When I would complain to my mother about the situation, especially in times of terror, she would brush me off by saying, “You dare compare this to what we went through in 1948?”
Indeed, since the beginning of the Arab-Jewish feud over the same piece of land, there were bleak periods, but Jews not only persevered, but also prevailed. When Arabs rejected the U.N. resolution in November 1947, which called for the division of Palestine between the two peoples, and instead attacked the outnumbered Jews, what they got in return was the creation of the Palestinian refugee problem and the emergence of the state of Israel.
It took Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas 64 years to admit in an interview to Israeli Channel 2 that it had been a mistake. Then, another blunder occurred, when Egypt, Syria and Jordan threatened Israel in 1967 with an all-out attack, which only resulted with Israel gaining more Arab land.
Today, Israel enjoys peace with Egypt and Jordan, and Syria is collapsing. Sunni regimes in the region secretly rub shoulders with Israel, considering it a trustworthy ally vis-à-vis Shiite Iran. Hezbollah is strictly keeping quiet on the Lebanese border, trying not to invoke the wrath of the Israel Defense Forces again, and Hamas — still licking its wounds from last summer — is curbing the sporadic attempts of renegade groups in Gaza to launch rockets toward Israel.
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What remains is the conflict with the Palestinians, but unlike on the other fronts, things here will not get better because there are 2 million Palestinians in the West Bank who don’t want to be ruled by Israel and who want a state of their own. The world seems to be supporting their aspirations.
The current wave of Palestinian incitement and terror attacks is nothing new, and to echo my late mother, we had worse times, when buses exploded in the midst of our cities.
However, Palestinian violence never posed a strategic threat to Israel. When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu trumpets the threats of a Palestinian scheme to destroy Israel, he is insulting the resilience of the Israelis and is undermining their self-confidence.
If something does seriously threaten Israel, it is not the stabbings of Israelis, painful and frightening as they are, but the slow and sure descent toward one, bi-national state, where Arabs and Jews will be roughly equal in number. In the case of one-man-one-vote, Israel will lose its Jewish character, and in the absence of that, it will lose its democracy.
Since Netanyahu doesn’t tell the Israelis how he is going to avert such scenario, the least he could offer them is some comfort and hope for better days. Instead, what we get from him is constant talk about Israel’s destruction. I’m too embarrassed even to comment on his latest outburst — that it was the Jerusalem Mufti who sold Hitler on the idea of murdering the Jews.
With my mother long gone and my prime minister being a source of doomsday prophecies, I decided to look around for some rays of hope.
My brother called, very excited. He had moved to a small place in the Galilee, surrounded by Arab villages. Having strong opinions on Arabs, I expected him to start one of our usual heated debates, where he reprimands me of being a liberal who doesn’t understand the “vicious Arabs.” Instead, he told me that he had just returned from a spontaneous rally of local Arabs and Jews, who marched together for peaceful coexistence.
Then I watched on television Ahmed Eid, head of the surgical department at Hadassah Hospital, telling how he had operated on a 13-year-old Jewish boy who had been stabbed by a Palestinian boy the same age.
After the operation, he introduced himself to the father of the Jewish boy: “My name is Ahmed Eid.”
The anchor was curious: “Why was this important?” “Because,” answered the Arab doctor, “I wanted him to know that while an Ahmed had stabbed his son, another Ahmed saved him.”