By David J. Seidemann, Esq.
If it’s not a week of water falling from the sky and waves crashing ashore from the ocean, it’s rockets falling on our cities—yes, our cities in Israel and bombs exploding on our buses in Tel-Aviv.
While we would love nothing more than to live in peace, too many children of Hamas are taught that it is more honorable to die in pieces. The leadership of Hamas, the young men, perhaps it is too late to reach them. Somehow we must get the message to their mothers that we are tired of burying our own, and believe it or not we do not want to see you having to bury your own.
Perhaps you can convince your husbands that you don’t want to see your son blow himself up. Perhaps you can convince your husbands to demand more from those Arab leaders who took control over Gaza after the Israelis left and Hamas took control over Gaza from Fatah. Perhaps your husbands can convince those leaders to build Gaza instead of trying to destroy Israel.
As we survey the landscape and wait for the inevitable world cry for Israel to “let up,” we ask ourselves, “Can Yishmael and Eisav ever be tamed? Other questions abound. Those same voices that demand Israeli restraint and warn Israel of war crimes if a ground invasion ensues, where are their voices of protest in Syria? Just asking. After only a few days of fighting, the anti-Semites of the world line up and purposely obscure the details of the conflict, thus making resolution impossible or short-lived.
The sad truth for the Gazans and those on the West Bank is that until they allow for a Jewish state to exist, no Palestinian state will exist. The cycle will continue. They fire rockets on civilians, Israel exercises its power, Gaza is leveled to a degree, the world demands that Israel stop short of completing the mission, the life of the Gazan Arab does not improve, a brief respite, they rearm themselves, and we start all over again.
I’m not privy to the diplomatic discussions and am not involved in the military planning. I do, however, want to address the question whether Eisav and Yishmael can ever be tamed or do we have to resign ourselves to live by the dictum of our sages that “it is a law from Moses on Sinai that Eisav hates Jacob”?
Avraham and Sarah knew that Yishmael and Yitzchak could not coexist. The response was to create a distance between them by sending Yishmael away. Yitzchak and Rivkah knew that Yaakov and Eisav could not coexist. The response was to create a distance between them with Yaakov relocating.
No one killed the other. In fact when Eisav and Yaakov met up years later, no violence ensued. Yaakov was prepared for war but did not have to resort to it. Diplomacy worked. Our sages tell us that Eisav’s head was buried in the Cave of the Patriarchs because intellectually, in his mind, in his head, he made peace with Yaakov’s right to exist.
Similarly, when Yishmael met up with Yitzchak years later at their father Avraham’s funeral, no violence took place. Our rabbis tell us that, in fact, in describing the burial of Avraham, Yitzchak’s name is mentioned first because Yishmael deferred to Yitzchak in the burial ceremony as a token of recognition.
But that was then and this is now. There is no recognition today on the part of Yishmael that Yitzchak has the right to exist, and until that recognition takes place in the mind of Yishmael, their hand will continue to rule. One mind is harder to develop than two hands.
I had a discussion this morning with a secular Israeli. “All of this started in 1967,” he said. I pointed out to him that Jews and Israelis were massacred before 1967, before 1948, in the 1929 riots, and for centuries before that in biblical Palestine and beyond.
“Well, we should just give them land, more land, and they will leave us alone,” he said.
“We gave them the Sinai, most of the West Bank, and all of Gaza, and it didn’t work,” I said.
“Give them more,” he said.
I was exasperated, and we had been talking for only 20 minutes. Finally I relayed something to him which, to my surprise, quieted him.
“Shimmy, if we gave them all of Israel, and I mean all of it except the Western Wall in Jerusalem, do you think they would let us live in peace? Do you think they would acknowledge our claim to that piece of our history, or do you think they would deny that that wall once surrounded our Holy Temple? They would deny it, Shimmy, because they already have. And believe me, Shimmy, within hours they would move to oust us from there.”
“Attah tzodek.” You are right, said my Israeli friend. “I am 60 years old,” continued Shimmy, “and I never thought of it like that.”
As we go to print, we hope for an everlasting peace, a true peace, and if sorrowfully not, then an effective military operation with G‑d’s iron dome of protection. v
David Seidemann is a partner with the law firm of Seidemann and Mermelstein and serves as a professor of business law at Touro College. He can be reached at 718-692-1013 or firstname.lastname@example.org.