Two weeks ago, the Israeli Labor Party unanimously approved opposition leader Isaac Herzog’s plan for separating from the Palestinians, which strives to advance a two-state solution. Elaborating on the plan, Mr. Hertzog said that “the victory of Zionism will be that the world recognizes the blocs, and foremost among them Gush Etzion… Those who don’t want a peace deal forced on them must adopt my deal—a separation deal—(in which) we are here and they are there, and a red line divides us.”
We all want peace, but in my opinion this is not the way to get there. First, even if we build a wall between the two countries we will not be able to seal off the border; it’s simply impractical.
Second, and more important, today’s terrorism is done not only by physical penetration of perpetrators, but also by ideological penetration of ideas, primarily through the internet. The San Bernardino killer, who murdered 14 co-workers, was described as “normal” before becoming radicalized through social media.
Another example is how ISIS recruits volunteers from around the world using the internet as a means of persuasion. Between the middle of 2014 and the middle of 2015, nearly 30,000 people entered Syria to join ISIS. All of them were indoctrinated into radical Islam either entirely or primarily through the internet.
In today’s flow of ideas it is impossible to stop Arab Israelis from being radicalized, as well. The deadly terror attack in Tel-Aviv perpetrated by the Arab Israeli, Nashat Milhem, indicates that violent radical Islam is already entrenched in Israel, rendering any proposal for separation between the two nations unrealistic, if not naïve.
I think that if we want peace, we have to take a completely different approach to Mr. Hertzog’s. It may sound counterintuitive, but what I think we should do is focus on unity among us instead of constantly trying to please and appease the world. In fact, throughout our history as a nation we’ve been told that when there is unity among us we are not only strong, but there is peace in the world, so there is no need to fight. This is the strength we should be searching for—the strength of unity and love of others. There is no way we can win the world’s favor unless we learn how to unite and extend that unity to the rest of the nations. And since the world will not be able to force peace on our people, it will blame us for every war that will occur henceforth.
We keep thinking that the world should thank us because of our contributions to science and culture. But the world does not think so. Actually, a big part of humanity regards us as the world’s worst punishment, more sinister than any tyrant and more destructive than any earthquake. With few exceptions, the only people counting our merits are we, while the rest of the world keeps track of our faults.
But if there is one thing for which the world would thank us it is unity, provided of course that we have unity to offer. We coined the maxim “love your neighbor as yourself” and it became a cornerstone in the building of both Christianity and Islam. In fact, the Golden Rule (a milder version of “love your neighbor as yourself”) appears in nearly every religion, belief system, and ethical tradition.
But clearly, we haven’t a clue how to implement this rule, much less its “hardcore” version: “love your neighbor as yourself.” The ancient Hebrews knew it but they’re gone. What’s left is us, and the rest of the world that’s drowning in vileness and blames it on us.
So the solution I see to our problems is to learn how to unite and extend it to the rest of the world. With military solutions being impossible, and with diplomatic efforts failing, we can either separate from the Palestinians or learn how to live with them. As I just explained, we cannot really part from them so our only option is to learn how to live with them. To do that we must first learn how to live with ourselves, and subsequently share this learning with our neighbors.
We have to change our attitude toward the Palestinians: They will be our enemies just as long as we are our own enemies. Excluding necessary life-saving preventive measures, we should leave them alone and focus on internal unity. When we achieve it we will diffuse all the bombs without risking another person’s life, on any side of the border.
I am writing this on the eve of our annual gathering here in Tel Aviv where 6,000 people from 64 countries come together to experience this unity in person. They then take this example back to their respective countries and partake in building a better tomorrow. And yet, Israel must go first in order to provide the world with the right example.
Featured in Huffington Post