Thursday, November 16, 2000

Forgo the settlements in the West Bank?

Here's a question I got re yesterday's post

"Dear David,
I'm following through with nearly every suggestion you send,
that can help Israel resolve the issues for peace.
I have one question,
wouldn't it make sense to forgo the settlements in the West Bank? So many lives
are lost having isolated settlements to protect. I don't see such an action as a
sign of weakness. It is better to use sechel than force.
Thank you for
keeping me informed. Shalom, Al"

and my answer ....

I am sharing your question and my answer with my whole list. I am really no more knowlegable or educated than anyone else, but a few people have asked for me to write something personal as well as what I am already circulating. I hope you don't mind.

There are certain settlements that are clearly indefensible in the long run in the current environment. Barak has said he will give up some settlements as part of a final peace settlement. The question is when and how? Will the "current environment" be the environment that exists when peace does finally arrive? Do we give in to the current violence & pass out the few cards we have left in our hand? The question is not what we think is weakness, but whether the Arab mind would see it as a weakness and thus make peace an even harder goal to achieve? Do the Palestinians see a real difference between Netzarim, Haifa, Tel Aviv or my home in Ra'anana? Are we willing to move the stones, molotov cocktails and rifle fire from the current "borders" to new locations? Where is this current situation leading us at all? For successful negotiations, both parties need to perceive that they have something to gain by completing the negotiations & something to lose if they get up & walk away. For us peace is a gain, war is a loss. Do the other side have the same values? I don't know the answers - but I hope that Barak (who is willing to show more patience and make more compromises than I am) does. Certainly he is not afraid to withdraw if it is in Israel's interests - as he proved with Lebanon.

Rabbi Weiss, an American friend from Chicago via Dallas, who now runs the Jewish Outreach Center in Ra'anana (support & lectures etc. for English speaking Olim), once told me the story of the visit to Israel by the Pope prior to the 1967 war. The Pope wanted to visit Jerusalem, but would not come via Israel. The Jordanians built a special road for him from Jordan to the Old City of Jerusalem to allow his convoy to visit Jerusalem. The Jews of the world were outraged and shocked from every perspective. Religious Jews asked themselves how G-d could allow this slap in the face to the dignity of the Holy Land and his chosen people. Later, the war broke out and this road, built by the Jordanians, seemed to be specially paved for us - and was the route used to recapture and reunite Jerusalem.

We need to do our best, make every possible effort according to our best understanding, pray & then accept that our history shows that there is always a guiding hand is taking us where we are heading.

If we can create some real internal unity, then maybe we won't need the reminders of our mission in the form of a common enemy which unites us.


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