I heard that some Israelis are happy about the feud between Lebanon and Saudi Arabia and that the latter, along with some of its allies from the Gulf, have called back their ambassadors from Beirut. I can understand the feelings of those Israelis. After all, Lebanon has played host to Hezbollah for decades, and Lebanese territories have long become a “launching pad” for operations against Israel. Yet, I think that in the long run, our relationship with Lebanon, and with the Arab world in general, depends more on the relationships among ourselves than on our relationships with other nations.
The first step in achieving peace with the Arab world is achieving peace among the Jews within Israel. Right now, we are so divided that we have become a mockery in the eyes of the entire world, not only the Arab world. How can a nation that never stops fighting within itself make peace with other nations? Clearly, it can’t.
Therefore, to win the Arab world’s respect and to be regarded as an entity to be reckoned with, we must become a strong, uniform nation.
After we achieve step one, step two will be much easier. Among Israelis, Arabs are often referred to as “cousins.” It is not a cynical or derogatory term at all. Jews never forget that the two religions have the same father, and that Isaac and Ishmael were brothers. Abraham loved both of them, and so should we, their descendants, love each other like family.
Therefore, once we, Jews, make peace among the siblings, we should stretch out our hand in peace and open our hearts to our kin.
This step will entail a process of rapprochement where we come to know each other better and better. We will get to know each other’s culture, language, and customs, to the point where we truly feel as equal members of a single family.
For the time being, we clearly need military protection against those trying to destroy us. But we should not rely on weapons, but on closeness of the hearts. If we focus on our internal unity first, and immediately following, turn to our Arab neighbors in peace, I have no doubt the two nations will become a role model for the world to follow.
A couple walks at Rabin square as the municipality building is lit in the colours of the Lebanese flag, in a rare show of Israeli solidarity with Beirut as it reels from a devastating explosion, in Tel Aviv, Israel August 5, 2020. REUTERS/Nir Elias