Recently, we learned that the US government and the Palestinian Authority have resumed their economic talks after a five-year hiatus. According to the State Department, the talks will revolve around infrastructure development, access to US markets, US regulations, free trade, financial issues, renewable energy, and environmental initiatives. In Israel, some people are concerned that the funds will not go to their stated goals but to fund terrorist activities, while others hope that a higher standard of living for Palestinians will reduce their propensity for terrorism. I think that terrorism stems from hatred and the political goals of those who promote it. Therefore, more or less resources will have no effect on its intensity or frequency.
Look at Iran, Syria, Lebanon, and all the governments in the Near and Middle East. For them, terrorism is a tool, a means to gain power and further their goals. The Palestinians are pawns to be sacrificed when circumstances make it advantageous. For leaders in the Middle East, terrorism is a legitimate means to pressure rivals and enemies, a way to gain control. It is a dirty business, as is the business of funding it.
As for Israel, we have only ourselves to blame, since our internal division weakens us and emboldens our enemies. There is only one thing we can do to protect ourselves: solidify our cohesion, social unity, mutual responsibility and solidarity.
Instead of worrying pointlessly about what others are doing, we should rekindle the spirit of connectedness among ourselves. Otherwise, our “neighbors” will soon oust us. The social rules of the State of Israel must be those that guided us until the ruin of the Temple: mutual responsibility and solidarity. When Maimonides repeatedly emphasizes in his commentaries on the Mishnah that “All of Israel are friends,” he means it not as a metaphor, but to affirm the basis of our nationhood. Without it, we are strangers who have no place on this land since we are not a nation.
The only law that should apply in the State of Israel is “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Since we are still unable to live by it, we should at least strive for it. Our progress toward it will justify our presence here.
When we strive for unity and cohesion, we are “a light unto nations.” When we bicker and slander each other, we spread poison and bile throughout the world, for which the world then hates us.
We can make any hostile government or regime behave favorably toward us or the other way around. We do not need to cajole or cajole anyone into accepting us. All we need to do is work on our internal unity. The example we will set will earn us the recognition of the world and make our presence in our country welcome in the eyes of the world.
U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden (L) shakes hands with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah March 9, 2016. REUTERS/Debbie Hill
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