The spilled blood, the hatred, the wars, the pain of loss, the truncated lives, the massive expenditures on armaments, the geopolitical maneuvering of the great powers, from Great Britain and the United Nations in 1949 to Russia, Iran and the US today — the Arab-Israel conflict could have been avoided, en toto, if only Arab leaders had been willing to utter the two short sentences uttered last week by the foreign minister of Bahrain, Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa:
“Israel is part of this heritage of this whole region, historically. The Jewish people have a place amongst us.”
The ancient sage Hillel was asked to teach the entire Torah while standing on one foot. He did, saying, “what is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. All the rest is commentary. Now, go and study.”
The Jewish people have a place amongst us. All the rest is commentary.
There is no issue — settlements, Jerusalem, holy places, checkpoints, immigration, ecenomic inequity — in the current conflict that cannot be resolved, once a few words can be uttered by the Palestinians: Israel is part of this heritage of this whole region, historically.
Not even Anwar Sadat, whose Egypt made peace with Israel in 1979, and King Hussein, whose Jordan made peace with Israel in 1994, could utter these words. Their peace, most welcome!, was a pragmatic peace, not a peace of principle.
Israel is allowed to be here, in the Middle East: Every Arab head of state and every Palestinian leader, from the mufti of Jerusalem to Arafat to Abbas to Egypt’s Nasser to Syria’s Assad I, Assad II, to the sheiks of Saudi Arabia and the dictators of Yemen, Iraq and Iran, and the leaders of Lebanon both Christian and Muslim, and every terrorist group in and alongside and preceding Hamas, could not utter these two sentences. Yet, that is all it would take to make peace. All the rest is commentary.
Every funeral, every kidnapping, every dead soldier’s body held captive, every military cemetery, every innocent civilian victim, every widow, every child deformed for lack of cross border access to medical care, every disabled soldier and civilian, every memorial day, every MIA, every dollar diverted from the public weal, and every family robbed of a father, mother, brother, sister, son or daughter on all sides of the Arab-Israel conflict could have been avoided, if only Arab leaders could have brought themselves to utter these two sentences.
Two sentences! Pithy. Revolutionary. Courageous. Simple, yet resplendent. Fertile. Repercussive. Most of all: Obvious. Basic. True. Healing.
Foreign Minister Al Khalifa is one of a small yet growing number of Arab leaders in the region, albeit not directly bordering Israel, who have recognized the absurdity, the vacuity, the counterproductivity, the distorted mental acrobatics, the wholly unnecessary disfiguration of the rationale behind the rejection of a place for the Jewish people in the Middle East.
May their words grow and shine and transform the landscape of devastation. All it takes for a new dawn of hope is two short sentences. They deserve universal embrace.
Copyright © 2019 by the Intermountain Jewish News