Religious : : Thoughts from Our Rabbi

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, is something we hear frequently in our tradition. The outgoing U.S. UN Ambassador Nikki Haley told the UN Security Council the following on occasion of attending her last meeting as our U.S. ambassador:

“The problems of the Middle East are numerous, and yet we spend a vastly disproportionate amount of time on just one of them. And the UN has shown itself to be hopelessly biased, as we witnessed again just weeks ago when the General Assembly failed to condemn Hamas’ terrorist activity against Israel.

“Most of the region’s problems have absolutely nothing to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The UN’s obsession with this issue has been counterproductive. It has sent a loud and false message to the Palestinians that they just might be able to achieve their goals by relying on the UN, rather than through direct negotiations. And it has sent a loud and accurate message to the Israelis that they can never trust the UN.

“Here’s how I see it. Israel is a thriving, strong, prosperous country. It has always wanted peace with its neighbors. It has clearly demonstrated its willingness to make big sacrifices for peace, including giving up large areas of land. But Israel will not make a peace agreement at just any price, and it shouldn’t. Throughout its existence, Israel has been surrounded by threats to its security. It would be foolish for it to make a deal that weakened its security.

“The Palestinian people are suffering terribly while their leadership clings to 50-year-old demands that have only become less and less realistic. What awaits the Palestinian people with a peace agreement are the prospects of a massive improvement in the quality of their lives and far greater control over their political future.

“The Trump Administration has crafted a plan for peace between Israel and the Palestinians. I have read it. It recognizes the realities on the ground in the Middle East have changed in very powerful and important ways. It embraces the reality that things can be done today that were previously unthinkable.

“Every country or party can focus on the parts of the plan they dislike. Then we would return back to the failed status quo of the last 50 years with no prospects for change. Israel would continue to grow and prosper. The Palestinian people would continue to suffer. And innocent people on both sides would continue to be killed.

“The other choice is to focus on the parts of the plan that you do like and encourage negotiations to move forward. And I assure you there is a lot for both sides to like. The choice is between a hopeful future that sheds the tired, old, and unrealistic demands of the past or a darker future that sticks with the proven, failed, talking points of the past.” May peace come soon and may it be in our lifetime.

B’vrachot, blessings, Rabbi Dennis