Monday, December 10, 2012

Losing Hope

Losing Hope On Israeli-Palestinian Peace | The New Republic by Leon Wieseltier

Leon Wieseltier writes:
I have been thinking about lost causes because I have concluded that one of my causes is lost. I no longer believe that peace between Israelis and Palestinians will occur in my lifetime. I have not changed my views; I have merely lost my hopes. I am still quite certain that the establishment of the state of Palestine is a condition for the survival of the state of Israel, as a Jewish state and a democratic state, and that for Israel not to be a Jewish state would be a Jewish catastrophe, and for it not to be a democratic state would be a human catastrophe; and that the only solution there has ever been to this conflict is the solution that was proposed by the Peel Commission in 1937, that is, the partition of one land into two states; and that the Jewish settlement of the West Bank was a colossal mistake, and the occupation (and the indifference to it) corrodes the decency of the occupiers; and that the Jewish state is a secular entity; and that anti-Semitism, which will never disappear, does not explain the entirety of the history of the Jews or their state, or exempt Israel from accountability for its actions. An impenitent Zionist and an impenitent dove, in sum; but to the consternation of some of my comrades, a hawkish dove, too, since I see that Israel has enemies and I believe in the ethical primacy of self-defense. I have irritated some of my comrades also with my unglowing view of the Palestinians and their inability to recognize the historical grandeur of compromise. Since 1977, and really since 1947, they have refused one proposed solution after another, as if the “unviability” of an imperfect state is not preferable to the unviability of statelessness. In recent decades they have added a new religious maximalism to an old secular maximalism. But still I concur in the necessity and the justice of their demand for a state, and still I yearn for a serious Palestinian diplomacy.
And Daniel Gordis writes in Haaretz, critiquing the naivete of too many American Jewish leaders, in particular a number of my colleagues:
Jews have always seen ourselves as citizens of the world. But key to Judaism’s survival has been an ability to couple that universal concern to a clear-eyed assessment of the challenges and dangers facing the Jewish world. The mark of great religious leadership is not simply its ability to imagine a better world, but to imagine how we might get to that world from the one that actually exists. We will know great Progressive religious leadership is emerging when we see the world that they describe bears at least some resemblance to the one in which Israel has to try to survive.
And yet I stubbornly insist on hope.  I cannot live without it.  Yes, it must be coupled with reality, but I refuse to allow even present reality to lead to fatalism or worse, a stultification of the spirit.  Zionism's revolution was, and continues to be, the belief that we must first and foremost rely on our own strength and creativity to change the course of Jewish history.  We once relied only on our prayers.  We were once subject only to foreign rulers.  Now there is more that we can do. There is far more that is within our own hands.  I.will never let go of this dream.

I do not pretend to have solutions to our current struggles.  It is true that Palestinian intransigence and terror remain the greatest obstacles to any resolution.  This does not excuse our current reluctance to change.  We can shape our future.  We can mend our ways, if for no other reason than to do what is best for the Jewish state.  Unless Israel "withdraws" from both the territory and ideology of those who want nothing to do with Israel as a Jewish democracy, the Zionist dream of being a "free people in our own land" will falter.  Yes, the creation of a Palestinian state remains within Palestinian hands (not the UN's!).  If they were to affirm the legitimate right of the Jewish people to live within the historical boundaries of the land of Israel and to do as they have done, create a vibrant Jewish state, then a Palestinian state would soon be fashioned alongside it. The future of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, however, remains within our hands.

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