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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

Why Cutting U.S. Funding for Palestinian “Refugees” Is the Right Move

Jan. 22 2018

Last week the Trump administration announced that it is withholding some of America’s annual contribution to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the organization tasked with providing humanitarian aid to Palestinian refugees and their descendants. To explain why this decision was correct, Elliott Abrams compares UNRWA with the agency run by the UN high commissioner for refugees (UNHCR), which provides humanitarian aid to refugees who are not Palestinian:

One of [UNHCR’s] core missions is “ending statelessness.” [By contrast, UNRWA’s] mission appears to be “never ending statelessness.” A phrase such as “ending statelessness” would be anathema and is found nowhere on its website. Since 1950, UNHCR has tried to place refugees in permanent new situations, while since 1950 UNRWA has with its staff of 30,000 “helped” over 5 million Palestinian “refugees” to remain “refugees.” . . . UNRWA has three times as large a staff as UNHCR—but helps far fewer people than the 17 million refugees UNHCR tries to assist. . . .

The argument for cutting funding to UNRWA is not primarily financial. The United States is an enormously generous donor to UNHCR, providing just under 40 percent of its budget. I hope we maintain that level of funding. . . . The argument for cutting funding to UNRWA instead rests on two pillars. The first is that UNRWA’s activities repeatedly give rise to concern that it has too many connections to Hamas and to rejectionist ideology. . . .

But even if those flaws were corrected, this would not solve the second and more fundamental problem with UNRWA—which is that it will perpetuate the Palestinian “refugee” problem forever rather than helping to solve it. . . . [T]hat the sole group of refugees whom the UN keeps enlarging is Palestinian, and that the only way to remedy this under UN definitions would be to eliminate the state of Israel or have 5 million Palestinian “refugees” move there should simply be unacceptable. . . .

Perpetuating and enlarging the Palestinian “refugee” crisis has harmed Israel and it has certainly harmed Palestinians. Keeping their grievances alive may have served anti-Israel political ends, but it has brought peace no closer and it has helped prevent generations of Palestinians from leading normal lives. That archipelago of displaced-persons and refugee camps that once dotted Europe [in the aftermath of World War II] is long gone now, and the descendants of those who tragically lived in those camps now lead productive and fruitful lives in many countries. One can only wish such a fate for Palestinian refugee camps and for Palestinians. More money for UNRWA won’t solve anything.

Read more at Pressure Points

More about: Israel & Zionism, Palestinians, Refugees, U.S. Foreign policy, UNRWA