There are a lot of people around the world who seem to think they know how to solve the Israel-Palestine conflict. I won’t talk today about those who want to see either Jews or Palestinian Arabs disappear, but those who think they know how to make peace between our peoples. Some of them sound a lot like my very young daughters, who, when learning about my impending divorce decades ago, asked why we can’t just say we’re sorry, get over it and stay together!
ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE, right? Like the images sent some time ago back and forth across the virtual space of Facebook (a space that can be either more easily bridged or more impassable than geographical space, depending on your perspective) between Israelis and Iranians and Israelis and Palestinians saying “ISRAEL LOVES IRAN / PALESTINE” / “IRAN / PALESTINE LOVES ISRAEL”. I remember getting a warm tingly feeling in my heart when these started popping up on my screen. Jews and Iranians, Jews and Palestinian Arabs, all expressing their sincere wishes for peace. There is no doubt about that, ordinary people just want to live their lives in peace and raise their kids, and then bounce their grandchildren on their knees.
And because people know this about other people, you can hear and read all over the place how the well-intentioned suggest that Jews and Arabs should learn how to share the land instead of continuing the cruel “occupation” and resultant terrorism. I won’t deal with the fallacy of “occupation” in this piece; I want to make a point here about the idea that Jews and Arabs need to learn how to share a land. And I want to state this loud and clear:
Arabs and Jews ARE sharing a land and together building a country and it is called Israel.
The 20% Arab citizenry of Israel, while they are struggling with developing their identity (we are a very young nation), are an active part of Israeli society. They are doctors, teachers, lawyers, judges, university professors, parliamentarians and in every other profession and occupation a democratic country has to offer. In fact, the judge responsible for ruling on issues of law regarding our upcoming national election is an Arab. Some Moslem Israelis even are openly calling themselves Israeli Moslem Arab Zionists, proud to be citizens of this country (for example, Anett Haskia and Mohammed Zoabi). While there is anti-Arab discrimination (people have their biases) it is not governmentally sanctioned.
This nation, that is derided for not separating state and religion, has the audacity to have both functioning Rabbinic and Sharia Courts. There are certain areas of life to which the religious courts have been given jurisdiction and the different court systems work in tandem. Is this not another indication of how Jew and Arab know how to live together, share a land and build a country?
The Palestinian Authority, for its part, still has to decide what kind of future they want, and the example for how Jews and Arabs can live together peacefully lies in the State of Israel for all to see. I bet the Arabs in the disputed territories do not like that at all because one of their conditions for negotiations is that Jews agree to vacate all the towns and communities that they have built on land that the Arabs want to claim for their future Palestinian Arab state. So don’t tell Israel that we have to learn how Jew and Arab can share a land – tell that to the Palestinian Authority and the Arab states – because we’ve already got it down pat and are now working on ironing out the inevitable creases in our fabric as Israeli Jews and Arabs build our nation together.