Why are we finding this so difficult?
We came, we established our state.
We thrived, but we are scared. The future is not a bright shining light before us, but a black hole of uncertainty.
The present is a whirlpool of terror, of enemies encircling us from without and devouring us from within.
It shouldn’t be this way.
But it is and no one seems to know what to do about it, least of all the very people who were elected on the promise of keeping Israel, and Israelis safe and secure.
When the weapons you fear aren’t the knives, screwdrivers and guns, but the people holding them, there is very little that can be done before an attack. The lemming-like way in which these terrorists jump to their deaths is scant cause for celebration.
One could say that this is the situation within which we find ourselves, but that would be a lie. This is the situation the policies adopted by the leaders of Palestinians and Israelis have brought us to. The politics of ideology and of hatred make compromise something entirely unwanted.
Palestinian leaders sold their own people on the idea that it’s possible to destroy Israel and replace it with Palestine. Israeli leaders sold Israelis the falsehood that Palestinian nationalism is something that can be dealt with by putting up walls and sending in soldiers. That it is just a military problem.
And now it’s too late for any of them to back down.
Abbas simultaneously praises terrorism and prevents Palestinians from carrying out terror attacks. He talks his people into carrying out acts of terror and then sends his goons to stop them from perpetrating them. It is a failed policy, started long before his time, that has succeeded in gaining the Palestinians nothing at all.
Netanyahu says he’ll sit down and talk to Abbas and then he doesn’t. He alludes to the possibility of two states and then refuses to countenance the notion. He talks of the importance of the West Bank, but he doesn’t annex it. He promises security and provides none. For that matter, the leader of the opposition, Isaac Herzog, says little and does less. The politicians representing Israeli Arabs incite their own constituency to violence against their own country.
No one tries to build bridges to the “other.” Everyone appeals to their base and tells voters what they think they want to hear. This isn’t leadership. Leadership is having the courage to tell your own people what they don’t want to hear, but what they need to know, what they need to hear is the truth.
The Palestinian strategy of pretending that they are involved in some kind of colonial struggle that they will inevitably win has condemned their people to decades of economic stagnation and deprivation. Their insistence on attacking (almost exclusively) civilians has hardened the hearts of Israelis towards them and squandered whatever diplomatic capital they are able to build around the world.
Until a Palestinian leader finds the words to tell his own people that their future lies in cooperation with Israel and the building and consolidation of a democratic state in the West Bank it is Palestinians who will continue to suffer first and foremost. No one will come and help them.
We Jews want peace. But that is easy for us to want; we already have our state, our sovereignty, our liberty. The test for us is what we are willing to do to make that happen. Generals from Julius Caesar to Napoleon and onward wanted peace…they wanted to be able to take over territory without having to fight at all. So it is we Israelis who need to decide, can we enjoy sovereignty, liberty and our own country without having to live in the biblical sites most important to our religion? If the answer is an emphatic yes then we need to ask why we aren’t working towards that goal. But no one will ask.
No leader on either side will stand up and do anything other than point at the other and cry “enemy,” and so long as this is the case, we will continue this dance of death with the Palestinians. We will embrace one another with the left hand while plunging a knife into the back of the other with the right.
Help me understand why we can’t make this work.