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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 Threats Posed to Israel by a Palestinian State

Oct. 23 2017

To the IDF reserve general Gershon Hacohen, the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank would, given the current circumstances of the Middle East, create a graver danger for the Jewish state than either Iran or Hizballah. More damaging still, he argues, is the attitude among many Israelis that the two-state solution is a necessity for Israel. He writes:

Since the Oslo process began in the fall of 1993, dramatic changes have occurred in the international arena. . . . For then-Prime Minister Yitzḥak Rabin, Oslo was based on the superpower status of the U.S. . . . At the time, the Arabs were in a state of crisis and aware of their weakness—all the more so after the U.S. vanquished Iraq in the First Gulf War in the winter of 1991. . . . It was that awareness of weakness, along with the PLO leadership’s state of strategic inadequacy, that paved the way for the Oslo process.

[But] over the [intervening] years, the America’s hegemonic power has declined while Russia has returned to play an active and very influential role. . . .

Something essential has changed, too, with regard to expectations in the Israeli-Palestinian sphere. At first, in the early days of Oslo, the expectations were of mutual goodwill and reconciliation. Over the years, however, as the cycle of blood has continued, the belief in Palestinian acceptance of Israel in return for Israeli concessions has been transformed in the Israeli discourse into nothing more than the need to separate from the Palestinians—“They’re there, we’re here”—solely on our own behalf.

The more the proponents of separation have honed their efforts to explain to Israeli society that separation is mandated by reality, enabling Israel to preserve its identity as Jewish and democratic, the more the Palestinians’ bargaining power has grown. If a withdrawal from the West Bank and the establishment of a Palestinian state is a clear-cut Israeli interest, if the Israelis must retreat in any case for the sake of their own future, why should the Palestinians give something in return? . . . Hence the risk is increasing that a withdrawal from the West Bank will not only fail to end the conflict but will in fact lead to its intensification.

Read more at BESA Center

More about: Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, Oslo Accords, Russia, Two-State Solution