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View From Israel: January, 2014

Shaul Amir
Shaul Amir

It seems to me that Israel’s centrality in the world’s eyes has lost some of its priority and the attention is shifting to and fro to Iran, Iraq, Syria, Egypt and Lebanon. The Palestinian-Israeli conflict has been pushed to the side and were it not for US Secretary of State John Kerry’s relentless efforts and his determination, this conflict would have been forgotten until the next “explosion” manifested by another Intifada or major terror attacks.

We are facing a very crucial time in the existence of Israel. The above mentioned Arab Countries are all in turmoil that no one can predict its outcome. We are facing a Shiite/ Sunni battle over control of countries and territories which is savage, bloody and no end in sight. Everybody is confused as to who the bad is and who the good is in this story, yet, at the same time everybody knows that both sides are ugly. There is no easy and clear choice in this matter as those who were the “good” ones yesterday, turned to be the “bad” ones today and vies a versa.

As to the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, the situation is almost as confusing. While everybody on both sides knows how the end of the “game” would look like, nobody has the courage to make the first step. The mistrust  between the sides has never been so great. The maximum that Israel is willing to give is very far from the minimum the Palestinians are willing to receive. Meanwhile sporadic terror attacks push more and more Israelis to the extreme, Israeli housing projects in the settlements beyond the Green Line push the Palestinians to the extreme and without a brave leader that is not influenced by extremists on both sides of the negotiation table, nothing would happen. There are a lot of crushed hopes and disappointments on the Palestinian side that can lead to another outbreak of violence, if this round of talks ends without some framework agreement which will enable the leaders on both sides to present to their people as a basis for a permanent agreement within a certain time frame. It is obvious that the T’s have to be crossed and the I’s have to be dotted before the final signing and the implementation.

I know that many say that the Arabs cannot be trusted, they hate us and want us wiped off the face of earth. Yet, if one believes that Israel, at this point in time, is still the strongest country (militarily and even economically) in our region, perhaps it is time to make painful and courageous moves that are necessary, to resolve this century-old conflict. We took the chance with Egypt and it is still working more than 30 years later, even with all the upheavals that happened since the signing of the treaty, and the same with Jordan.

I feel that the alternative is much more dangerous, it contains isolation of Israel, countless boycotts (economic, academic, tourism, military etc.) and growing terror not only from Judea and Samaria but from Gaza, Lebanon and Syria, the latter by World Islamic Jihad groups that are controlling more and more territory in the civil-war-torn Syria.

A continuation of presence in Judea and Samaria without agreement will lead to a possibility of an apartheid state on the one hand or a one state for two people on the other hand which is the sure path for Israel’s demise  as a Jewish State. I did not mention the damage caused by the long occupation to our younger generation and all its effects of disregard to human life and growing racism.

If we do not make bold and courageous moves and soon, there will not be a way back as the window of opportunity is closing rather fast. When we will need the help of the US and the world to deal with the growing threat from Iran, should the nuclear freeze agreement fail, Israel will get a cold shoulder and be left alone. According to many experts, both in Israel and out, Israel will not be able to “take” Iran on its own.

Let us all hope and pray that the right formula will be found, sooner rather than later.

About Shaul Amir

Shaul Amir
Shaul Amir has served two terms as Shaliach to the Denver area from Israel, the most recent combined with directing Allied Jewish Federation's Israel Center from 2002 to 2007. He and his wife Kika now live outside Tel Aviv and enjoy welcoming visitors from Colorado to Israel.

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