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Monday, May 16, 2011

Shrage: an assault on Israel's borders and on peace

An Assault on Israel’s Borders and an Assault on Peace                                                    [by Barry Shrage, President, Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Boston]

Less than two hours before Palestinians broke through the Syrian border into the Golan Heights, President Shimon Peres called for the Palestinian Authority to return to direct negotiations and expressed Israel’s strong desire for a two state solution and peace.

“The United Nations made a decision in 1947 to establish two states, one Jewish and one Arab,” said Peres. “We accepted the decision. The Arabs rejected the decision and attacked us. The Nakba began then. If the Arabs had accepted, the situation would be different and we would live today in peace.” 

It is the very birth of Israel, its very existence, that some who hope for its elimination refer to as the “Nakba” – the “catastrophe.”

During the last 63 years, those who continue to reject Israel's right to exist have subjected it to various forms of assault, from invasions to rocket attacks to suicide bombings to economic boycotts to de-legitimatization campaigns.  Yesterday's assaults on Israel's borders are a continuation of this effort.  Their purpose was summed up by Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, now a partner in the Palestinian Authority. The actions, he said, “will eventually lead to the end of the Zionist enterprise and the victory of the Islamic nation.” That the Palestinian Authority has chosen to form a partnership with a group that continues to reject Israel’s right to exist, ought to be extremely troubling to all those who care about an end to this conflict and those who pray for peace. 

Effort after effort by numerous different Israeli governments – left, center and right – to make peace has been rejected.  Two-state solutions have been spurned. Even the unilateral evacuation of Israelis from Gaza was met not by peace, but by thousands of rockets launched at Israeli civilians. Direct talks between the parties have been abandoned by the Palestinians. A unilateral, 10-month settlement freeze implemented by the Israeli government at considerable domestic political cost has been ignored. Repeated calls to return to the negotiating table have been disregarded.

The challenges to the peace in the region are greater than ever. Yesterday's new form of assault on Israel is nothing less than a new assault on the peace process itself.

We support the State of Israel in its repeated, and continuing, efforts to bring about an end to this painful and tragic conflict. And we call upon those who have persisted in making peace impossible to have a change of heart so that the work of negotiating a two-state solution in good faith can commence.

It is clear that what happened yesterday in Gaza and Lebanon was coordinated with Hamas and Hezbollah, both terrorist organizations; according to the New York Times, there were “signs of official support in Lebanon and Syria, where analysts said leaders were using the Palestinian cause to deflect attention from internal problems.”  We mourn the loss of human life on Israel’s borders. And we condemn those enemies of Israel who are responsible for that loss of life. 

As friends of Israel, we must not be silent.

 Yesterday’s violence is only one symptom of an ongoing campaign against the Jewish State. Israel faces threats now as it rarely has in the past, whether on its borders, on college campuses or in the media. It is up to us to spread the word about Israel’s often all too one-sided quest for peace.

You will read in coming days how Facebook has been used to organize Israel’s enemies.  It can also, however, be a powerful tool for its supporters. Post comments and link to articles, photos and videos that show the true nature of Israel – and of Israel’s enemies.

Twitter users - join the thousands of voices supporting Israel by using the hashtag “#proIsrael” and weigh in on Nakba violence using “#Israel”.

If you don’t use social media, email 10 of your friends and ask them to circulate this message and your own.

It is critical that we who love Israel defend its right to exist in peace in the face of extraordinary challenges.

Barry Signature
Barry Shrage
President, CJP