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Peace Cannot Be a One-Way Street
I have friends, who today are supporters of J-Street, and were involved in Peace Now back in the 1960's. I was there too, back in the old days. I voted for Yitzhak Rabin z"l and remember him saying: "We shall fight terror as though there were no peace, and make peace as though there were no terror".
I still have a bag bearing the stickers "Peace Now" and "A Whole Generation Seeks Peace". But then came the 2nd Intifada, Intifada Al- Aqsa, which claimed the lives of over 1,100 Israelis and left many thousands more wounded, some of whom still bear the physical and mental scars of their injuries to this day.
None of us will forget how the Palestinians danced on their rooftops as Scud missiles fell on Tel Aviv, and rejoiced as the Hizbollah rockets pounded our northern towns and villages.
I understand them. They are weary of an Israeli occupation, which they have had to endure for over forty years. Not that they had ever enjoyed independence. Prior to 1967, the Jordanians were their masters, while prior to 1948, the British had held the reins of power, which they in turn had wrested in 1917 from the Ottoman Empire, who had conquered Palestine four hundred years earlier..
But today the Palestinians want a state of their own, although there are few signs that they are able to work together, or that such a state will be democratic. When and if it is ever established, it will most likely join the ranks of the dictatorships and the theocracies in our region. Nevertheless, most Israelis support them in their quest for independence.
However, statehood comes at a price. The Palestinians will have to forgo their ambitions to destroy Israel. They will need to recognize that no Israeli government will allow the Jewish state to be swamped with hundreds of thousands, if not millions of the grandchildren of those who claim to have been displaced by the creation of the State of Israel in 1948.
One year earlier, in 1947, the United Nations had presented its Partition Plan for the division of the territories west of the river Jordan between a Jewish and an Arab state. We reluctantly accepted the plan in spite of all of its disadvantages and limitations. After all, half a cake is better than none. However, the Palestine Arab Higher Committee, supported by the Arab League, rejected it.
More than 60 years later, the Palestinians are faced with the same dilemma: Compromise and accept less than what you want, or remain where you are.
As the US Administration tirelessly works to cajole Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) into direct negotiations with Prime Minister Netanyahu, it is to be hoped that the President of the Palestinian National Authority will be more pragmatic than his predecessors. Were we seeing Palestinian moderates calling upon him to compromise for the sake of peace, then the chances of success would be greater. But I don't hear them.
Rabbis For Israel
Temple B'nai Jeshurun
Des Moines, Iowa