On November 29, 1947, the UN General Assembly voted in favor of a resolution, which adopted the plan for the partition of Palestine, which paved the way for the establishment of the State of Israel. For the Jewish refugees from the Holocaust, that resolution meant hope of a safer life in a Jewish state. For the world powers, it was a way to ease the burden on their conscience after having done nothing to save the Jews throughout the war, and even prevented their escape while it was still possible. For the world, it was an unwritten, unspoken, and perhaps inadvertent contract between the Jews and humanity, where the world was to give the Jews a sovereign state, and the Jews would build in it a role model nation that would serve as “a light unto nations.”
After a heroic battle, the Jewish settlement paramilitary organization in Palestine repelled the six invading Arab armies from Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia, which joined the armed forces of the Arab residents of Palestine, and established the State of Israel. It was time to start carrying out Israel’s commitment to the world.
This is when troubles began. Israel had been fraught with division from the very beginning. Zionist groups strove among themselves over power and over the way to run the struggle for the establishment of the State of Israel. Once Israel received sovereignty, these struggles did not abate but rather escalate. Waves of immigration from Arab countries and war ravaged European countries created new cultural enclaves, and every sect mocked the other sects. Many Jews from poorer countries, mainly Muslim countries such as Morocco, Libya, and Iraq, were sent to towns far from the center of the country and became what is known as “the second Israel.”
In June 1967, another misfortune struck Israel: After being threatened and harassed by its neighboring countries, and after realizing that there was no hope of avoiding another war, Israel opened fire. Within six days, and with relatively few casualties, Israel defeated and conquered territories in Egypt, Syria, and Jordan, including the Old City in Jerusalem. While the military triumph was a much required blessing, the hubris that it brought with it has been a plague we haven’t been able to shake off despite all the years that have passed, and all the failures we have suffered since then.
That hubris has only made our separation worse, and Israel has become a model of divisiveness, alienation, internal hatred, and slyness, the opposite of our intended goal in being here. Instead of mending the separation that inflicted on us the ruin of the Temple and the exile two millennia ago, our return to Israel seems to have revived the enmity within the Jewish people, and the ancient unfounded hatred is resurfacing.
The Jewish people are very opinionated and intransigent. This is our nature and nothing will change it. Nor should it change. We have been given this obstinacy not for ourselves, but precisely so as to serve as a model to the world. We must give up the notion that we can ever change each other’s mind. Instead, we must focus on nurturing unity above our different views. We need to focus not on this or that moral or ideology, as these only separate us. Rather, we should strive to elevate the value of unity itself!
Only if we focus on uniting above our differences, we will find the real merit of the differences, the real value in each distinct view, and the benefits of uniting above them. If we unite above our opposite opinions, we will create an entity that functions like any organism does, where the different, and often opposing, organs work in harmony to create a solid, healthy living being. If any part of that body were to grow weak or disintegrate, the living being would die. If all the organs operate to the fullest, this is when the organism is the healthiest and strongest.
If Israel makes peace among its vying sects, the world will look and learn from its example. If Israel does not do it, the world will regret having agreed to the creation of the Jewish state in the first place and will take whatever measures are required to eliminate it. Israel, in that sense, depends on itself. Its internal relationships will determine its external future. No other country in the world is in that position.
In Hebrew, the word shalom [peace] comes from the word hashlama [complementation]. If the struggling factions in the Jewish people learn to complement each other rather than compete and wish to annihilate each other, they will benefit, the world will benefit, and there will be peace, both in the sense of complementation, as well as in the sense of tranquility and good relationships. If the factions in Israel do not manage to unite above their differences and complement each other, then we will miss the opportunity that the world had given us on November 29, 1947, and the State of Israel will not be able to survive.
[Image: Jews Celebrating UN Declaration November 29, 1947]