The more chaotic the world becomes, the more it busies itself with ingenuities that aim to “resolve” the conflict in the Middle East. Lately, the world has become such a mess that even peace initiatives seem hard-pressed to coexist. Currently, the EU-backed French initiative is the world’s new darling. However, only a few weeks ago it was the phoenix-like Saudi/Arab initiative that resurfaced and grabbed the media’s attention. Now, in the midst of the rush to endorse the French initiative (and chide its critics), there emerges a pre-election peace agreement, no less, between Mahmoud Abbas and current opposition leader, Isaac Herzog, drafted when he aspired to become prime minister.
Before the Six Day War, the majority of the world supported the existence of the State of Israel, some with great enthusiasm. Some countries even championed our cause during the Six Day War. On June 12, 1967, two days after the end of the war, the Der Spiegel cover item read, “Israel’s Blitz Campaign.” Evidently still charmed by Israel’s miraculous and overwhelming victory, and in line with Germany’s favorable stance toward Israel, the paper’s feature item mused poetically about the Israeli army:
“They rolled like Rommel, won as Patton, and sang at that. ‘This is a singing army. Your warriors sing like the hero of Hemingway,’ marveled war correspondent James Reston. In 60 hours the armored sons of Zion smashed the Arab encirclement of Israel. They shooed the pan-Arab prophets from their dreams of dominance, and overthrew Egypt’s Nasser into the depths of the Nile. Pharaoh took responsibility for the lost war and submitted his resignation.”
However, the Six Day War was a turning point. Just five months later, the UN Security Council unanimously agreed on the famous Resolution 242 calling for Israel’s withdrawal from territories it seized in 1967. Within a few years, even Germany, who was not part of the Security Council at the time of the vote, aligned itself with the rest of the world and sided with the resolution.
The Land for (No) Peace Formula
The “peace process,” as we often refer to the wearisome efforts to end the Middle East conflict, officially began in 1977 when President of Egypt, Anwar Sadat, came to Israel, and a year later again met with Prime Minister Menachem Begin at Camp David. Six months later the peace treaty was signed. Though there have been no major hostilities between the two countries since the signing, it is questionable whether there has been real peace either.
Even if we can regard our relationship with Egypt as a partial success, the rest of our sincere attempts at peace with our neighbors have been a sad joke. Over the years, there have been numerous summits, multiple secret meetings, on and off the record agreements, and even a few signings, which did not result in peace, but did result in thousands of casualties on both sides. Oslo, Madrid, Camp David 2, the Saudi Initiative, the Roadmap, Annapolis, Abbas’ peace plan, Paris, John Kerry—these names and places are just a fraction of the peace attempts and the individuals who have engaged themselves in the hapless attempt to implement Sadat’s land-for-peace formula.
In this “peace process,” we have given land, one piece at a time, but we have not received peace. Gaza has become a launching pad for rockets fired at Israeli civilians, and the West Bank has grown into a hotbed of knife wielding and gun toting youngsters who carry out murderous suicide attacks in Israeli towns.
Evidently, the land-for-peace formula is not the way to go. Exercises in futility may be a good way for foreign heads of state to divert domestic public attention from their own problems, but it is smoke and mirrors. There is no sincere intention to achieve lasting peace. And in the absence of good faith, any attempt for peace is a debacle before it is even set in motion.
Peace Begins at Home
Being the world’s focal point is nothing new for Jews. Since the days of The Book, our people have been blamed for everything that is wrong with the world. The only exception to this view can be found among those who still see us as the Chosen People, who believe what the New Testament says, “For salvation comes from the Jews.” But neither we nor they can explain how Jews are to bring salvation, or even what it means.
The world’s attention is given to us with good reason. People may resent us and declare, like General “Jerry” Boykin, “The Jews are the problem, the Jews are the cause of all the problems in the world,” but these statements also imply that they expect us to solve them.
We can solve their problems, but only if we address the root of all problems: We must overcome our separation. When our forefathers emerged from Egypt and formed a nation, they did so by clinging to the strict condition of being “as one man with one heart.” From the very beginning, they had instilled the positive force among them, which guided them in everything they did. They fought and struggled, and for centuries succeeded in covering their egos with brotherhood. But then, some 2,000 years ago, they succumbed to unfounded hatred and the result was exile and eventual dispersion.
The method for covering all crimes with love, as King Solomon put it (Proverbs 10:12), was our weapon against extinction. Our unique unity, where the ego is not suppressed but covered with brotherly love, served as a springboard for even greater brotherhood. It endowed us with a method for maintaining a thriving society where no one was oppressed and everyone was cared for.
Even today, the remnants of that power lay dormant within each of us. This is why for all the attempts of mighty rulers, we can never be destroyed. However, this is also why the world hates us—it feels that we are holding back a secret to success, a secret we must share.
In “Concerning the Jews,” Mark Twain pondered, “All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?” Our “secret” is that spark of the power of cohesion we once cultivated. Historian Martin Gilbert wrote that Winston Churchill admired the Jews because of their “corporate spirit, the spirit of their race and faith… That personal and special power which they possessed would enable them to bring vitality into their institutions, which nothing else would ever give.”
In a world where people are driven solely by their egos, societies are crumbling and people feel lonely, alienated, and depressed. In search of meaning, they turn to the fringes of society and plunge head first into anything that will make them feel alive and connected. In search of meaning for their suffering, people turn to fundamentalism, making the world a hostile and precarious place.
But the ego rules only among humans. In the whole of nature there is balance between positive and negative forces, between giving and receiving. In humankind, the positive force lies dormant, paralyzed under the tyranny of self-absorption. And without a positive force to balance egoistic human behavior, our society becomes a nightmare.
Until we reconstruct our unique unity, which the world so badly needs today, humanity will not accept our existence as individuals or as a sovereign nation. The peace process must begin at home, among us. When we rise above our differences and cover them with “corporate spirit,” everyone will benefit.
Setting the World Free
On the human level, the positive force that balances the ego requires our decision to unleash it. Otherwise it remains ensnared by our egos. Even if we do give to others, it is almost always an attempt to ultimately benefit ourselves. Without the desire to connect “as one man with one heart,” the positive force will remain the ego’s captive.
Only we, the Jews, have unleashed this positive force before, and only we can do this now. It depends on our decision. When we unbridle it, balance will spread throughout humanity. People will begin to feel that sincere unity and brotherhood are the right way to live. They may not know that it is coming from us, but they will sense that we are beneficial, just as they now feel that we are detrimental. It is a visceral emotion that needs no reason; they will simply know it.
No Fences and No Borders Needed
When we unite and unleash that balancing power Churchill instinctively detected, the question of our right to exist in Israel will be obsolete. No one will feel, much less state, that we do not belong here. No one will talk about a peace process because there will be no need for such a thing. There will be peace.
When we cover our egos with brotherhood and unite, the Arabs, who are really our cousins, will feel it and join in on our brotherhood. World leaders will not conjure up “peace initiatives” because they will not have domestic problems to avoid by diverting attention elsewhere, and because there will be no need for any initiative.
Nurturing our unity is the only peace process we need, and the sooner we begin, the easier it will be. The world will not know peace until we piece ourselves together.
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