Tag Archives: two state solution

Beyond UN 2334- A Message of Hope and Peace

The UN Resolution 2334 has us engaged in a fiery back and forth that is divisive for the world Jewish community, the relationship between the US and Israel, and most importantly deflecting from the important issue at hand; creating a real peace between Israel and the Palestinian people. Let us step back and reflect on the larger issue.

The Israelis and the Palestinians must figure out how to coexist and live side-by-side, respectful and tolerant of the other. Regardless of any UN Resolution, the ultimate responsibility for peace between these two people resides with them. Both sides must want peace enough. This includes each side acting in good faith, building foundations for peace within their respective Peoples and societies and doing things to promote good will instead of things that would be viewed as obstacles to peace. Until and unless both sides can come to the table and have the important and very difficult conversations that conclude in an agreement, peace is not possible.

Those of us on the outside can have our opinions, but only the Israeli and the Palestinian voices truly matter.   It is time for those voices to speak out and be heard.

May we hope and pray that in the coming year, 2017, both sides will find a way to reach out to the other, building bridges that ultimately result in both Peoples living peacefully together in the region.

Ken Yehi Ratzon

This Land is Our Land


Two iconic songs reverberate in my mind. The first is the American classic, “This Land is your land, This Land is my Land.” It is a dream of a shared society here in America. The second song is the deeply moving “Theme from Exodus”, with its seminal line “This Land is mine, God gave this Land to me.” This soaring tribute to the Jewish Homeland is the dream of a people rooted in an ancient connection to the Land. The two songs are not as dissimilar as they appeared initially to me because of what is missing.

 Woody Guthrie’s Ballad in its beautiful message of inclusion does not include the Native Americans of the land. The message of Exodus is similar in its treatment of the long-time native inhabitants of Israel. The Palestinian narrative likewise does not have a place for the Jewish State. Each song of hope is exclusive to its own kind.

 Sharing is often profoundly difficult, particularly when it is with people unlike us, whether culturally, ethnically or by some other difference. It is even more problematic if the claim of one is at the expense of the other, as some zero-sum game. The Israeli and Palestinian people both struggle with it and suffer from it. “This land is MY land” seems to be the respective song of each. For many Palestinians, Israel’s existence notwithstanding, the long view holds that eventually Israel will go away and the rightful owners will again return. And Israel defines itself as the Jewish state, born from a combination of hard work to build, war to defend, investment, political will and a historic claim. The Israeli’s ongoing and expanding presence in the West Bank however severely complicates the landscape.

 If Israelis and Palestinians will not amend their respective stories both sides will continue to fight, one to preserve what is there, one to restore something there. These limited narratives foment strife and hatred and inflict great human suffering in a world growing ever smaller and more dangerous. As long as each side clings fast to a story that rejects the claims of the other, the status quo will continue. Statesmen and visionary leaders on both sides must work to move past narratives that are mutually exclusive and find space to coexist with the other. Then these leaders must persuade the people of this reimagined future. Both sides must embrace a peaceful coexistence to finally stop the otherwise never-ending cycle of death and destruction. For neither side is ready or willing to go away.

 Can Zionism embrace the Palestinian narrative respectfully? Would the Palestinian narrative accept Israel’s legitimacy? Ironically, because both Israelis and Palestinians are so fully committed, each requires the other in order to survive, let alone thrive, for neither will ever give up. Furthermore, in this difficult and ever more radicalized region external forces challenge both. A new way forward based on coöperation and mutual respect is desperately needed for both Peoples. Let us pray that someday all might sing together.

Peace, the PA and the ICC- Fighting Fire With Fire but not losing sight of the Prize

To fight fire with fire is the best way to counter and respond to Palestinian Authority (PA) move to bring charges in the International Criminal Court (ICC) against Israel for war crimes. The PA’s decision to try Israel for war crimes I believe is misguided and foolish; This move into the international criminal court system only detracts attention and energy away from the important issues the PA and the Palestinian people must confront in building a Palestinian state. But the need to respond properly to this move is very important.

 Although the ICC process will bring heightened awareness to the issues surrounding a state of hostility between the parties, the PA essentially willfully mires itself in its victimhood and portrays itself as helpless in a struggle against overwhelming odds rather than a responsible player, an agent of change to create a State for the Palestinian people. This therefore is truly a misguided move and a squandered opportunity.

 However, it must be noted that the PA is seeking redress in the international world community through an established peaceful system. Although I do believe this is a wrong course of action for the PA to take, I must however praise the PA to use the peaceful means available to it. So I suggest that the appropriate Israeli response to this move is one of like kind.

 Israel too should file a complaint with the ICC, seeking redress for the crimes committed by Hamas and other entities in Gaza. Targeting civilian populations is a war crime or terrorist activity at best; planning ambushes and terrorist attacks against civilians are war crimes or terrorist activities at best; seeking to violently overthrow and eliminate an existing legitimate state is a war crime or a terrorist activity at best. The ICC would by necessity need to carefully consider the Israeli allegations and charges against those who are enemies. The gross hypocrisy of not considering the Israeli charges with the same seriousness and determination as the Palestinian charges could not be ignored and would completely undermine the ICC if it to occur.

 This approach does nothing to resolve the matters of creating peaceful coexistence. It does not eliminate those who are dedicated to the destruction of the state of Israel. It does not help the process of peace or create bridges to building peace. It is however on the world stage a civilized approach to the particular arguments that exist surrounding the gruesome nature of war. To withhold transfer payments or payments of support to the PA seems to be an inappropriate response, a punishment for peaceful actions however politically motivated they may be. The truly important issue is to remember the ultimate end goal, two people living side by side in peace. That must remain the focus; both sides need to embrace this idea before any true progress can be made and the death and destruction of war might someday come to an end.

Rabbi David Levin

The best way for Israel to have a Partner is to be one

One powerful way to demonstrate Israel’s commitment to a future together with the Palestinian People would if Israel took the lead and sponsored a Palestinian State in the United Nations.

 This bold and decisive measure would show that Israel is indeed prepared to have the Palestinian people living in their own land with control over their destiny as a neighbor and partner in peace.

 The original UN Partition Plan called for the establishment of two states. Sadly, its rejection and the ensuing war left the Palestinian State stillborn. The bitter state of affairs has remained. By declaring support of the Palestinian State now, Israel would show its real commitment to a two-state solution.

 In many respects, it is the internal issue that is at the crux of Israel’s problem; Israel has not determined in her own heart the status of the West Bank, aka Judea and Samaria, or East Jerusalem. Until Israel can articulate its position vis-a-vis this land, Israel is unable to move forward, mired in her own internal struggle with what she understands herself to be. If Israel can offer most of the West Bank to the Palestinians, the time to do it is now.

 Recognition of a Palestinian State does not end the conflict between the two peoples. Those who believe only in the eradication of Israel will remain a voice of trouble. However, giving hope to the Palestinian people by supporting them in their homeland, offering hope and prosperity can marginalize these destructive voices. Peaceful coexistence is more important than a perpetual state of hostility that only serves to kill too many of our children.

 This vision of the future will take great time, patience and resources. Too many have a vested interest in maintaining belligerence. Israel must remain vigilant in protecting herself with secure borders and acting decisively in the face of threats to her people or her existence. Supporting the creation of the State of Palestine does not deter Israel from protecting her self-interests. It does precisely the opposite; a perpetual state of war cannot end well for either side, nor can a perpetual state of occupation. The only way to live together is to try, to have the courage and the strength to lead by example and support the legitimate hopes and aspirations of the Palestinian people to have a say in their own destiny and possibly learn to live side by side with their Israeli neighbors.