POINT/COUNTERPOINT: Dare there be a Palestinian state now?
I am sitting in what my cousin in Kiryat Ono calls the safest place in Israel – Jerusalem. From my window, I can see the Greek flag fluttering atop the Monastery of the Cross.
The breeze sways the young trees back and forth in the sun. They conjure up the image of the waving of the lulav on Sukkot, or the “shuckel” of a devout minyan.
The radio, tuned to Kol HaMusica, is playing Tchaikovsky – that tormented soul from whom emanates tortured, yet exquisite, music.
Suddenly, I am awakened to the reality of Israel. A voice speaks over the music: “Alert-Ashkelon! Alert-Ashkelon!” Then, within the minute: “Alert-Ashdod! Alert-Ashdod!” The music continues, but moments later: “Alert-Be’er Sheva!” “Alert-Yad Mordechai!”
I imagine the few seconds one has to get to a shelter, race into a stairwell, put on the car brakes, open the door and throw oneself to the ground, or feel the panic of finding oneself in the open with no place to run, no place to hide.
As the reality of the colossal blunder by former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon to unilaterally withdraw from Gaza nine years ago sinks in, one realizes that there is absolutely no possibility of allowing a Palestinian entity to exist adjacent to Israel, possessed of any weapons that could be used in an attack on Israel.
But, I ask myself, can Israel ever live in peace – the kind of peace that we in Canada know – even if its Arab/Muslim neighbour were to be verifiably de-fanged, disarmed and demilitarized?
I am obliged to review the credo of Hamas, now the “partner” of the PLO/Palestinian Authority and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abass.
Among its charter terms remain the obliteration of Israel, the Judgment Day of the killing of the Jews, the messages that jihad is the only solution and that peace initiatives are contrary to its principles.
I am also obliged to survey the world – so much of it torn apart and the rest of it struggling to find the means of preventing radical Islam from taking root on its doorstep, over its skies, or on its territory.
True, there must be millions of ordinary Muslims who long for peace and willingly will live together in harmony with Christians, Baha’i and Jews.
But what of their leaders who control their lives and their – and others’ – destinies? Who is responsible for the bombing, burning, pillaging, rape and murder of hundreds and thousands, whether in Africa, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan or Pakistan? Who stimulates the riots and unrest in Europe and elsewhere? Who are the “true believers”? In whose eyes are the “infidels” to be converted or destroyed?
A few groups come to mind. Taliban, Boko Haram, ISIS, the Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas and all of their jihadist offshoots.
Their foot soldiers, their cannon-fodder, their mindless followers are recruited from those who have been kept in abject poverty – of the soul as well as of the body. And who joins them from countries of apparent wealth? The discontents, the misfits, the brainwashed, who hope to be “somebody” in the battle between the believers and the infidels.
How can these groups and their followers possibly tolerate an infidel state in the midst of what they consider to be part of their caliphate? The answer is simply that they cannot and they will not.
Sadly – oh, so sadly! – I conclude that my Israeli grandchildren – one already in the Israeli army and another set to go – and their children will have to continue to defend this country. And it will so continue unless and until those who control the Muslim world are able to interpret their religion as one that embraces the concept of living in peace and harmony with those of other beliefs, not as dhimmis, but as equals.
Dare there be a Palestinian state at this juncture of history?
Donald Carr is chairman emeritus of The Canadian Jewish News.