The Reform Rabbinate has a private list-serve on which 2500 rabbis world-wide talk with each other about everything from contemporary religious and ethical challenges within Jewish tradition, Israel and our lives as rabbis in Jewish communities around the world.
I read these postings because I want to know what my colleagues are thinking. I often post remarks myself. One such posting was my blog from earlier this week entitled: “Two Veteran Journalists Raise Alarm Bells about the Direction of the Israeli Government.” (Monday, October 13) Ron Ben Yishai (Yidiot Achronot) and J.J. Goldberg (Jewish Forward) concurred that the Israeli government is no longer pursuing a two-state solution with the Palestinians.
I post below a response by a colleague on our list-serve who holds a very different position from mine on the meaning of the journalist’s revelation. I do so not only because his response is so clear, but it is refreshingly civil which, sadly, is not always the standard in the larger Jewish community.
I continue to receive nasty and personal attacks to my postings from people who first question my motives and my heart as a Jew and Zionist, my understanding of the situation, and then seek to slash and burn the messenger (i.e. me or anyone who holds such positions) because they disagree with the message. I never post their comments because they are insulting and degrading and don’t deserve to be posted.
I end this blog with my own reflection about the consequences of assuming the absolute worst about the Palestinians, which my colleague clearly does. I do not believe, according to polls and discussions I have had with Palestinians, that he is correct, but rather that the Palestinians, though guilty of much, also have reasonable and compassionate people (polls indicate that this is the majority of the Palestinian population) who want a state of their own and to live peacefully along-side Israel in an end-of-conflict two-state solution.
Unusual for me, I thank John Rosove. He has called our attention to two smart observers – Ron Ben Yishai and J.J. Goldberg, who deserved to be listened to. Because they’re right, and it’s way past time the rest of the world – at least our world – woke up to the reality of what’s happening here.
What is happening here is that it is becoming more and more apparent that what was supposed to be the foundation of our policy vis-a-via the Palestinians, the two states for two people, is a dead idea. It never was alive, actually, and there had never been one shred of evidence that one of the sides ever really believed it. Certainly not Arafat and Abu Mazen or anybody else on the Arab side; they have not for one single moment recognized the legitimacy of our existence. But rather glorified murder, honored suicide bombers, killed more than 1000 Israeli citizens, named streets after martyrs, taught 3 generations of hatred to kindergarten kids, etc.
The Israeli side had one great believer, Shimon Peres, (whose track record has been spectacularly wrong for the past 50 years of his post-Ministry of Defense career) followed by a trail of intellectuals, a Prime Minister who got dragged into signing those dreadful, failed Oslo Accords, and a current Prime Minister who is smart enough to make all the right speeches and the right noises about 2 states because that’s what the world out there (the ones who pay a lot of the bills) require. While he knows as well as anybody that two states, if it was ever a live idea (it wasn’t), is a recipe for disaster. Need that spelled out? In shorthand: the PA on the West Bank means Hamas on the West Bank means rockets on the airport. Anybody having trouble understanding that is invited to write in and I will try to help out.
So it seems that John Rosove and I have the same information but two opposite emotional reactions. He sees the death of the Two-State Solution as a disaster; I see it as the best news I have heard in months!
Though the Palestinian Authority has not recognized the “Jewish state of Israel” (I have written about this before), they have for two decades recognized the existence of the state of Israel. Many informed observers believe that after all the other issues are settled (e.g. borders, refugees, Jerusalem, settlements, security, water, etc.) that this last demand of the current Israeli government that the PA recognize the “Jewish state of Israel” (no Israeli Prime Minister ever demanded this before PM Netanyahu) would be agreed to.
I’m reminded in thinking about the views expressed by my colleague and me of what Nelson Mandela once said:
“Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death.”