Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Conflict Resolution

For months now, I have been watching the relationship between America and Israel crumble. I have listened to what Ed Koch calls, "…the deafening silence," of American Jews to the stance their elected president has chosen to adopt toward the only country the U.S. can depend on without question as a true and unwavering friend. I have been waiting for Americans to speak out.

The wait has been sheer torture for someone like me, who cannot separate politics from the mundane, who cannot maintain the apathy toward the roiling of the Middle East arena that seems to be associated with a certain type of maturity I do not possess.

I know how I appear: I am someone on a soapbox for a cause that is not popular, for a cause that for some, has become an embarrassment. My cause is the 27 state peace plan: 26 states for the Moslems, one small state for the Jews.

I lecture, I become strident, and I plead. I post too many pro-Israel articles on Facebook knowing that my friends may have "hidden" me. Some of my friends comment that there is no point to these efforts. Others just tell me straight out: they are sorry for my pain, but do not share my agenda.

But I feel such urgency that I cannot quit being a nudnik on behalf of Israel. Sometimes I fear my non-Jewish facebook friends find me "too Jewish," and then I chide myself for being a Jewish Uncle Tom. I am this person, this too Jewish person. It won't change and I can't be anyone else.

At last, the Jews made a rally. The attendance was paltry—a mere 3,000. The Jewish population of New York alone, where the rally took place, stands at 1,970,000. It hurts, hurts to the core. They said it was the driving rain. But I don't believe the rain kept too many people away. How can only 3,000 Americans plead the case of 6 million Israeli Jews?

When my friend Ann Goodman's son Yosef was buried after perishing in a military accident, a huge crowd of us did not let the wild storms keep us away from the cemetery. I remember feeling that we were all one, that soaking wet, frozen crowd, and that the rain was an initiation rite of sorts showing our caring for the Goodman family during the worst of an unspeakable tragedy and our devotion to giving Yosef the honor he deserved for serving and protecting us.

The rain over Har Herzl that day felt like the very heavens were crying over the loss of this defender. The more it rained, the more I felt comforted by what it meant that such large numbers would gather as one in spite of the inclement weather. The stormy weather seemed to fit the situation.

I feel let down by those Jews in America who chose not to attend the rally—rain does not come close to serving as a valid excuse for the nonattendance of most American Jews at what might have been a major event, but fell far short of this goal. I feel that their absence, silence, and expressed lack of concern have dealt a huge blow to the cause I hold most dear in my heart: the Land of Israel as a haven for all Jews, everywhere. I feel hurt, ashamed, let down, depressed, and angry.

Even through the gloom of these emotions, I want to thank the 3,000 who did brave the weather to show support for Israel.

Today, I took the time to listen to the video clips of several of the
speakers at the rally. Pamela Geller was the best of the bunch. She spoke irrefutable truths and is a rousing and gifted speaker--a gift from God to my cause! She asked the crowd, "Where does history start? Where should we start history? Who decides? Should it start 5, 768 years ago with the Jewish people? Should it start 1400 years ago with Mohammed when he beheaded an entire tribe, the Jews of Medina, the Qurayza tribe? Who decides?

Does it start in 1921 when the Palestinian Mufti of Jerusalem wiped out the Jews in Hebron? Does it start in 1929 when the Palestinian Mufti of Jerusalem wiped out the Jews again? Does it start in 1941 when the Mufti went to Iraq and aligned with Rashid Ali and wiped out the Jews of Iraq? Where does it start? I am asking you."

Rabbi David Algaze also spoke. His speech could not compare with Geller's for fire and passion. But I received a reward for staying with him until the end. "The Arab Israeli conflict is not about territory. The Arab Israeli conflict is about the destruction of any non-Islamic state in the Middle East. It is not about territory. Territory will not solve it … The only peace the Arabs will accept is the destruction of the State of Israel and that is not going to happen," said Algaze.

As Rabbi Algaze continued his speech, he wrapped up with an important point, one I have often pondered and have been unable to get across in an adequate manner to my friends: Sometimes there is no way to resolve a conflict. That is the case here. The conflict between Israel and the so-called Palestinians cannot be resolved. Pursuing the two-state solution, imposing a peace process, it's all wrong-headed and cannot have a positive outcome for the simple reason that the Arabs will never accept the State of Israel in any form. They will never accept our presence in the Middle East. We will always be an infidel nation. That is the Islamic dialogue. Period.

Over the summer, I took a trip to my hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. While there, I visited an old friend whom I had not seen in 30 years when both of us were teenagers. Leslie taught me guitar and had a huge impact on my musical tastes and preferences. She also woke up my political awareness, though we somehow ended up on opposite sides of the fence as adults.

Leslie and I have since been trying to find a way to dialogue without butting our heads too hard. Sometimes we fail. But there is one thing on which we agree in absolute faith: we will not apologize for Israel's right to exist.

Leslie and I discussed the conflict during my trip to Pittsburgh and at one point, she asked me, "So, what is the answer to the conflict? How can we achieve peace?"

I tried to tell her that there may not be a way to achieve a resolution but I fear I was not as articulate as Rav Algaze. Leslie looked at me in astonishment, like, "C'mon…there has to be a solution."

But Rav Algaze was right on when he said, "…you know the problem that we have in the world…the problem is the people who cannot accept that a conflict has no resolution. Not every disease can be cured, not every social ill can be resolved. Not every problem can be fixed. Sometimes, we have to learn that we are going to live with a problem. And to be able to deal with it, Israel, America, the world, have to accept the fact: we have an implacable enemy and that enemy is called Islam."

Islam is not only a religion. Islam is a political platform to control the world … those who propose a two-state solution are proposing the suicide of the State of Israel."


  1. Well said, Varda.

    The Moslems were at the gates of Vienna a mere three hundred years years ago (1683). This time they have a better plan to take over Europe, by sending hundreds of thousands ahead as immigrants. Not all will be active participants in tghe takeover, but enough will and others will acquiesce.

    But so long at in their very midst sits a stubborn Jewish state, they cannot proceed. Today we here in Israel protect the gates of Vienna. And all that follows to the west and north.

  2. When discussing elections, "...Bad weather can reduce voter turnouts...It is extremely rare for factors such as competitiveness, weather, and time of year to cause an increase or decrease in turnout of more than five percentage points, far smaller than the differences between groups within society, and far smaller than turnout differentials between nations..." so, I 'm thinking that when there was such a large turnout at Yosef Goodman's z"l funeral, it really showed how much the jewish people were moved by this young man, and his supportive community. The community of Efrat went beyond what would be expected.In NYC, especially without any one of this years big political names (let's face it, Ed Koch seems just like a kindly old man these days, and not the man who governed over the world's most influential city), the turnout in NYC was paltry, and may show how low Israel is on american Jews' radar.It's as if two of Skokie's high schools emptied to attend---not really impressive. The sadness we felt at the funeral probably WAS met by a corresponding "high" from the NYC demonstration, but I bet the tears at that funeral moved HaShem more. I think the Jewish community in America needs a little more motivation.

  3. Yes, Dov. That's my point. American Jews don't care about Israel as they might and as they once did. It wasn't the rain. It was a lack of caring. Not on their radar, as you said. They are thinking about health care, not about being nuked out of existence. But I don't want to minimize the actions of those who did turn out in support. I can never thank them enough!