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June 4 2024 - 27 Iyar 5784

06/03/2024 04:30:03 PM


At irregular intervals over the 8 months since Hamas breached Israel’s border from the Gaza Strip various groups have implored the Israeli government to back off and stop the military effort in the densely populated stretch of land ruled by Hamas for two decades. Some good has come—though not since last November saw some of estimated 250 civilians taken captive and kidnapped on October 7.  

More recently, as various countries have grown restless with the real danger of a broader war in the Middle East, a few states have decided to recognize a state that does not exist but has been called Palestine. Not a very productive move from my point of view, but understandable for countries long beset by their own narratives derived from colonial occupation, geographic isolation and anxiety about their own viability. 

During last week, a new stepwise proposal was unveiled by the United States in partnership with other cooperators in the Abraham Accords. With direct reference to UN Resolution 218 of 29 November 1947, the foundation on which the land between the Jordan River and Mediterranean Sea was allocated with the intention of creating two entities, one for Palestinian/Arab residents under the British Mandate, one for the Zionist idea of a nation-state returning Jewish rule after nearly 2,000 years. 

While Hamas seems ready to at least talk about the stepwise approach, the Israeli cabinet has been less forthcoming. While disappointing the Israeli objection is unsurprising. The current elected cabinet, known as hamemshalah—the government—is a coalition of unlike parties. The agenda of some, particularly those parties who have threatened to leave the weak government should a rapid move to a cease fire eventuate, only points out more clearly how fragile the coalition has always been. 

Before this threat, Prime Minister Netanyahu had expressed doubts about the suggestion. He is now entrapped by the thin tissue of unity holding him in office. The demands he faces to continue his quest to eliminate Hamas permanently, which is a tall order, flies in the face of 36,000 reported civilian deaths in Gaza. At the same time, the lack of success in bringing out more captives has produced a maelstrom of public demonstrations and private demands to the government. People are languishing, dying, and sorely missed in their captivity. Surviving relatives will not rest until they make their way home, or can be laid to rest in Israeli cemeteries. 

Don’t get me wrong here: an agreement ending open hostilities has much to offer to Israel, Israelis and Jews in the diaspora. The unrest in cities in the US and Europe as friends of Palestine play heart strings while not assigning blame to Hamas for unleashing storms of destruction have produced an ugly antisemitism subjecting Jews outside the combat zone to torrents of abuse. That can only be arrested when the thunder of war fades and the civilian population of Gaza has a sense of security. 

This is a new, real and painful dilemma for a Jewish community motivated by altruism regarding the Arab population and by self-preservation and ahavat yisraeil —the love of Israel—simultaneously. An approach-avoidance conflict of epic proportions is creating divisions among various groups within the Jewish population. 

I am optimistic that there will be a resolution at some point in the future. 9 million Israeli lives rely upon it. Yet an atmosphere like that which treated the 59th Israel Day Parade in New York City on June 2, where caution was elevated, and suspicion became the norm for the day can only have a chilling effect upon the relationship between Jews in chutz la’aretz—living outside the land of Israel— and Israelis.  

Jewish unity, comity, and cooperative solidarity are necessary ingredients for a healthy Jewish world. May this be achieved. Soon. In our time. Let us not rest until Jerusalem knows peace.

Thu, July 18 2024 12 Tammuz 5784