A War on the Abraham Accords | Opinion

We are in the midst of a war. A war waged by stakeholders that are silent and vocal, visible and invisible, behind the scenes and in plain view. One in which global and local processes intersect, with intended and unintended consequences, affecting millions that, behind a veil of ignorance, have little or no control over them.

It is a war that has been raging for decades in its current form, having mutated from previous centuries, with systematic implementation of long-term strategies hell-bent on achieving its goals. A war for the delegitimization of certain people, belonging to a certain religion, race, country—whatever the variant may be—to exist. A war in which the ends justify the means, including the weaponization of foundational, guiding principles of each generation—currently the rules-based order of international law and human rights—despite (or because of) the danger of their undermining and ultimate demise, to the detriment of those most needing and deserving protection.

It is a war that leads Israel, the historic land of an indigenous people, returned to its ancestral homeland after millennia of exile and persecution enabled by the people's statelessness, on a perpetual journey to find, define and create a place for itself among nations. A war in which no matter what it and its people do to "fit in," they inevitably realize that it is the nations that will have to make it and them a place. A war in which, distinct from mere criticism, it is somehow legitimate to question the right to exist of one single country and no other—the proverbial Jew among the nations. In which it is considered "support" to announce its legitimate right (not to mention responsibility) as a sovereign state, to defend its civilians—so basic in the case of every other country, but warranting a special trip and visit to war-stricken homes and towns, even while what is necessary is moral clarity, and exposing depraved false moral equivalency. A war which not only undermines the rules-based order and enables a continued culture of impunity and empowering of that order's gravest violators, including terror organizations and their supporting regimes, even as they openly call for the annihilation of a member state.

It is a war that should be clearly understood for what it is, in which if Hamas terror is enabled to dictate reality in one place, terrorism and its state sponsors will be empowered to dictate it in every place. A war that has been cynically and intentionally assigned or attributed to, among other options, Palestinian Authority (PA) leaders' intentional delay (again) of elections, a local legal property dispute, internal infighting in the PA, internal infighting in Hamas, a power struggle between Hamas and the PA, a regional conflict involving Jordan, Turkey and others, a religious riot incited on the Temple Mount and an absolute all-out internal war on the Abraham Accords.

Above all, it is a war against the historic transition underlying the Abraham Accords, putting a possible end to the Arab-Israeli conflict that hundreds of books have chronicled, enabling a pivot from rejectionism to normalization based on a potential paradigm shift represented by dropping the infamous "Three No's" of the Khartoum Conference for the "Three Yes's"—yes to recognition, yes to negotiation and yes to peace. It is a war on the imperative change in order, fundamental to realizing the potential inherent to that shift: recognition of Israel's right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state and negotiation between parties, ultimately paving the path to long-lasting, sustainable peace and prosperity. It is a war on the flipped equation that was dictated for decades—that Israel should first agree to peace, after which there will be a negotiation, possibly leading to the recognition of its right to exist as what it is and what it was founded to be. It is a war against the incredible potential of this paradigm shift to pave the path to peace with additional countries in the region and a blockade to the path it illuminates: prospective peace with the Palestinians, as well as internal peace in Israel.

Signing of the Abraham Accords at the
Signing of the Abraham Accords at the White House in September 2020 SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

It is a war in which global processes intersect with local ones, in which the weaponization of international law and human rights over decades has resulted in false narratives that paved the path for Orwellian inversions identifying Israel as a genocidal apartheid state, minimizing the most heinous historic events too terrible to imagine but not too terrible to have happened. A war that has resulted in the undermining of a rules-based order intended to uphold, promote and protect human beings the world over from atrocities committed by their fellow humans.

It is a war in which proportionality has come to mean a "body count," penalizing a democratic country for prioritizing and fulfilling its duty to protect its citizens, rewarding genocidal terror willing to kill its own as martyrs and discouraging members of the family of nations from upholding their own responsibilities to protect their own. It is a war that silences individuals and leaders from speaking out with moral clarity, preventing necessary global outrage at clearly expressed intention and actions to annihilate a member state and its people throughout the world.

It is a war that enables the targeting of thousands of Jewish civilians, celebrating the reunification of its historical capital Jerusalem, to which they prayed for millennia, aiming 4,000 rockets intended to kill and using their own civilians as human shields. It is a war that uses, awakens and incites the mutated virus of anti-Semitism to instill and sow seeds of hate and fear. It is a war that requires the international community, all trustees of international law and human rights, to sound their voices, clearly holding responsible Hamas, a genocidal terror organization, exposing and combating false moral equations, lest they enable and empower a continued culture of impunity toward ALL terror organizations and their state sponsor, Iran.

It is a war raging not only on Israel, but, as the canary in the mineshaft, on all democracies committed to the rules-based order that understand terror cannot be allowed to define reality anywhere, lest it define reality everywhere. It is a red alert not only to Israel's civilians, but to freedom-loving civilians worldwide. A war in which systematic organized use of memes and hashtags promote hate and incitement, with direct offline consequences, empowering terror world over. It is a war in which digital platforms are implicated, requiring they take responsibility to hold and be held to account. A war that can be fought by adopting the consensus IHRA working definition of anti-Semitism, creating transparent policies and implementing them equally and consistently. It is a war that requires all to understand that anti-Semitism is a predictor of disinformation that threatens to topple the very foundations of democracy, to the detriment of all.

It is the war of our times. It is a war for our lives. We have been here before. Together we can and must fight it. Together we can and must emerge victorious.

Michal Cotler-Wunsh is a former member of Israel's Knesset, where she was a member of the Foreign Relations and Defense Committees and Knesset liaison to the issue of the ICC.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.