Because of my business, which involves synagogues, I have accidentally been placed on many synagogue mailing lists. So I get to read about simchas and deaths, holiday parties, trips to Israel, building campaigns, etc. Most of this is uninteresting, relating to people I don’t know in places I haven’t been, but sometimes it’s revealing.
For example, I recently received a copy of a message from a Reform rabbi whom I won’t identify, but whose remarks can be paraphrased as follows:
The recent fighting between Israel and Hamas was terrible. Many innocent people on both sides were hurt. Why do we keep repeating this irrational behavior? Bellicose leaders on both sides are at fault. The only way to end the conflict is a two-state solution, to talk rather than fight.
I’ve left out a great deal, some of which I found so ‘evenhanded’ as to be offensive, as though the rabbi felt that if he criticized Hamas it would only be fair to criticize Israel harshly as well.
I’m sure the rabbi’s congregants expect him to be knowledgeable about Israel and the conflict that has always informed its existence. But he is representative of many Jewish leaders in that, to be as polite as possible, he seems to be talking about the Middle East located in the Upsilon Andromedae system rather than the one on earth.
He must be unaware of the recent Hamas ‘victory’ celebration where tens of thousands of Gazans cheered Hamas leader Khaled Meshal, who said,
Palestine is ours, from the river to the sea and from the south to the north. There will be no concession on an inch of the land … We will never recognize the legitimacy of the Israeli occupation and therefore there is no legitimacy for Israel, no matter how long it will take…
We will not rest until we liberate the prisoners. The way we freed some of the prisoners in the past is the way we will use to free the remaining prisoners…
[The right of return to Israel for Arab ‘refugees’] is sacred to us and we will not forfeit it…
And apparently he does not understand that Mahmoud Abbas of the PLO declared the Oslo ‘peace process’ null and void by unilaterally turning to the UN for statehood (and he doesn’t grasp that the General Assembly affirmed this denial of the only cooperative road to a two-state solution).
He seems to ignore the multiple times that the PLO rejected Israeli offers of almost the entire area of the 1948-1967 Jordanian conquest. The fact that no Arab leadership has ever given up the so-called ‘right of return’ of the descendents of Arab refugees to Israel — a ‘right’ for which there is no legal or historical precedent — does not dampen his enthusiasm for “two states.”
He doesn’t appear to ask if the hundred-year history of pogroms and terrorism by Arabs against Jews in the land of Israel, along with the vicious anti-Jewish hatred spewed by the Hamas and PLO media and educational systems, their maps that show ‘Palestine’ as including all of Israel, etc. — if all of this might imply that the Palestinians wouldn’t be satisfied even if they obtained pre-1967 boundaries?
He doesn’t bring up the fact that the Middle East has become an even more dangerous place than ever before, with a radical Islamist regime rising in Egypt, total chaos possible in Syria and a soon-to-be-nuclear Iran. Is this the time for Israel to invite new security threats?
Although the rabbi doesn’t discuss the security issues that would be raised by an Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria, doesn’t the recent experience of withdrawal from Gaza make him think? Even if an agreement were made with a non-hostile Palestinian entity — although the idea that the PLO is non-hostile in anything other than its English statements is questionable — what would happen if (when) Hamas or hardline PLO factions take over, placing Tel Aviv, Ben-Gurion airport, Jerusalem and more in the position of Sderot?
Keep in mind that if it doesn’t work out — if the Palestinians don’t keep their agreement (and they have broken numerous prior agreements) then getting the land back isn’t easy. Israel is expected to make real, concrete concessions in return for promises.
In short, why does the rabbi advise his congregants to ignore the lessons of history as well as everything that the Palestinian leadership says and does, and call for a ‘solution’ that doesn’t solve anything, but only makes the situation much worse?
I won’t even ask why the rabbi, as a Jewish leader, doesn’t even mention the fact that the parts of the land of Israel that would be abandoned in a two-state agreement are those with the most historic Jewish significance. Nor would I ask whether his evident compassion for Palestinians extends to the Jews — the settlers — that would be displaced (for an idea of how this would work out, see the former residents of Gush Katif). These questions are too personal.
After all that has happened since 1993 — the second Intifada, the disaster of Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza, the Hamas takeover and the two wars that has spawned, the intransigence of the PLO and its tolerance of terrorism, the continued incitement against Jews and Israel, the abrogation of the Oslo Accords, the radicalization of the Arab world, etc. — why do people like this rabbi continue to repeat the same, old, tired nonsense?
When can we finally put the idea of the “two-state solution” out of its misery?