Like many of us, I’ve been following, with great dismay, the ongoing diplomatic crisis between Israel and America, which was sparked by the ridiculous decision to announce more building in East Jerusalem – the announcement coinciding with a visit from Vice President Biden. I’ve been reading enough on both sides of this issue to be thoroughly confused, at this point (was this intentionally provocative? Is America overreacting?) One thing seems clear – the best thing that can be said about the Israel government at this point is that it was unbelievably stupid and inept. All other options are much more sinister and/or disturbing.
Rabbi Daniel Gordis has written an interesting response to the situation. It’s interesting because it posits that, counter-intuitively, building settlements in Palestinian areas might be good for the the long-term prospects of peace:
“Look,” he said. “Some day, they’re going to be ready for serious talks. They’re going to make a huge concession, and recognize your right to exist. But they’re going to expect a similarly grand concession from you. Your concession can’t be recognizing their right to a state, because you’ve already done that. And you can’t compromise on the return of refugees, because then you have no Jewish state. So you need something massive that you can give up on – and that’s going to be the settlements. You’ll have to evacuate and destroy most of them in the end, but if you do that now, then what will you offer at the table? The settlements are your key to making peace eventually.”
I’m not saying that I buy the logic – it seems pretty far-fetched to me. But, as someone who longs for the day when the Palestinians and the Jewish people each have a safe, secure, viable state, and when they can actually be at peace with one another, it’s nice to have a version of this entire mess that ends happily. Even if it’s mostly a fantasy.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. And all of its inhabitants.