Andy Blumenthal
Leadership With Heart

Is that an olive branch or a gun?

Photo Credit: Andy Blumenthal

Our adversaries have become adept at terrorizing with one hand and painting themselves as victims with the other.

  • From the Beginning: While Israel accepted the 1948 partition plan, the Arab League declined and attacked Israel with the aim of throwing every Jew into the Sea.  And even years later, while Israel continually sought peace and offered close to 100% of the West Bank, land swaps, and East Jerusalem for Peace, the corrupt Palestinians leadership choose the Intifada and endless terror instead. After we conquered the West Bank in the Six Day War, the Palestinians claimed that  there is no peace, because Israel is “occupying” Palestinian land.  However, before 1967 when Jordan (not Israel) ruled the West Bank, why was Israel attacked with terrorism, cross border attacks, and war? And even before 1948 and the founding of the State of Israel, why were Jews repeatedly murdered with programs in the Holy Land and despised by our neighbors there?
  • The Ruse of War and Peace: The subterfuge of calling for peace, but seeking to murder has been going on for decades.  The PLO charter that calls for the “liberation of Palestine” and the destruction of Israel was supposedly changed in the Oslo Accords, but it was never ratified.  And the terrorist tactic of gaining ground (Gaza, West Bank, etc.) to further their strategic aim to attack and destroy Israel is well understood. Arafat became a master of this chicanery already decades ago when he came to the United Nations in 1974 with a “freedom fighters gun” on his hip and an “olive branch” in his offering.  Today, the run of the mill terrorist continues this duplicity having become proficient at holding human shields (women and children) in one hand, and a gun or bomb to attack in the other. Similarly, organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah have cunningly split their missions of terrorism and murder of Israelis on one hand with social welfare and political cause for Palestinians on the other.  They raise sympathy and seek to gain immunity at the same time as they continue to delegitimize Israel and conduct economic warfare and rampaging killing sprees.
  • The Strategy of Deception: In this regard, I wanted to share two sayings about not letting down our guard when it comes to the safety and security of Israel and our people.  One, from the Romans, “If you wish for peace, prepare for war” also known  as “peace through strength.”  The second saying from former President Ronald Reagan, “Trust but verify” also know as “respect them but suspect them.” In our parched thirst for peace, it is too easy to be fooled by charlatans and pretend “moderates” who claim to seek accommodation (e.g. “land for peace”), but only in order to then return to war. This is obviously not a genuine peace and they are nothing more than wolves in sheep’s clothing. Strategically, like in Sun Tzu’s Art of War, “All warfare is based on deception.” Thus, often the most effective way to get what you want or overcome and conquer the enemy is to get them off balance and to let their guard down by making them think you are extending an olive branch. However, when you stupidly believe empty words and promises, and reach for that most desirable olive branch, instead of peace, you get your arm chopped off.  Unfortunately, there are many people (including the terrorists) who have mastered this type of psychological warfare. Sure, words can beautiful and exactly what we want to hear (peace, prosperity, brotherhood), and handshakes, hugs, and kisses can be quite disarming, but the real question is whether any of it is genuine, substantive and verifiable or is it a fool’s folly and a kiss of death.
  • Thirsting for Peace: In May 1979, we gave the Sinai back and thank G-d, we’ve had decades of peace with Egypt.  But on the other hand, we gave Gaza and have nothing but missiles and murder.  Now. we are asked to give the West Bank, but that is suicide!  We can never go back to borders that put the country only 11 miles in depth and without the protective mountains of Judea and Samaria and the buffering Jordan valley. As Jews, we have known suffering and bloodshed from slavery in Egypt to the destruction of the Temples, our long exile, and millennia of persecution, programs, expulsions, genocide, terrorism, and War.  We have known too well the searing pain and suffering of conflict and the deep, deep longing for peace in the coming time of the Messiah. Over this time, there have been dashed hopes over false Messiahs from Bar Kochba to Shabtai Tzvi, and numerous failed attempts to achieve a peace in our times whether from the Oslo Accords, painful and generous offers for a final negotiated settlement with the Palestinians, and even from our unilateral withdrawal from Gaza.
  • Return and Redemption: Yet today, while the Almighty has graciously returned us from 2,000 years of exile to the Holy Land of Israel and bestowed on us incredible blessings in making the desert bloom, beautiful cities to rise, innovating in everything from promising discoveries in healthcare to the latest advances in technology, and rearing a great IDF military, we still have failed to achieve the coming of the Messiah and the peace that we so dearly yearn for with every fiber of our beings. Of course, we need to be worthy of the Mashiach and for the ultimate peace and rebuilding of the Temple.  To this end, we know we have to continue to work to strengthen our Torah learning and practices, elevate our devotion to Hashem and improve our kindness to our fellow man and our unity as a nation.
  • Achieving Real and Lasting Peace: In the meantime, we must continue to be strong.  We cannot let ourselves succumb to doubt or a lack of faith, and never let our guard down as we continue to settle and build the beautiful Promised Land of Israel. Of course, there are times that it is tempting to seek endless compromise and give whatever it takes, because what can be more desirable than the elusive peace that we so desperately seek and to not have our children becoming orphans and parents burying their children. Yes, we want to give anything if only to make the cycle of violence stop once and for all and to achieve a real and lasting peace.

The way to peace is clear for those who want to discern real from imagined. Peace comes through strength; peace comes from both sides genuinely wanting it and making sacrifices for it; and peace comes from The Merciful One Above who will grant it when we are deserving of this greatest of blessings of them all.

About the Author
Andy Blumenthal is a dynamic, award-winning leader who writes frequently about Jewish life, culture, and security. All opinions are his own.
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