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It Is Not Going To Go Away


Rabbi Berel Wein

In spite of all policies, agreements, hopes and wishful thinking, it should be obvious that the Israeli-Arab dispute is nowhere near solution or accommodation. It really is not about borders, land swaps, or even begrudging acceptance of the two-state solution to the dispute. It is something far deeper, religious in nature and hardened over centuries of behavior and custom. It basically is that the Jew, the dhimmi, the infidel, has no right to rule over territory that was once under Moslem sovereignty and certainly no right to rule over Moslem people themselves. The inability of Israel over lo these many decades to face up to this fact has in fact only prolonged and deepened the conflict and made the problem more intractable. It is in reality a biblical epic that we are currently experiencing, not a nice modern day dispute that lends itself to creative diplomacy and realpolitik. In a completely secular world there is no room for biblical epics. The world - and much of the Jewish world as well - believes that the Bible is a story book and that little of is applicable today. So therefore we find ourselves applying the wrong antibiotic to counteract the true bacteria of hatred and violence that is in reality playing itself out in front of our bewildered eyes. In an oped-article that appeared in Haaretz, the writer stated in the article that "we are all people." And that is the crux of the matter and as long as the Jews are not recognized as "people" this dispute is simply not going to go away anytime soon.

Religion, per se, is an ambiguous creature. It can be and has been an enormous force for good in human history. However in the hands of zealots and fanatics, it can be construed to be a most destructive force. The extremists in the world of Islam have created a situation of hatred and violence, not only against Israel and the Jews but also against Christians, especially the Copts in Egypt as well as against Hindus in the Pakistan - India conflict which continues to simmer after decades. And to further muddy the waters the violence in Iraq and Afghanistan is essentially a continuation of the millennia old wars between the Shiite and Sunni brands of Islam while Syria is engulfed in a rebellion against Alewite rule - also a form of heresy to Sunni Moslems - and Libya has degenerated into basic tribal warfare. And all of this is going on without taking into account Iran’s determination to define the Arab world in purely Shiite terms and Al Queida’s attempts to assert Sunni hegemony over all of mankind. This is not an essentially pretty picture of the Moslem world and its faith as is currently revealed and practiced in universal society. This is religion run amuck, as much a danger to itself as to others. Yet the world is hesitant to call these forces to account for their behavior and fanatical beliefs. Whistling past the graveyard now only guarantees more pain, suffering and bloodshed in the future.

Because of all of the above I think it safe to say that these problems are not going to go away anytime soon. It took centuries for the religious wars of Europe and Christendom to end. The Arabs are not going away nor are they likely to have an immediate epiphany and change of heart regarding Israel, the Jews, the Copts, the Hindus, America, etc. This is going to be a very long haul for all concerned. All of the peace plans and agreements fostered until now have proven to be worthless and in fact counterproductive to any form of true peace. The change of heart necessary to create a climate of compromise and accommodation is simply not in the offing in the Moslem world as a whole and certainly not in particular in the Middle East. This bitter truth may sadden us bit there is no joy the Talmud teaches us equal to the removal of all doubts and seeing a problem as it is realistically and without wishful thinking and false assessments. The Oslo Agreements, the Wye Agreements, the Hebron Agreement, the fleeing from Lebanon, the Gaza disengagement, all stand out today as bad decisions and examples of woefully poor judgment by world and Israeli leaders. We hoped that these gestures would make the hatred and violence go away. Unfortunately, they did not. It will take a long time and a major change in attitudes and circumstances for hatred and violence to even begin to diminish. Biblical epics last for centuries, not just for months and years.
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