As President Obama sorts out Middle East matters with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, I am reminded of this clarion call of longshoreman philosopher Eric Hoffer. In fact, with the conflict in the Middle East constantly simmering, and now stirred to a heightened level by the growing nuclear threat of Iran , it reflects a world in turmoil, with so many conflicts ongoing, compounded by economic woes, compounded by the growing danger of global warming, added to all the factors of pollution.
If Israel ’s future is an indicator of prospects for the world, as Hoffer maintained, then strategies for attempting to address and resolve the conflict between Israel and the Arab nations and the Palestinian conflict will continue to be of great import.
Having lived in Jerusalem as a student during three different years, I learned in those years to respect that what matters most is how Israelis think and feel about choices for Israel to make, in contrast to American Jewish views, projected onto Israel . Israelis are wary if hopeful about president Obama’s approach to the conflict.
What gives me hope is that when you consider how Israelis look at the conflict, given lots of internal differences in points of view, their understanding is that this is not just about the Palestinians. Most important is required a commitment from the Arab world to accept Israel and respect Israel and commit to abiding peace with Israel . It is through that process that conditions can be resolved with the Palestinians, as they change their charters and resolve to accept Israel ’s right to exist and reflect it in agreements of trade and sharing of resources and relationships between countries at peace.
The hopeful part is that, from the start, what I have seen in president Obama is that, however forceful he has been in striving to “influence” Israel on its policies, that pressure is and always has been predicated on equally forceful understanding and insistence that the Arab nations and the Palestinians change their positions on Israel and show tangible and demonstrable steps that they are putting war aside, permanently, as part of any kind of “solution”.
My sense is that so long as Israel is expected to take measures that would placate the Arab states, exclusively in tandem with the Arab states taking measures that will satisfy Israel , including the dismantling of the Iranian nuclear effort, there is hope for peace that has never been on the horizon.
Our president has broken new ground in constantly insisting that nothing can happen with Israel taking any steps, unless the Arab states publicly and clearly put aside their previous destructive policies and reach out substantive hands in peace.
This assures that either the Middle East will be headed toward breaking the logjam of hostility, as Israel finally begins to see signs of peace, or, as has happened every time before, it becomes clear that the Arab states and Palestinians are unable to meet the president’s conditions, and that there is no peace on the horizon. Should that be the case, which most Israelis probably suspect, at least the future relationship with the United States should continue to grow in strength, as both nations understand firsthand the reality in the Middle East .
Hopefully, a miracle is on the horizon, and the thinking and action in the Middle East will move in a new direction toward shalom, where all the pieces and parts come together, forming a new light than can illumine all the other hot spots in the world, and hopefully move the entire world toward a positive fulfillment of Eric Hoffer’s prophecy.
May it go well with Israel , and thus bode well for the entire world.