Thirty years ago, the State of Israel attempted to make a compromise. It tried being the bigger man. The responsible side. The tolerant side. It has done so just a few times during its history, and the Oslo Accords were one to try to broker peace. This could be attributed to Yitzhak Rabin, who, with many of his faults, made an effort. But he failed.
With Yom Kippur right around the corner, many Israelis will, as Jews around the world, ask for forgiveness from God. (God is not his name, you can say it, write it, exclaim it, whatever.)
Asking for forgiveness for their sins over the last year. Yom Kippur is the most important holiday in Judaism and thus it has significant meaning for religious and tradition-preserving Jews.
And for Israel as well, you’d think, which is supposed to be a Jewish nation.
But Israel cannot beg for forgiveness for sins it committed without remorse. Remorse, as many would know, is essential for forgiveness, but tragically, Israel has none. How do I know?
Not only did it commit horrible acts against defenseless people without any thought for the victims, but it continues to do so every day thus making forgiveness impossible. Israel and its military don’t know remorse even as a distant relative.
God will not forgive Israel.
The Ten Commandments ban murder explicitly, not killing, that’s true. I suppose many Palestinians who fell by the hands and guns of Israeli soldiers could fall under this category of an unbanned taking of a life, but certainly not all. Just as a reminder, the IDF has killed children, not teenagers, but children in the past, and that clearly qualifies as murder.
God will not forgive Israel.
Rabin tried to make amends by granting Palestinians certain rights and despite that what he was willing to give was surely not close to being enough, his efforts were in vain, and far-right Israeli Jews curse his name even today. Religious extremists, who hide less and less in Israeli society, think that even a tiny fraction of political self-determination is too much for this lost and left behind people.
Israel will not be forgiven by God.
The Oslo Accords were not much more than polished nothing wrapped in a shiny paper presented to Arafat and his people as a precious, and more importantly, a valuable gift. A sacrifice. Nevertheless, it signaled a beginning. It signaled a willingness from the state’s side to perhaps be able to compromise. Now it’s thirty years later and the last thing on the mind of any Jewish Israeli is peace with the Palestinian people.
Yom Kippur arrives in just a few days, and maybe, it’s time for Israelis to reckon not just with their own, but their collective sins in holding up a system that degrades people to such an extent that robs them of their dignity and humanity.
The Israeli people have a responsibility toward the Palestinian people. If enough Jews living in the Promised Land would face this responsibility, maybe next Yom Kippur God will be able to forgive at least some of our sins.