“The Palestinians feel the rising threat of ISIS and understand that despite the [negative feelings toward] the Israeli occupation they are more secure under Israeli rule than anywhere else in the region.”
That was one of the conclusions drawn in the new book “Jihad” by Italian journalist Mourizio Molinari, who for the past 15 years served as a Middle East correspondent. Most recently, Molinari was offered the prestigious position of editor-in-chief for one of the largest circulation Italian newspapers, La Stampa.
In an interview with Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot, Molinari explained how Western understanding of the situation in Israel had become increasingly distorted.
For example, “in the Arab village of Duma, following the tragedy of the Dawabshe family, cries for revenge [against the Israelis] were widely published. But villagers told me that while the Jews were indeed their enemies, they had only killed on average three Palestinians a day, while 100 a day were dying in Syria,” Molinari recounted.
Molinari further noted that in the de facto Palestinian capital of Ramallah, local Palestinian entrepreneurs are eager to find Israeli partners.
Similarly, “Palestinians in Ramallah are trying to get their family members living in Jordan to come to Israel, because they understand that only Israel can guarantee their safety,” said the Italian.
For years, Molinari worked twice a week in Ramallah, and recalled some of the many conversations he had with Palestinians over a meal. “I’ve listened as Palestinians sitting next to me at the table called their grandparents or other relatives in Amman, urging them to come to Ramallah.”
But Molinari spent most of his time in Jerusalem, and described life in Israel as both fascinating and challenging. “The average Israeli you meet on the street is very intelligent,” he said. “And you can sit on a bus alone and speak to a grandma and hear the most exciting life story.”
According to Molinari, a majority of Palestinians would be willing to lay down their arms and live in peace with Israel, “but, just as in Israel, they don’t currently see a way forward toward that goal.”
He believes the threat posed by ISIS is an opportunity for Israelis and Palestinians. “ISIS is a threat to both peoples,” he pointed out. “Before it struck Israel and the Jews, ISIS would first annihilate the Palestinians.”