Uri Pilichowski
Author, Educator and Father - Brother to All

Imagination in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Zionism’s strength was in its creativity and imagination. The founder of modern Zionism, Theodore Herzl, famously said, “If you will it, it is no dream.” Zionism aimed to make the impossible – the return of the Jewish people to their land after 2,000 years and establish their own state – possible. For 2,000 years Jews thought and told each other that they’d only be able to return to the land when Messiah brought them back. Zionism told the Jews to actualize their national aspirations. It left no room for inhibition because of practical considerations. The impossible became feasible, and the impractical became reality. Herzl, Ben Gurion and Jabotinsky, Peres, Begin and Rabin didn’t listen to those who said a Jewish state couldn’t happen – they figured out how to make it happen.

Fast forward a hundred years and facing the same obstacle of local Palestinians and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Israelis are told they only have two choices. They can either live in a Jewish democratic state by creating a Palestinian state (the two state solution) or keep one state that either loses its Jewish character or maintains apartheid like policies without its democratic character.

Limiting its options to only the two mentioned above contradicts Zionist thought- Zionism, built on the refusal to be limited maintains that there is always a better way. Zionism believes in dreams not limiting itself to practical solutions. What seems like a dream can happen, if only Zionists will it to happen.

The two state solution wasn’t an actual consideration in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict until George W. Bush dangled it in front of the Palestinians as a carrot if they’d rid themselves of Palestinian ruler Yasser Arafat.The Oslo process never aimed to create a Palestinian state. The same peace activists who were the mediators during the Oslo Process and had no problem with the Palestinians only having autonomy over their own cities and not their own state, today decry the future of the Jewish state if Israel doesn’t quickly implement the two state solution. There is no rational reason why in 1993 there was no imperative to create a Palestinian State, but there is an imperative in 2019.

In 1948, when Israel won 20% more land than the United Nations partition plan granted the Jewish state, no one looked at the Arabs under Israeli control and wondered how Israel would retain its Jewish character. The same concern was never shown in 1967 after Israel captured Judea, Samaria and Gaza. The dire consequences for Israel if a Palestinian State isn’t created seem to have been recently fabricated.

Ironically, the loudest voices advocating for a two state solution come from outside of Israel. While there are those in Israel that still call for a two state solution, they are the minority and no major political party in Israel in the last three elections has called for the implementation of the two state solution or the creation of a Palestinian State.

The two state solution is largely being imposed on the Jewish state from afar. The Diaspora Jews, advocates and pundits who push the two state solution sell the doctrine of limited possibilities and would easily change Herzl’s words to “Don’t dream the impossible, implement the practical.” Those who care about Israel from afar have begun to urge practicality and not growth, moderation over maximization and temper enthusiasm for the impossible in favor of the possible.

The Zionist spirit that led our ancestors on the first aliyah, that pushed for a state against the British Empire, and didn’t cower in the face of stronger Arab armies in 1948, didn’t think of the practical, they dreamt the impossible. I don’t know the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or if there even is a solution, but I know compromising on the Zionist dream for a less than ideal two state solution contradicts everything Zionism stands for. We must not accept the possible and forgo the dream. It is time we began implementing the impossible and actualizing our dreams.

About the Author
Rabbi Uri Pilichowski is an educator. As a teacher, author and speaker, he teaches Torah and Politics, where he specifically emphasizes rational thought and conceptual analysis.
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