Yes, I know - I've never met you and I'm calling you Martin. That's how it is in Israel. Soldiers call their commanding officers by their first name; many students refer to their teachers by their first name. I regularly call Einav, my bank manager or Gil, the CEO of a major client. We even call our Prime Minister, Bibi - so don't be insulted. It's part of what makes us the country we are - strong, connected, focused not on our ego but on what needs to be done.
Martin, I sympathize with you. I was where you are now - in the land of my birth, but not my homeland; using the language of my mother-tongue, but not the language of my heart or people. From the distance, it is so easy to forget; so easy to rely on the facts others put before you. With you especially, I get the feeling that you just don't understand Israel (or the situation here). That lack of knowledge makes your job impossible and more, endangers my country.
I know you didn't ask me, but what I see is that you are distanced from the Jew inside of you, fighting to be the American others expect to see. You have to out-criticize Israel, lest you be accused of showing favoritism. Mostly, being American and being Jewish is easy; certainly easier than being a Jew and something else.
But other times, it's a war between where your body is and your roots, your foundation are. It's denying certain truths because they come from a deep ingrained knowledge that Israel and the Jews wouldn't act that way simply because it isn't who we are. You can't take that knowledge to the international community. They have grown accustomed to barbarity, senseless killings, occupation and dictatorship.
We aren't Syria. We aren't Egypt. We aren't Lebanon or Jordan and we certainly aren't the Palestinians. We don't target innocents; we don't exploit our young. We don't hide behind our citizens (or anyone else) and we sure as heck don't deny others basic rights.
American Jews are squirming at that any suggestions that there could be a conflict between being a Jew and being an American or that you have to ultimately choose one. For many of us, we know the truth of that but you and so many are still in denial. What do you do when your government betrays Israel? Ah, the horrible question no one wants to answer.
Ultimately, it comes down to this...and it terrifies most American Jews who want to believe that America will always be the "golden medina," that this choice will never be put before them. Obama is testing this theory and the only question will be whether we are all lucky and his term runs out before we have to answer it.
You have it really rough right now. You are a Jew in a government that does not really support Israel. Oh, I know - they mouth the words but we all know it isn't there. And now, wow, it's hard, you've put your foot in your mouth this time, haven't you?
It's like that time, honestly, the ONLY time in my life I "re-gifted" something, and I had to go and give that gorgeous baby outfit that just didn't fit the seasons here in Israel...back to the person who gave it to me. EMBARRASSING!
And you got caught towing the US line, blaming Israel for the breakdown in the US-driven peace talks? So now, you have to add STUPID to EMBARRASSING and that doesn't go down well, does it?
Blaming us for the breakdown? Sheesh, yeah - dumb. And worse, you blamed in on the fact that Israel won't freeze the settlements. The only one dumb enough to ignore the fact that we issued a freeze for 10 months and the Palestinians refused to talk during that whole time...is them...oh, and you.
Yeah, you believe it's because of the settlements? Where was it written that we couldn't build during these talks? Didn't we specifically refuse that clause? Been there; done that. Nothing has changed; there was no agreement on the settlements prior to the start of these negotiations.
We specifically said we were NOT going to freeze until such time as an agreement with that requirement was made. So if that's the excuse the Palestinians are using, blame them, not us.
Why blame us if the Palestinians are coming up with new conditions? We came to the table, as required, until THEY began raising new requirements and worse, they changed the ground upon which we could have perhaps found an agreement. We released prisoners, as required (and despite ongoing violence and rocket attacks by Palestinians).
During the months that we were supposedly talking peace, Israel released the killers of hundreds of Israels. Have you forgotten that? What did the Palestinians do? Other than show up at the designated time and place, that is? Here, I'll help you because you seem to be particularly fact-challenged these days. They did nothing. Zero.
Did we change the conditions of the negotiations? Well, only after they did. We demanded they recognize us as a Jewish state but we did not stop the negotiations on that condition. Just as they float their balloons describing the Middle East they want (including claiming OUR capital as theirs), we floated ours. This is what we have been, the only Jewish country in the WORLD, for 66 years. But even when they said they wouldn't accept this fact (one that is obvious to everyone), we did not stop the negotiations.
The Palestinians did that when they demanded that we release more prisoners/terrorists before they will deign to come back to sit at the table and most of all, they did that when they created a unity government with Hamas.
Even...even...even...the US government accepted that it was impossible for Israel to negotiate with Hamas, an organization that demands Israel's destruction and does all in its capacity to achieve that goal.
Have you read the Hamas Charter? It's available online. Really. You just go to google (www.google.com) and enter "H a m a s C h a r t e r." I know it's long but honestly, it's a good read for those who want to understand.
Here, let me give you a few of the highlights:
"Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.'That's kind of clear, right. A bit harsh, but hey, they hate us. Did we threaten to obliterate anyone? Not even when they slit the throat of an infant; not when they murdered a father of 5...even then, we didn't take any action or make any threat to obliterate their culture of hatred.
Oh, and there's this one, Martin - this one is like SO them:
"initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement... Those conferences are no more than a means to appoint the infidels as arbitrators in the lands of Islam... There is no solution for the Palestinian problem except by Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are but a waste of time, an exercise in futility.'So, there you have it - "initiatives" - that would be what Hamas would call your government's attempt to find a solution. The problem, of course, is that last line, "there is NO solution for the Palestinian problem except by Jihad."
You know what Jihad is, right? That's what blew up the World Trade Center, remember? Listen, Martin, you really have to read the Hamas Covenant because if you want to know what blew your peace talks out of the water, it's all there in that document.
The fundamental, clear, uncompromising belief that the solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict is in Jihad, not in negotiations.
Beyond that, Martin, you have to understand that there are things Jews can do in this world and things that we can't. Going to Klu Klux Klan headquarters - that's a no-no (okay, I was young and stupid, but I wouldn't do it now!). Calling the #2 KGB guy at the Soviet Embassy a Nazi...yeah, young and stupid - don't do that.
But the main thing a Jew can't do is get involved in the State Department and White House manipulations because they are doomed to failure. Kerry never had a chance. We all knew that. He came to the talks with the blind ignorance of a fool. He thought that if the US snapped its fingers, Israel and the Palestinians would dance.
Bibi was dumb enough (or perhaps smart enough...only history will tell) to dance a little while the Palestinians looked on with amusement and wondered how long they could string you along. They did good; I have to hand it to them. They got hundreds of their murderers free without making a single compromise.
But when the US puts an American Jew in the talks, it's instant disaster. Martin, you're efforts are more doomed than Kerry's, and that's saying a lot. If you take Israel's side, you're accused of dual allegiance and favoritism. Obviously, you aren't being honest because you are a Jew.
If you take the Palestinian side and blame us for this, well at least in this case, you have to be blind and stupid. And that's what you were the other day - blind and stupid. Because while there are times my government or country may do something wrong, like all countries and all peoples, this time, we didn't.
We went along with your finger-snapping president and your insulting, condescending Secretary of States; we met your requirements and fulfilled our side until the other side balked. We knew they would at some point. It was obvious that they would...and they did. Now, don't be blind and stupid. Call it for what it was.
So what are you going to do now, Martin? No one believes that nonsense that you were misquoted. Too much detail to be fake. So what now?
Well, you could try honesty. What a concept.
Martin - go for it. Announce that what blew the talks wide open was Fatah (yeah, the Palestinian Authority) aligning itself with Hamas. And more, until such time as an agreement says otherwise, Israel has the right to build - just as the Arabs are building all the time in the areas all around me. Go look at Issawiya, Azariya, A-Zaim - nearly every building has a new floor on top - most have several. New buildings and floors in Arab neighborhoods - to the left and to the right. That's what people do when they need more homes...they build. They're doing it and so are we. That didn't blow the talks out of the water.
When the Palestinians want to talk, let them call. In the meantime, we build, like every other country. And if we are opening up the negotiations to new terms, here are a few items I'd like to add - as an Israeli Jew:
- A complete halt to ALL missile attacks (and yes, that includes mortars).
- A complete overhaul of the Palestinian education system such that
incitement and hatred of Jews and Israel is removed from the text books
and lectures. Hatred of Arabs and Palestinians is NOT in our text books -
tell them to take it out of theirs!
- Recognition of Israel as a Jewish state with Jerusalem as its capital (hey, if they can make demands, so can we).
- Immediate halt to the systematic denial of our historical connection to
this land and an immediate cessation of ongoing destruction of
archaeological remains in areas under their current control.
- Freedom of religion in their areas (and ours). For Muslims, Christians, and Jews. We want the right to pray freely at our holy sites without being constantly attacked by firebombs and stones. This means in the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem, Joseph's Tomb in Nablus and yes, on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Tell them to stop rioting when a Jew dares mumble a silent prayer near the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa Mosque...which were built on top of OUR Temple Mount. And while you are at it - tell them to stop denying our history. No, the Western Wall is NOT where Mohammed tied his damn donkey - it was (and is) the retaining wall for the are where our Temples were built.
Maybe you can be a Jew and an American in most locations and professions but when you have to stand between Palestinians and Israelis, it just won't work. Not for the Palestinians, not for the Israelis and ultimately, not for the Americans either.
As for the current round of talks - accept that you can't build peace on a faulty foundation and the ONLY foundation on which you can build a lasting peace requires both sides to be fully committed. The rest is details...