In the peace talks, aren’t the Palestinians the underdogs? — And how their moral case benefits both peoples — and security and peace.

As the Peace Talks continue–.

The heart of moral deliberation is turning things around and put yourself in the other fellow’s shoes.

It is Hillel’sWhat is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow: this is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn.”

So often we hear that Prime Minister Netanyahu “had frozen settlement expansion for 10 months.”

Frozen settlements for 10 months?

That was supposed to be considered a major gesture and concession?

How would this so-called “gesture” have looked if you were a Palestinian?

Let’s try to imagine it, in the big picture of their view of the conflict as a whole, in moral reverse.

Suppose the Israelis had lived in this geographical area, as well over 95% of the population, for many continuous centuries.

Then in the late 19th and 20th century it was the Palestinians who had unexpectedly come and within decades had ended up with 80% of the land, and the Israelis only 20%.

And called historical Israel, “Palestine.”

And in two more decades the sovereign State of Palestine occupied the even the last 20% residue of territorial Israel.

Just how anxious and upset would the Israelis of the non-state of territorial Israel have been, and still be?

Probably the resistance of Irgun and Stern and Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir against the British occupation would have counted for little in comparison with the sense of loss and betrayal, and — it is unfortunately likely, the rage — that the Israeli people, along with their Irgun and Likud and Begins and Shamirs, and Netanyahus and Libermans, would be feeling now toward the Palestinians, with 80% of their historical land gone and the last 20% occupied.

And in view of the Irgun’s historical activities, in our morally reverse world, how much safety and security would the Palestinians feel?

And then suppose the sovereign State of Palestine had sent 700,000 settlers into that last little sliver of the non-state of Israel, and was still sending them.

And then, in this reverse scenario, suppose Palestine had made the excuse about the breakdown of peace talks, that it had made a 10-month suspension of its continued expansion of Palestinian settlers into the diminished Israeli non-state.  The Israeli non-state whose borders the State of Palestine fully controlled.

That’s the big moral picture when it is seen in reverse.

Ponder again Hillel’s “What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow: this is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn.”

I support Israel. And both sides. But in the real and actual peace talks, when the big moral picture is considered in the real and actual world, what do  the Palestinians have left still to give up?  Any more than the Israelis would in the reverse scenario?

Haven’t the Palestinians already lost almost everything?

And in the same way, in our reverse moral scenario, what would the occupied and settled non-state of Israel have  left to concede, after it had lost almost everything?

What would the non-state of Israel have left to yield? What would our reverse Israel have left to give up? What would our reverse Israel have left to compromise on?  Israel would have almost lost it all — already.

Wouldn’t Israelis feel they had already lost almost everything already?

And isn’t this why the Palestinians feel as they do right now in the actual world?


About the Author
James Adler was born in Kentucky, now works in university libraries, and feels especially and intensely bound up with the fate of the Jewish people in the last hundred years, especially the Shoah, the rise of Israel "out of the ashes," and the accidental and mutually tragic collision with the Palestinians in the early and middle of the 20th century, continuing through today. He is happily married and the father of two teenagers.