Photo: AFP
Netanyahu. Must the sword keep killing forever?
Photo: AFP
Kobi Richter

There is no such thing as 'life by the sword'

Op-ed: The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a two-edged sword; we will both be eaten by the sword, unless we talk to each other. The key is ending the occupation.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said recently, "There is no magic wand here. We will have to live by the sword." It's not unintentional that our holy and literary sources fail to combine the words "sword" and "life." The sword eats those who enter its mouth - a sword of death.



The war is in full force, and Abner, the commander of the tribe of Benjamin, comes to Joab with an offer of peace: "Must the sword keep killing forever? Don’t you realize that this will end bitterly?" Joab's response, which ended a bloody war, was: "As surely as God lives. If you hadn’t just said that…"


The is Joab, the commander of Judah, who wasn't a "partner for peace" after Abner killed his brother Asahel in the same battle ("Why should I kill you? How could I look your brother Joab in the face?"), who is pleased with Abner's initiative and accepts it (1 Samuel 2:22). Netanyahu should be more accurate, and not just because of the names.


There is no such thing as "life by the sword." The sword of the conflict is a two-edged sword. You don't hold on to the sheath of the sword and live by it. We are all on the verge of the sword, we will both be eaten by the sword, by its two edges, unless we talk to each other, as Joab said.


Israel's citizens are the ones affected by the ongoing occupation (Photo: Reuters)
Israel's citizens are the ones affected by the ongoing occupation (Photo: Reuters)


The foundation of all the violence which occasionally breaks out between us and the Palestinians is our years-long control of them. The occupation creates despair and self-justification for the despaired person to use the only violence whose power allows him to challenge an army with excessive force - terror. That's what the Jewish undergrounds did, using terror against the British occupier, terror which we justified. And so is today's terror against us, the occupiers, which the Palestinians justify.


In order to end the occupation, there is no need to search for a partner in the Palestinian Authority. We, Israel's citizens, are the partner. We are the ones affected by the ongoing occupation, and you, Benjamin Netanyahu, must end the occupation for our future, for the sake of both your Jewish and Arab citizens. And linking their leaders to the Islamic State is as outrageous as comparing the mufti to Hitler.


Just like the Gaza Strip as a stronghold of terror annoys both us and Egypt, a West Bank of terror will go against Jordan and Israel's welfare. These shared interests make it possible to prevent the West Bank from turning into "Hamastan," as opposed to the nationalistic right's intimidations.


Ending the occupation holds three advantages which are unachievable in any other way: Firstly, ending the occupation, which will lead to a calm in acts of hostility, will be a trust-building move which will likely be followed by a peace agreement with its economic and security-related advantages.


Secondly, ending the occupation will allow economic prosperity by directing budgets and reopening international markets which are being closed in Israel's face today due to the occupation, which most of our friends in the world find unacceptable. There is no magic wand for solving the housing, health and education problems apart from creating an excess budget by beating our swords into plowshares.


Thirdly, in a Middle East which is about to become nuclearized in the foreseeable future, Iran will be faced by the moderate states - Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey. Joining the moderate coalition, which will be supported by the United States, depends on ending the occupation and will not be possible without it. This is a vital development to secure our long-term existence.


The last three generations of Palestinians are unfamiliar with a life which is free of Israeli control, and some of them have developed hatred. It is up to us to allow the next generation to see a different reality, for our sake, security and welfare. It is up to us to make the next generation abandon incitement.


Our Torah encourages life, and Zionism - by linking our people to its land - did it for the people's life rather than because of the land's sacredness.


פרסום ראשון: 11.12.15, 22:26
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