Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

2 Av 5760 - August 3, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Opinion & Comment
How We Hope to Solve the Problems of the Middle East

Ignoring the advice of all the experienced negotiators who said not to offer anything without reciprocity from the Palestinians, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak laid just about all his cards onto the table with the Palestinians. Braving the pain he talked about all the time, Barak made concessions that went far beyond what any Israeli official had ever been willing even to discuss. Yasser Arafat, for his part, conceded very little and certainly nothing in proportion to the offers that Barak made.

In doing so, the prime minister seems to have won over U.S. President Clinton to his side. If there are no other results from this accomplishment soon, the good will of the current U.S. President will be worthless since there will be a new President of the U.S. in less than six months.

Some observers have pointed out that it is ironic that Barak who so confidently set out to bring peace may have actually set its cause back. This is because, in offering such far- reaching concessions, Barak has forced the issue of whether the Palestinians really are "partners" in wanting peace.

By offering so much, only to have it summarily rejected by the Palestinian side, Barak raises the question of whether the Palestinian side is at all prepared for peace. The issues that were discussed -- especially Yerushalayim -- will clearly require concessions on both sides if an agreement is to be made. It is crystal clear to anyone who is serious about reaching an agreement -- and the Israeli Left, for example, is very serious about reaching an agreement -- that doing so must involve concessions on both sides, and the only thing to discuss is the exact configuration of the concessions. By showing themselves unprepared for any concessions on these issues, the Palestinians strongly implied that they are not interested in peace.

For the Israeli Left this is a serious problem since their entire approach was based on the assumption that the Palestinians are their partners for peace.

For us, as we are reminded at this time of year, the pain of Yerushalayim is different. We are not focused on the political control of the area, but on its spiritual level. We mourn the moral and spiritual fall that took place on Tisha B'Av, and pray for a renewal that will be expressed in fire from Heaven and not photo opportunities on the White House lawn.

Political uncertainty is a relatively benign aspect of our long golus that we can tolerate as long as it does not lead to bloodshed. We only expect our political situation to be resolved in the context of a much more important spiritual revolution led by our Moshiach.

Secular Jews see politics as the source of all that ails them and the world, and they look to the political arena for solutions. All their hopes are bound up in the political process, and they cannot bear the idea that there is no way to solve everything, once and for all.

Our eyes are turned Heavenward. We end our reading of Eichah: Hashiveinu Hashem eilecho venoshuvo, chadeish yomeinu kekedem. We wish to renew the spiritual glory of yesteryear, and the politics will take care of itself.

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