|wherein a father teaches his children, "this city is large enough for all of us"|
Second, one must never forget to charge the leadership of Hamas with its own moral culpability in putting at risk its own population. That there are many dozens of innocent Palestinians currently dying in Gaza, it's because they have been put at risk by a delusional policy that says, "We win this war by drawing fire from Jews whose bombs will kill innocent Palestinians, earning the world's condemnation, making Israel a pariah among the nations." Hamas wants this to happen. Its population glorifies these deaths. These are the grotesque tickets to heaven of our new messianic age. Why this is not a crime against humanity boggles the mind.
Third, please don't start arguing with me about blockades. This is real easy. Hamas publicly recognizes Israel as a Jewish state. It offers to negotiate. What does Iran, Hezbollah, or the radicalized Muslim Brotherhood have to do with anything except the view that Israel is a temporary problem in the Middle East? Jews are many things but two for sure: intelligent and stubborn. We're not leaving a place that has been ours for three thousand years. And I'll even go so far as to say God has nothing to do with it. I'm talking pure, archaeologically verifiable history. So stop your nonsense.
Now let's shift direction.
While Israel has to strike ammunitions in Gaza and take out the weapons systems that threaten the sovereign existence of its citizens who deserve their country's rightful defense, there is a tragic and cynical element to Bibi Netanyahu's government.
First, the hands of moderation have not been strengthened but rather ignored. Rather than sit down for direct negotiations with Palestinian leadership, Bibi's government has continually opted for expansion of settlements (since we're talking no nonsense, let's admit that "ten month freezes" are meaningless in the face of a 45 year settlement policy.) Rather than publicly taking every opportunity to partner with the most moderate Palestinian forces and forge a relationship of cooperation, economic growth, expansion of civil services and basic infrastructure support, a policy of separation has driven a harsh wedge between two populations, two nations. East Jerusalem is probably the best and easiest example. The kinds of settlements and radical political and religious views of Jewish settlers living amidst Palestinian populations in East Jerusalem is a provocation that sows seeds of discontent and distrust. Israel controls Jerusalem. It doesn't need to be a finger in the eye by building massive settlements amidst Arab populations just for the sake of "sovereignty." It tears at the fragile fabric of the idea of cooperation.
Second, for nearly two years we have watched in horror and guarded breath the provocations wrought by a potentially nuclear Iran. We have been subjected to the most invasive intrusion of Israel into an American campaign in modern memory. And we have tried--against voices of anger, concern, and at times, deeply disturbing, even racist hysteria--to temper the diatribes against President Obama, who has demonstrated stalwart friendship for Israel through it all. And despite it all, it's hard not to believe, on a certain level, that Israelis have been killed and threatened; and many more Palestinians have been killed and threatened because Iran and Israel and Hezbollah are fighting a proxy war. Innocent Israelis and innocent Palestinians are being subjected to a greater fight--among radical forces of Islam and an Israeli leadership that sees no chance for peace and negotiation with any Arab nation. This is a war of hopelessness, a deeply cynical war, whose eventual cease-fire will only be the briefest of breaks until the next re-arming.
Third, don't underestimate the Jewish state's own delusional radicalism. If Syria falls (which it will) and if Jordan falls (which it might, eventually) and if Gaza allies with Egypt in a more radicalized Mediterranean corridor of apocalyptical visions, then a Greater Israel movement is vindicated. Jordan is Palestine and Gaza is Egypt and the map is re-drawn and Rand McNally makes a killing next Christmas, if anyone buys maps anymore.
I hope that my worst fears, here articulated, are not realized. But the truth is, I don't know. And so, like countless generations of Jews, I hope against those crippling fears and hatreds that a sanity prevails. In my meager, diaspora ways, I attempt to strengthen the hands of tolerance, cooperation and moderation. I support, despite insidious attempts to delegitimate them as "un-patriotic," the NGOs that support cooperation, toleration, even two states for two peoples. I will lead more than 50 Jews from our Brooklyn community to their ancestral homeland, to love, celebrate, and simply be with our brothers and sisters in the Jewish state.
And upon the wall in my study will remain a map that I believe in: a Jewish state whose largest city is one of the greatest on earth and whose capital means City of Peace.
If you will it, it is no dream. So will it. Do it. Make peace. Enough with death!