Danny Ayalon speaks at Trinity Western University on Aug. 30. (photo by Chloe Heuchert)
On Aug. 30, Danny Ayalon spoke at Trinity Western University. Ayalon, a former deputy foreign minister of Israel and former ambassador of Israel to the United States, is the founder of The Truth About Israel website. The event at Trinity was sponsored and co-organized by the TWU Alumni Association with Natalie Hilder, a former political aide at Parliament of Canada, who hosted and introduced the talk.
Ayalon’s presentation, Insights and Analysis of Israel and the Middle East, was thought-provoking. He described the outstanding issues and argued that peace could be attained if both sides would come together for a resolution. Throughout the interactive lecture, Ayalon mentioned Judaea and its importance in our modern day.
Ayalon has served as an advisor to three Israeli prime ministers: Binyamin Netanyahu, Ehud Barak and Ariel Sharon. In 2002, he was selected as Israel’s ambassador to the United States, a role he occupied until 2006, playing a significant part in the Road Map for Peace, a plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He later became involved with Nefesh b’Nefesh, which facilitates aliyah by North American Jews, and then he joined the Yisrael Beiteinu political party, being elected as a member of the Knesset in 2009 and bein//g appointed as deputy foreign minister in Netanyahu’s government of the time; he wasn’t a candidate in the next election.
The lecture at TWU began with Ayalon explaining how Israel strives – and is obligated – to bring about peace. He spoke about the peace treaty with Egypt in 1979. President Anwar Sadat, he said, offered Israel an olive branch in 1977 by speaking at the Knesset to identify strategies for peace, which led to Israel’s decision to give up the Sinai Peninsula, an area almost three times the size of the state of Israel. Israel and Egypt have a mutual respect and fight together against Hamas and ISIS, said Ayalon.
Israel also made peace with Jordan, he said. The mid-1990s agreement gave Jordanians land and water and, today, the Israel-Jordan border is peaceful because the governments work together on certain matters, said Ayalon.
Not all peace discussions have gone according to plan, however, and Ayalon described the Oslo negotiations of the early 1990s and the 1993 agreement that was reached, but which was ultimately unsuccessful. The parties would meet again at Camp David in July 2000 and Ayalon was there. He shared some of his firsthand experiences from the discussions, recalling how Israeli prime minister Barak offered Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat Gaza and half of Jerusalem but to no avail. Ayalon also spoke about the unsuccessful attempt at peace that occurred in 2008 between prime minister Ehud Olmert and PA president Mahmoud Abbas. Again, he said, both sides could not come to an agreement even though Israel offered land.
Ayalon said the ways in which Israel strives for peace are not broadcast on the news, but are, instead, ignored in a way. The major headlines are about Israel’s alleged war crimes, he said, but this not the truth. Israelis fear for their lives every day, he said, because of the bomb attacks and other hostile actions of Hamas, who use their own people as human shields.
“There are 22 Arab countries and Israel is one state, and makes up only [a miniscule part] of the entire Middle East,” said Ayalon. “This is not a war about territory or natural resources but of elimination and extinction.”
When it comes to the United Nations, Israel is outnumbered. There are 193 member countries, with 120 voting against Israel, he said. While some of these countries are bowing to the pressure against Israel in order to keep themselves safe, Ayalon said the result is that many resolutions against Israel are made by the UN, so that Israel has little chance on the international front.
He went as far back as UN Resolution 181 in 1947, which called for the partition of Palestine into Jewish and Arabs states. The Arabs rejected the agreement and denied that Jews had any right to the land. To this day, Ayalon said, Palestinian schools use their curriculum to teach children that Israel is theirs. He said, in order for peace to become a real possibility, the truth must be established – curricula, media and the way in which children are brought up need to change before peace can be achieved.
Chloe Heuchert is a fifth-year history and political science student at Trinity Western University. She was involved in the early stages of the planning for the lecture.