On the Middle East Situation
By Eliezer Cohen
For a Jew, in these difficult times, getting through the day without hearing about the tragic events in the Middle East is in itself difficult. With each day's new hopes, comes news reports of new violence and injury. How can we be happy when brutal murders and tragic events are filmed and broadcast to the world.
It is difficult to find a Jew that does not want peace; yet, achieving peace seems just beyond our capabilities.
Understanding what peace is, perhaps, can aid us in understanding the causes of the turbulent problems in the Middle East and the processes through which peace may be brought about.
As an example of peace: There is peace between the USA and Canada. Canadian citizens are permitted to enter the USA. There they are treated with respected and enjoy equal legal protection. USA citizens who travel to Canada are also welcome on that side of the border. They are also treated with respect and can count on the police and courts to protect them. Even though Canada and America are separate countries with separate governments and have separate interests, still "hospitality" in the form of equality and respect is extended to visitors. This is an example of peaceful relations.
We could go further and say that peace is a state of interactions in which each party respects the other's individual interests and seeks his well being. Obviously, seeking harm or loss for the other party would therefore be the opposite of peaceful relations. Also a state of separation which precludes interaction would not be a state of peace since there is no interaction between parties.
Now we must compare our definition of peace to the reality of the situation.
But first another question, that begs answering, is: does violence and force have any positive effect in bringing about peace?
Throughout the history of mankind, many wars have been fought. The results that have come from these wars have sometimes given peace and sometimes only caused more renewed hostilities at later times. What was the difference between the wars that brought peace and those that only caused more bloodshed?
The difference was when there was a cessation of hostilities by leaders who caused the masses to believe that it was in their best interests not to pursue violence a lasting peace was made. However leaders who maintained belligerent and inciteful positions and rhetoric only served to continue violent and warlike states.
This can give us an answer. Look at the World War II. Germany fought a bitter and despotic war against the allies. Hitler built his strength on goodwill concessions that were made for the purpose of achieving peace. With all the concessions, Hitler only became stronger until he embarked on a war of world dominance. Millions of people were killed. Yet it was not the breaking of the German war machine that gave us the peace that has lasted the past 55 years, but the disposal of the bigot and war hungry maniacs that drove Germany to commit the atrocities. When the Allies finally brought the Germans to sign a peace agreement, it executed and incarcerated many of the Nazi leaders. In this manner, those who incited the masses to commit the atrocities were removed from positions of influence. The German masses became influence by more rational leaders and peace prevailed.
In our case, the cause of hostilities must be eradicated before a true peace can be brought forth.
Let us examine our presence situation. Have the Arabs really relinquish their dream of extricating the Jews from Israel? Or have they conveniently put it in a silent mode?
Let us see:
A real problem in the "peace process" is that while the Palestinians were give limited autonomy over their internal affairs, the hate mongers amongst them used their new freedom of speech to spread the doctrine of hate. Inciting speech by respected religious and political leaders has fanned the desire of the Arab masses to carry out acts of terror. Certainly, as long as the Arab educational system together with the religious preachers are calling for an end to the state of Israel and death to the Jews, a state of mutual respect can not be expected.
On the other hand, Israel can not force the Arabs to accede to peace. Both sides must desire peace. If peace is forced on a people not willing to coexist in harmony, then after time, violence is certain to sprout.
As long as Israel permits the kind of freedom of speech which is utilized by tyrannical clergy and extremist leaders who advocate the cold-blooded murder of its neighbors, no chance of any peace can exist. So long as those news medias, who are protected by freedom of expression yet give voice to extreme and inflammatory statements, are permitted to continue spreading venom, then no peace can exist. Only when a change comes about eliminating incitement and hatred - then there is a chance for peace.
Let us not give up the hope and desire for peace, but let us base it on the correct principles. For without the proper foundations, the building will not stand.
Peace requires the desires of two sides; war requires the initiative of just one.
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