In my regular column in the Jerusalem Post, my new article: “Israel’s best response to the UN resolution“
Predictably, Obama is using his last weeks in office to accomplish his anti-Israel goals. But how should Israel respond?
Even as Israel rightfully decries the UN resolution, it must also see that this unanimous vote of hate and anger against it bears a strong message. The world is expecting Israel to lead the way to a solution, and fast. But it is up to Israel to figure out what that solution must be.
What the World Doesn’t Know
As I wrote in my last column, the resolution is but the culmination of Obama’s eight years of efforts to force his destructive neoliberal policies upon the world. I have already written of the error inherent to liberalism, that its high and lofty aims may be correct, but it lacks the path to achieve them.
At the end of this year of terror, which world leaders have not known how to prevent, and as the world witnesses Europe suffering the deadly results of its neoliberal open border approach towards Muslim immigrants, these leaders have the audacity to try and force the same liberal mistakes upon Israel without the least concern of the security implications it would have on such a tiny state. For what actual solution to the conflict is the UN offering? How can Obama, European leaders, and the leaders of countries such as crime torn Venezuela teach Israel anything about resolving the core issues that divide Israelis and Palestinians?
Just as world leaders recklessly thought that simply letting in millions of people of completely different cultures into their land, with no prior preparation for this assimilation on the human, psychological level, would magically result in a peaceful heaven, they are now pushing for an artificial two-state solution that may bear the title of mutual “independence”, and calm the liberal conscience, but will do nothing to achieve peaceful coexistence between the two nations.
Israel has learned from its mistakes. The withdrawal from the Gaza Strip ended in the further escalation of violence toward Israel. The agricultural lands of Jewish settlers were turned into rocket launching platforms with underground terror tunnels beneath them, inciting an inevitable war that brought about so many casualties, especially on the Palestinian side. Nothing can assure us that the same will not happen with a withdrawal to all other pre-1967 borders.
What the World Does Know
However ineffective the efforts, there is good reason that world leaders push to see this conflict resolved. The amount of pressure and attention that this conflict has received along the way is not only indicative of the huge bias against Israel. Outgoing UN secretary-general Ban Ki Moon himself admitted the bias, with 223 UN resolutions passed in the last decade condemning Israel, but only 6 condemning Syria–the location for the past six years of the most horrifying humanitarian crisis since WWII. It is also indicative of how the world somehow feels that THIS crisis is the source of all others, that solving this conflict will model for the world the remedy for all its other ills.
The enigma of this attitude towards Israel is rooted deep in Israel’s past and future. At present it is clear to see that subconsciously, the world expects Israel to solve its problems; it just doesn’t understand how.
Above Right and Left
It is up to Israel to find the answers. However, though Israel is right to refuse to repeat the mistakes of the past, which will endanger its safety, it does not mean that it is heading in the right direction. As Israel tightens its security measures and avoids contact with the other side, the problem is not actually treated, assuring that war and strife will continue.
New solutions are needed that go beyond what has been tried so far. The typical leftist approach calls for conciliations that irresponsibly overlook the culture gaps, hatred, and religious ideologies; while the typical approach of the political Right is the maintenance of security and furthering Israel’s goals, living forever upon our sword, without taking real steps to achieve the coexistence that will bring the conflict to its solution. Neither approach on its own can yield the desired results. What I believe CAN work is something completely different.
Israel Holds the Key
What must first be acknowledged is that coexistence when such deeply rooted hate is present is not born of decisions made on paper or by swapping land, but from true change of relations and attitudes between the two sides. Without such a change in the reality of the animosity between the nations, they will continue to fight each other in a zero sum war until one side is completely erased.
Secondly, complete separation is not possible. Evacuating Jews from all settlements and creating a “Jew free zone” will not cure the hate and the danger to Israel, with Hamas’ charter stating its intent to destroy it, and children being educated to murder every Jew. Moreover, Israel is not “Muslim free”; it is a society embedded with many religions and cultures. Thus, achieving a breakthrough in the quality of the relationships between Israelis and Palestinians is crucial for all.
Some might say it is impossible to achieve such unity, but they must know that it is not so. For millennia Jews have been unknowingly carrying within them the one method that can connect people above all differences.
Thousands of years ago Abraham, the father of all Abrahamic religions and the common father of Jews and Palestinians, discovered the secret of the oneness of all life. He taught his disciples the method of achieving harmony between human beings. This deep wisdom which the world has come to know of, ever so superficially, by the precepts of “love thy neighbor as thyself” and “do not do to others what you hate”- was forgotten by most. But it was not lost. It was carried onwards for generations and elaborated by Jewish sages of Kabbalah in many texts such as the Book of Zohar and more recently, the writings of Baal Hasulam. Today, as it receives modern day practical forms, it is succeeding in bringing together Jews and Muslims in every opportunity that it is applied to the task.
The method of Abraham comes from the root of both nations and so it is the only way to move towards the healing of this ancient family strife. Rabbi Kook wrote of the future of these relations that “the brotherly love of Esau and Jacob, of Isaac and Ishmael, will raise them above all calamity, caused by evil, and turn them into light and mercy” (Igrot Haraia 1, 142).
I have had the privilege and responsibility to carry forward this wisdom and pass it on to my many students, who already implement it in discussion circles throughout Israel.
They have succeeded greatly in bringing together Jews and Arabs as you can see here, time and time again. This success can be replicated and must be the basis for any peace process; because peace begins with the people, with education, with changing mindsets and predispositions. Only by carefully constructing such peace in our societies can we expect the decisions made by leaders to last and bring good results into our lives.
We mustn’t give away the land or compromise security without first making sure that a process of education towards peace has actually changed the landscape of people’s hearts and minds. Those should be the settlements we fight for- the establishments of love and friendship between us, the building of bridges between our hearts. Only then will we be able to live our lives in happiness and security. Yes, Israel must defend itself, but also strive for this sort of change to take place.
Forecast For 2017
I predict that the world will continue to blindly pressure Israel to take the initiative. Though Trump may make things easier for Israel, it mustn’t think that it may rest on its laurels. It must continue to strive to create the coexistence between Jews and Arabs that only Israel can achieve, that will give the desperately needed example to the world of how to create peace in conflicted societies.
If Israel manages to pressure itself into finding this root solution to the conflict, it will gain immensely. Ultimately, a united Israel will bring an end to the war and to the great hatred the nations share toward it, as it finally assumes its destined position as the spiritual leader of the world, paving the way towards lasting peace. To the nations I say, pressure Israel to unite, not to withdraw. To Jews I say, don’t be tempted to take sides; unite above your differences. Only when you realize you hold the key, and find the way to create peace within you, will this conflict and all others be healed.
Jerusalem Post 12/29/16