And a gentleman from Brazil who says he is left-wing, offers me a choice: withdraw from a good portion of our land, establish a bi-national state, or become an apartheid state. I rejected his options…each and every one of them. We have given good land, only to get rockets; we know what a bi-national state will bring us, and Israel is nothing like the apartheid South Africa once was…with 10% of the Knesset being Arab, with Israeli Arabs having all the same rights we have – the right to travel anywhere in our country, the right to vote, the right to education and government funding.
The Brazilian gentleman asked me if I see a light at the end of the tunnel. After I answered, he asked me if I would be willing to trade land for these visions and I explained that his question was absurd. It’s like going into an art gallery and asking to buy a painting that isn’t for sale in a place you know believes in bargaining.
The owner steps us and says it isn’t for sale, but what is the most you would pay? If you answer $1,000, you know that should the owner decide to sell, he will begin at $1,000.
The opening bid is the one you last state and you can never go back and offer $800. Your final bid becomes the opening one, the final price so much higher than you can afford to pay…or more likely, the sale will never be made. People ask me if I would agree to trade land for some distant peace…and my answer is simply “is the painting even for sale?”
And finally, the man from Brazil who speaks Hebrew and loves this land and wishes my sons well; a man who prays for a day when his sons and mine can play soccer on a field with Palestinian children, asked if I had a vision. It isn’t often I let myself dream of what the future could hold. For what purpose, I ask myself, when there is no chance of a peace agreement while Israel has no partner, what is to be gained?
And then I realized that because we don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel, doesn’t mean we lack hope. Perhaps it is our error, that we often don’t explain to the world that yes, we do have a vision of the world we dream of, the one that could come…if the Palestinians allow it.
So here is my vision – of a time when the painting is on sale…when the Palestinians seriously want peace and an end to this endless war. I dream of a day:
-- when Muslim extremism ceases to exist and Islam doesn't consider non-Muslim "infidels" worthy of death and terror.
-- when Palestinians recognize Israel is too strong to be destroyed and are willing to live WITH it permanently on viable borders that aren’t simply a staging ground for their next war.
--when Palestinian mothers say to their husbands and government - enough. We won't lose any more sons. Stop the terror, stop the rockets and go talk.
-- when the world says to the Palestinians (and Iranians) - NO, you cannot continue. WE will stop you. Israel has the right to live, a right to land, a right to peace and until you negotiate, we will not give you, we will not support you, we will not back you and we will not arm you.
-- when, God willing, my third son doesn't have to be a soldier as my first and now my second has to, or a time when my sons’ closets aren’t filled with green clothes, when there are no bullets in my home and no talk of violent attacks or incoming rockets.
I dream of a day, perhaps, when I can get in my car and drive to Amman for shopping after lunch in Jerusalem - and see not a gun or a fence along the way. And perhaps I’ll stay in Amman overnight, perhaps not. The consideration will be what I want to do and not my Israeli passport, security and safety.
I dream of a day when my children don’t look and wonder at the person who walks in the restaurant because there is no fear of violence.
I dream of a day when I can wander the hills of my land without concern for guards and escorts, when a mountain or field calls to me through the car window and I can stop the car and not have to think if it is near an Arab village…or a firing range.
No, I explained to my Brazilian friend – I do not see a light at the end of this tunnel we are in but I know what the world outside the tunnel would look like. We who live in this world are not without vision or hope. We are simply realistic enough to understand that desperation does not make reality; that wanting peace is wonderful, unless the other side does not…and then it becomes a weakness they exploit.
The underlying truth here is that we who pride ourselves on being on the Right side of this great debate of our lives and realities are no less interested in peace and security than those on the Left. We dream, as you do, of a day when there will be peace, when our sons will not have to guard our borders with such vigilance. We yearn for the days when rockets stop and guards are no longer needed at malls and restaurants and airports.
The difference is not in the dreams and hopes we have for the future of our nation, but rather in the path we think we must take to get there. We know that appeasement and surrender simply whets the appetites of our enemies, feeds their thirst to have it all.
We have tasted of the bitter waters of surrender, unilateral actions, and land trades and find today’s reality is a direct result of these desperate and incorrect policies. Tomorrow’s peace will come only when today’s partners want it. Until then, the painting isn’t even for sale so talk of what we will pay is not only premature, it is potentially suicidal and most definitely bad politics.