Is our third (hopefully last) lockdown, on the heels of a fourth Israeli election in two years, an opportunity for collective introspection and transformation?
The Abraham Accords Peace Agreements for normalization and peace are now in place, with signatories that include the UAE, Bahrain, Israel and the US, followed by Sudan and Morocco, and with the possible inclusion of several other Muslim states.
How shall we meet this extraordinary opening? Our “enemies” have put down their swords against us; we can use this lockdown to put down our swords against each other and move with unity towards these remarkable events.
We have an opportunity to participate in the extraordinary events by donning our best mental and spiritual regalia, full of optimism and confidence for a journey on the road to peace. We can receive these initiatives with grace and gratitude and hope that those who are truly upset about these Accords – those who wish us ill, whether Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, BDS or others – one day will see the light and join us on this journey.
When a peace initiative comes with a peace curriculum for school children, Hebrew lessons offered and Jewish religious symbols shown in public places in a Muslim country, and with tourism and joint business ventures, then we know that it is an enduring peace- it is quite extraordinary to see kosher kitchens being created in the UAE while Europe is considering a ban on full shechita.
These are exciting times. We can only imagine what will happen as Israeli ingeniousness and creativity meets the youth of very wealthy countries eager to make their mark on the world. And they also have the intention to thwart our common enemies.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced us to learn to face uncertainty with faith and grace. It demanded that we think of our wellbeing more seriously and commit to the wellbeing of others with compassion and fortitude. We can use this lockdown to use these qualities and apply that togetherness to our politics, for the upcoming fourth round of elections. We can face this election with maturity so we can meet our new friends and confront our old enemies with less polarization, more gratitude, and benevolence for what we have been given, and what our leaders have done for us- maybe even take some responsibility for their misbehavior.
The Accords deserve and help our unity. They help us bridge our internal differences. They reassure those of us who require that Israel be recognized as the Holy Land, the ancestral and biblical land of the Jews. We delight that our religiosity is accepted and mirrored by the religiosity of our new friends, a reassurance that can help us ease our hold and make room for different degrees of religious observance. They also reassure those of us who want to see Israel as a democracy that treats everyone equally; is being pushed to resolve the conflict with the Palestinians; and whose actions may have us be welcomed by the community of nations. Balance between our push for a democratic and Jewish Israel suddenly seems much more possible and urgent.
When did we have it so good?
The Accords, with flexibility and compromise, can help us understand that each one of our parties is a valuable piece of our collective social fabric and that we need to make room for each other.
Arab nations are yearning for normalization and peace with us. They are excited about it. Others seem eager to join them. Friendship and peace with the Israelis could become contagious worldwide.
The possibilities are world-changing. Our new friends may be able to help us fight anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism, BDS, and all the other destructive virus-like memes against us, and usher peace into the region.
Is the relinquishment of our ideological lenses that are destroying our unity too big of a price to pay?