The Israeli–Palestinian Cauldron is Boiling Over


The recent and ongoing killings, rhetoric and hardened positions in the Middle East make me wonder if there will ever be Salam/Shalom between Israel and the Palestinian peoples.

Bill Clinton, Yitzhak Rabin, Yasser Arafat at the White House 1993-09-13

Bill Clinton, Yitzhak Rabin, Yasser Arafat at the White House 1993-09-13

There was a time not that many years ago that I felt there would be peace in the Middle East in my life time. I no longer feel that way. When Yitzhak Rabin was Prime Minister from 1992 until his assassination in 1995 hopes for peace were alive. Rabin established a dialogue with Yasser Arafat and the Palestinians. He succeeded in reaching agreements. During his term the Oslo Agreement was signed, Arafat recognized Israel as a nation and renounced any violence. Rabin recognized the PLO and the rights of Palestinians. Rabin succeeded in formulating a peace treaty with Jordan. That treaty is still functioning. Even during his first term as Prime Minister he was able to negotiate peace between Israel and its neighbors. That included the Sinai Accords which declared that disagreements between Israel and Egypt would not be resolved by violence. That eventually led to the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. In the United States there was much opposition to the Oslo Agreement by many in the Jewish Community. Rabin denied the right of American Jews to object to his plan for peace calling any dissent “chutzpah”.

Now, twenty years after Rabin’s assassination by a right wing Israeli, everything he stood for has been destroyed. To a great degree because of the present government led by Binyamin (Bibi) Netanyahu, and his coalition with extreme right wing parties. I feel that there has been extreme wrong on both sides in this conflict. Many here feel that criticizing Israel in any way is heresy. During Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum’s Yom Kippur service, she related how a Jew could go to any Rabbi in any synagogue and say that he had reservations about the existence of G-D or even that he did not believe in G-D. The Rabbi would invite the person to sit and discuss his feelings about G-D. On the other hand if a person was to enter many synagogues and say that he did not agree with Israel the Rabbi would point to the door and say “Leave!!” As Rabin said that is chutzpah if not worse. There is a feeling among many that there should be no sympathy for the 490 children and over 1,500 civilians killed in Gaza. How can we as human beings not feel extreme sympathy for those lives lost?

A fatally wounded Israeli school boy, 2011

A fatally wounded Israeli school boy, 2011

During the summer, Rabbi Kleinbaum recited a prayer for peace. In it, she named all of the children who died in Gaza. She named the Israelis killed in Israel. Some members of the congregation resigned. One board member quit and several Rabbis vilified her for showing sympathy towards the Palestinians who died. I do feel strongly that action was needed to stop the rockets being fired from Gaza and the building of tunnels by Hamas under the border with Israel. Six civilians, one child and 64 members of the IDF were killed. This is not a numbers game. Even one death is too much. We need to understand that the average Gazan does not want war. The average Gazan wants to live in peace.The Gazan families like all families want to see their children grow into adults and have their own families. At Yom Kippur services a Rabbi from southern Israel related how the Israelis living on the Kibbutzim by the border with Gaza do not agree with the actions of the Israeli government. They communicate with civilians in Gaza. They want peace. Unfortunately those in southern Israel have little if any voice in the government. Voters in the cities of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv control the elections.

Chemical burns on a 15 year old Palestinian child following Israeli bombings in the village of Khoza'a, Gaza

Chemical burns on a 15 year old Palestinian child following Israeli bombings in the village of Khoza’a, Gaza

Hamas needs to be destroyed. There is no question about that. The rockets shot into Israel, the goal to destroy Israel, the tunnels built to enter Israel and kill or kidnap Israelis are crimes against humanity. Over the last few weeks we have seen vehicles driven into crowds to kill and maim. Those are condoned by Hamas. The humanitarian side of Hamas has to be taken over by others. There is no question that Hamas and other militants do not value life. Civilians are used as shields. That has to be condemned as a crime against humanity.

Overall, the Palestinians in Israel are treated as second class citizens. My feeling is that the government of Binyamin ( Bibi) Netanyahu has no respect for the Palestinians, their beliefs or their feelings. The present tensions at Al Haram Al Sharif also known as Temple Mount is the fault of the Israeli government. There is an agreement under which only Muslims can pray there. Other religions can visit. Why is the government of Israel ignoring that agreement?


An Israeli victim of the knives/axes attack on a synagogue in Jerusalem on Monday.

On Monday we saw what is retaliation by terrorists who are most likely part of and acting on behalf of Hamas. These terrorists attacked a synagogue in Israel killing at least four worshippers using knives and meat cleavers. The images show unarmed, religious men who were praying butchered by these maniacal terrorists. We have also seen a group of Palestinians in Israel holding axes and “celebrating” this hideous act.

Violence begets violence. This world is controlled not by those who want peace, but by those who commit violence and retaliate violently. We saw this when three Israeli youths were set up and killed by terrorists. This act of terrorism was followed by retaliation by Israelis who were also terrorists. These terrorists kidnapped and burned to death Mohammed Abu Khudair a 16 year old Palestinian youth.

I feel that Bibi is being controlled by the right wing extreme orthodox factions in his government. Many of them do not want peace and they have said that publicly. The settlements are a major impediment to any peace and to a two nation solution. Instead of controlling the settlements which I feel is needed the Netanyahu government keeps expanding them. Personally I would like to see the settlements being integrated where Muslims and Jews can live together and control their settlements together. That could work. A peace agreement would decide under which government the settlements would fall. That government will have to protect all inhabitants. There is a need to understand the feelings and sensitivities of the Palestinians by the Israelis and an understanding of the feelings and sensitivities by the Palestinians.

I am not saying that the tactics on either side based on their feelings is right. Most often the tactics are wrong. In the Klinghoffer opera the terrorists lament about the loss of their family homes and family in 1948 in what they consider was their homeland for centuries. Can we understand their feelings about that? I hope so. We must of course condemn the terrorism based on those feelings.

I ask, “When this will ever end?” Violence is cyclical. The pictures with this column are difficult for anybody to look at. They should be looked at. Hopefully humanity will understand what is happening. The blood of our youth be it the blood of Israelis, Palestinains, Jews, Muslims, Christians is the same. The mourning is by the families is the same. When will humanity wake up? When?

I do not know what the answer is. I see wrong on all sides. I see many who just want to live in peace becoming militant and unwilling to understand others. That will just make things worse. A new government is needed in Israel. The Palestinian leaders and the leaders of nations such as Egypt and Jordan have to act to crush Hamas. The Palestinians in Israel have to be able to feel that they are free and not second class citizens. Abbas has to work with Israel to keep it secure.

Dialogue is needed. Without dialogue and cooperation, there will never be peace.

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