Here in the United States, upon hearing last month that the situation in Israel and Gaza had boiled over into violence again, Jews felt a range of emotions: shock, anger, empathy, longing for peace. We heard that over a thousand rockets were launched indiscriminately at Israeli civilians and that Israeli military reprisal against the perpetrators in Gaza caused heavy civilian casualties.
When will the fundamental sources of the problem be resolved? When will Israel achieve security and international respect for its borders and sovereignty? When will the Palestinians have control over their own destiny through a recognized state of their own?
A negotiated two-state solution is the right thing to do for the sake of all of the nations that are affected by this conflict. The current Israeli government and the U.S. government have expressed commitment to it. A lasting peace would be in everyone’s collective interest.
As part of a peaceful compromise, some individuals will bear a heavier burden than others. Not all Jewish settlers will be able to stay in the homes for which they have risked so much, built within what they understand as Israel’s Biblically-defined borders. Nor will all Palestinians who claim roots on Israeli land be able to return to their families’ property. These painful choices will have to be solidified by the leaders and negotiators who represent the Israelis and Palestinians.
Daunting though it is, the challenge must be faced. The miracle of Chanukah was eight days of light to allow the Jews in the vandalized Temple to begin to find a solution to their plight; the miracle did not provide the solution itself, and its window of time was limited. Human action is the other half of the miracle. The time has long since arrived for governments to produce a mutually acceptable compromise that solves the current problem.
The case for the urgency of a two-state solution and the role of U.S. leadership in 2013 will be presented by the founder and president of J Street, Jeremy Ben-Ami, when he speaks at Temple Israel in Boston on Monday, Dec. 17. This is an opportunity for people concerned about Israel’s future to hear about a positive vision and to learn about how they can contribute toward this path to peace.
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