Is the rationale for peace as simple as the need to swim in a defined lane? That’s what I pondered this morning whilst doing my fifty lengths.
It was my first opportunity since the end of the school holidays to make it to the pool – eerily devoid of screaming children – only to find that all the swimming lanes were filled with others not tied down to the eight o’clock school delivery schedule. Hearteningly, I quickly spotted a solution – to swim next to the lanes, but without a floating barrier defining my territory from the wider pool area.
At first, I felt victorious. Yes! A solution! A practical compromise which allowed me to swim without the pace and timing problems of three-in-a-lane, but still within the 25 meter part of the pool. However, once in the pool, I felt a bit vulnerable. Here, there was no sense of entitlement or ownership, anyone could invade and start swimming, floating or just playing around because it is not specifically demarcated for lane swimming. Also, it placed me right under the nose of the lifeguard, who, if he ever took his eyes off his mobile phone, might criticize my style, my breathing, my amateurish flip turn at the end of each pool. In addition, I felt a bit left out – a slight fake. The serious swimmers were in the lanes, swimming and flipping with no worries of a mid-lane conquest. What was I, a serious swimmer, doing faffing around over the border? On the other hand, I did feel a little bit maverick, a bit inventive, something Israelis are totally wonderful at.
So then my thoughts spilled over to the government’s seizure of almost 1,000 acres of land in the West Bank in ‘revenge’ for the abduction and murder of the three Israeli teenagers Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaer and Eyal Yifrah.
Like with my swim, the timing is off. Bibi may be hoping to get away with another land grab – since everyone is mad at us anyway what the hell, but we are also on the sill of a window of opportunity here. Why to rudely make faces at the Palestinian Authority through the glass, when opening it up and talking would be much more productive.
Like my swim in undefined, disputed territory; Israel will never be secure until its borders are demarcated, permanent and internationally recognized. Yes, defending them still won’t be easy, but they will be legitimate and our aggressive defense of them will be unequivocally just.
Like my judgmental life-guard, international critics won’t stay silent on this provocative appropriation of disputed territory. This move has put us right back under the up-raised noses of international community. Okay, so who cares, we don’t need them anyway, but um… actually we do need them and we do care, however much we tough it out.
The immediate question here for Israel is what do we want? Long-lasting peace or more land for controversial (both within and outside of Israel) settlements that will ultimately lead to more resentment, more hatred and perhaps tragically, more lives lost. I for one have had enough of death and hate.
Luckily, at the pool, my venture into unchartered waters was ultimately both energizing and relaxing, if a trifle exposed, but I can’t say the same for the government’s counter-productive move which seems to put us once again, stumbling off the road to peace and back on the road to battle, be it militarily or diplomatically. Ultimately the need for peace may be as simple as the need to swim in a defined lane, but making the peace is much more convoluted.