Dan Savery Raz

The time has come for diplomacy, not more death

Photo by Jon Tyson on
Photo by Jon Tyson on

An open letter to PM Netanyahu (and Times of Israel readers)

Dear Bibi Netanyahu, Ron Dermer, Yoav Gallant, and other decision-makers,

I hope you understand the gravity of this precarious moment – don’t take Israel to an all-out war with Hezbollah.

That’s exactly what Hezbollah, the Iranian regime, and Hamas want. We know that an all-out war with Hezbollah would be much more destructive than the fighting in Gaza. Yes, Hezbollah would ‘take a hit’, lose some bombs and perhaps a few thousand soldiers, but tens of thousands of Lebanese civilians, including women and children, Christians and Druze, would also be killed. Hezbollah’s army would be difficult to find, as they’d be able to hide in tunnels and deeper into Lebanon, Turkey and Syria. Beirut would be blanketed with bombs and that would make Israel look worse than it already does on the global stage. Too many innocent children have died already.

A war with Hezbollah could also be far more catastrophic for Israel – the larger warheads that Hezbollah could launch, backed by Iran, would be far worse than the rockets from Hamas. The sonic booms caused by such bombs could greatly damage the north’s beautiful environment, its infrastructure and Israel’s airports – I don’t trust you when you say it’ll be ok, not after October 7th.

Plus, likely there’d be more hostages taken, more reserves separated from their loved ones, and more young IDF soldiers killed. And more young children traumatized and their education disrupted, again. Don’t go there. A war with Hezbollah is to be avoided at all costs.

Instead, the time has come to pull out of Gaza and do a deal to bring back the remaining hostages. In eight months, only a handful of the 220 hostages taken were rescued. At this rate, it would take years to reach them all and we know that by then, many of the hostages would have died. So a deal, no matter how painful it is, is really the only way to bring back the live hostages and return them to their suffering families.

Let’s say that the IDF did ‘dismantle’ Hamas and Hezbollah (very unlikely, but let’s just imagine), in a matter of months there’ll be other Jihadist groups that will attempt the same. Even the official IDF spokesman, Daniel Hagari, says Hamas cannot be destroyed, it’s an idea.

So Israel simply cannot win the numbers or ideology game – there are hundreds of millions of Muslims in the Middle East, and only seven million Jews. The only game Israel, and Jews, can win in the world is to take the moral, democratic high ground.

“Know thy enemy” doesn’t mean “be like thy enemy”. Don’t let the Jewish state be ruined by racism, misogyny, and murder, show the world once again that Israel can also be a ‘light unto the nations’. To do this, I am convinced that Israel must employ more women leaders and involve women from all sides in the peace negotiations, as according to UN Resolution 1325.

Peace doesn’t mean giving up on security, in fact peace is the ultimate security. Israel should shift focus and pump billions of dollars and military effort into defense, not attack. Build an overground and underground security wall unlike any other that goes around Gaza, the Lebanon border, the West Bank and Emek Hefer, assign battalions nearby the border crossings, so even if a thousand Jihadists with explosives tries to invade, they won’t be able to pass.

Afterwards, comes the ‘day after’ – the hardest part. Bibi, even you yourself admit that Israel can’t reoccupy Gaza, but also Hamas can’t be allowed to rule again. So there would need to be an internationally controlled buffer zone between Israel and Gaza. According to news today, the UAE and Egypt are prepared to run a postwar security force. A Palestinian state might need to be declared – not as a reward for October 7th – but to house the millions of Palestinian refugees, yet this would mainly be in the West Bank. It would need to be clear that a modern Palestine would come with many conditions, including:

1. Hamas or any other terrorist group can’t govern or operate
2. Palestine and its neighbors will sign and adhere to a Middle East Union or Mediterranean Union

If a Palestinian state is formed, then it can only come with a Middle East Union, based on the EU. A Middle Eastern Union (MEU), Alliance, or Pact could include nations that already signed treaties not to attack each other – Israel, Jordan, Egypt, and the new Palestinian territory. Hopefully other nations could join in the future – UAE, Saudi Arabia, who knows, Lebanon, Turkey and even Qatar? It may sound far-fetched, but the Treaty of Rome was signed just 12 years after World War II and many Balkan nations were at war with each other just a few years before they joined the EU. Perhaps the existing Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) could be used for bringing a new security treaty.

Hezbollah would have to retreat behind the Litani River and also adhere to this Middle East Pact (backed by the US, UN, EU and other international organizations). Hamas should be relegated to the archives, as the IRA became part of Ireland’s past. A new security pact could have large economic, tourism and other benefits for all nations involved.

So Bibi, start signing ‘pieces of paper’ even if they may seem meaningless at first. Yitzchack Rabin signed a peace deal with Jordan in 1994. Your own political idol, Menachem Begin, signed a treaty with Egypt just years after the Yom Kippur War. You could sign a groundbreaking normalization deal with Saudi Arabia. But to do this, we need to stop fighting first.

Let’s stop saying a ‘large-scale’ or ‘all-out’ war in Lebanon is ‘imminent’, ‘closer’, or ‘on the table’. War should always be a last resort. The hype is not helping. The war drums need to become peace pipes. A war is not imminent, it can be prevented until the very last moment.

In short, I don’t claim to have ‘solved the Middle East’ but I do know that a war with Hezbollah also won’t solve the problem. War might not return the evacuated families to their homes up north, as they might not have homes to return to. As Vivien Silver said, we can “no longer do more of the same thing, we must find another way.”

I dedicate this post to Vivien Silver, from Women Wage Peace, who campaigned for peace for over four decades and was killed on October 7th.

If you agree with any of this post, please share it with others.
If not, that’s fine, but please think of your own vision that doesn’t include the death of thousands of civilians.

Check out the peace camp’s event on July 1 in Tel Aviv:

That’s why it especially infuriates me when people claim: “We have no partner on the other side!”  I personally know so many Palestinians who yearn for peace no less than we do.”
Vivien Silver, Women Wage Peace, murdered by Hamas on October 7th

When you only get outraged when one side’s babies are killed, then your moral compass is broken and your humanity is broken. And therefore in your quiet moments alone, all of us on planet earth need to really ask ourselves “Do I aspire to be human? Or am I swept up in the enticing and delicious world of hatred? This is not a phenomenon unique to Israel or Gaza. This is everywhere on the planet. I understand that hatred of the other, whoever we decide that other is, is seductive, sensuous and most importantly it is easy. Hatred is easy. But hatred is not helpful. Nor is it constructive….”
Rachel Goldberg, mother of US-Israeli captive Hersh Goldberg-Polin

And then I had a dream that I saw that, with our cry and tears of humanity of all mankind, we can be healed and cured. And those tears can wash the blood from the Holy Land. And our tears can bring or can create the path to peace.”
Maoz Inon, founder of Abraham Hostels, whose parents were killed at Kibbutz Be’eri

Pain, anger, those things are like nuclear power, you can either use it to destroy, or you can use it to make light and we try through and from our pain, to do something that brings light rather than brings destruction.”
Aziz Abu Sarah, co-founder of Mejdi Tours, a dual-narrative tour company

About the Author
Dan Savery Raz is a Lonely Planet author, and has written for, Time Out & various websites. Born in England, he lives in Tel Aviv with his wife & children.
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