A letter to my American liberal friends

Dear Friends,

I share your concern about the wretched plight of the Palestinians in the occupied territories. No one wants her/his life to be controlled by a foreign power limiting their freedom of movement and action, and that is their lot.

There are many of both sides, who refuse to recognize the legitimate rights of the other. The Jewish National Fund’s iconic blue collection box shows an image of the Jewish State extending from the Mediterranean to the Jordan river.

At the same time, Palestinian protesters chant: “From the River to the Sea Palestine will be free”. No wonder that neither side sees a solution on the horizon.

Israel has every reason not to trust the Palestinians. It voluntarily relinquished every inch of the Gaza Strip to the Palestinians back in 2005 and dismantled 21 settlements displacing thousands of settlers, but the territories were taken over by Hamas and thousands of mortars and rockets were fired on innocent families in neighboring kibbutzim and towns such as Sderot.

As a consequence, most Israelis understandably don’t believe that the Palestinians are interested in a 2-State solution and that is reflected in their voting patterns.

Perhaps the Palestinians – and many Israelis – will realize one day that the only way to resolve the Middle East conflict lies in compromise. However, until they do so, the current impasse only serves to strengthen the extremists in both camps to the detriment of all peace-loving people.

It took an Anwar Sadat to reach out and sign a peace agreement between Egypt and Israel, but he paid for it with his life.

Before criticizing Israel for the present impasse, people need to remember that it takes two to tango.

Ehud Barak once stated: “If I were a Palestinian, of any age, I would declare an all-out war on all terrorist groups and fulfill the demand of the Jews to recognize the State of Israel as the state of the Jewish people.”

About the Author
Made aliyah from the UK in 1985, am a former president of the Israel Council of Reform Rabbis and am currently rabbi of Kehilat Yonatan in Hod Hasharon, Israel.
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