How Understanding and Economic Partnership Can Pave the Way to Peace

A woman at a rally holds a sign that reads, 'My sister's voice cries out to me,' in support of bringing back hostages held in Gaza. The rally highlights the emotional toll on families. (courtesy)

Have you ever seen tens of thousands of people cry at once? I did last week at a rally for the hostages held in Gaza for over six months. When Romi’s mom spoke, no eye was left dry. Romi, a young woman in her 20s like me, is one of the hostages. All I could think while standing there was how I wished the world could see and feel this. In that moment I realized that the lack of understanding of the Israeli mentality could lead to economic challenges and hinder lasting peace.

While standing there, I couldn’t help but wonder where this part of our reality gets lost in translation. Israel has a diverse population with varying ethnicities and political opinions, shaped by fear and trauma. Many around the world feel that they can voice their opinion about Israel’s future without truly understanding Israeli society, which is a crucial mistake.

As part of a diplomacy honors program at my university, my classmates and I recently traveled to the United States. Our discussions with Harvard professors, politicians, and industry leaders revealed a disturbing pattern: the detachment of many Jewish Democrats from the ground realities in Israel. Advocacy for a two-state solution, though well-intentioned, often belittles the complexity of the issue, ignoring the nuanced challenges and fears ingrained within Israeli society.

Currently, many Israelis do not believe in peace. Years of poor leadership and constant terror have created a reality where real peace seems unattainable. The first challenge to attaining peace is making Israeli society believe in this concept. Well-meaning advocacy often overlooks the complexities of Israeli society and the daunting challenges of achieving lasting peace. In a democracy, you must have the citizen’s support.

This lack of understanding risks further straining the relationship between the American Jewish population and Israel. Their support for a Palestinian state is often voiced without recognizing the heightened difficulties faced by those tasked with its establishment. This misunderstanding could deepen, leading to frustration and disillusionment among Jewish Democrats as their vision for a Palestinian state remains ambiguous. The issue lies not in malice but in failing to grasp the intricacies of Israeli society and the true obstacles on the path to peace.

To transform the vision of a Palestinian state into reality, the essential first step is to foster a genuine belief in peace within Israeli society. This responsibility lies heavily on Israeli leadership, who must prioritize reintroducing peace into the political discourse. Leaders should engage in transparent dialogues about the benefits of peace, highlight successful peace-building efforts, and implement educational programs that promote coexistence and mutual understanding.

Furthermore, the Jewish diaspora has a crucial role to play. They must educate themselves about the realities on the ground in Israel, including current attitudes toward peace among Israeli citizens and the profound fears that underlie these attitudes. By engaging with Israeli society more deeply and empathetically, the diaspora can better advocate for solutions that consider these complexities. This involves visiting Israel, listening to diverse Israeli voices, and supporting initiatives that bridge gaps between communities.

Economic implications are also significant. The strained relationship between the American Jewish community and Israel could lead to reduced financial support, which has historically been vital for Israel’s economic stability and growth. To prevent this, efforts must be made to strengthen this relationship through mutual understanding and collaboration on peace-building projects. For instance, joint economic ventures between Israeli and Palestinian communities can create interdependencies that foster peaceful coexistence and economic prosperity.

Investing in shared infrastructure, technology, and education projects can provide tangible benefits and build trust. Economic cooperation can serve as a foundation for broader political agreements, demonstrating that peace is not just a lofty ideal but a practical pathway to mutual prosperity. Additionally, encouraging the diaspora to support such initiatives can reinforce the economic ties that bind the communities together.

Ultimately, transforming the vision of a Palestinian state into reality requires a multifaceted approach. Israeli leadership must begin to introduce the idea of real peace even if it may be in the far future, the Jewish diaspora must seek deeper understanding and involvement, and both communities must work together on economic initiatives that promote shared interests and stability. Only by fostering genuine belief and practical cooperation can the path to lasting peace be illuminated.

About the Author
The writer, an IDF veteran and final-year international relations student, was born in Israel and raised in California and is fueled by a passion for human rights and women’s rights.
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