Friday, September 23, 2011

Time for Israeli unity

Dr. Haim Shine

This weekend, the Palestinians will attempt to gain international support for recognition of a Palestinian state. It's hard to know if Palestinian leaders are truly interested in a state, in light of the fact that the odds are against the establishment of one without Israel's cooperation. Perhaps this is only an attempt to create a new myth.. For the past 40 years the Palestinians have excelled at creating memorial days (such as the Nakba and Naksa days) and false myths (such as the Palestinian right of return, the Palestinian right to a state, and a Palestinian nation with a defined identity).

Memorial days and myths (even false ones) are vital to a young nation, especially one which only began to take shape and define its nationalism in the last few decades. These are the days when people's energies are focused on criticism, violence and demonstrations. The major concern is that beyond the momentary excitement of flag-raising and horn-honking, things will spin out of control, and the violence will be directed at Israeli soldiers and Israeli citizens in the West Bank.

Many years ago, perhaps under the influence of the radical Israeli Left, Palestinians came up with the idea of a march toward sites under Israeli control. The leftist groups were often heard asking the question: What would Israel do if hundreds of thousands of Palestinians tried to breach the security barrier on their way to Ramat Aviv (known to them as Sheik Munis), Ra'anana (Hirbat Azun), and Jerusalem (Al-Quds)? Everyone knows today that the settlements mean nothing to the Palestinians. They want the right to return to lands upon which Israel was founded in 1948, which is only a first stage in their ultimate plan to destroy Israel.

The idea of a mass civilian march gained momentum in light of recent events in Syria, Libya, Egypt and Tunisia, during which hundreds of citizens were killed by the regimes of those corrupt and violent countries. The Palestinian leadership, which proved during the days of Arafat that human life was not a sanctified value, may force the Palestinians into a violent confrontation.

According to reports, Israel Defense Forces soldiers were instructed and trained to handle projected September events without harming Palestinian demonstrators. Newly acquired crowd-dispersal equipment was set up at possible points of friction, and one can only hope that events will not take a turn for the worst. It's easy to start a fire of hatred, but much harder to put it out.

This isn't the first time Israel will stand alone in a difficult situation. We Jews were called "Ivrim" (which can mean "other side" in Hebrew) because our forefather, Abraham, stood on one side of the river, while the rest of the world stood on the other. This has been our fate for thousands of years, but this time, for a change, we have a country, freedom, and weapons.

In times like these, we need to unite under our common Jewish fate. We can leave the difficult arguments between us for another day. Our victory will be in our unity and faith, because the real struggle is not about a Palestinian state, but about Israel's right to exist. And in that struggle we cannot lose, since we have recently returned to our homeland, forever.

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