Abram Epstein

The “Raphael Reconciliation”

*Raphael=God’s Healing Angel

A Three-Phase Structured Process to Create Conditions Socially Conducive to Jews and Arabs Living in Harmony

This brief exposition does not address in depth the historic or current causes of hate between Jews and Arabs, except to note why it rejects any version of confederacy permitting the West Bank and Gazan Palestinians to join in sovereignty under one Israeli flag.

My issue with the likelihood of that confederacy working–at least for decades to come–is the level of hate felt by West Bank Palestinians, let alone Gazans, toward Israeli Jews.

We know the contempt has shown up in the recent WB support of Hamas as a resistance movement.

Whether justified, or not, one may grasp the limited, if not completely impracticable, prospects for success of a confederated Israel comprising all the West Bank, Gaza, and modern Israel, as evidenced from the early Zionist settlement activity, including the Rothschild “colonization.” Palestinians and Jews were oil and water from the 1880’s on. And the more Jews who showed up, long before the Nakba, the more we were viewed as “invaders.”

Here’s the point. That image of the returning Jew, to the Palestinian who was forced from his home–or simply fled–was no longer a resentment based on demographics, land usurpation, and business issues such as led to the riots of 1920’s. Especially after 1948, the Jew as invader was made the Muslim signum, our Mark of Cain. (Probably as many as 800,000 WB Palestinians trace their past as 1948 refugees. Gaza’s population is comprised of over 1,000,000 refugees.)

Putting this in black and white: If somebody came into my house with a gun and told me to get out and don’t come back, I’d sure think of him as an invader–especially if I’d been taught that’s who he was the whole time I was growing up.

And–if I ever had the chance, based on my dignity, I’d do whatever I could to kick that invader out of my house and take it back.

Taking these realities into account, the premise of the Raphael Reconciliation is this: Hate and resentment can only give way if we rewind the tape.

Start with the recognition that two major attitudes must change: Palestinians towards Israeli Jews and Israeli Jews toward Palestinians.

The former (i.e. the Palestinians on the West Bank and Gaza) must end their perception the Jews have invaded the “Holy Land,” but accept we are “Returnees.”

The Israeli Jews, for their part, must strive to accept the Palestinians are not enemies–unless they are convicted in a court under Israeli jurisprudence, not military law.

How will this take place?

Through an interview process, establishing to a reasonable certainty individuals living on the WB are not terrorists, they should be granted initially six-month visitor visas (similar to what the East Jerusalem Palestinians now have as a freedom to travel) to go freely without restriction anywhere in Israel. This visa program after six-months should be extended to a year. As the length of the stay may witness employment of West Bank and Gazan Palestinians, their visas should be extended. If they have Israeli Palestinian families and choose to live with them, their visas should be extended six months at a time.


All inhabitants of the WB and Gaza who have actively used one-year visas, should be offered, with appropriate oath of allegiance, dual citizenship in Israel, absent the right to vote or own property–except if the property was once the homestead of their own families, securing them right of first refusal should that building and land return to the market.

A Palestinian with dual citizenship would have the right to vacation in Israeli hotels, and stay for unlimited periods with Israelis who invite them as guests.

The establishment of a Palestinian West Bank-Gaza parliament under a non-Hamas administered leadership (a necessary precondition to any reconciliation) would see a legislated basic law by the Israeli Knesset creating representation in its own government (a seat in the Knesset, or the cabinet) to foster the trust and interests of expanded cooperation.

PHASE THREE: (Timeframe, not to exceed five years)

An independent commonwealth of Palestine would be established. (If the Palestinians are not totally mistrusted as enemies, a predictable result with tens of thousands of Arabs intermixing peaceably as tourists, workers and students on visitors’ visas–with Israeli Jews consequently regarded not so much as enemies, but Returnees, new life can be breathed into the Olmert Plan or one like it.)

I will close by acknowledging my concept of a reconciliation seems to suggest the plan for a one-state sovereign Israel-Palestine should be possible. After all, the Rafael Reconciliation envisions future coexistence, if not harmony by the mixed populations, including the West Bank and Gaza. Here’s the difference: The Rafael Reconciliation creates social circumstances conducive to a change in attitude enabling political change. The “confederacy” concept depends on taking the political step first. Mixing two populations seething with hate and expecting them to get along is a formula for failure. Permitting the West Bank and Gazan Palestinians to feel the Holy Land is theirs in perpetuity is altogether a starting point toward a new future.

About the Author
Abram Epstein, a New Yorker, has served as Director of Education for several synagogues and actively participated in the Manhattan Educators’ Council. His graduate studies at New York University’s Hagop Kevorkian Center focused on ancient Near Eastern religion and Biblical Judaism. He is a recipient of the university’s prestigious Founders’ Award for Academic Accomplishment and has a screen credit as Historical Consultant for "The Seventh Sign" starring Demi Moore. His other books include, "The Historical Haggadah," "The Matthias Scroll," "A Documented Biography of Jesus Before Christianity," and most recently, "The Matthias Scroll–Select Second Edition." Abram invites communication on his FB page: "Abram Epstein" or "Abram's Historical Writing."