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Faces on Faith: Arab-Israeli solutions require sacrifices

By Staff | Nov 2, 2012

Rabbi Selwyn Geller

War will not solve the Arab-Israeli problem, the problem of Iran or the problems of Christians, Moslems and Jews. It will only worsen them and make them more difficult to solve in the future.

It will turn the nation that starts a war in the Middle East into a pariah, causing other nations to ask, “What will it do next?” The United States therefore favors a two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli problem, economic and social sanctions against Iran and the free exercise of religions and civil rights. The free exercise of religion is an ideal written into the United States Constitution. Judaism, Christianity and Islam are freely exercised in the United States and Israel.

Historically, however, Christians and Jews were prevented from exercising their religion freely in Islamic nations, and Coptic Christians recently were killed in Egypt. It heals the human soul and body to have ideals guide its behavior, but ideals are not real if they are not behavioral and practical.

Israel’s Independence War sparked attacks on the Jews that had lived in Islamic nations before Mohammed’s time. Their books and synagogues were burned. Jewish communities were effectively exiled from Islamic nations.

Matti Friedman’s study of The Aleppo Codex tells the story of that more than 1,000-year-old copy of the Hebrew Bible, what shameful effects Arab and Israeli politics had upon it, and what happened to Jews and their books and synagogues in Aleppo during Israel’s Independence War. The study reflects dishonor on politics, whether Jewish or Arab. Incidentally, it is available in the Sanibel Library for you to read.

Despite my recognition of the gaps between ideals and behavior, I favor the one-state solution for Jews and Arabs in greater Israel with no right of return for Jews or Arabs that settled in other nations and live freely in them. Political emergencies can be dealt with on an ad-hoc basis. The one-state solution upholds the religious teachings of the Bibles of Jews, Christians and Moslems, the political beliefs of the American Declaration of Independence and Constitution, and Israel’s fundamental laws.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The Declaration goes on to talk about government functions to uphold these truths.

The one-state solution will require sacrifices of Arabs, Jews and their policymakers, but these sacrifices will be required of individuals. It will not require sacrifices of nations as war would.

The two-state solution implies that Arabs and Jews are not equal, that our Creator did not endow them with certain unalienable rights, that they cannot enjoy Life and Liberty, and pursue Happiness together. The one-state solution might be the beginning of the integration of ideals and behavior that social life requires to be healed from violence, from the killings that are racking nations and their citizens in the 21st Century, both at home and abroad.

If Arabs and Jews do not make sacrifices now, what will become of their children, grandchildren and posterity in the future? I ask these questions as an American Rabbi, whose American daughter and Israeli son-in-law, and American-Israeli grandchildren live in Ra’Anana, Israel, and a suburb of Tel Aviv.

What do you think?