Fourteen years ago, my family and I made the life-changing decision to leave the United States and embark on the journey of building our lives in Israel.
We sought connection to our Jewish culture and history, a way to live in the land of our ancestors. It’s the one place in the world where Jews always can go, the only true safe haven for our people regardless of the ever-present threat of terror attacks.
But no one ever would have thought that Hamas could perpetrate the kind of mass-scale attack that happened last week.
It was unimaginable that thousands of Hamas fighters would pour into our borders, slaughtering and wounding thousands of civilians in a single day.
Never did it cross our minds that on Simchat Torah, a day of joy and celebration in the Jewish calendar, that 200 women, children, and men would be kidnapped from the safety of Israel and stolen into the depths of a terrorist run Gaza.
Today My Heart Aches
As you read this blog post, innocent civilians are being killed on both sides of this conflict. The brave men and women of the IDF are fighting to protect the rest of us from being killed or targeted by terrorists, people who do not care about who they hurt.
And now we are at war.
How can we ever live together in peace?
It might seem impossible, but it’s not.
Think of the United States of America, a nation that values unity in diversity regardless of the challenges it faces in achieving that great ideal.
I sincerely believe that, once all of the fighting has come to an end then we must work to build a cooperative nationhood that includes both Israel and Palestine.
- State governments are sovereign entities, run by officials who are elected to office by the local citizens, under their own laws and policies.
- Federal government is like an umbrella for all the states, run by representatives from each state elected to office by their local citizens, that creates and enforces laws covering issues of national concern: interstate commerce, security and other areas where one state affects another.
Such a structure would mean uniting the governments of Israel and Palestine in a representative body that allows them to collaboratively resolve issues affecting the two peoples.
It may seem a remote possibility, especially now as war rages across the land. But it’s the hope for something better that makes this war bearable.
A Proposed Model for Peace Between Israelis and Palestinians
There are three areas that I believe are key for Israelis and Palestinians to pave the way for a peaceful, shared future: (1) Cultural Integration, (2) Economic Partnership, and (3) Infrastructure Development.
1. Cultural Integration: To build a shared nation, we must encourage cultural integration as a cornerstone of our vision. We must promote tolerance, respect, and understanding among Israelis and Palestinians.
Just as the United States celebrates diversity, Israel and Palestine can become a beacon of unity through cultural exchange programs, fostering relationships at the grassroots level.
One powerful avenue for this cultural integration is through mixed sports teams consisting of Palestinian and Israeli children playing against other mixed teams.
Another is shared education, with mixed classes being taught by teachers from both peoples, and an educational system developed to produce the finest students.
These are the experiences where bonds can be forged between people with different beliefs, ideas, and histories pave the way for a shared cultural identity.
2. Economic Partnership: The second pillar of this solution is an interconnected economy. Imagine a future where Israeli and Palestinian businesses collaborate, sharing the same currency, and accessing a much larger market.
Economic cooperation can bring prosperity to the region, providing jobs and lifting people out of poverty.
This approach can shift the focus from conflict to prosperity, encouraging investment and trade between communities.
3. Infrastructure Development: The third pillar for unity is the joint development of infrastructure.
Just as the United States built a network of roads, bridges, and railways that connected states and facilitated growth, Israel and Palestine can invest in shared infrastructure projects.
Improved transportation, energy, and technology networks can lead to better living standards and stronger bonds between people on both sides of the divide.
By focusing on cultural integration, economic partnership, and infrastructure development, we can begin the journey towards a united nationhood where Israelis and Palestinians enjoy equal rights and responsibilities, just as any citizens in a nation should.
Is it Possible? Is it Worth it?
This vision is not without its challenges.
But the rewards of peace, prosperity, and stability far outweigh the amount of effort that will be needed to realize it.
This effort does not include erasing the cultural identities of Israelis and Palestinians, but about celebrating those identities within the framework of a united nation.
You might think this is a pipe dream, and maybe it is.
But it’s not impossible.
I’m a huge fan of Star Trek, because it envisions a future where humanity has put aside their differences to reach the stars. It gives me hope that maybe, just maybe one day we’ll wake up and find ourselves allies in a quest for something bigger.
My favorite Star Trek character, Captain Jean Luc Picard of the Next Generation series from the 1990s says this about uniting people even when they have historically been in conflict:
If there is one ideal that the Federation holds most dear, it is that all men, all races can be united.
It is time for us to find a better way, one that guide us to work together to create a home, where Israelis and Palestinians live safely together, as equal partners, both with shared stakes the success of our united land.
Together, we can transform our beloved homeland into a place of peace, unity, and prosperity, where all of our children can grow and flourish without fear or hatred.
We can decide, right now to do just one thing, one thing to make things better.
Whether that means:
- Changing the way we talk about “the others”.
- Commenting on posts and news stories with sensitivity and integrity.
- Educating ourselves and others with an open mind, ready to discuss (not debate) the thing we do not agree on.
Let history remember us as the pioneers of peace, reconciling a centuries old dispute in the hope that it lights the way for all mankind to come together and reach for the stars.