For Israel, we’re turning the corner towards peace and how wonderful it is, yet even as we do, we must never relax on the safety and security of our people.
Peace with Egypt (1979)
Peace with Jordan (1994)
Peace with UAE and Bahrain (2020)
Next up, please G-d, we will see peace with Sudan, Oman, Morocco and with Saudi Arabia and more!
On Israel’s Memorial Day (Yom Hazikaron) this last April, we commemorated almost 27,000 killed in defense of Israel or by terrorism since 1860 when Jewish settlers began new settlements outside Jerusalem. Additionally, there are many, many more that have been wounded and have endless suffering from it over their lifetimes.
In Israel, it is commonly said that there is not a family that has not been impacted by loss from war and terrorism. Moreover, endlessly living “under the gun” and in fear from surrounding hostile neighbors takes a deep physical, emotional, and even economic toll on Israeli society. Finally, as Jews, we yearn for peace, because that is part of our religious beliefs, DNA, and prayers every day.
In Talmud Sanhedrin, the appreciation for life and desire to safeguard it is clear:
He who saves a life in Israel, it is considered as if he saved an entire world.
In the Amida prayer, multiple times a day, we say:
Bestow peace…upon us…Blessed are You, L-rd, who blesses His people Israel with peace.
And similarly, in the Kaddish prayer, we say:
He who makes peace in His high holy places, may He make peace for us, and for all Israel, and say Amen.
Along with good health, peace is of the greatest of blessings, so it is definitely a time to thank G-d and rejoice as Israel and its Arab neighbors find their way to peace after so many decades of war and turmoil. The benefits of peace are tangible not only in terms of safeguarding life, but also to trade, tourism, investment, and cooperative ventures far and wide. With peace, we can do more together than we can do alone or as they say, “The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.”
With peace, we have the possibility of turning away from unfounded biases, needless hatred, and senseless violence. With peace, perhaps someday, we may eventually realize the possibilities: to recognize that our similarities are greater than our differences, of appreciating and celebrating each other, all the children of Abraham and Sara.
Nevertheless, as much as I celebrate each and every genuine peace agreement, and am grateful to Hashem for it, I know that we even as we extend our arms to embrace our Arab neighbors that desire peace, we must always, always be vigilant not to let down our guard or relax on the security of our people. Peace does not mean that we become lax or foolish, that we take our security for granted, or that we forget the 6,000,000 and countless others who perished at the hands of our once enemies and persecutors.
Like our ancestor Jacob who went forth to meet his approaching brother Esau coming with 400 men (Genesis 32-33): he sent greetings of peace, gifts and knelt before him in respect, but he also split his camp in two, prayed, and prepared for war should that most undesired eventuality come about. Yes, in earnest, we hope for peace, we crave it, and we even sacrifice (sometimes painfully) for it, but also we know that we must safeguard that peace and our lives though the best, most advanced and relentless security, in case that often illusive and miraculously achieved peace at any time fails or falters. Strength, along with undying faith in the Almighty, is the constant and enduring safeguard of the peace that we so yearn for with our every fiber. This is why peace and security must always go hand-in-hand together.