Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Vision of an Art Sale

I’m often asked on various social media networks about my political stand, where my sons are, what beliefs I have in the future. Recently, a series of emails and Twitter conversations got to me. One cousin in America, who supported Barack Hussein Obama, argues that Obama isn’t anti-Israel and that my claims that Obama is blackmailing Israel are unfounded. He quotes relatives who lived in Palestine in the 1920s and 1930s but refuses to acknowledge today’s realities.

From my perspective, I see that Obama wants Israel to toe his line and has canceled sending Israel necessary military equipment until Israel buckles. Sounds like blackmail to me. Obama is demanding Israel stop building in Jerusalem, something Israel never promised to do because it is on Obama’s agenda, not ours. Sounds anti-Israel to me.

And a gentleman from Brazil who says he is left-wing, offers me a choice: withdraw from a good portion of our land, establish a bi-national state, or become an apartheid state. I rejected his options…each and every one of them. We have given good land, only to get rockets; we know what a bi-national state will bring us, and Israel is nothing like the apartheid South Africa once was…with 10% of the Knesset being Arab, with Israeli Arabs having all the same rights we have – the right to travel anywhere in our country, the right to vote, the right to education and government funding.

The Brazilian gentleman asked me if I see a light at the end of the tunnel. After I answered, he asked me if I would be willing to trade land for these visions and I explained that his question was absurd. It’s like going into an art gallery and asking to buy a painting that isn’t for sale in a place you know believes in bargaining.
The owner steps us and says it isn’t for sale, but what is the most you would pay? If you answer $1,000, you know that should the owner decide to sell, he will begin at $1,000.

The opening bid is the one you last state and you can never go back and offer $800. Your final bid becomes the opening one, the final price so much higher than you can afford to pay…or more likely, the sale will never be made. People ask me if I would agree to trade land for some distant peace…and my answer is simply “is the painting even for sale?”

And finally, the man from Brazil who speaks Hebrew and loves this land and wishes my sons well; a man who prays for a day when his sons and mine can play soccer on a field with Palestinian children, asked if I had a vision. It isn’t often I let myself dream of what the future could hold. For what purpose, I ask myself, when there is no chance of a peace agreement while Israel has no partner, what is to be gained?

And then I realized that because we don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel, doesn’t mean we lack hope. Perhaps it is our error, that we often don’t explain to the world that yes, we do have a vision of the world we dream of, the one that could come…if the Palestinians allow it.

So here is my vision – of a time when the painting is on sale…when the Palestinians seriously want peace and an end to this endless war. I dream of a day:

-- when Muslim extremism ceases to exist and Islam doesn't consider non-Muslim "infidels" worthy of death and terror.

-- when Palestinians recognize Israel is too strong to be destroyed and are willing to live WITH it permanently on viable borders that aren’t simply a staging ground for their next war.

--when Palestinian mothers say to their husbands and government - enough. We won't lose any more sons. Stop the terror, stop the rockets and go talk.

-- when the world says to the Palestinians (and Iranians) - NO, you cannot continue. WE will stop you. Israel has the right to live, a right to land, a right to peace and until you negotiate, we will not give you, we will not support you, we will not back you and we will not arm you.

-- when, God willing, my third son doesn't have to be a soldier as my first and now my second has to, or a time when my sons’ closets aren’t filled with green clothes, when there are no bullets in my home and no talk of violent attacks or incoming rockets.

I dream of a day, perhaps, when I can get in my car and drive to Amman for shopping after lunch in Jerusalem - and see not a gun or a fence along the way. And perhaps I’ll stay in Amman overnight, perhaps not. The consideration will be what I want to do and not my Israeli passport, security and safety.
I dream of a day when my children don’t look and wonder at the person who walks in the restaurant because there is no fear of violence.

I dream of a day when I can wander the hills of my land without concern for guards and escorts, when a mountain or field calls to me through the car window and I can stop the car and not have to think if it is near an Arab village…or a firing range.

No, I explained to my Brazilian friend – I do not see a light at the end of this tunnel we are in but I know what the world outside the tunnel would look like. We who live in this world are not without vision or hope. We are simply realistic enough to understand that desperation does not make reality; that wanting peace is wonderful, unless the other side does not…and then it becomes a weakness they exploit.

The underlying truth here is that we who pride ourselves on being on the Right side of this great debate of our lives and realities are no less interested in peace and security than those on the Left. We dream, as you do, of a day when there will be peace, when our sons will not have to guard our borders with such vigilance. We yearn for the days when rockets stop and guards are no longer needed at malls and restaurants and airports.

The difference is not in the dreams and hopes we have for the future of our nation, but rather in the path we think we must take to get there. We know that appeasement and surrender simply whets the appetites of our enemies, feeds their thirst to have it all.

We have tasted of the bitter waters of surrender, unilateral actions, and land trades and find today’s reality is a direct result of these desperate and incorrect policies. Tomorrow’s peace will come only when today’s partners want it. Until then, the painting isn’t even for sale so talk of what we will pay is not only premature, it is potentially suicidal and most definitely bad politics.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Will Gilad have matzoah this Passover?

The right to have bread, says the Arab prisoners in Israel - is a human right. They feel that just because Jews don't eat bread for seven days, substituting it for matzoah, why should they suffer? They forget that they are in prison, convicted of all manner of crimes - from violent acts of murder, attempted murder and more, to stealing all manner of property. Unlike Gilad Shalit, they had their day in court. Unlike Gilad, they have lawyers who represented them, media that covered their story, and families that can visit them.

So these prisoners think it is their right to have bread and in fact, in all Arab prisons, they do. Only in the prisons that are mixed with Jewish and Arab populations are the entire prisoner base served matzoah in place of bread. There are issues in religion of choice and obligation. Muslim prisoners have the choice to eat bread or not on Passover; Jews do not. They will not violate their religious practice if they eat matzoah for a week while our prison, Gilad Shalit, held captive for almost four years now, will violate his religion if not supplied with matzoah.

After reading about the Arab prisoner demands, I thought of Gilad - what of his right - to lawyers, to his family - even to the simple right of fulfilling his religion's tradition of eating matzoah on Passover. Let the Israeli government answer - until we know that Gilad be able to fulfill his obligation to eat matzoah, don't talk to us of your "right" to have bread.

And to a much larger sense, Passover and matzoah are symbols of our being free - denying Gilad's freedom is an international crime. If Arab prisoners, charged, tried and convicted...are entitled to bread, Gilad should be entitled to so much more.

Free Gilad Now!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Man Just Died

That's right - as I sit here working ... a rocket was launched at my country, as two were yesterday, one the day before. Two days ago, it was two people treated for shock, before that, a direct hit on an empty warehouse. The building destroyed, but thankfully no one was hurt. And so it continues.

Until this morning when a man, a foreign worker who came from far with the hope of earning money and perhaps returning to his family...got up and went to work in the fields of our country. He works in a hot house, growing wonderful produce in a land of sunshine and little water. And a rocket slammed into the hot house...and he died. It would be, I think, more appropriate to say he was killed, to say he was murdered. Yes, that's what I'll say - this morning a man was murdered in my country because in a nearby place there is a people and a culture that finds it acceptable, even holy, to murder.

I don't yet know the man's name - I do know I never met him and never will. His body, or what is left after being hit by a rocket hard enough to kill, will likely be returned to his family - the end of a dream, a nightmare just begun.

And in a far off land, President Obama may or may not hear of this attack; he may or may not think of that poor man's family, of the agony of that innocent family. No, sadly, President Obama is more upset about Israel building in our own capital and of our rebuilding a synagogue in the exact location in which it was destroyed by other Arab violence and hatred.

A man died today - and President Obama is calling on Israel to work towards peace. The irony, the stupidity, the misguided righteousness is enough to make you sick.