Israel Can Flourish without Peace

Aug. 11 2017

In a recent conversation with a visiting American rabbi, Daniel Gordis—a longtime resident of Israel—explained, to his interlocutor’s shock, that a formal end to the Israel-Palestinian conflict is unlikely to happen in the coming decades. To his guest’s greater shock, Gordis described his own position as optimistic:

In ten years, . . . I wouldn’t be surprised if things look very much as they do now. Israelis can elect a government even further to the right, but the international commitment to Palestinian autonomy of some sort isn’t going to go away. Yet even a radically leftist government led by the Meretz party, with a solid coalition, would have no impact on the recalcitrant Palestinian street. Regardless of who is elected here, nothing is going to change the fact that, on the whole, Palestinians would rather wage conflict against Israel than lay the groundwork for the state they say they want. (Note the response to the metal detectors [installed on the Temple Mount].) . . .

Assuming that things stay more or less the same, what will we have? We will have a world in which the Jews do not live subject to the whims of their hosts. . . . Ten years from now, Jews will determine where Jews live; and for that alone, Israel will be a success. . . .

Some 150 years ago, everyone in the world who spoke fluent Hebrew could have fit comfortably into one of Jerusalem’s larger hotels. Some 150 years ago, virtually no one outside the Jewish world could name a single Jewish [novelist]. Today, though, Israeli writers—reflecting a renaissance of Jewish thought, creativity, and writing—win prizes like the Man Booker and the Nobel. . . . Jewish culture flourishes in Israel in a way that it cannot anywhere else. Even if the conflict persists, the Jewish state will still be the epicenter of a worldwide Jewish cultural revival. . . .

Would life here be better if the conflict could be resolved? Of course it would. But since that is not likely to happen in our lifetimes, it’s worth noting—particularly as now, after [the fast of] Tisha b’Av, [a day of collective mourning], we have entered the [period in the Jewish calendar know as] the “seven weeks of consolation”—that the Jewish state is a success far greater than anything its founders imagined.

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Israel & Zionism, Israeli culture, Jewish Culture, Peace Process, Tisha b'Av

The Palestinian National Movement Has Reached a Point of Crisis

With Hamas having failed to achieve anything through several weeks of demonstrations and violence, and Mahmoud Abbas reduced to giving rambling anti-Semitic speeches, Palestinian aspirations seem to have hit a brick wall. Elliott Abrams explains:

[Neither] Fatah [nor] Hamas offers Palestinians a practical program for national independence. . . . [The current situation] leaves Palestinians high and dry, with no way forward at all. Whatever the criticism of the “occupation,” Israelis will certainly not abandon the West Bank to chaos or to a possible Hamas takeover. Today the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state is simply too dangerous to Israel and to Jordan to be contemplated. . . . There are only two other options. The first is the “one-state solution,” meaning union with Israel; but that is a nonstarter that Israel will reject no matter who is its prime minister. The other option is some kind of eventual link to Jordan.

In polite diplomatic society, and in Palestinian public discourse, such a link cannot be mentioned. But younger people who visit there, Palestinians have explained to me, can see a society that is half-Palestinian and functions as an independent nation with a working system of law and order. Jordanians travel freely, rarely suffer from terrorism, and [can vote in regular] elections, even if power is ultimately concentrated in the royal palace. The kingdom has close relations with all the Sunni states and the West, and is at peace with Israel.

The fundamental question all this raises is what, in 2018, is the nature and objective of Palestinian nationalism. Is the goal sovereignty at all costs, no matter how long it takes and even if it is increasingly divorced from peace, prosperity, and personal freedom? Is “steadfastness” [in refusing to compromise with Israel] the greatest Palestinian virtue now and forever? These questions cannot be debated in either Gaza or the West Bank. But as Israel celebrates 70 years and the “occupation” is now more than a half-century old, how much longer can they be delayed? . . .

The catastrophic mishandling of Palestinian affairs by generations of leaders from Haj Amin al-Husseini (the pro-Nazi mufti of the British Mandate period) to Yasir Arafat and now to Mahmoud Abbas has been the true Palestinian Nakba.

Read more at Weekly Standard

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Jordan, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinians