Hope versus Fear

We’ve finally arrived at the big day. Israel goes to the polls and chooses its direction for the next one, two, three or, possibly, even four years.

Yesterday, Netanyahu simplified matters. He stated that if we elect him, we can forget about peace. We can forget about remaining a member of the family of enlightened nations. We can live in fear, afraid of our own shadow. We can say goodbye to hope.

Because, as I wrote nearly 40 years ago, expanding on a speech given by Abba Eban, my mentor when I first made Aliyah, logic dictates that there are only three solutions to our conflict with the Palestinians. Whatever the situation on our borders, whatever the threat from Hizbollah, ISIS, Hamas, etc. there are still only three solutions.

And today you have to choose one of them.

1. Whoever is strongest kills or keeps the other in a form of slavery.

2. We all live together in a bi-national state.

Netanyahu, Bennett, Lieberman and most of the religious parties want the first solution and if they are unable to carry that out, will lead us into the second solution.

But, as Jews, we won’t and cannot annihilate another people and we are forbidden to keep others in slavery.

And in a democratic, bi-national state, as the Jews will not be a majority, it will spell the end of the Jewish homeland.

So, if we discount the first two solutions, there is only one other.

3. Both sides have to give up part of what belongs to them.

We have an absolute right to all the land between the Lebanese border and the Sinai, between the Mediterranean and the Jordan river.

But the Arab population also have roots here going back 1,500 years. And for most of that time, despite a continuous Jewish presence, they were the majority population. Forty-five generations living and working on the land surely gives them ownership rights as well.

Herzog and Livni and their putative coalition partners understand that the third solution is the only possible solution.

We are talking about principles here, not legal agreements. Of course there have to be massive security safeguards, de-militarization of the new Palestinian state, land swaps to allow the major settlement blocs to remain in Israel, open borders and the ability to visit holy sites.

But this choice gives us hope. It allows us to live normally, accepted as a valued member of the family of nations. It opens the door to full, normal relations with most of the Arab and Muslim world as proposed in the Arab League peace initiative of 2002 and re-adopted in 2007.

And there are many other reasons for ensuring that we change the direction of Israeli life.

Netanyahu may have invited Eli Wiesel to his US Congress speech but he allows 50,000 Holocaust survivors to starve in Israel.

One third of all Israeli children live below the poverty line.

We have one of the biggest income gaps between poor and rich in the world.

Housing for most young couples is an unattainable dream.

So, when you cast your vote today, think of what type of Israel you want to live in; what sort of society you wish to bequeath to your children and grandchildren.

And, most importantly, don’t sit at home. Go out and vote.

About the Author
Baruch Velleman is a management accountant, social worker, educator, Masorti Jew, peace activist, and works for the Forum of Israeli Peace NGOs
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