The Palestinians’ cheers of victory, and the hesitant sigh of relief that Israelis let out at the start of the ceasefire are both genuine. Israel won the battle but it is losing the war, and the Palestinians know it. With each campaign, our grip on the land weakens while theirs grows stronger. We may win future battles, too, but the world is with the Palestinians. If we continue battling them only on the physical level, we will eventually lose the war and the land we live in.
The only way that we can win is on the ideological level. If we grasp why we are here and what benefit our presence here brings to all of humanity, we will win the world’s support. Otherwise, the nations have no need for a country whose people hate each other so profoundly that their 120 members of parliament are splintered across dozens of parties. The sense of mutual loathing this tiny country discharges is so caustic that the whole world is troubled by what is happening in this tiny piece of land, which is roughly the size of Connecticut. We are making great efforts to strengthen and fortify ourselves, but we are going full speed in the wrong direction.
We must remind ourselves over and over that our strength lies in our unity, and only in our unity. Nothing else will hold for long. Defense systems such as the Iron Dome are good for only so long, but permanent protection comes to the people of Israel when we think of each other instead of ourselves.
Our ancestors founded our nation on the basis of mutual responsibility and love of others. We conceived the commandment, “Love your neighbor as yourself” and made it our foremost tenet. Without living it out, we are not true to our legacy, to the basis of our peoplehood, so we are not really Israel. And since we are not really Israel, we have no claim on the land of Israel. This is what the Arabs feel, as does the whole world.
For our claim on the land to be valid, we must be true to our vocation: to be “a light unto nations.” As long as we are divided, they feel that we are bringing them nothing but darkness. They feel that we are the cause of all that is wrong with the world, and it is precisely because of our hatred for each other. Therefore, if we rise above our hatred and unite, the world will be with us, including the Palestinians. If we give in to division, the world will kick us out of here.
The Book of Zohar (Aharei Mot) wrote about the significance of our unity many centuries ago. In the words of Rabbi Shimon, “‘Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to also sit together.’ These are the friends as they sit together and are not separated from each other. At first, they seem like people at war, wishing to kill one another … then they return to being in brotherly love … and by your merit, there will be peace in the world.” May we follow the advice of our sages and avoid the punishments of our ignorance.
[ASHKELON, Israel (Reuters) – Tidying up her building’s bomb shelter after 11 days of conflict when Palestinian militant rockets rained down, Israeli mother Tammy Zamir felt relief mixed with worry that a truce to this round of fighting did not mean an end to the violence.]