The death of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and conflicting ideologies

Sent On: 
Mon, 2022-05-30
Newsletter Number: 

The death of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh [Shīrīn Abū ʿĀklih] is a tragedy and so is the death of countless others, Palestinians and Israelis, who fell victim to various forms of violence. Each human death is one too many.


Dr. Nagia Abdelmoghney Said [Nājiyya ʿAbd al-Mughnī Saʿīd], vice-chair of the Egyptian Moral Rearmament Association (EMRA) is moved by the human tragedies and suffering Palestinians experience. The EMRA is part of the Initiatives of Peace, an international peace movement that was established after the Second World War. Their objective is no more war! For Dr. Nājiyya international law should be observed. This includes the famous United Nations Security Council Resolution 242, adopted unanimously by the UN Security Council on November 22, 1967, in the aftermath of the Six-Day War which resulted in Israel taking East Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan heights. Resolution 242 calls for the withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from (the) territories occupied in the 1967 conflict, without specifying the extent of the withdrawal. Whether the article “the” needs to be added or not depends on the translation used.


Orthodox rabbi Moshe Peleg lives in Jerusalem where heads the Shorashim Centre which provides care for street children and other youth at risk. Both Dr. Nājiyya and rabbi Moshe Peleg attach great value to human values such as supporting people in need. Rabbi Moshe Peleg also visited several Arab countries including Egypt, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The rabbi is a good communicator yet, his political views about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is diametrically opposed to that of Dr. Nājiyya. For Dr. Nājiyya the territories under previous rule by Jordan, Egypt (Gaza) and Syria (Golan) are occupied territories. Rabbi Moshe Peleg disagrees. “These territories are not occupied since these territories once belonged to the Jewish state that existed 2000 years ago until Romans destroyed Jerusalem after a brutal siege in 70 CE and led the Jewish people in exile.” The Palestinians, the rabbi says, “never had their own state,” and thus Jews have “historical rights” and this weighs heavier than international law and UN resolutions.


Both Dr. Nājiyya and Rabbi Moshe Peleg want peace. Both want to see an end to the killings of innocent people. Yet, both have a very different view about what rights are and what justice means. It seems to be international law, including UN resolutions, versus historical rights.


I do not believe in historical rights that are thousands of years old since this would be totally unfeasible if this would be applied to all nations in the world. Throughout history people have migrated and moved from one country to the other. Should we really try to turn this back to the situation as it was 2000 or more years ago? This is impossible.


It is obvious that the different ideologies between Israeli Jews and Palestinians have created much distrust between both peoples. It is sad that this has made it impossible to investigate the death of Shīrīn Abū ʿĀklih together and bring the perpetrator(s) to justice.


It is sadly the right of the strongest that counts, not justice. Where is dialogue? Rabbi Moshe Peleg was once deeply involved in dialogue with the Palestinians through activities around the Israeli-Palestinian peace village Neve Shalom. He dropped out because some Palestinians involved in the peace movement had justified the killings of Israeli civilians. This was for the rabbi deeply disappointing. That is sad and shows how deep the schism between Israeli Jews and Palestinians is.


I believe violence begets violence and as long as parties are unable to listen to one another such violence is expected to continue, claiming more individual lives. Dr. Nājiyya summarizes her views as “men must choose dialogue or destruction. Sensible people choose dialogue.” And “we all search for truth. Historical evidence and facts help us to realize the TRUTH.  We (my family, my friends, my colleagues, teammates and myself) definitely uphold the SANCTITY OF HUMAN LIFE and do not approve attacks on innocent civilians anywhere on this earth.” (Email May 25, capitals provided by Dr. Nājiyya).


See for the article of Dr. Nājiyya ʿAbd al-Mughnī Saʿīd here and see for the interview with rabbi Moshe Peleg here.



May 30, 2022


Cornelis Hulsman,

Editor-in-chief Dialogue Across Borders