely in the Arab region, the only way is through peace, a two-state solution, and a return to the Oslo Accords. If you imagine that you will eliminate Hamas, you are deluding yourself. Even if we hypothetically assume that you did eliminate Hamas, how can you ensure that more ruthless organizations won’t emerge? The children who have been injured or witnessed their homes being demolished and their families killed in front of them, what do you expect from them? Violence begets violence, and extremism begets extremism. You have a golden opportunity to place your name in the history books of Israel alongside Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, and Menachem Begin. Trust me; there is no way to stop violence except by ending the injustice and the siege that Palestinians have been facing for nearly a century. You cannot continue to treat Palestinians like insects to be trampled underfoot.

9. Finally, come “look me in the eye and swear on the Torah” that you truly want peace and the establishment of a Palestinian state. Otherwise, why continue building settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem until the number of Israeli settlers in the settlements reaches about 800,000, becoming a major obstacle to the two-state solution?

Peace be upon those who follow guidance,

Sami El-Behiri

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