Common Grounds

Our Friday News Analysis | What the World Reads Now!

December 08, 2023


A Shared Identity (Part 2 of 5)


Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 08 December 2023 | If you know of any story that is decisive, tell the world. We're still searching.



Turkish President Erdogan says the Israeli prime minister has inscribed for himself a dark name in history.

Our Friday News Analysis | What the World Reads Now!

FILE PHOTO. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu © Global Look Press / JINI via Xinhua


Home World News
29 November 2023


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has committed in Gaza one of the worst atrocities of the century, making his mark in history a bloody one, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said during a parliamentary group meeting on Wednesday.

In his televised speech, he spoke out against the Israeli military operation in the Palestinian enclave.

Erdogan blasted “human rights violations and acts of war in Gaza” and the “apathy of most Western nations,” stating that Türkiye “will exhaust all efforts to hold the Israeli government accountable under international law and moral responsibility.” The speech echoed a conversation Erdogan had with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday when the Turkish president called for Israel to be held to account for continuing to “blatantly trample on international law, the law of war and humanitarian law.”

Israel has waged war on the militant group Hamas since October 7, after the latter’s surprise attack on Israeli soil claimed more than 1,200 lives, mostly civilians, while another 200 people were taken hostage. West Jerusalem retaliated with, as Erdogan put it, “a kind of genocide by cutting off the food, fuel, medicine, bread, electricity, water, and communication of 2.3 million people, squeezing them into a 360-square-kilometer open-air prison.”

“Netanyahu, who committed one of the greatest atrocities of the last century in Gaza, has already inscribed his name in history as the ‘Butcher of Gaza,’” the Turkish president proclaimed.

The subsequent Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) bombing campaign and ground operation have resulted in more than 16,000 Palestinian deaths, including women and children, according to local officials.

Netanyahu fired back at earlier comments by Erdogan that Israel was a “terrorist state” by stating that the Turkish president “supports the terrorist state of Hamas.”

Erdogan expressed his view that Netanyahu’s actions in Gaza and the press they have elicited are “fueling anti-Semitism and endangering the safety of all Jews along with the Israeli people.”

Following significant international pressure, a four-day humanitarian pause in the Gaza hostilities was arranged last week and subsequently extended. An exchange of prisoners followed, with Hamas trading their hostages for Palestinians kept as prisoners in Israel.



What is the Side of the Story that is Not Yet Decisive? Edited by Abraham A. van Kempen.





They are on waiting lists for rescuing people trapped under the rubble. Animals eat bodies, decomposing in the streets. Those still living no longer recognize themselves.


These are the stories we don’t yet have words to tell.





A century after the Balfour Declaration, these countries recognized Palestine as a state.


Picture: CARTO

By Joe Vesey-Byrne


Source: from Independent

08 November 2017


On 2 November 1917, then-foreign secretary Arthur Balfour issued a declaration that has been a central document in the Palestinian-Israeli statehood conflict.

It contained a letter to Lord Rothschild, who advocated a Jewish homeland in what was then part of the Ottoman Empire.

The short letter, presented to the British Library in 1924, reads:

"Foreign Office,
November 2nd, 1917.

Dear Lord Rothschild,

               I have much pleasure in conveying to you, on behalf of His Majesty's Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations, which has been submitted to and approved by the Cabinet:

               'His Majesty's Government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.’

               I would be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.

Yours sincerely


Arthur James Balfour"


Britain, which issued this promise to help establish a 'national home for the Jewish People' in Palestine, is among those countries that do not currently recognize Palestinian statehood.

On Monday, Emily Thornberry MP, the UK's Shadow Foreign Secretary, said the UK should recognize Palestine on the declaration's centenary.

Thornberry suggested while speaking to Middle East Eye.

               "I don't think we celebrate the Balfour Declaration, but we have to mark it because it was a turning point in the history of that area.

               And I think the most important way to mark it would probably be to recognize Palestine."


Britain would join these countries (shades green) in recognizing Palestine as a state if it followed the Shadow Foreign Secretary's advice.

One hundred thirty-seven countries are listed as recognizing Palestine on the website of the Palestinian mission to the United Nations.

▪ Afghanistan
▪ Albania
▪ Algeria
▪ Angola
▪ Antigua & Barbuda
Argentina (BRICS+ ALLY)
▪ Azerbaijan
▪ Bahrain
▪ Bangladesh
▪ Belarus
▪ Belize
▪ Benin
▪ Bhutan
▪ Bolivia
▪ Bosnia & Herzegovina
▪ Botswana
Brazil (BRICS+ ALLY)
▪ Brunei Darussalam
▪ Bulgaria
▪ Burkina Faso
▪ Burundi
▪ Cambodia
▪ Cape Verde
▪ Central African Republic
▪ Chad
▪ Chile
▪ China (BRICS+ ALLY)
▪ Comoros
▪ Republic of Congo
▪ Costa Rica
▪ Cote d' Ivoire
▪ Cuba
▪ Cyprus
▪ Czech Republic
▪ Democratic People's Republic of Korea
▪ Democratic Republic of Congo
▪ Djibouti
▪ Dominica
▪ Dominican Republic
▪ Ecuador
▪ El Salvador
▪ Equatorial Guinea
Ethiopia (BRICS+ ALLY)
▪ Gabon
▪ Gambia
▪ Georgia
▪ Ghana
▪ Grenada
▪ Guatemala
▪ Guinea
▪ Guinea-Bissau
▪ Guyana
▪ Haiti
▪ Holy See
▪ Honduras
▪ Hungary
▪ Iceland
▪ Indonesia
▪ Iraq
▪ Jordan
▪ Kazakhstan
▪ Kenya
▪ Kuwait
▪ Kyrgyzstan
▪ Lao People's Democratic Republic
▪ Lebanon
▪ Lesotho
▪ Liberia
▪ Libya
▪ Madagascar
▪ Malawi
▪ Malaysia
▪ Maldives
▪ Mali
▪ Malta
▪ Mauritania
▪ Mauritius
▪ Mongolia
▪ Montenegro
▪ Morocco
▪ Mozambique
▪ Namibia
▪ Nepal
▪ Nicaragua
▪ Niger
▪ Nigeria
▪ Oman
▪ Pakistan
▪ Papua New Guinea
▪ Paraguay
▪ Peru
▪ Philippines
▪ Poland
▪ Qatar
▪ Romania
Russian Federation (BRICS+ ALLY)
▪ Rwanda
▪ Saint Lucia
▪ Sao Tome and Principe
Saudi Arabia (BRICS+ ALLY)
▪ Senegal
▪ Serbia
▪ Seychelles
▪ Sierra Leone
▪ Slovakia
▪ Somalia
South Africa (BRICS+ ALLY)
▪ South Sudan
▪ Sri Lanka
▪ Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
▪ Sudan
▪ Suriname
▪ Swaziland
▪ Sweden
▪ Syria
▪ Tajikistan
▪ Tanzania
▪ Thailand
▪ Timor-Leste
▪ Togo
▪ Tunisia
▪ Turkey
▪ Turkmenistan
▪ Uganda
▪ Ukraine
United Arab Emirates (BRICS+ ALLY)
▪ Uruguay
▪ Uzbekistan
▪ Vanuatu
▪ Venezuela
▪ Vietnam
▪ Yemen
▪ Zambia
▪ Zimbabwe




Open letter from Shakila to Ms. Ursula von der Leyen, President-elect of the European Commission

05 December 2023



I'm writing this letter to the world leaders who are failing us. Though we are chained to your decisions, we are not complicit in your war crimes. We do not support you. You have failed us. When we scream, you pretend not to listen. You shut us out.


You are stone-hearted, cold-hearted, and blind-hearted. You have no path, dignity, or spine. You consume pain and bathe in blood. You are strong but empty of humanity. Your speeches are hollow—your voice cracks. There is no depth in your gaze. You are shells consisting of crumbles. Your veins are flushed with screams of horrors.

You dream shattered dreams. Greed is your fuel. War is your laughter. Lies are your food. Death is the trap. You call yourself the God of democracy. You hide behind phrases like compassion and freedom. You don’t know love. You have no dignity, no honor, no respect.


               The soil is wet with tears from injustice. The woods are moist with fear for humanity. The oceans are drowning in roars, and the skies are burning with resistance.


               The seeds are not only sprouting. They're growing.


               There is thunder on entry.


It will not obey. Its respect is vaporized. It has gotten rid of its manacles, and the sand pebbles vibrate.


From underneath, from within, from above, a force is formed. Our wrath eats up our fatigue. The tremble of the gods must be known. The letters of the alphabet matter only because we believe it does. Such is the case of trust. Today, trust is a shivering thread. Save the children, stop the endless violence.


Free the Palestinian people. You must.






Abraham is considered the father of the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic religions, which are called Abrahamic religions. 


Christians read in the New Testament about the remnants of Israel living in Galilee. The pedigreed, holier-than-thou, stiff-upper-lipped Judeans wanted nothing to do with those low-life half-breeds. Christians also learn about the Samaritans, one in particular, known forever as the ‘Good Samaritan,’ everyone’s good neighbor.


When the Romans expelled the Judean upper crust, priests, and aristocracy, most Judeans were left behind in the land together with an estimated two million other Israelites, the remnants of Israel. Who were they? Palestinians! For 1,900 years, they lived and procreated together. Many half-breed Israelites became Muslims 600 years later. Today, the many lost tribes of the House of Israel are in the backyard of their present neighbors, the Jews (who are not the same as the original Judeans) who wandered in primarily from Eastern Europe.


That Jews are not a pure nation-race and that some Palestinians are more Israelites than most Jews might be too much of a bitter pill to swallow. Things of the heart are not easy to let go. Very few thoughtful scholars in recent times believe that the Jews and, for that matter, the Palestinians are a single ethno-biological people or ‘race.’


Often, myths persist despite clear contradictory evidence. Facts, though concrete, are sometimes inconvenient. Fiction can be shaped and reshaped into entrenched make-believe, especially when opportune. A mingling of myth, memory, truth, and aspiration conjured on scarce and confusing archaeological and archival records envelop Jewish history. Does Israeli nationalism contain an ancient historical core, or is it a fabrication of the 19th century?


What kind of people are we to become? Jews, Christians, and Muslims have an inherent spiritual link to the Region. Can we recognize and revere those genetically connected to the Land? We have much in common with each other. Like our Palestinian cousins, we enjoy snacking on falafels and gorging on baklavas. More people on both sides of the Divide have invited me to stop for tea or coffee or as their overnight guest. Can we become one in the spirit of our Abrahamic Faiths? Sadly, our present-day schism, to put it mildly, has kept most of us apart. As one Israeli friend said, and he's no longer talking to me, it started so well.


The people of Israel and Palestine have been intertwined for millennia. Won't it be an ironic twist if the indigenous people in the Region are genetically connected to the ancient Israelites? Though the original twelve tribes are lost, their gene pools still exist. They have lived in the same region from the beginning. Don't people living contiguously beget others, one after the other? Palestinians could be as much, if not more, Israelite than the Jews in today's Israel, and an estimated 17 percent of the Palestinians in Palestine and the Diaspora are Christians. Many could be the ancestors of today's indigenous Palestinians, including the Palestinian Christians.


Israel Belkind, one of the first ‘Zionists' and settlers in Palestine, coordinator of the Bilu movement, whose members arrived in Palestine in 1882 before the emergence of Palestinian nationalism, wrote that the Arabs were descended from the ancient Hebrews. He and the first Bilu group "encountered a good many of our people, our flesh and blood,” suggesting that Palestinian villagers were descended from the original Israelites. 5


Ancestral Links …


Even the young David Green, aka Ben Gurion, writing in New York City in 1918, recognized that the Jewish peasantry was never completely uprooted and exiled by the Romans from what was Palestine by this time 6. "The ancient Judean peasants converted to Islam … for material reasons … Indeed, by clinging to their soil, they remained loyal to their homeland" 7.


Though no final consensus had emerged on the ancestral link between Palestinians and Israelites, Harry Ostrer, director of the Human Genetics Program at New York University Langone Medical Center, who had been studying the genetic organization of Jews, said, "The assumption of lineal descent seems reasonable.”


Nonetheless, Jewish public consciousness persisted that Jews were exiled from Israel by the Romans, ignoring the estimated two million Jews who continued to live in or near the land until the fall of the Roman Empire. "The Romans never deported entire peoples. It did not pay to uproot the people of the land, the cultivators of produce, the taxpayers.” 8 If the agricultural population was not exiled en masse, what happened to them? Many became the ancestors of today's indigenous Palestinians.


"Long before 70 CE, sizeable Jewish and Christian communities dotted the countryside outside Judea – Persia, Egypt, Asia Minor and elsewhere.” 9 Where, then, did the European Jews come from, considering that few, voluntarily or involuntarily, abandoned Judea over the ages?


Between 150 BCE and 70 CE, Judaism possessed a "strong proselytizing zeal,” and this, along with the population movements characteristic during and after the Hellenistic wars, contributed to something of a Jewish "population explosion" throughout the Mediterranean world. 10 Indeed, a significant portion of Jewry in the Roman Empire were gentiles who converted to Judaism. Hence, most Jews today are unlikely to be descendants of the Judeans who inhabited the land two thousand years ago.


"At the height of Judaism's expansion, in the early 3rd century CE,” the Jewish population constituted" seven to eight percent of all the Roman empire's inhabitants.” 12 "In 324 CE, the province of Palestine became a Christian protectorate, and a large part of its population became Christian" 13 with a Jewish presence intact. Following the Arab conquest of Palestine in the 7th century CE, many local Jews and Christians converted to Islam and were assimilated by the Arab conquerors. Many of these converts are believed to be the ancestors of the contemporary Palestinians. 14


The ancestry of most contemporary Jews likely stems mainly from outside the Land of Israel; that a ‘nation-race' of Jews with a common origin nominally has existed, and that just as most Christians and Muslims are the progeny of converted people, many Jews are also descended from converts. Mass conversions to Judaism occurred among the Khazars 15 in the Caucasus, Berber tribes in North Africa, and the Himyarite Kingdom of the Arabian Peninsula. "A large part of Eastern European Jewry might have originated in the territories of the Khazar Empire.” 16

Van Kempen, Abraham. Christian Zionism … Enraptured Around a Golden Calf (Kindle Locations 1601-1696).

This will be continued in ‘A Shared Identity, Part 3 of 5: Abraham — A Life without Borders.





All the conflict in Gaza is achieving is civilian misery, and the US can stop it at any time.


This handout picture released by the Israeli army on November 16, 2023, shows troops during a military operation in the Gaza Strip amid continuing battles between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas. © Israeli Army / AFP


Robert Inlakesh is a political analyst, journalist, and documentary filmmaker based in London, UK. He has reported from and lived in the Palestinian territories and works with Quds News. Director of ‘Steal of the Century: Trump's Palestine-Israel Catastrophe.’

5 December 2023


After a seven-day lull in the war between Israel and the Palestinian armed groups in Gaza, the resumption of hostilities has been given another green light from Washington. Having failed to lead its Israeli allies toward military victory, the US is permitting a dangerous escalation and rejects a peaceful solution that will prevent further civilian suffering.

Just minutes after the departure of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken from Palestine/Israel, the war in Gaza resumed, with a sizeable aerial onslaught on Palestinian civilian infrastructure resulting in the deaths of nearly 200 civilians. The White House spokesperson John Kirby announced continued support for Israel’s “right and responsibility to go after Hamas,” but to what end is unclear. As the likes of former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak admits that Hamas is far from falling apart, it begs the question: what is the point of this war?

Following six weeks of war that resulted in likely over 20,000 Palestinian deaths, the Israeli military has failed to produce any evidence that it has made a significant dent in the military capabilities of Hamas and the other Palestinian armed groups in the besieged coastal enclave. While Israel forced its way into the major hospitals in northern Gaza, claiming that Hamas was using the sites as bases and command-and-control centers, the evidence produced by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) does not support these allegations. The US government backed the idea that a command node existed at the Shifa Hospital. When the Israeli forces entered the hospital compound, they presented weapons they claimed to have found there, as well as an empty tunnel. Any such images released to the public are curated and edited by the Israeli army. However, if independently verified, they could be evidence of militant presence – not proof of a control center or node. Little of note was discovered in other hospitals, and American claims of having solid intel that confirms Israeli claims is dubious, considering previous public statements such as US President Joe Biden’s words about having seen “confirmed pictures of terrorists beheading children,” which the White House later had to walk back.


At the start of this war, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that his government was going to “crush Hamas,” a goal that the US government-backed publicly. Yet, Hamas has managed to not only inflict the most significant blow against Israel in its history but has also defended Gaza on the ground with countless documented cases of success against Israeli forces. The whole world is now talking about the formation of a Palestinian State. This idea had been all but abandoned in favor of unconditional normalization agreements between Arab States and Israel before the war. In addition to this, one of the predictable outcomes of the Israeli war on Gaza has been a tremendous uptick in support for Hamas throughout the occupied territories. In the Middle East and throughout the Muslim World, Hamas militants have become heroes and are widely viewed as a brave national resistance.

The Saudi-Israeli normalization deal, which the Biden administration's Middle East policy revolved around, is dead in the water at this time as Riyadh moves closer to Tehran. According to Israeli polling data, Benjamin Netanyahu is only trusted by 4% of Israelis, while the most trusted national figure was recorded to be Israeli military spokesperson Daniel Hagari. Hagar, despite being charged by Israelis, was turned into the “there is a list guy” and an online meme after presenting a video .” That video, in which he referred to the list, was supposed to show evidence of Hamas keeping hostages at the Rantisi Children’s Hospital.

At least ten have either withdrawn ambassadors from or suspended ties with Israel. All this as the most prominent pro-Palestinian protests to have ever taken place in the West continue to occur in capital cities like London and Washington, DC. This, combined with a considerable drop in Joe Biden’s approval rating, all spell disaster for the US-supported war in Gaza.

The White House claims that it is putting certain restrictions on the Israeli army as it plans to invade the south of Gaza, but in the same breath, offers unconditional support for Israel’s actions. At no point has the US government taken any responsibility for what has happened since October 7; there has been no apology for their lies, no change in strategy, and no acknowledgment of the role that Washington has played in creating the situation on the ground in Gaza that facilitated the Hamas attack.

The real question now is: Where do we go from here? Israel aimlessly fights in Gaza and continues to kill thousands of Palestinian civilians. There is no sign of a Hamas defeat on the horizon, and the humanitarian situation, which is described as “the worst ever” by UN Relief Chief Martin Griffiths, is further deteriorating. While these elements are all to be taken seriously, there is also the specter of a regional war erupting if the Israeli attack escalates against Gaza. Lebanese Hezbollah is currently engaged in frequent battles along the Lebanese border and has been expanding the scope of its attacks on Israeli military targets.


The prisoner exchanges that took place between Israel and Hamas proved that the Palestinian group was capable of being engaged diplomatically. The exchange also worked to expose to the world that Israel was also holding women and children captive without any charges. Israeli civilian captives who were released, the majority of whom were filmed smiling, shaking the hands of and thanking Hamas fighters upon their release, have been blocked from speaking to the media about their experiences directly. On the other hand, Palestinian women and children recounted the abuse, torture, and humiliation that they had suffered at the hands of their Israeli jailers. This represented another public-relations debacle for the Israeli government, which came off looking more guilty than Hamas.

The US government is in the driver's seat of the war. It has the power to end the conflict at any time but continues to prolong this disaster. During the seven-day pause in hostilities, nothing shifted in Israel’s favor to make its victory possible. There can be no military solution to the war in Gaza; the US must recognize that this conflict will never end until the Palestinian people are granted justice and freedom. For 75 years, the governments of the collective West have ignored the suffering of the Palestinian people; they have never been objective peace brokers. Violence begets violence, and hate begets hate; it is not possible to simply murder the Palestinians into submission. Even if Hamas were to be defeated, there would be more groups that emerge to take revenge for their fallen and fight for statehood in the future. If the international community comes together, this cycle can be broken, but it will take courage.



Editor’s Note | This evening, we’ll leave Malaysia. What impresses us the most is that everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, carries a smartphone. In other words, people — anywhere and everywhere — are in the loop. Information, whether misinformation or disinformation, is ubiquitous online in real time.


And people are talking.




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The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of the Building the Bridge Foundation, The Hague.


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