It’s time to recalculate the route

As the saying goes, if you do what you did, you’ll get what you got.

Government ministries and social and political organizations have been engaged in intense preparations for the new year of 5777, a year in which Israel will be celebrating quite a few important milestones

5777 will mark the 120th anniversary of the First Zionist Congress, when the early Zionist leaders took the ancient words of the Bible and transformed them into a living, breathing Zionist national vision. It will also celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, as a result of which the League of Nations first recognized that the Jewish people is entitled to a national home.

The upcoming year will also mark 70 years since the United Nations resolved to create new boundaries and a timetable for that national home, or in other words, the Partition Plan. Next year will also commemorate the 50th anniversary of the liberation of parts of our homeland, including Jerusalem, the Etzion Bloc and the Golan Heights. Some would prefer to dampen that enthusiasm and note that what is involved is in fact an oppressive occupation.

In 2017, we will also mark 40 years since Egyptian President Anwar Sadat made his historic visit to Israel. Sadat wisely understood that it is better to come to Jerusalem with an olive branch than with troops and armored cars.

It is also 10 years since the nascence of the anti-Israeli boycott organizations known as BDS.

The common thread is a focus on the past. I believe, however, that we should use the year 5777 to recalculate our route.

The question is how to take a conflict that has lasted for more than a generation and use it to recalculate the route. How do we make it a route that crosses the boundaries of the question of one or two states and accepts that within the narrow or broader boundaries of the State of Israel live both Jews and Arabs, one alongside the other. How do we transform it into a route that can respect the past of the individual in society but also seek to build a shared future. This is a route that understands that our natural resources should suffice for all the people living here, that the reservoir in Ariel needs to pipe water through areas inhabited by both Jews and Arabs and ultimately supply much-needed water to both populations. It is a route that seeks to build bridges rather than walls, bridges that overcome gaps and span areas no one believed they could cross.

Maybe it’s time we understood that the only solution to this conflict of so many years and that has cost so many lives is to build bridges.

The challenges are clear, as are the rules of the game. These are rules defined by courts and international organizations that will allow us, Jews and Arabs, to live side by side in peace, and to give our children the right not to kill each other.

The details of the plan have not crystallized. Ideas are welcome, but bear in mind – they need to be original ideas, ones that have not yet been tried and met with failure.

Albert Einstein once said, “We can not solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” If we approach the year 5777 with the same mindset we used until now, we will never find our way out of the predicament we are in, and never be able to forget the bad past and focus on the future.

I’m sure 5777 will be a better year, not only for Jews but also for Palestinians.

Happy new year.

About the Author
Oded Revivi is the Chief Foreign Envoy of the YESHA Council, the official umbrella organization representing the Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria. He is also the Mayor of the city of Efrat.
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